This is the 10th installment in a series of interviews with Hamilton College student-athletes. Tim Shaw '10 is a co-captain and three-year letter winner on the men's basketball team. The communication major has played 78 games during his three-plus season career, and made the Liberty League men's basketball all-academic team as a sophomore and a junior. The team's record during his career so far is 59-30, with three appearances in the league tournament and two regular season league titles. Hamilton hosts Rensselaer on Friday, Jan. 22, and Vassar College on Saturday, Jan. 23, for league games. Nationally ranked No. 5 Williams College visits Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m.
Q: Tell us a little bit about where you grew up.
A: I was born in Chicago but grew up in the nearby suburb of Elmhurst, Illinois. I enjoy living in Elmhurst because of its close proximity to Chicago and all of its resources. Specifically for basketball, growing up in Chicagoland allowed me to compete against some of the best players in the country throughout my high school and AAU careers.
Q: Did you participate in any other sports before you came to Hamilton?
A: Growing up I played a variety of sports. In addition to basketball, I loved playing football, baseball and hockey. As I got to high school, I continued to play basketball and baseball, but also challenged myself in cross country and volleyball. Ultimately, when I got into my junior year of high school I chose to focus on basketball, but I really enjoyed all my experiences playing other sports.
Q: How did you get interested in basketball?
A: I think what kick-started my interest in basketball was the Chicago Bulls' two NBA championship three-peats during the 90's. It was so exciting watching my favorite team be so successful seemingly every year. The Bulls' success translated into a lot of time spent in the driveway with my friends reenacting dunks or plays by Michael Jordan, all of which were performed on a 7-foot rim. While I very much enjoyed my many reenactments, they led directly to a frustrating stage in my early teens when I realized that an NBA career, 360-degree dunks, and unbelievable athleticism may not be in the cards.
Q: How does someone that has lived in the Midwest their whole life find out about and get interested in attending Hamilton?
A: I first heard about Hamilton as I was being recruited by coach Anderson. As we talked, I learned more about Hamilton's academic reputation and the open curriculum. Combined with the opportunity to play basketball, all of this made Hamilton a very appealing choice for me. This preliminary interest led me to campus on a recruiting visit where I stayed with several members of the basketball team. After seeing the campus, and meeting members of the team, I knew Hamilton was where I wanted to go...and the rest is history.
Q: Were you aware of the success the Hamilton men's basketball program had experienced in Division III before you visited campus?
A: As coach was recruiting me he stressed the tradition the men's basketball program had at Hamilton, so I heard about it before I visited. At the same time, I didn't really comprehend the history behind the program until I got to school and saw the NCAA, ECAC, Liberty League and 14 All-American banners, as well as the amazing records put up by former head basketball coach Tom Murphy. Seeing everything that has been accomplished by the program makes me proud to have been a part of it.
Q: Did Fenwick High School help prepare you for a college as academically demanding as Hamilton?
A: Fenwick definitely prepared me for college, specifically for a college as demanding as Hamilton. I am very fortunate to have had teachers in high school that expected a lot out of me and stressed the importance of organization and great work ethic. Although I may not have said this when I was in high school, I am glad my teachers pushed me the way they did because they allowed me to reach my full potential as a student, and ultimately be well-prepared for the rigors of college education.
Q: Is there any one basketball player you use as a model for your style of play?
A: As much as I would love to say that I model my style of play off Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, anyone that has seen me play knows that my game is anything but "above the rim." If I had to pick someone I would have to say my game is a combination between that of Mark Madsen (given his off-the-court dancing abilities), and former Bull and current Sacramento King, Andres Nocioni (a scrappy player that hustles and isn't afraid to dive on the floor).
Q: Is this the season the Northwestern University men's basketball team finally makes the NCAA tournament?
A: Although I'm from Chicagoland, and my brother went to Illinois, my Big Ten loyalties fall to Michigan State. That being said, as long as Northwestern doesn't prevent Michigan St. from going to the tournament, I would love to see Northwestern finally make the NCAA tournament. As a Cubs fan, I have a soft place in my heart for seeing teams accomplish feats that haven't happened for long periods of time.
Q: As a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan, do you blame Bartman for the loss to the Florida Marlins in the 2003 NLCS?
A: Blaming Bartman would be the easy thing to do, but I can't do that. I feel bad for him because he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm sure if you put a lot of people in that situation they would go for that ball the same way. Also, it is important to stress that the Bartman play didn't decide the game. The Cubs had plenty of opportunities to get out of that inning, not to mention a whole other game (Game 7), in which they could have moved on to the World Series.
Q: You have spent some time in Chicago and Upstate New York. So, thin crust or deep dish, and why?
A: Based on my answers, it seems pretty apparent that I am proud of my Midwestern roots, so I get the feeling it would be blasphemous for me to say anything other than deep dish. But in all seriousness, I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy thin crust pizza because it is pretty good. But there's just something great about deep dish Chicago-style pizza, specifically from Giordano's or Lou Malnati's, so the edge goes to deep dish.
Q: You made the Liberty League men's basketball all-academic team each of the past two years. How do you balance academics and the long season?
A: In addition to being prepared out of high school, I have had success in the classroom by focusing on managing my time. There are some people that work better and are more efficient when they are busy. I definitely fall into that category. It's a good thing the basketball season is such a long season because my busy schedule requires me to stay focused. If I wasn't so busy, I may be more willing to slack off.
Q: What is your favorite class and/or instructor at Hamilton, and why?
A: I've enjoyed so many of my classes since I've been here, and I love having classes with all of the professors in the communication department. However, if I had to pick one particular class, I'd have to say a classics class I took with Prof. Carl Rubino. The class examined the impact classical theory played on early U.S. political leaders like Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. I enjoyed learning more about Hamilton, such as his policies, rivalry with Jefferson and the events that led to his death.
Q: What will Tim Shaw be doing five years from now?
A: I would love to answer that question, but seeing as I don't know what I am doing after I graduate, I can't speak for myself five years from now. Currently, I've applied to several graduate programs in communication, and will continue to apply for jobs in various cities, including Chicago. Five years from now I hope I have the ability to provide for myself, enjoy whatever it is I am doing, and be in relatively good shape (my metabolism is going pretty fast these days).