A Conversation With Taja Edwards
Jan. 6, 2011
Q: Now that the nonconference portion of the season is done, what grade would you give the team?
A: I think I'd give us a C. A legit 75 percent C. I think we had a lot of pressure on us in a lot of different areas. We created some of it ourselves, but I think that was the toughest nonconference schedule we've ever had. Two Final Four teams? We've got some hardcore seniors and a lot of freshmen, so there's been a lot of learning this year.
Q: How do you think the nonconference prepared you for the WAC season?
A: The competition in the WAC is going to be tough because we're going to have that target, but you don't realize how much the preseason prepares you until you get there. My freshman year, we went 0-6 in nonconference, and it was like, "Oh no!" We didn't realize that out of that 0-6 start, five came against top-25 teams. That helped us.
Q: Fresno State entered WAC play having won 18 consecutive conference games. Talk about that win streak. What does it mean to the team?
A: Last year, we took it game by game. We knew we were 8-0, then 9-0, but nobody ever talked about it. We just focused on each game. That's what we're doing now.
Q: What keeps you motivated?
A: Basketball is always fun. That's the key. It can be draining at times, but as long as you're always having fun, it's good. I know I'm blessed to be out here, especially with my knee.
Q: Tell me more about your knee. What is the history there?
A: I tore my ACL at 16 and during my sophomore year tore my right meniscus. That's when doctors discovered I had no cartilage on my lateral side and suggested I stop playing for long-term reasons. I told them, if I can still walk, I was still going to play.
Q: Some people may not know how into music you are (Edwards plays both guitar and piano and is an avid songwriter). What role does music play in your life?
A: Music is huge. It really goes hand-in-hand with basketball, which a lot of people don't understand. I was 11 when I started playing basketball, so I was a bit of a late bloomer. The only way I could get dribbling down was to get a rhythm into my head. My dad told me, "It's a lot like music, Taj." I would just dribble to a beat.
After college, I plan on pursuing music. Songwriting is something I do. During school, writing is a bit hard, but during the winter break I was able to sit down and work on my songs. During the preseason, I spent time in LA going to a studio.
Q: How were you able to do that?
A: I'm actually connected with a lot of Chris Brown's people and (label executive) Damon Dash. Music is all about knowing someone. I just meet people. I'm always meeting people. It just kinda happens.... The next step is just having someone take a risk. I have to set myself in a position where luck meets opportunity.
Q: That is impressive! How many songs have you written?
A: Seventeen. I think the thing that gives me a boost is I play Division I college basketball. People hear that, and they're like, "Wow!" But some also ask, "Which one do you love more?" What good are you if you only explore one of your talents?
Q: You'll be going to Peru this spring to take part in a sports camp there. How did that come about?
A: It's through Fellowship Christian Athletes. I just felt it was a calling. I love to work with kids and teach them what I know. A lot of kids there are underprivileged or are from unhealthy households.
Q: Who is your favorite basketball player?
A: Kevin Garnett, always. I just love how passionate he is. He cried on TV. When he won his NBA championship, he was boo-hoo crying. Plus, he's got like seven different nonprofits. He does so much for the community. And, he's battled a lot of injuries himself.
Q: What has it been like to see Jaleesa Ross come so close to breaking the Fresno State scoring record?
A: When it first came up, I think it shocked her. It was something that wasn't visible to everybody else, and she never talked about it. I think it's been good for her to be challenged to get her shot off. In the beginning, I think she struggled to create it herself. But now she's knocking them down like crazy. I'm excited to watch her grow as a player.
Q: I know you've seen "Eat Pray Love." If you could "Eat Pray Love" your life, where would you go?
A: Oh, good one! To Eat, I'd go to Jamaica. I love Jamaican food! To pray, I'd go to Jerusalem. And to love (pause), I'd go to Australia (laughs).