Jan. 9, 2012
ATLANTA – Head coach Brian Gregory answers questions from the ACC media Monday during the weekly ACC Teleconference. Georgia Tech goes on the road this week to play NC State (12-4, 1-0 ACC) Wednesday night at 9 p.m., and Maryland (10-4, 0-1 ACC) Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.
“We’ve got our first road game in the ACC starting out Wednesday against a North Carolina State team that is having a great year and really starting to come into their own and play extremely well right now. They played well yesterday, and we need to continue to play with the effort, energy and intensity that we played with on Saturday. If you do that, good things are going to happen to you down the road. I thought we played much better Saturday against obviously an elite team, and we just need to build on that.”
On Glen Rice coming off the bench as the sixth man:
“Well, I think at times, situations have created that. He does give us a spark off the bench, and I’ve never really been one, maybe from my days at Michigan State when we had Morris Peterson come off the bench and was a first team all-league player, it’s more minutes and production during those minutes as opposed to the starting lineups. I’ve never been a guy who has put a great emphasis on who was starting. Sometimes, it’s what is best for this team that’s the most important. We have played some of our best games with Glen coming off the bench. Usually it is based on performance in practice and so forth, and different things, but he has responded well to that and that’s obviously a sign of some maturity. At the same time, I think Jason Morris, when he has come off the bench at times, has played extremely well. Having that luxury of having that guy that can get it going and can sub in at multiple positions, that is one thing with Glen, we can sub him in at the one, two or the three depending on how the flow of the game is going at that time.”
On the change in atmosphere moving from Gwinnett to Philips Arena:
“Obviously, it is a different atmosphere. Little easier to get to for our fans, and I thought our students were fantastic on Saturday afternoon. We start school today, but a lot of them came in for the weekend and were there at the game, so that added to the environment as well. As I said, the people in Gwinnett were tremendous in a difficult situation. I thought they did a great job and I thought we made the best of it. The people at Philips have been tremendous as well trying to get us some extra time on the court and different things like that. They know how to do it as well as anybody with the environment they have for the Hawks game. With seven games left there, it is only going to get better. I said that as good as it is, it’s never going to be quite as good as playing on your home court and the tradition of the Thrillerdome, and different things like that. But we have to make the best of it and the people who are working with us have been tremendous during this transition time.”
On Mfon Udonfia’s play against Duke and in upcoming games:
“I think Mfon is a guy who you’ve really seen, from day one of the season, a guy who has really improved his overall play. To play 33 minutes against that type of pressure and so forth, I thought he handled the ball extremely well, got us into our offense, which everybody knows, sometimes against Duke, is the most critical aspect of your offensive execution, just being able to get into something. But, he is running the team better. I said this was a new role for Mfon in terms of having the ball in his hands quite a bit and quarterbacking the club. I think the last couple of years with a guy that could really dominate the game and the ball as much as Iman Shumpert did, sometimes, the challenge we are having Mfon undertake is daunting at times, especially in this league with the quality of play, quality of defenses that our coaches are able to apply, different types of pressure and so forth and recognizing different situations. So I have been very pleased, you saw probably in the last few weeks, decisions from Mfon that he wasn’t capable of making in the beginning of the year, and that kind of came to a highlight on Saturday afternoon. He is doing more and more everyday in practice as well. When that competitiveness that obviously Mfon is known for, is matched with really good decision-making, then you have the type of performance you saw on Saturday.
On the difference between playing at home and on the road in the ACC:
“One of the things that should help us a little bit is we have played fairly well on the road, every game is kind of a road game. To win at Georgia, to beat a very good VCU team down in Charleston. When you go on the road, everything is a little more magnified. Every mistake is a little more critical. You have to understand that when you play a team the quality of NC State with their length and their size and their ability to turn you over using their length, but also very good offensive execution team, you need to be solid in every single phase of the game. It’s going to be a great environment. Mark has the place fired up as well they should be. Poise and composure is always important on the road. What you have to do is you can’t get too high or too low during the games, and you can’t try to make the spectacular plays. You just need to be solid and make the safe play both offensively and defensively for forty minutes.”