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Gary Clark: "Being able to talk and be impactful defensively and rebounding."

Posted: October 1, 2019 -- 9:42 a.m. CT

Houston Rockets forward Gary Clark enters his second season in the NBA; and, he looks to utilize the experience he gained during his rookie season to be more impactful defensively as well as do something which is easier for some players than others: talk more.

Clark said he used this year's NBA Summer League to improve his skills on offense as well as improve his level of communication.

"I had Summer League; so, I had the opportunity to really do a lot more stuff off the ball," Clark said. "Just try to be productive. That vocal leader defensively; orchestrating stuff offensively with some of the young guys that wasn't used to our offense. Really, just get myself to talk more."

Clark added, "So, during practice this week; in camp; and, tonight (Monday night, September 30), just trying to be vocal; so, that guys hear me talking defensively and just communicating.

"Really, coaches know I can shoot. Being able to talk and be impactful defensively and rebounding. Trying to get back to the way I was in college. You know crashing the boards every possession."

During his 4 seasons in college with the Cincinnati Bearcats, Clark earned Defensive Player of the Year honors twice for the American Athletic Conference and earned AAC Player of the Year honors his senior season.

With his second season in the NBA underway, Clark is more comfortable in his role with the Rockets.

"Yeah. A lot (more) comfortable," Clark acknowledged. "Getting that experience out. That whole hype about being in the NBA and just getting that out of your system is just like the best thing. Don't play for the whole first half tonight; then, soon as James (Harden) swings it to me (in the second half) and knock it down. Just get going early. Get guys trying to screen; doing offensive stuff."

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During the offseason, the Rockets kept their core group of veterans together (James Harden, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Austin Rivers, Clint Capela, and Gerald Green and added veterans Ryan Anderson, Tyson Chandler, Ben McLemore, Thabo Sefolosha, and, of course, Russell Westbrook. Plus, the Rockets signed Danuel House, Jr to a new contract.

With so many veterans on this year's roster, Clark's role on the team might be different than his rookie season. However, Clark says he's prepared himself for whatever role is asked of him.

"Yeah; but, being the same kind of role (as last season)," Clark admitted. "Being a young guy that's ready every night. Not knowing if one of the vets is resting or anything. Have injuries. Just Coach (Mike D'Antoni) being able to use me whenever he needs me. I think it's a good thing like tonight: not play the whole first half; and, then, boom, Coach calls your name up. Not playing tonight; and, then, the next night playing 25 plus minutes.

Clark aims to help the Rockets improve their rebounding this season.

"So, being able defensively that person that's communicating, crashing the boards, cleaning up our defensive rebounding," Clark added. "Last year, we were toward the end of the league (in rebounding). Just trying to be better there; and, being one of those bodies that can help us.

Last season, the Rockets ranked 28th (out of 30) in overall rebounding and 29th in defensive rebounding.

Not much time has elapsed since Clark's college days; and, he still keeps in contact with members of the Cincinnati Bearcats team.

"Yeah. A little bit," Clark remarked. "I still talk to some of the guys: Tre Scott (6'8 redshirt senior forward); Keith Williams (6'5 junior guard). Just here and there. Asking them about how things are going. Trying to be that outlet for them when they want to ask questions about how I handled things when I was there. What to get ready for at the next level."

Clark's college coach, Mick Cronin, is the new Head Coach at UCLA; but, Clark says he's heard good things about new Bearcats' Head Coach John Brannen. However, Clark isn't sure how good the Bearcats will be in 2019-'20.

"I'm not sure," Clark commented. "I know the guys talk about how highly they think of Coach (John) Brannen. How team oriented and how close he's gotten with the guys. How much they trust him already. I think they'll have a good season. When the games come, we'll see more; but, so far, from hearing from Tre and those guys, Coach Brannen is doing a good job with the guys getting them prepared."

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