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March 20, 2014

David Brown

Steve Hawkins

Tucker Haymond

Shayne Whittington


Syracuse – 77
Western Michigan - 53

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined now by Western Michigan head coach Steve Hawkins and student‑athletes David Brown, Tucker Haymond, and Shayne Whittington.
Coach, if you'd open with a statement.
COACH HAWKINS:  Well, we ran into a buzz saw today.  I think they spent the majority of the season ranked number 1 in the nation, and they looked like it today.
We made too many mistakes in the first half.  We had 11 turnovers in the first half, I believe it was.  Only made two the rest of the way, but that's what staked them out to that lead.  I felt like after we started taking care of the ball in the second half, we got a few better looks.  But we made too many mistake in the first half, and Syracuse will make you pay when you make those kind of mistakes.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.  Please raise your hand if you have a question for our student‑athletes.

Q.  David, how tough was it to get the ball through that two‑three zone?
DAVID BROWN:  It wasn't too bad.  I mean, once we got the ball where we wanted to get it, we did some things.  They're long, athletic.  They make you second guess where you want to throw the ball.  But I feel like we were hesitant where we wanted to throw the ball.
Like Coach said, we turned the ball over way too much.  When we got the ball where we wanted to get the ball, good things happened, but we just didn't get the ball to where we wanted to enough.

Q.  Shayne, can you talk about how difficult it was for your teammates to get you the ball?  How much they were fronting you in there and how much they were trying to deny you the ball?
SHAYNE WHITTINGTON:  Most of that was my fault.  First half, I really wasn't posting up as strong as I should have been, and that really attested to that.
So second half, we kind of made an adjustment, and that got the ball in there a little bit easier just by me being more aggressive.

Q.  David, were you injured late in the first half there with about two minutes to go?  And what happened there on that play?
DAVID BROWN:  We just banged knees.  It hurts a little bit when you bang knees with a guy that's got a brace on his knee as well.  So it was just a little knee‑to‑knee contact.  I should be fine.
Just need to rest it up and ice it, nothing major.  So I'll be all right.

Q.  Looked like you were limping in the second half.  Did that affect your ability to jump on your shot?
DAVID BROWN:  Yeah, a little bit.  When I sat down and talked with Kevin, he said it was terrible where the place I got hit at because that's where all the impact is from you jumping and cutting.  Where I got hit at is right where everything I wanted to do, I couldn't barely do.
He said it's nothing major at all.  It's just something we need to ice, and it will go away in a couple of days or so.

Q.  Shayne, can you talk about going up against that front line because they look so long and active.
SHAYNE WHITTINGTON:  You know, it was different.  We're not really used to seeing that long of a front line in the Mac, but it shouldn't have affected us at all.  Like I said, I was a little hesitant at first in the first half.  Like I said, I wasn't being aggressive, and that's really what attested to a lot of our turnovers and a lot of our problems.

Q.  Shayne and David, this is a tough loss, but it's been a very good season for you guys.  Can you just talk about what this run has been like this year.
DAVID BROWN:  I enjoyed this run.  Being a senior and possibly this would be my last year, it was a great way to go out.  Coming in and getting a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament and pretty much playing with your brothers is a terrific way to end your season.
I mean, hats off to Syracuse.  They were well prepared for us, and they took away what we needed to do to win.
But other than that, I enjoyed every moment, every single moment with these guys.
SHAYNE WHITTINGTON:  Basically, the same stuff that David said.  It's great being able to come here, but you never really want to lose the first round.  So it's a little tough.
Other than that, I'm proud of the guys that got us here.  It was a team effort.  We stuck together throughout the entire year.  Ups and downs.  We did have our ups and downs, but we definitely stayed positive throughout the entire year.

Q.  Tucker, can you talk about your first experience of being in an NCAA Tournament, especially being just a freshman.
TUCKER HAYMOND:  I mean, the experience and everything is cool and all, but I had the mindset, so did everyone in that locker room, that we wanted to come in and win.  We weren't just here to say we made it.  We were here to make a statement.
Definitely puts fuel on the fire for the following years to know what it feels like to be here.  I don't want anything less than that.  So definitely puts some more fuel in the fire for the following years.

Q.  David, did they bait you a little in that two‑three zone?  Were they closing in on the passing lanes?  What was the biggest issue with the turnovers in the first half?
DAVID BROWN:  It was just us not throwing the ball where we need to throw it.  I mean, we were hesitant throwing the ball, and we should have just caught the ball and threw it where we wanted the ball to go.
It's nothing that they really did to throw us off or bait us into doing something different.  It was pretty much us not throwing the ball where we wanted to throw the ball right away.
We ended up with turnovers and miscommunications, and then it got them easy points.

Q.  Tucker, you're losing Shayne to graduation and possibly David, two big guys on this team.  Maybe there's already that talk, what's this Western Michigan team going to be like next year?  What do you say to that?  Will this team be back in a position to be here next year?
TUCKER HAYMOND:  I don't expect or see a reason that we would fall off.  There's a lot of guys in the locker room that can play.  We know Shayne's leaving, so we'll have to fill in that spot.
If Dave does leave, other guys, including myself, just have to step up.  If Dave does stay, then we'll just go from there.
But I don't see a fall‑off coming from next year.

Q.  David, do you have one more year to play?
DAVID BROWN:  Maybe.  That's something I've got to sit down with the coaches and my mother and father and stepfather and see what I can do.  We probably won't know that until after this whole thing is over with, and we have to get in contact with the NCAA.
But the chances are me having a sixth year, but we don't really know yet.  We'll have to wait and see after this whole NCAA Tournament thing is over.
THE MODERATOR:  David, Tucker, Shayne, thanks.  Congrats on a great season.
We'll take questions for Coach Hawkins at this time. 

