Feb. 25, 2014
By SEAN BRENNAN
Special to BIGEAST.com
In our latest installment of “Getting to Know…,” we catch up with Xavier’s 6-10 junior center Matt Stainbrook, who fills us in on why ‘X’ marked the spot after transferring from Western Michigan, why having his younger brother, Tim, as his roommate on the road is such a great thing (but not for Tim) and why he is a Latin lover….but not the kind you think.
BIGEAST.com: You started your college career at Western Michigan. Why did you leave and why did you choose Xavier?
STAINBROOK: Well, I decided to transfer from Western because I didn’t necessarily get along with the coach and I actually didn’t have my scholarship renewed. That’s something most people don’t know. So I was basically told to transfer. And why I thought Xavier was such a great fit was it had academics, athletics and atmosphere. When it comes down to it, it’s a school that you’re proud to be from, their athletics have had a great track record in the past and the atmosphere of being in Cincinnati are some of the top things that went into my decision.
BIGEAST.com: Your first career college game with Western Michigan was, ironically, at Xavier. So was it a tad bizarre to then find yourself playing a few years later in a Xavier uniform?
STAINBROOK: Yeah, definitely. It’s something funny to look back on. I remember playing in that first game and I definitely had butterflies when there are 10,000 people are cheering and screaming. I’m like, ‘So this is what college basketball is like.’ So I definitely remember that.
BIGEAST.com: Were you happy when Xavier decided to join the BIG EAST and has it been everything you’d hoped it would be?
STAINBROOK: Oh yeah, it’s one of those things where you want to play big-time basketball and that’s what the BIG EAST is, big-time basketball. It’s something where every game is important. There’s not any game where you can fly by or cruise through because every game means a lot and that’s something you want to play in.
You and the Musketeers are coming to New York to play St. John’s at the Garden (on Feb. 25). Have you ever played there or even visited it as a fan?
STAINBROOK: I’ve never played there and have never been to it so it’s something I’m really looking forward to. And it will be nice to get a little feel for the atmosphere in there before the BIG EAST tournament.
BIGEAST.com: In your opinion is Xavier a NCAAA Tournament team right now or is there still some work to do to get in?
STAINBROOK: I feel we’ve proved that we’re in right now. We’ve had some good wins and we’re going to win some more games, too. We still have four games left in the regular season but if the seedings were decided today we’d be in. We’ve played a tough schedule and we’ve had our ups and downs but we’ve definitely had more ups than downs. I want to be part of the NCAA Tournament and that’s something where I’m going to put myself on the line in order to do that.
BIGEAST.com: You never made the tournament in your two years at Western Michigan. How much would it mean to you to do dancing with Xavier this year?
STAINBROOK: It would mean a ton. It would be the culmination of all the hard work I put in during the offseason, all the hard work the whole team put in during the offseason. It’s something where when I look left and right at the guys next to me in the locker room and playing on the court with me, I know they have sacrificed so much that we deserve to be part of the NCAA Tournament.
BIGEAST.com: Why is Xavier so tough at home? You’re 14-1 in the Cintas Center this season with just a loss to Seton Hall as the lone blemish on your home record.
STAINBROOK: Well you have to give a lot of credit to the Sixth Man, which is our student section. The fans just do a great job but also I think we have that swagger at home. It’s our home court and we’re going to defend it. You’re not going to walk into our place, walk into the lion’s den and come out victorious. For us it’s a little bit of pride and a little bit of the student section doing their magic.
BIGEAST.com: Your brother, Tim, is on the team as a freshman walk-on. What’s it like having him play with you?
STAINBROOK: It’s great. I never got to play with him in high school because of the age difference and now being able to be around him is a lot of fun. It’s nice knowing I’ll have my little brother as my roommate on the road trips. I get to choose what bed I want to sleep in and how cold the temperature in the room is so that’s always cool.
BIGEAST.com: So you get to really pay the role of big brother. Everything your way.
STAINBROOK: (Laughs) Exactly. I want this pillow, I want this side of the room. I get dibs on a lot of things.
BIGEAST.com: So because Tim is not on scholarship and you are, are you your parents’ (Nancy and Dave) favorite son because you’re not costing them tuition?
STAINBROOK: (Laughs) I like to think so. But I like to think I was always their favorite child because I’m so personable!
BIGEAST.com: Your dad is an engineer for NASA. What exactly does he do and does he have one of the cooler jobs?
STAINBROOK: He works on a lot of projects. He works a lot with the International Space Station and how they relay messages and commands and things like that. It’s pretty cool stuff.
BIGEAST.com: Your dad was a football player at Ohio University. Did he ever try to coax you into playing football over basketball?
STAINBROOK: He did. I definitely have his body type, he’s a little bigger and I’m a little bigger. But I just never caught on (to football) because to me, I can’t understand that you want me to block and have some other guy score a touchdown and get all the fame and glory? In basketball even if I don’t score I feel I did something for the team because I’m on the court and I’m touching the ball and I’m part of everything.
BIGEAST.com: In high school you won a gold medal in the National Latin Exam. What’s that all about?
STAINBROOK: I took two years of Latin in high school (Lakewood St. Edward) and the National Latin Exam is a nationwide exam that is 50 multiple choice questions. I actually got 49 out of 50 correct and finished in the top two percentile of all the people that took it so you were awarded a gold medal for doing that.
BIGEAST.com: So is that a great pickup line with the ladies now, that you are actually a gold medal winner?
STAINBROOK: (Laughs) Oh yeah. I tell them, ‘I’m such a studious guy. I could help you with your homework!
BIGEAST.com: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
STAINBROOK: I honestly don’t know if there has been a highlight yet in my career but definitely one of the high points was beating Cincinnati this year. Being part of that was something where the atmosphere was fun and I don’t think I’ve ever been part of something that was so emotional and so important to a group of guys. Definitely coming out on top in that game and by a large margin (64-47) was very important.