Feb. 13, 2012
ATLANTA – Head coach Brian Gregory’s Monday morning session with the ACC media. Georgia Tech has a pair of road games this week, visiting Wake Forest (11-14, 2-9) Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. and Virginia Tech (14-11, 3-7) Saturday at 3 p.m.
“We’ve had this weekend off, which was good in terms of getting back and doing some stuff for us to continue to improve. Two tough games this week, both on the road. It is always difficult to be successful on the road and just looking to continue to make the improvements that you need to make at this time of the year. We are 1-1 in the second half of this ACC conference season, and we need to keep plugging along, keep moving forward so we can have some success. It is going to be difficult on the road but after two good days of practice today and tomorrow, hopefully we will be ready to go on Wednesday.”
On the difficulty to maintain a positive attitude during a difficult season:
“I think that is always the challenge when you are rebuilding because, rebuilding, in and of itself, signals that you are going to have to go through some tough times. What you hope is the guys are going to understand that even though they are doing some things different and doing some things better, it doesn’t happen overnight. You are where you are at in terms of who you have and the numbers that we have, and so forth. And then our margin of error is so small in terms of both offensively and defensively and personnel. You lose Nate Hicks, who was playing pretty well and kind of establishing a role. He played well in the first North Carolina State game. Now he is out three weeks. Daniel Miller now has to play 36 minutes and four minutes more than normal. Those are four big minutes.
“Every little thing can throw you off, and you just need to have the guys stay focused on the day on the task at hand. It takes some individual toughness to be able to keep grinding it out every day knowing that the payoff is going to be down the road as opposed to right now. And that is difficult, especially nowadays with the instant gratification society we live in. And that probably makes it even more difficult. That is when you have to rely on the character of the guys and keep them positive by showing them ways that they are improving. There is no question we are a much better team than we were in the beginning of the season or even in the beginning of the ACC. We have played fairly well, we just need to continue to do that in longer stretches.”
On areas the team has shown improvement:
“I just think we are moving the ball better on offense. We are sharing the ball better. And then at times that becomes an Achilles heel where when we don’t do it, it really puts us in a difficult situation. Our defense is much, much improved. Our half-court defense is pretty darn good. We are actually able to make up for some mistakes in the half-court defense with some guys in the back that can block some shots. Daniel has done a good job of that.
“Whenever our defensive field goal percentage is higher than I would like, it is usually due to two reasons. One is turnovers, which leads to easy baskets by the opponent. Or two, when we don’t move the ball well on offense and we take quick or hurried shots, we are impatient offensively and that leads to transition baskets. But there is no question that we are, even with some of the games where we have had a high turnover rate or we have shot the ball poorly because of shot selection or decisions with the ball, even when you add those things in, our defensive field goal percentage is much improved.
“We are doing a better job on the glass, there is no doubt about that as well. But we are limited offensively at times and one of the biggest challenges is to get the guys to understand that with that, you have to do a better job of working for good shots. And that doesn’t always mean taking more time. If you have a quality shot early, we need to take that. Learning those nuances of the game and kind of understanding, we have had some close games, and probably three or four or maybe more in the ACC with four minutes to go, it is a two-possession game. We need to get better at finishing out those games. We have only really done it once and unfortunately, that is not enough when it comes to this league.”
On the difference between year one and year two of implementing a new system:
“I think you hope that the learning curve is moving in the right direction in year two. But then again, outside of the two big kids that are starting, they only have one upperclassman playing. Again, you also have to look at the starting point. I think both us and Wake, are in a very similar situation in where they started, and where we started. To be honest, it is not a great point to start from. The rebuilding and reestablishing two very proud programs is not going to happen overnight and unfortunately, it has been proven around the country and in other programs that were in a similar situation, sometimes the success on the court is the last step. You have to get all of the other things in place before maybe you have the breakout year when you reestablish the program in the upper echelon of the league and ranked nationally and different things like that; fighting for the postseason and not only playing in the postseason, but advancing in the postseason. Those are steps.
“I think the one thing is that in this league, you better make sure you don’t skip any of those steps. And I think Jeff’s done that. I think the blueprint is the same on that. You’ve got to bring in your players, you have to get the guys that are still around to buy into what you are doing, and you have to find a good mesh between the two, and that occurs during years two, three and four, where now you still got guys that were around when you got there that are meshing with the players that you have and you just better make sure that the foundation is solid so you are not taking steps backward as you are trying to move forward.”