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March 20, 2016

Brad Underwood

Demetrious Floyd

Trey Pinkney

Thomas Walkup

Brooklyn, New York

Notre Dame - 76, Stephen F. Austin - 75

BRAD UNDERWOOD: I've been dreading this moment for a long time. So if I get emotional, I apologize. Because that's who I am.

A lot of credit to Notre Dame. They made the plays when they had to make the plays. It's what a good basketball team, one of the final 32 teams in the country, does. I thought the first half, it was more about us and some of the mistakes that we made. We didn't play our best half. We knew how good their numbers were offensively, and yet I thought that Beachem really hurt us, and then we didn't rotate very well out of our ball screens, which we normally do our ball screen coverage. I think we only forced four turnovers the first half, compared to nine the second half. That was a big difference.

I think once we got settled down and we got into the second half and we got into a flow offensively, I think it was a little bit better. Demetrious got going and made a few shots for us, and I can't say enough about Thomas. I thought T.J. Holyfield and Ty Charles, after literally not getting to play in the first game due to foul problems, were excellent tonight.

Again, all the credit in the world goes to Notre Dame. They made the play, and ironically, we lost on something that we take a great deal of pride in, and that's we do a very good job of ourself is offensive rebound.

Very tough day. Very emotional locker room. These are three of the five seniors that are the winningest players -- Trey and Tom, the winningest players in the history of our program. They've set a new standard for SFA basketball. They've set a new culture for SFA basketball. For that, I will be forever grateful.

As hard as today is, I think it's extremely important that each of these young men walk away with their head held high, not just being proud of who they are, but proud of what they've done at Stephen F. Austin and the way they've represented our school. But a very, very difficult day.

Q. For all the players, just your emotions when you see that last tip in go in after the last two shots missed from Notre Dame.
THOMAS WALKUP: Extremely tough. That's all I have to say. It's a ball we should have came up with after the first one, and it's tough to see it go through.

TREY PINKNEY: Yeah, like what Tom said, it's really hard. It's something that we preach is finishing plays. For that to be the way that we lost, it's hard.

DEMETRIOUS FLOYD: Kind of what Trey said, just boxing out. We didn't get it. We normally come up with the ball but we didn't get it this time.

Q. The rest of us, who maybe don't follow you as closely as some, get charmed by a low seed beating a high seed, as you guys did the other night, and playing one of the most famous names in college sports, Notre Dame. But is it important for you guys that we see you guys as a really good team who played a really good game against another really good team?
THOMAS WALKUP: Yeah, I think that's what this tournament is all about. For mid-majors to get in here and beat these high majors. That's what makes the tournament so fun is the upsets. So I think that's what made it a blast for us.

TREY PINKNEY: Yeah, I think it's also important because it just shows the amount of work that we put into our season over the course of the year, and that hard work pays off. So being at this stage is really an honor.

DEMETRIOUS FLOYD: Playing a team like Notre Dame, that's a blessing.

Q. Considering you guys have played your last game in an SFA uniform, what are you guys going to miss most about it?
THOMAS WALKUP: The brotherhood, just being around these guys.

TREY PINKNEY: Yeah, our togetherness was incredible and just the heart that we show, and just we're a big family. We'll miss that a lot.

DEMETRIOUS FLOYD: Just being around the team, like Thomas said.

Q. This is for all the three players. It was an excellent season, and you guys definitely played your hearts out even though it was a difficult loss. How much better did you guys become by playing together over the past four years?
THOMAS WALKUP: Incredible. Whenever I came to SFA, I hadn't dreamed of winning games in the NCAA Tournament. It was just about getting here and being part of the show. So to come in with Trey and do what we did in the time we were here, it's extremely special, something to hold on to for forever.

TREY PINKNEY: Yeah, to piggy-back what Tom said, it's extremely special, coming in together and growing together. I mean, on the court, off the court, knowing each other's tendencies, it's something that we'll remember for the rest of our lives.

Kind of like what Coach said earlier, we come in the winningest players, and it's a blessing. It's just not something you can take away from somebody.

DEMETRIOUS FLOYD: Coming into SFA and going to an NCAA Tournament and making it this far is always a blessing.

