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May 14, 8:32 AM ET
Chat with Inside Lacrosse

Jon Brand
  (4:04 PM)

Hey everyone, welcome to the Inside Lacrosse/ESPN.com chat. We've got two great guests today, who have come off a long day of practice and lifting, so let's get to the questions...

Connor (Santiago, Chile)

What has it been like balancing finals and the lacrosse championships? What is a typical day?

Garrett Billings
  (4:07 PM)

Connor, thanks for the first question. If you plan it right it actually usually isn't too bad. There are times where you have to practice after staying up all night studying but that's just the nature of the beast and you have to deal with it.

Shamel Bratton
  (4:10 PM)

It has been pretty hectic, mostly for the coaches. They have to schedule practices around our exam times. From a players point of view exams just add to the stress of being in the playoffs. A typical day is, wake up eat study, practice, study, and if you can fit food in there somewhere maybe eat.

Eric: Danville, VA

You guys seem to be better or even in most every way when matching up against other teams, but what is it about Duke that continues to give UVa fits?

Garrett Billings
  (4:11 PM)

I think they attack teams in every part of the field, much like we do. I think we got a little too used to being the team attacking and got caught a little off guard by them, lets hope we dont let it happen again.

Gene Cville Virginia

Shamel, how is your hand feeling? It looked like you hurt it against Nova? BTW, you are having an outstanding year. Congratulations!

Shamel Bratton
  (4:12 PM)

Thanks a lot Gene. The hand is just bruised, i got slashed a lil bit in the game. No big deal though, playoffs get a bit rough.

Creed (Brooklyn)

Guys good luck this weekend! Shamel, lax is becoming so huge in NYC,guys who play hoops and football are now seen walking around the city with lax sticks. Ever have the chance to coach/help out in NYC as the new city game gains more converts? thanx

Shamel Bratton
  (4:14 PM)

Thats great, I love to see the games spreading throughout the country. The only time I would be able to help out or coach is during the summer. I would love to do that though, I need to get into contact with some people though. I don't know too many lacrosse guys in Brooklyn.

John Vancouver Canada

question for Garrett - were you ever coached by Canadian great Kevin Alexander?

Garrett Billings
  (4:16 PM)

John, I actually wasn't. I think he is from Victoria and I've never got to meet him. Also I grew up a little bit outside the lacrosse hotbeds like New Westminster and Victoria so I didn't meet a lot of the older greats till I was a bit older.

Christopher J (The Dojo, NY)

Hey Shamel, who were some of the legendary long island lax players that you looked up to and modeled your game after when you were growing up?

Shamel Bratton
  (4:19 PM)

Good question. I remember watching Jay Jalbert play in the final four for Virginia. Another player that I loved watching growing up was Liam Banks. His high school used to play Huntington.

Chuck: Toronto, Ontario

Garrett, Canadians are changing the dynamics and structure of college lacrosse in the US. Every year more Canadians are being recruited to help fill the net as you've done in your prolific college career. Do you see yourself recruiting from the WLA jr ranks and helping Virgina gather great talent from Canada's west coast to carry on a tradition of greatness in US college lacrosse when you complete your journey this season?

Garrett Billings
  (4:21 PM)

Good question. I already try my hardest to help kids from B.C find their way through getting recruited to play college. I know from my experience that I had very little idea how the whole process worked and the guys that have gone before me were the best help figuring it out. On top of that I take any chance I get to give back to coach Starsia and hopefully that means some west coast scouting for him in the future.

Doug Butabi( Rvc, Ny)

Hey guys, just wanted to ask about your stellar bench and how they keep you guys motivated to be the best, esp The Lax Rat himself Tim Fuchs, i got his inside lacrosse mag spread all over my room hes the man!

Shamel Bratton
  (4:22 PM)

Yeah they are a bunch of great guys. They push us hard in practice which shows in games. Everyone plays a huge role in how Virginia does on Saturdays. Tim is a good attackman, he gives our D fits.

Derek from Montclair, NJ

Hey Garrett and Shamel, this past year I was a first year down at UVA. Excellent Season so far guys, I just wanted to ask what are some of the things you learned from the tournament last year and how do you look to improve this year. Also, have any individual practice tips for the young laxers out there? Thanks guys, Good Luck, Go HOOS!

