Tianna Hawkins interview: Senior leader decided before season that it was 'do or die'

Tianna Hawkins has transformed into the top scorer in the ACC as a senior. - Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

Top WNBA draft prospect Tianna Hawkins spoke last Friday about making the most of her senior year, mentoring star post recruit Malina Howard and approaching the impressive milestone of 1,000 career rebounds.

Swish Appeal: Before this season started, or maybe after Laurin [Mincy] went down, did you consciously tell yourself that you needed to be the one to step up?

Tianna Hawkins: I think before this season even started I told myself that I needed to step up. For one, because I am a senior and the team's going to look to me when we get into tough situations to be that vocal leader and to also lead by example.

SA: Have you always known you were capable of being a dominant scorer and what has made the difference between your offensive game this year and last year?

Hawkins: I think this year I've become a lot more confident than last year and just getting extra shots up in the games has improved my confidence. And going into this season, I was like 'this is my last season, it's do or die' so you have to make the best out of it.

SA: In your opinion, how is this team able to be playing as well as they are right now despite the injuries?

Hawkins: It's just the chemistry. We're family. When you have a team that's genuinely close, you can always trust each other on the court and it shows.

SA: You guys had already been playing good, but did beating UNC in the way that you did sort of take your confidence to a whole new level?

Hawkins: Definitely. Us going to UNC and losing a game that we should have won kind of took away from us. I think being able to play them again and then play the way we did kind of boosted our confidence because we had different people take important shots during that game.

SA: Do you think playing better against UConn this year than you did against Notre Dame last year gives you the hope that you can compete against the top three or so teams in the country?

Hawkins: Definitely, because UConn is up there in the top 5. It made us very confident to be able to stick with UConn and to know where we are as a team right now. And that was even earlier in the season.

SA: How much of a mentor have you been to Malina [Howard] and what do you think of her potential?

Hawkins: In my opinion I've had a huge impact. She's a very good player. Sometimes at practice she gets down on herself and kind of gets frustrated. When she misses layups or a box out I always make a point to go to her and let her know 'Malina, you got it the next time, don't get down on yourself, you've got many reps coming your way, don't get down, you're time is coming.'

SA: What does it mean to you to be approaching 1,000 rebounds, something only Crystal Langhorne and Marissa Coleman have reached [for Maryland]?

Hawkins: I kind of take that to heart because that's what I'm known for is my rebounding. So to be up there in the top three with 1,000 rebounds, it means a lot.

For more on Maryland at mid-season, visit our storystream.

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