Feb. 22, 2016
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech enters its next-to-last week of the regular season with three of four remaining games against teams the Yellow Jackets have already played. Tech hosts seventh-place Clemson (16-11, 9-6 ACC) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at McCamish Pavilion, then travels to last-place Boston College (7-19, 0-13 ACC) for a noon game Saturday, the only scheduled meeting between those two teams this season. The Jackets fell to Clemson, 66-52, on Feb. 13.
Both games this week will be televised regionally on the ACC Regional Sports Network. Tech won both of its games last week, holding off a furious rally to beat Florida State, 86-80, on the road, and capturing a come-from-behind 63-62 win at home Saturday night over 19th-ranked Notre Dame, which avenged an eight-point loss from earlier in the season.
Following is a transcript of head coach Brian Gregory’s weekly turn on the ACC Coaches Teleconference.
On Clemson “Obviously, all of our games against Clemson over the last three or four years have been pretty hard-fought battles. They’re great defensively, they’re a great shot-blocking team, and they really guard and pressure the ball and take you out of your stuff offensively. They have size and length and toughness all the way around on the defensive end. They’re a tough matchup offensively. They’ll go inside with (Jaron) Blossomgame. They’ve got size, athletic ability, length, and the ability to score on the block and on the perimeter. I think (Jordan) Roper’s one of the most undervalued players in the league, and Avry (Holmes) has done a great job for them. They have same toughness that they’ve had at that position in the past, but maybe a little more scoring. Maybe a little more basketball savvy. I think that’s really made a big impact. You have a very long and talented wing in (Donte) Grantham. They’ve got good bench play. They’re just a really solid team that – like a lot of teams in the league – are really, really good and then over stretches can be really good, and I think they’ve been able to capitalize on those stretches like they did in our game, and it was the difference in the game.”
On if playing Clemson a second time in 10 days changes the approach
“A little bit. Again, I’m sure you guys have had long discussions on the scheduling. I don’t know how that happens, but it does. So you’ve just got to play. I think a lot of stuff is stiff fresh in the players’ minds. I think it’s good. Unfortunately, this is the second time that we’ve played Clemson being the third game in six days. It was the same thing when we played them last time. It was our third game in six days. Maybe this time it’s a little bit easier due to the fact that we just played them. So in our prep we don’t have to cover a bunch of new stuff, because we played them ten days ago. I’m always more concerned with playing three games in six days than anything else, because at this time of the year it’s just more difficult on the players.”
On if Saturday’s win helped to keep hope alive for the NCAA Tournament
“Yes, I think there’s no question about that. But I think maybe more importantly — what we talked about in the locker room after the Florida State game – our guys have proven unbelievable resiliency and belief in each other with what we’re doing by their ability to bounce back after difficult losses and disappointments. That’s a great trait in this league, because you’re going to have some of those. We were not and have not been able to do – within league play – is continue the momentum from a high-quality win. We weren’t able to do it after beating Virginia. We weren’t able to do it after beating NC State. We weren’t able to do it after beating Wake Forest. And we needed to do that. That was the challenge that was laid out immediately after the Florida State game in the Florida State locker room. For me, that was the best response. That’s why it was so important. And again, we weren’t perfect on Saturday by any stretch, but we made the plays that needed to be made to help us win the game, and we were able to do it coming on the heels of another big win. So I thought that was a big step for us.”
More on Clemson
“As I’ve said, they’ve got all the pieces. You can’t win the amount of games that they’ve won playing in this league without those pieces. They’ve got great guard play. They’ve got veteran guard play – fourth-year juniors and a senior in the starting backcourt, with Blossomgame as a fourth-year junior – a guy who is able to carry the load offensively. And with their size inside, they have a low-post presence. The guys off the bench have done a great job – Gabe (DeVoe) has really helped them in some key areas, and so has (Sidy) Djitte. So they have a lot of pieces and the markings of a really good team. It’s tough on the road in this league – you’ve got to play extremely well, and they’ve lost a bunch of close games on the road. They’re a team that obviously is NCAA worthy. There’s no doubt about it. I don’t think anybody in the country would want to play them in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.”