Q.  Coach, how big of a difference does it make when Trevor Cooney starts hitting threes for them?
COACH HAWKINS:  A lot.  You know, we felt pretty good going into the game about our ability to guard their first shot.  After that, they've got a brand‑new offense, and that's when the shot goes up.  Their offensive rebounding, they're so long, so big, and they overpowered us there.
But we felt okay about our ability to make them miss the first shot.  When Cooney starts hitting, of course, he'd been slumping a little bit as of late, but a lot of that had to do with the fact that he was being guarded so closely.
But when he knocked down a couple, it stretches you out.  You always have to account for him when he's out on the floor, no matter where he is.  When that happens, then that opens up Fair and Ennis, you know, the whole inside.  Now that opens up their driving lanes because you have to account for him where he really stretches the floor.

Q.  Coach, what did you do to prepare for the length of Syracuse?  I know you looked at some tape on Eastern Michigan and their zone, but what did you do to prepare for this length?
COACH HAWKINS:  Well, you can't really prepare for it.  You talk about the gaps.  You watch a lot of film.
You heard the guys say it.  We felt like we could get the ball to certain spots.  We got it there in the second half.  But once you get it there, you still have to make some plays.
Their length still comes into play.  We were able to get the ball into the high post a lot more effectively in the second half, Connar is a playmaker from that spot.  But we only turned the ball over two times in the second half.  We got outscored by five.
I realize they had a big lead at that point, but when we were able to get the ball to the right spots...
And Shayne did do a much better job.  We wanted to get the ball into the high post and the low post.  When you go intotheir zone at times, the difference between their zone, they call it a two‑three zone, and really it's almost a four‑one zone because the four guys on the perimeter are out on the three‑point line, they've got a big‑time shot blocker in the back.
When you do that, that was not a good matchup for us because it takes away one of our best players, if not our best player, in David, who's a great three‑point shooter.  So it takes away your three‑point game.
You have to make them pay inside, or they don't have to think about that.  We weren't able to do that in the first half.  They got out to a big lead.

Q.  Coach, I know this is a tough loss, but you won the MAC regular season, you won the MAC tournament.  Has this been a successful season?
COACH HAWKINS:  Yeah.  Not because of winning.  You know, it's a successful season whenever your team plays as hard as they can play and reaches its level of competency.
When you reach your level of competency, when you reach your ceiling, it's a success.  We reached our ceiling this year, I really believe that.  There weren't too many games that we lost that we couldn't have.
We played really hard.  Our practices were great.  They gave us everything we could have.  As a coach, what more could you possibly ask for?  Can't get anything else.  That's what they gave us.
To be honest with you, regardless of what happened in the MAC tournament, I would have felt the same way because these kids gave us everything they had all year long.  Really, really happy with this group, really played hard, tough‑minded group.

Q.  Coach, specifically, what do you get out of this experience?  I know everybody wants to come here.  It's an honor to be here.  What do you get out of today?
COACH HAWKINS:  I think it is, it's a lifetime experience.  It's certainly something our kids will never forget.
But I do want to echo Tucker's statement.  We felt going into the game like we had a shot.  You know it's a long shot when you're seeded as low as we were seeded.  It's a tough go.
But you're going to have to beat a good team somewhere along the line if you hope to advance, and pretty much everybody is good when you get to this point in time.
But these kids will remember this.  You know, it's not every day at our level these kids get to sit up on a stage.  We walked into the locker room yesterday, and there's four or five cameras shoved in front of their faces.  We don't get that.  So it's a lifetime experience for them.
I've said this before going into it, as a coach, you get many opportunities to hopefully do this throughout the course of your career, but as a kid and a student‑athlete, you only get one, two, three, four opportunities at the most.  So when you can capitalize on it and you can get that, it's really special, truly special, and something these kids will never forget.

Q.  Do you feel you have a shot to get back here again next year?  What do you think about David's future?
COACH HAWKINS:  Yeah, we expect to contend every year.  We've won our division, I don't know, something like 7 of the 11 years I've been there, and we've been towards the top of the league for the great majority of the time.
We were able to do it this year, and we've been very competitive.  We expect to do that every year.  People will always ask, Well, how are you going to replace Shayne?  We have somebody.  We get to use scholarships.
So, yeah, I fully expect to be able to contend again.  Whether or not we get back here again, you know, there are 11 other teams that have something to say about that too in our league.
Get off the winning thing for a second.  I'm concerned about our guys just reaching whatever their potential is.  Somebody could get hurt.  If Shayne were to go down this year or David were to go down this year, we would have had no control over that, and that affects your ability to get back here, especially at our level.  Charlie Coles, the late Charlie Coles, I love him to death.  He told me one time, in this league, we're only an ankle sprain away from being.500, and there's a the lot of truth to that.

Q.  What about David?
COACH HAWKINS:  David's future is up in the air.  David, we feel like both of his redshirt years were due to injury, and he was under the number of games that you can be under.  So David's future is up in the air.
We'd have to petition the NCAA for the sixth year.  There is precedent.  At the same time, David has to make a decision.  He graduated at the semester of last year.  So he's been working on his graduate degree.  So he has a decision to make too.
If he has a chance to make some money playing this game, we have to look at that too.  Basically, it comes down to we owe David.  Whatever is in David's best interest is what we have to concentrate on.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.  Congrats on a great season.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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