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March 11, 2010

Tom Fow

Jeff Reynolds

Evan Washington


New Mexico – 75
Air Force - 69

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Air Force head coach Reynolds and student-athletes. We'll start by taking an opening comment about the game from coach Reynolds.
COACH REYNOLDS: I think you got to tip your hat to both teams. I thought it was a great college basketball game. I thought their ability to get offensive stick-backs was quite frankly the difference. I thought their effort was outstanding. I thought our guys' effort was outstanding.
Over the last 10 days, we've gotten a little healthier. We still don't have a 6'11" young man back, but we played today like we did early when we scrimmaged at Southern Cal. It was good to see.
You know, these guys are going to represent the United States Air Force Academy in an unbelievable fashion. They do things beyond what most student-athletes do. Sometimes it goes unrecognized by those outside of the field of athletics. They continue to amaze me with their sticktoitiveness.
While having said that, I think you have to tip your hat to New Mexico. I don't think they played bad today. I thought they played outstanding. I thought Steve had his team ready to play. They made some big shots.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. The way you played yesterday and then today, does that give you hope for next year or make you feel frustrated weren't able to play that way the whole year?
TOM FOW: I think it definitely is frustrating. I mean, you know, every single one of us, we played our tails off. To know and see what we can accomplish with a lot of hard work and the coaching staff giving us the good preps for the games, as long as we execute, you know, it gives us a pretty good chance to win against the No. 8 team in the country.
EVAN WASHINGTON: You know, I think it was a tough loss. We definitely were frustrated after that loss. We all wanted to win. We played the sport to win.
But we have to come out with a positive. The majority of my teammates that were playing were freshmen and sophomores. So the future's looking bright for us.

Q. Coach was mentioning their offensive stick-backs, them on the glass. How athletic were they and how difficult was it to try to keep them off the glass?
TOM FOW: Extremely. I mean, all those guys are extremely talented. You have future pros that are playing on that team. We had some minor slips in the game that hurt us. But, I mean, their athleticism was unmatched by anyone.
I mean, I think a lot of people underestimate how athletic this conference is.
EVAN WASHINGTON: I'm going with what Tom said. They're extremely athletic. But we just have to use the box-out techniques that our coaching staff has taught us to find ways to get around those and use our quickness to our advantage. Our bigs did an excellent job of keeping them off the boards at some times of the game. I think we have to take that on to next year.

Q. It was a pretty contentious game and intense. You seemed to embrace that. Talk about playing in that kind of environment and how you responded to how the game was being played.
TOM FOW: If you look back on our game at the Pit in New Mexico, we were very poised against a very good team. I felt that, you know, New Mexico, they brought the Pit with them to the conference tournament. So we knew what we had to accomplish. We knew, our coaches and everybody gave us a good game plan because we knew what it took to be successful.
But, you know, that's basketball. Sometimes it just happens that way.
EVAN WASHINGTON: Yeah, you know, me personally, I love to play in games like that, in hostile arenas like that. I embrace the pressure. I embrace the fans, the rowdy fans, the rowdy crowds. It's something I've always loved to play in as a player.
You know, some instances you just have to step up and make plays. Our coaching staff set us up with an excellent game plan. We carried it out but just couldn't come up with the win.

Q. What type of player from you watching Darington is he? How difficult is he to defend because of his versatility?
EVAN WASHINGTON: Man, he's an excellent player. He can knock down the outside shot if you lay off him. He can drive left to his strong hand or right. It's a tough task to take on when you have to defend him one-on-one. He's also an excellent offensive rebounder. Many times in the games, he made two or three stick-backs right there because he's very long. That also gives him an advantage on the defensive end.

