Dec. 14, 2011
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech is taking the week off for exams but practicing twice. Head coach Brian Gregory talked with the local media Tuesday and gave his thoughts on the Yellow Jackets’ progress this season.
On where your team stands with four games left before ACC play begins
“I like the progress we are making right now. I think maybe a little ahead of where I thought we would be defensively, especially with the last three efforts we have had on the defensive end of the court, holding three straight opponents on their home court to under 40 percent from the field is good. And we are doing a good job of rebounding, so as I said, I like the progress, I like the attitude and effort our guys are giving. We have a long ways to go so hopefully over these next three weeks and four games, we do even a better job preparing for what looks like a very difficult schedule in the ACC.”
On getting final exams over and then concentrating on basketball during the break
“I think this is an important time of the year. One, our guys have done such a great job throughout the whole semester; we want them to finish strong in the classroom. At the same time, we use this week to give the guys an hour, and hour and a half, break probably three times this week of where they get away from the books. They get to sweat, they get to play and not a lot of new stuff being taught, but just getting out there, playing and competing is a good study break.
“But it’s also an opportunity for us to keep working on things that are important for our continued development. We will get a little more into it in the end of the week. But this is an important time, then you have no school so you can concentrate solely on basketball and on the team and the things we need to continually work on.”
On Glen Rice, Jr., having to play minutes at the point, and Tech’s offense in those situations
“Simple. Simple. And I think with the group as a whole, you can’t introduce the entire system and all the different things you can do. We have emphasized some key ingredients that we think we could be good at. Obviously, at the defensive end, we are a little more complex in some of the things we are doing, and our guys have done a good job of getting the basics down and then moving on to some of the more complex coverages and so forth. And now on offense and as we become more efficient, we are able to add some more stuff to it. But, as they learn, it’s important that the teaching process continues and you don’t put too much on their plate where now they are thinking as opposed to competing and knowing exactly what they are supposed to do.”
On coaching and developing a talent like Rice
“I think it starts with our foundation offense. I think different coaches have different philosophies where it’s more dribble, more one-on-one play, and that doesn’t make it wrong, that’s just how they play. And there are some teams that are highly successful playing that way. We want guys to have the freedom to make plays, but one of the greatest things that we emphasize is the ability to share the basketball as well. I think we have gone a long way in that.
“At the same time with Glen in particular, I think the one thing he understands when he moves over to play the point, his focus is even greater because it is not natural in terms of his position. He has never really played that position. He has always been a very good passer from the wing and could make plays for other people, but doing it at the point, you can’t just make plays for other people. You have to make sure everyone is in the right alignment, got to call out the plays, got to know what we are trying to get and read defenses from there. I think when he plays at that spot, he becomes even more focused, and more concentrated on what needs to be done. I think that’s helped him, I think that’s helped him when he moves back to the wing spot where now his job there sometimes is simple, we need him to score some points, but he is making better decisions all the way around because of his time at the point.”
On Brandon Reed’s recent good play
“I think one of the things he is starting to figure out is shot selection at this level. I think so much was asked of him as a freshman where even a bad shot might have been a good shot. He’s taking the ball to the basket more. We can’t rely solely on the three. I would say one of our weakness as a team is that we are not a great three-point shooting team. We need to get the ball inside the three, and then if we can score there, it will make our three-point shots easier.
“But Brandon has become more comfortable, you have to remember any time you sit out a full year, there’s some rough times. I think there’s going to be games where he continues to show the progress that we have seen. We are a much different team when we have that other scorer on the perimeter and Brandon’s done that the last two games.”
On what you’d like to see from your team in the next four games before ACC play begins
“Win all four. I joke with that and truly, it is a joke. The most important thing for us, we have not talked about winning. We have talked about competing. We’ve talked about making the improvement and progress that we need to make. I’m a strong believer in that if we play to the level that we are capable of playing at on the defensive end and rebounding, and that we continue to develop within the freedom we give the guys offensively, that we’re going to win plenty of games. I think the formula, for the most part, has worked fairly well.
“Even some of the games we lost, close games, that maybe a decision here or decision there, and maybe it’s a different outcome. We need to understand that in the games where we have defended extremely well and rebounded extremely well and taken care of the ball, not made 50% even though we have done that six out of 10 games, but taken care of the ball, that means we are effective offensively, that we’ve either won or been right in the game. Those are things we need to continue.”
On giving up a lot of second chances to Savannah State
“You trying to ruin my day reminding me of the offensive rebounds we gave up (laughs). A little bit of both. A little bit of both. Sometimes, some of the hardest shots to rebound are the challenged and contested shots that are, for lack of a better term, prayers thrown up because you have no true idea where the ball is going. At the same time, we are not nearly as physical as we needed to be on the glass in the first half. We were just going to out-jump them, and you’re not going to do that. And as we progress in the season, you are definitely not going to be able to do that. There is a physicalness that comes with rebounding that we did not engage in during that first half, and that’s why we gave up 11 offensive rebounds. I give our guys credit because in the second half, they did a much better job of that.”