(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
As part of Gordon Hayward's promotion with Subway and March Madness, I had the opportunity to shoot him a few questions about that and about the Jazz. Thanks to Don and Subway for setting this up and to Gordon for taking time out of his day for this. This took place on March 31st.
For those that don't know about this promotion, what does it entail?
If one of the five seeds was going to win [the NCAA championship], I was going to buy 5,555 of them (Meatball Pepperoni Subs) for the first fans that I saw. Arizona came kind of close.
Did Arizona make you nervous?
You know what, I was really kind of rooting for them. It's never been done before (#5 winning NCAA tournament), so it would have been kind of cool to see. Even though that would have been a lot of subs, it would have been really cool for them to win.
I'm sure you've been told, or have done the math, that's almost $28K. Was that going to come out of your pocket or was Subway going to front some of that?
Yeah, I would have had to pay for that.
Would that have just been in Utah or nationwide?
I think it was going to be in Salt Lake... it would have just been at a Subway store somewhere. It would have been cool if it would have happened.
So, are you on Jared's level yet? Do you have a black Subway card where you can just go into any Subway and get anything you want?
I don't think so. It's funny, he actually works out at the same place that I work out at. I got to meet him before the draft and I got to talk to him a little bit. I guess he went to Indiana University.
Did you fill out a bracket then?
No, I didn't know enought about college basketball. I'm the type of guy where I want to win, so I didn't want to just guess.
I know you won't predict whether or not Butler will go on, but if they do move on, who do they match up against better, Kentucky or UConn?
I haven't watched enough, but I know that both teams are very good. For me personally, if I had to choose one, I would want them to play Kentucky just for the fact that they're not as experienced as Butler. I think that's something that you can't teach. That's something that would be really good for Butler, to have that advantage.
Would you give up this season to be back with your boys back at Butler going through the tournament?
I'm happy with my decision here. Although I miss it, the thrill of playing in the NBA and playing against the best every day and saying that's my job, that's pretty cool. No regrets on my end.
[Jazz stuff after the jump]
What's one word that you would use to describe this season for yourself?
[Ed note, his response was a little longer than one word though I don't know if I made the question clear enough]
I think it's been a learning experience for me. It's been kind of a rollercoaster season. There's been ups and there's been downs. Of course with Coach Sloan and DWill you would think would be staples in the organization. When they leave, you just don't expect that, but I think you gotta be professional about it and keep trying to play basketball and control what you can control. That's why I'm at the gym every day getting up shots and getting in lifts and trying to be a better player. It's been a good season but it's been up and down.
What have you improved the most on since summer league?
To me, it's amazing to see the range that I've increased. When I first started doing pre-draft workouts and all of that, I've never shot those [NBA threes]. Just shooting in the gym every single day and working on that. It's gotten so much easier to shoot those three balls. I think that's something that amazes me on how much easier it's been for me. That's something that definitely something that I've picked up.
What's something in your game that you feel needs the most work?
Having the mindset of being more agressive and being more assertive is something that I need to work on and something that will get better with more time on the court, getting more comfortable and more confident. That's something I've had to work at this year. I think it's gotten better, but at the same time it's something I still need to improve.
Your role on the team has changed since the beginning of the year. At the beginning of the season, you weren't expected to be a big part of the team. But through changes and injuries, you've been thrust into a much larger role. What changes are you making to prepare for that bigger role?
From my end, being more aggressive and being more confident and assertive is something I need to work on. I guess that's something that I'll need to change. I'm just going to keep going out there and playing the same game that I've been playing and think playing the game that they drafted me for. I think they saw what I could be and so hopefully get back to doing that.
When do you and Jeremy Evans get to ditch the pink backpacks?
Hopefully by next year. After this season is over, I don't think we're rookies anymore, so we get to ditch them.
Deron used to make rookies carry them I believe until the first regular season game of the following year. Maybe that's changed since Deron's not here.
Let's keep that on the down-low.
What's one of the biggest surprised that you learned about Utah when you came to Utah?
For one, I thought Utah was super cold and snowing all the time. I just thought of winter and that kind of thing because of the mountains. To be honest, it's actually been real nice. It's like 65 degrees today, the sun is out, and it's beautiful. Compared to INdiana, it snowed yesterday and a day of freezing rain and all that. It's definitely colder there. I don't know why I thought that, but I thought it would be colder, but it's actually been real nice.
[Ed. note, it snowed two days later. It's his first winter here obviously.]
What message do you have for Jazz fans going forward?
We're obivously struggling a bit, we're all playing hard and trying to win games and be competitive. I'm sure that next year will be a lot better. For me, I'm going to work hard in the off-season and come back ready to go next year. I think there's good times ahead.
One last question, I know you like the nickname G-Time. How about OG-Time for Olive Garden Time?
(courtesy chuckle) I think I'm going to pass on that one.