After a sudden late season move, the Xinjiang Tigers cut combo guard Andrew Goudelock and replaced him with former Utah and Phoenix point guard Bryce Cotton. Cotton averaged 21.2 ppg during his run with the Tigers before they eventually lost in the CBA Semi-Finals to eventual champions, Sichuan Blue Whale. He now talks to Shark Fin Hoops about his time with the Tigers and his thoughts on Chinese basketball.
Andrew Crawford: What was the biggest adjustment in doing from the D-League/NBA to Chinese basketball?
Bryce Cotton: I think the biggest difference was joining the CBA with only two regular season games left and trying to pick up their style of play with playoffs just right around the corner. I’d also been called up to NBA teams [in the past] but it was a major difference going to a completely different league/country that you never have been to.
AC: Is there an element of Chinese basketball that the average American doesn’t pick up on?
BC: The passion. The players really love the game and they get a lot of support from the fans.
AC: Given how CBA teams work, they’ve increasing shifted towards playing through their main American scorer and that’s why you’re seeing so many imports have multiple 50+ nights a season. Did you ever feel there was pressure to force shots or take bad ones?
BC: Not really. The majority of the time, the offense runs through the foreign players in China. You know your shots are going to come within the flow of the game. I mean, I shot 50% from 3pt range so you just have to be patient.
AC: What about playing with high level Chinese players like Liu Wei (former China NT captain) and Li Gen (former CBA Finals MVP). Neither of those guys are going to defer to imports— did you have to be aware of that during a game or at practice.
BC: Again, not really. It was an amazing experience playing with those guys. I got along with the team great, and it seemed like they got along with me as well, so for my short stay over there I enjoyed my teammates over in Xinjiang.
AC: Obviously have to talk about Andray Blatche…
BC: Andray’s a tremendous player so him playing well, putting up ridiculous number is no surprise. He played in the NBA for ten years, I think, so it makes sense that he’s come over and done so dominated.
AC: Likewise, what was it like playing under Liu Quiping (Yao Ming’s old coach and all-round venerated figure within Chinese basketball).
BC: You could tell he was very intelligent and knew the game very well. He was also pretty welcome welcoming to me when I first arrived in Xinjiang so that was cool. Honestly, I couldn’t have had a better coach for my first time playing in China .
AC: You played alongside Zhou Qi, whose now been drafted by the Rockets and will likely go to the NBA at some point. Did you think he was going to NBA material when you saw him.
BC: Definitely. You knew he would get drafted and because he is so young, whatever role the Rockets give Zhou Qi I’m sure he will get it done.
AC: What was leaving like Urumqi like? Americans are known to dislike their experiences there due to the smog and the city’s isolated location.
BC: Any place is what you make of it, you know. I honestly felt comfortable once I was fully adjusted to the living conditions. Xinjiang were good; they treated me well at the place I stayed at so I have no complaints at all.
AC: Is going back to China something you’d like to do?
BC: No question. I loved the culture, the coaches, my teammates, the fans. That was my first experience [playing overseas] so I learned a lot along the way. I’m a competitive person; I love to win, and would love the opportunity to showcase my talent for a full season. I am not a cocky person but I know that if I get the opportunity on another team I can be one of the best import players in the entire league.