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March 17, 2022

John Becker

Ryan Davis

Ben Shungu

Buffalo, New York, USA

KeyBank Center

Vermont Catamounts

Media Conference

Arkansas 75, Vermont 71

JOHN BECKER: Obviously, disappointing with our season ending, but I couldn't be more proud of my team and the way they competed tonight. I mean, it just -- we wish we could have shot free-throws better. We wish we could have rebounded a little bit better at the end, but these guys left it all out on the court against a really, really good Arkansas team.

I would like to congratulate them on the win and wish them luck moving forward in the tournament, but, yeah, it hurts but as a coach, as a leader of this group of people that I have had the pleasure of being around this year, I couldn't be more proud.

Q. This is for Ryan. Just as Coach put it, do you feel -- it looked and do you feel as if you left everything on the court against a good defensively sound team and scored 71 points against a team that was giving up only 64? Just your thoughts, as disappointing as this loss is, just what you left out there?

RYAN DAVIS: I think like Coach said, we left some things out on the table, but when all is said and done, I think that we gave it our best shot at it and credit to them. They played really tough, physical defense, but we were able to find some certain things, so it's credit to them how hard they play on that end, but definitely feel like we found some confidence and were able to put on a pretty tough game, so ...

Q. This is for either player. You guys fought and fought and fought hard. What do you take from this loss that you can actually build on moving forward?

BEN SHUNGU: This is my last year, so I mean, obviously this loss is tough, but for the younger guys and for the many guys on the team, it just shows that we can compete with anybody. With saying that, every possession is key. You got to try to win every possession, especially with good teams like this. It gives them courage and gives them another boost of confidence to go out there and compete with teams like this.

Q. Benny, obviously, kind of the strategy for this team all year has been you pick and probe inside, you find your outside shots, and it seems like a lot of those were kind of falling for a little bit, but kind of maybe a little bit of a gap there in the middle of the second half. Was it just a matter of the shots weren't falling when you needed them to, or was there something they were doing that put you off the line a little bit?

BEN SHUNGU: I think they did a good job with the pressure and trying to limit our threes or at least contesting them pretty heavily. Trying to get us in the two-point range and whatnot. I think some shots just didn't fall for us. There were some plays where we didn't execute. We could have done that better, but props to them again for playing as hard as they did.

Q. Congrats on a great season. Ben, especially for you, your last season playing Vermont basketball. How do you think you're going to look back at it?

BEN SHUNGU: Yes. It's crazy to think that it's to the end right now. I think I'm going to look back at it just being grateful that Coach Becker gave me a chance to really just to bloom as player, but most importantly as a person and just creating the relationships that I have with all these guys and past guys. It's a really special place, and this basketball program is the best, the best.

Q. What about you? How will you look back at the season? I know it's raw.

RYAN DAVIS: Every time we step on the court, we enjoyed one another, and we really found just joy with how we played basketball and kind of how we functioned on and off the courts. So that kind of memory I take away, just how together we were through everything. And whenever adversity hit in a game or when things weren't going our way, we were able to bounce back just because of that chemistry.

Q. This is for Ben. You guys did a good job have getting Notae in foul trouble in the first half, and he was struggling, but he always seems to find a way to score in the second half. What did you think of the way he responded in the second half, and then Devo Davis, number four for them came off the bench and had a pretty good game. What did you think of number 4 for Arkansas?

BEN SHUNGU: He did a good job of just coming off of the bench and playing his role and attacking where he can attack. Kind of gave them a boost. Notae did a good job even though he was in foul trouble. He was able to get to the line and kind of get back to a rhythm, so that's just a testament of them to keep going, and they did a good job with that.

Q. Ben, with nine seconds left ball goes out of bounds, you're down by two. It was originally called it was going to be your ball. Call overturned. What was kind of going on emotionally? It seemed like forever.

BEN SHUNGU: Just a moment like that, you obviously want it to go your way. It was turned, and that was it, and so we just had to just kind of stay ready and try to get a steal. If not, a foul, and then try to get back on offense and make a play.

Q. For Ben and Ryan. How do you think you're leaving this program? How close is it to winning in the NCAA tournament?

RYAN DAVIS: I think we're as close as can be. We're right there, and we're able -- we've shown we've been able to compete with teams like this. We've proven that we are able to get back to here year after year, and that's something that's really hard to do, but to get over that hump is something that still we've yet to do in the recent future, but I think we're right there.

BEN SHUNGU: Yeah, there's definitely a lot of potential. We are right there. Even our non-conference schedule, you know, we can compete with these teams. We still have more work to do, but we're definitely right there.

Q. Ryan, I think Arkansas today had ten free-throws for their last eight points. They've been a good free-throw shooting team all year. How frustrating is that when you are fouling, and you are obviously hoping they're going to miss, and they did a pretty good job of knocking them down to maintain the lead?