Shamel Bratton
  (4:24 PM)

I learned that we need to play 60 minutes every game. In the playoffs teams are always going to make runs. And a practice tip for you young guys out there is "Shoot Overhand!" , if you have been to a game you might here coaches yelling that to me on the field.

Garrett Billings
  (4:29 PM)

The tournament last year reinforced for me that the difference between winning and losing is very small and that you just have to do what you can and hope the bounces fall your way. As far as individual practice tips go I would say work on everything that your coach does not allow you to do in practice. Shamel and I can attest, if you start hitting the sidearm high shots or behind the backs that you practice on your own, your coach will soon allow you to do them all the time.

Kyle Long Island, NY

to Shamel---What was it like to play at Huntington High School and win all of those games in a row, and lose your last high school game? Baltimore or Long Island Lax.... Which is better?

Shamel Bratton
  (4:29 PM)

It was fun to win with all the guys i grew up with. As for the last loss, it was definitely tough losing as a senior but it helped humble me a bit coming into my first year at Virginia. Easily Long Island, and if you throw all of NY in there, its a no brainer.

Pat / Durham NC

Shamel, I heard you used to play around the world with a couple teammates last year before games. How did you guys decide to do this as a pregame ritual? Also, I heard Peter Lamade was the season champ. Is there any truth to that? Oh hey Gar!

Shamel Bratton
  (4:31 PM)

Well a few guys have basketball backgrounds, so it was more of a way to loosen up and clear your head. Yeah ill give the old guy the season Chip.

Hunter (Towson)

Garrett, Any MLL/NLL plans after this year is said and done?

Garrett Billings
  (4:33 PM)

Hunter, I definitely look forward to playing at the next level be it NLL or MLL. Growing up playing box I've always looked forward to playing NLL and can't wait to step onto the floor. I have a bunch of friends and former teammates that already have years experience in the league and I look forward to trying my hand at it.

DonPaul NYC

Shamel, As a friend of Zach Howell from Duke is it wierd that you and Rhamel have more photos in his house than all the rest of his siblings combined?

Shamel Bratton
  (4:33 PM)

Haha I don't think we have more than all of his siblings, we certainly have a good amount though. Its not weird we were best friends growing up (and still are) and close family friends.

Peter (Durham, NC)

Fellow Hoos, I am a stranger in a strange land here in Durham. But rest assured you have a avid fan base of grads down here rooting you on. Question: What changes, if any, did you all focus on after the 2 Duke losses and do you think the positive improvements will easily transfer to the upcoming JHU matchup? Good luck Sunday

Shamel Bratton
  (4:35 PM)

We just focused on being patient on Offense. JHU is a tough opponent and we are going to have to work even harder if we want to beat them for the second time this year.

Garrett Billings
  (4:42 PM)

After the second loss there was a little bit of a shock factor but you have to have a short memory in sports and I think thats what we focused on. We literally went back to practices that resembled the first weeks of the spring where everyone is playing all out and really competing. I think this should transfer over well especially given the fact that JHU is a team we are very familiar with and have a great rivalry with.

Mr. T

For Shamel: All of Huntington is very proud of your accomplishments as well as Rhamel's! Great to see you paired up with Rhamel this past weekend. Is this something we can look forward to this weekend and over the next two years??

Shamel Bratton
  (4:42 PM)

Thanks Mr. T and all of the Huntington crew, cant wait to see everyone this summer. Yes it was nice playing with Rhamel as we did in high school. We will see about this weekend (wink wink) but hopefully for the next few years yes. I think a lot of good things happen when we are on the field together.

shane (annapolis)

Shamel, This is your second time playing at Navy-marine corps stadium. What do you think of that as a place to play?

Shamel Bratton
  (4:44 PM)

twinlax is now online. I really like that place as a lacrosse venue. A bit to close to Hopkins for my liking but what can you do.Hopefully i can remain unbeaten there though.

Jon Brand
  (4:46 PM)

Ok, the guys have to run to a team dinner, but thanks to everyone who wrote in. We'll be here next week with the Final Four teams, so stay tuned.

Jon Brand
  (4:46 PM)

This weekend, head to InsideLacrosse.com for analysis, videos and live blogs from Hofstra and Annapolis.