WMU’s senior guard David Brown spoke along with senior center Shayne Whittington at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, followed by head coach Steve Hawkins.
“We obviously have our hands full tomorrow,” said Hawkins. “It's a very, very good Syracuse team that spent the majority of the year ranked number one in the nation and have some tremendous players and a Hall of Fame coach, and then we get them in Buffalo.”
When asked about the potential for Western Michigan to upset Syracuse, guard David Brown said, “I like it. We have confidence in ourselves. Syracuse is a great ball club. We're not going in thinking we're going to win easily. They're a top 25 team in the nation coached by an amazing coach. We've got to stick together as a family and play our best brand of basketball that we can possibly play.”
WMU’s Shayne Whittington said the team’s experience against opponent Eastern Michigan, which runs a similar zone defense to Syracuse, will help them take on the Orange.
“The zone is very similar,” coach Hawkins also noted. “We hope it's a help, but the zone is very similar. The players are different.”
Whittington talked about playing SU so close to Syracuse. “We were told it's going to be a road game. From what I've heard, the venue sold out really quick,” he said. “We have huge fans that travel, but I know it's going to be very orange in the arena when we play on Thursday.”
Coach Hawkins said, “You certainly understand what their fan base is all about and then how well they travel. Basically, this will be a road game. I'm certainly concerned about that and how our guys are going to handle that.”
“There are unique challenges that will go with that in the atmosphere of a road game as well, but we're excited about it. We're excited to be here and looking forward to the challenge,” coach Hawkins also noted.
“I think we play a little bit better when we know there's a little more adversity. We like that kind of environment. We thrive on that. So it will be fun,” said Whittington.