Six foot eight inch 210 lbs Utah Jazz forward Gordan Hayward averaged 11.8 points, 3.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds registering 58 games starts over the course of the 2011 - 2012 season while seeing the court on average 30.4 minutes per night.
The former Butler University product and ninth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft looks to improve upon his first playoff appearance last season which ultimately saw the Jazz make a quick exit dropping four straight and being swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
Here are a few excerpts from the complete audio interview.
Fast Life: Do you like some of the new faces that the organization brought in this off-season?
Hayward: Yes. So far the organization has done a great job. The biggest thing right now is that we all need to get on the same page as a team as soon as possible. With new faces it is tough to figure out right away what the strengths and weaknesses are. The guys that we brought in are tough, defensive minded players and that is good for us as a team.
Fast Life: Last season, you got a taste of NBA Playoff basketball and I understand it was not the outcome that you had hoped for. ( Spurs defeated the Jazz in 4 games.) Is there anything that you learned or took from that experience?
Hayward: Personally, it was just the experience of being in the playoffs. We had a lot of young guys and that was their first taste (playoff basketball). I think you learn quickly that you have to play a lot better if you want to compete against some of the tougher teams out in the West. On the defensive end, we let them do (Spurs) what they wanted to do offensively and we have to be better than that. It was good to get that experience and hopefully we will improve moving forward to this year.
Fast Life: What do you say to people that said you may have played scared or tentative during the series?
Hayward: I just missed shots. I had played extremely well going into that series and the Spurs just being a good defensive team just took us out from what we wanted to do. It was my first playoff experience and you just try to learn from that. I use that experience as motivation during the off-season and just move forward.
Fast Life: About Coach, Tyrone Corbin. I know that he took a lot of slack last season. Some people questioned if he was the right man for the job. Your thoughts about coach and how he handled the job?
Hayward: I think that he has done a tremendous job so far. He came into a difficult situation replacing a legend like Jerry Sloan and at the same time,our All-Star point guard got traded (Deron Williams). Then last year because of the lockout, coach really didn't get a chance to establish himself. He is a hard worker and he will improve as a coach as well as us trying to improve as players.
Fast Life: Going back to college,when you look back at that 2010 National Championship game against Duke,do people still talk about the half-court shot you attempted that almost went in? Will that moment ever escape you?
Hayward: I still get asked about that all of the time. People that I meet, other basketball players and, a ton of fans still remember that. People say that they wished that the shot would have gone in and I tell them, I wish it would have too. It's something that will be remembered for a while. The fact that Butler was able to go back to the championship game the next year was a tremendous feat as well. I had a lot of good times at Butler.