Q. What's it going to take next year to restore Air Force to what it was when Evan first came in?
TOM FOW: I think towards the end of the season we started to click. We started to get things, have that passion, have that personal pride, you know, that we weren't going to lay down for anybody. I think if we carry that over, with the young guys getting a lot of experience this year, it's definitely going to help us. Definitely our maturity out there on the basketball court, you know, definitely looking forward to it.
EVAN WASHINGTON: You know, I think it's just gonna be a mindset. When I was a freshman, when I was at the prep school, you know, everybody here had a mindset that you don't lose, especially at home. That's going to be something that we have to get back. We started to develop towards the end of the year. When times got tough, we would persevere through it. We wanted to win. We had the mindset we were in the game to win, not to lose. I think we're just going to have to get that back for the future.
THE MODERATOR: At this time we'll dismiss the student-athletes. We'll continue with questions for coach Reynolds.

Q. Lobos seemed to find a way to win. Time and again this year they've won the close ones. What from your perspective do you see about them that keeps that streak going?
COACH REYNOLDS: They're very confident. They play both ends of the floor. They've got an outstanding point guard that sometimes doesn't get all the credit that he deserves. And I think you have to credit their coaching staff. They've done a nice job. They lost such an enormous amount of seniors, but yet bringing in those transfers and those freshmen and blending them all together, that's a tough job.
I'd certainly like to have a few transfers. It makes your job a little easier. But at the same time, uhm, you know, you got to give Coach Alford, Coach Neal, his staff, they do a good job.

Q. Even though you didn't win the last two games against New Mexico, you pushed them really close to the edge. Have you seen something, vulnerability, that might be a problem for them later in the post-season?
COACH REYNOLDS: Not necessarily. I think our style's a little unique. They play a lot of switching man. At the Pit, we were able to -- we had 10 days to prep. Today we didn't have any time to prep, less than 24 hours.
But, you know, I'll say this. I've been in the league now five years. It might be the most versatile team that I've seen in the league. They can score in a number of ways, and they defend.

Q. Can you talk more about the offensive rebounds. How athletic is that team and how difficult was it to try to keep them off the glass?
COACH REYNOLDS: The whole game was very physical. You know, the way the game was officiated allowed constant contact by both teams, not just necessarily by the Lobos, but even us. I thought a couple of times we did a great job of boxing them out, and they just jumped right over us.
You know, particularly Hobson. You know, that's difficult. That's a difficult task. You know, we tell our guys all the time to hit and get. So go hit the offensive player and then turn and pursue the ball. A couple of rebounds they got today were way above the rim.
You know, you got to credit their recruiting. They've done a nice job.

Q. Seemed like Todd Fletcher and Michael Lyons, they've grown up a lot, but especially the last two days. Your thoughts on the way they played the last two days.
COACH REYNOLDS: Well, I think in Todd's case, I think he's followed Evan and saw Evan. That's been a blessing for Todd. You know, when Mike graduated last year from the prep school, we knew he had a lot of ability. He still needs to get bigger and stronger. It was good to see those guys mature today in an environment that was very much like playing on the road.

Q. Looking forward to next year, do you take some momentum from the last couple days and what are your thoughts on if next year can be different?
COACH REYNOLDS: Well, I certainly hope it can be different. When you have six concussions, broken wrist, an unusual pelvis injury, a torn ACL, two broken noses, a 6'11" kid that's had a concussion since late November, you don't ever want to go through that as a coach anywhere.
And I think it shows the resiliency of our kids, the fact that they never quit, even though they were getting hammered by the media and other avenues. They just keep coming.
You know, I think that's what the Academy's about. They build that character. You know, it's difficult to come to the Academy and endure as a freshman without athletics. It's challenging. Hopefully they'll all take this experience and build on it.
I know our coaching staff has worked really hard at recruiting. We hope that they'll all come back bigger, stronger, and we hope we'll be injury-free.
This league is unforgiving. And when I say that, it's just not New Mexico; it's San Diego State, it's BYU. It's an extremely young league. And when you look across the league this year, of the eight teams, there was 111 on the rosters of the other eight teams in the league. There were 49 transfers. The dynamics of the league has changed since I first got in the league.
I think at the Academy, any of the academies, I think you have to have juniors and seniors to win. Hopefully our kids will continue to mature. When they get to be juniors and seniors, you know, we'll be even more competitive. It's a great league.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

End of FastScripts

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