Q. I'd like to ask you the same question I ask your players. We all get charmed by the idea of a low seed making these upsets, but for you, having been around these kids, you couldn't have been surprised as the rest of us were for what you did on Friday and how you competed today. Is it important for you to leave that legacy for these kids, that this is just another good team playing another good team as opposed to some kind of charming upstart?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Well, I think we proved we belong, and I think that this team has known they belong all year. The improvement that this team made is dramatic because we started a true freshman in T.J. Holyfield, and it took us a little while to get our chemistry right. But I would not discredit Thomas Walkup and Trey Pinkney, those two in particular, in any way by saying they didn't belong or no matter what the name on the front. We don't care what the name on the front of the uniform says. And I don't mean that in disrespect to Notre Dame or to anybody we play.

I know how hard those young men work. Thomas Walkup proved he's as good as any player in this tournament as there is in the country, and that young man's done it with hard work. There's no -- I mean, we're one point away from the Sweet 16 and one defensive rebound or one basket, one possession, however you'd like to look at it. I don't think there's any question, beating VCU two years ago, had our opportunities last year against Utah. The name doesn't mean anything. Stephen F. Austin is here to stay, and we've got good players, and the job that these guys have done establishing a culture has made it very special.

Q. Seconding just what you said, I think Thomas Walkup played just as well as anybody this weekend. Can you talk to us about his evolution from when he arrived to now, just how much he has improved?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Well, two points a game as a freshman and really a positionless player because he physically didn't have the strength that he has now. The one thing that we do is we lift weights at -- it's a big part of our program and the growth of our program. That has allowed Tom to be multidimensional and versatile. Tom guards literally four or five different spots on the court.

His best position at the next level is the point. But his versatility has been -- has come through the weight room. No way do I want to cheapen the effort that he has put in on the court, and he was a young man that couldn't shoot, didn't make threes, and everything was -- he was a 50 percent free-throw shooter as a freshman. Well, 19 of 20 on Friday night and 7 of 7 today, and the work that that young man has put in, he's made himself one of the elite players in college basketball. And that's a tribute all to his work ethic.

And I don't even talk about the mental because that young man watches more film and prepares better than any player I've ever been around.

Q. Brad, I don't think you all scored the last 1:30 or 1:40. Maybe talk about your offensive execution? You were up 75-70. Just talk about your execution on offense down the stretch.
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Had to remind me of that, didn't you? We were putting the ball in Tom's hands, and give them credit because they made the stops they needed to make. The one thing that we were going to do was have him make a pass, have him make a shot, or have him get fouled. Again, they came up with the plays. It was no different than what we did the other night against West Virginia. We put the ball in Tom's hands, and I'll do it again every single time. I'm going to live and die with that young man.

Then we needed one to go or a defensive rebound.

Q. Coach, it had been about a month and a half since you guys even played a game that was decided by less than ten points. What was it like down the stretch? What was your team's mentality late?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Oh, I think they were pretty confident. The one thing that our team knows how to do is win. I don't think there was any question, I think we were all pretty focused and dialed in. We knew our staff on our bench. We knew when we had a foul to give late. We knew when we had talked about what situation we were going to do. We were going to run and jump, try to get the ball out of Jackson's hands. We were going to do that off of the Farrell kid. We had talked about all of that stuff.

You know, again, it was trying to exploit -- and Jackson's tremendous. He made big plays and does what a pro guard should do. But he hit a couple tough shots. But we were poised. We were right there. I mean, it was -- we haven't had many close games in the last month, until we got here, but we work on those situations quite often.

Q. Off the court, what are you going to miss most about Thomas?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: He's a better kid than he is a player, and that's what I'll miss. He's funny. He's smart. This is what this is about. He's everything that this is about. It's relationships, it's people, it's a student-athlete with two degrees. It's a student-athlete who made himself great. How do you not fall in love with a kid like that?

And we use the term love a lot in our program. He's got a wonderful family. There's not enough adjectives to say what I feel about that young man. He's going to go make it in whatever endeavor he chooses beyond basketball, with basketball, whatever. I love that kid to death.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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