RYAN DAVIS: It's just credit to them, and that's a clutch situation, being able to knock down those free-throws is huge, and obviously, you're hoping for a miss, but that's their job to go knock those down, so credit to them.

Q. Obviously, a situation like this is always really emotional. It seems like you're maybe even more emotional this time than after the last two NCAA Tournament defeats. What's going through your mind right now?

JOHN BECKER: I just feel bad for the kids and for our program that we couldn't find a way to win tonight. Arkansas is really good, and we knew we would have to play near perfect basketball. And, unfortunately, we didn't do that, but really I'm just so proud of these kids and this team. It was just a pleasure to be around all year. They worked so hard. They were so good and are so good, and it just hurts when there's just going to be a lot of guys that aren't going to be here, you know, and just you've been with them a long time, so it's -- like I said earlier, we came here with high expectations for ourselves. We haven't lost a lot of games, and so to have your season end for everyone but one team, it ends on a loss, and that is just -- it hurts.

Q. Even after the game, I seen you happy, astute with the fans and such a class act. With guys like Ben who are done with their collegiate careers, what's the conversations that you have with athletes such as they're finishing off their careers even after?

JOHN BECKER: You're a coach for life, right? Our relationships are just going to take a different course, but I'm always going to be here for him, and we'll get to what's next for them. Finishing school is first, but we'll have plenty of opportunities to -- as a group to be together, not on the court, but at dinners. So it doesn't feel like goodbye at all, but it just -- and so the conversations will be what's best for them and what they want to do in the future and how we can help in any way.

Q. I'm curious for your impressions of Stanley Umude tonight and what made him a challenging cover for your guys?

JOHN BECKER: I was really impressed with him. Gosh darn, he is huge. Like on tape, he didn't look that big, and then he could really shoot it and really provide spacing for them. I thought he was really, really good and impressive. Looked like a pro, and he is a good player, for sure.

Q. You guys did a good job getting Notae in foul trouble, and he was struggling, but that's kind of his M.O. this year. He is in foul trouble and then has a big second half. What did you think of his second half, and also Davonte Davis, number 4 for them, I think he averages 15 points in five NCAA tournament games, and the rest of the games, he averages eight. I just want to --

JOHN BECKER: He averaged seven coming in, Davis, and he gave them a lot. That was my fault. We should have been forcing him right everywhere, where he was getting to his left hand, and he is tough in that midrange, and he did a great job. Notae was good, you know, and, again, that was bad coaching on my part. They just kept running the same set, and we should -- we didn't do a good job of keeping him to his left hand. He is a really good player, and we weren't trying to get him in foul trouble. That just kind of was the way it went. We had two guys with three fouls. He had three. He got his fourth, and so, yeah, I mean, that's what the deal is, right? Your best players have to make plays, and our best players made plays. That's why we stayed in the game, and their best player, the last ten minutes made a lot of good plays.

Q. Ryan Davis didn't have a shot in the last 13 minutes. How much did that hurt? I know he was out. You took him out for a few minutes there, but not getting that shot in the last 15 minutes.

JOHN BECKER: So the way they were guarding him, they were just staying matted to him, and so we were just running middle ball screen. And our guards were just coming off the screen and just getting downhill scoring or finding guys for wide-open threes. He was generating wide-open offense for us without him touching the ball.

Obviously, do I wish in hindsight that he could have gotten more touches? Absolutely. They did a good job of really not letting that, but he was the reason we were generating that offense at the end. The thing is we couldn't get any stops. We were scoring. We scored way more than they usually give up. We just couldn't get stops, and then when we did, we couldn't get the rebound. Again, that's a credit to them. It's not -- we're playing above our weight class here, obviously. And when you do that -- and this has been the story in these games.

Florida State, we're right there with ten minutes to go, and then it's offensive rebounds, that hurt us. That's just -- you're dealing with just superior athletes, a lot of guys, and so they're really good at offensive rebounding. We had done a good job, and you look at the numbers. They only -- I think we only gave up eight, but then we had, like, two or three box-outs where they called it on us. And so there was a combination of those two things where we couldn't finish the defensive possession when we got them to miss, but we're the 15th team in the country, and they're the second best team in the SEC this year.

Our guys fought like hell. They were fighting like hell. I can point stuff out on a box score, but they gave everything they had, so what am I -- I'm proud as hell of them.

Q. Over the last six years, you've answered and sung the praises of Ben Shungu maybe an infinite amount of times. Now that his career is officially over, how will you look back at it?

JOHN BECKER: Just an incredible story. He will be forever remembered in Burlington and in our community, and all the things I've ever said about him as a basketball player, we all know the people from Burlington in this room, what a person he is. That to me is the legacy that he will leave. How you treat people, how you carry yourself when you are the star of anything or you are known at all. He has been a class act since day one. He has had time for everybody. He always has a smile on his face. He is always in a good mood. How do you do that? How do you do that? I wish I could be like that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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