@GTBrianGregory Press Conference

Nov. 11, 2014

THE FLATS – Head basketball coach Brian Gregory updated the media on the Yellow Jackets’ pre-season practice and gave a preview of Friday night’s season opener vs. Georgia, 7 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion.

Full audio of Gregory presser | Gregory on the Morning Show in Macon, Ga.

Opening Statement
“I think over the last couple weeks, our team has made some great improvements, which I think is right on course for where we want to be. We did some good things on Friday night in the game. Obviously we rebounded the ball well. We defended, at times, fairly well. We did a good job of sharing the ball, and we got the ball inside. We had pretty good matchups inside, so we decided second half to pound the ball inside. Hopefully as we continue to move forward, our guys will continue to start understanding and performing their roles well. And that we continue to forge our identity for this year’s team. We start off this week with a big game. You usually don’t start off the season with something like this, but it’s good for us. I know we are going to have a great crowd, and it’s going to be an exciting atmosphere. It’ll be a good weekend for Georgia Tech Athletics.”

Comparing last year’s rebounding to this year’s rebounding
“It remains to be seen in terms of big games. At times last year, we were a very good rebounding team, but what we were was very inconsistent. Even when we had the injuries, there were times when we did an exceptional job on the glass, and there were times when we were at full strength and didn’t, and when you do that you end up at seventh or eighth in the league in rebounding when you need to be in the top two or three. Whenever you have a good rebounding team, you have good rebounding guards. And that’s one area that we have emphasized. I think Marcus [Georges-Hunt] is getting better. Quinton [Stephens] is getting better. Chris [Bolden] and Tadric [Jackson] are getting better. Our point guards need to be those gritty guys that rat out any loose balls. Anytime that ball hits the floor on a rebound, our point guards better be coming up with it. That’s their job. More times than not, they don’t have to block out or cut out anybody. We have to be quick and fast to the ball, and we have to pursue the ball. I think we have a chance to be a very good rebounding team. There’s a physical aspect to that, and there’s a mental aspect to that. It’s just not based on size and length. On paper we should be, but paper doesn’t make it on the court sometimes. That’s something that we’ve emphasized, and our guys need to take pride in that.”

Pushing the ball on offense
“I think we’re getting better at that. Travis [Jorgenson], Josh [Heath] and Corey [Heyward] are dramatically improved in those areas. But again, with the pace that you want to play with, that’s a five-man commitment on the court. No matter how hard the point guard pushes, if the wings aren’t running, it doesn’t do you any good. And if the big guys aren’t running, then they can filter out and take away the wings. So everybody has to do their job on that. Then there’s also the mentality of, make or miss, you want to get into your offense and be able to flow into the half court quickly. Sometimes it may not actually be a transition basket, but the hard pace we want to play at creates a better flow on offense.”

Dangers of opening a season with a big game
“It’s one game. You don’t want to put too much into you one way or the other, whatever ends up happening. It’s an opportunity to play high quality team in order to gauge where you’re at. But after that game there will be a lot of improvements to be made one way or another. I think that’s important that as a coaching staff you keep that in mind and as players you keep that in mind as well.”

New additions making a tough season opener more difficult
“The saying guys use nowadays, `it is what it is.’ That’s the way it is. The game is going to be played, and we’ve got be ready to play because I know Georgia will be ready to play. It’s a growth opportunity. And as I said it’s an evaluation piece. One way or another you are going to have to make a lot of improvements after Friday night.”

Georgia’s strengths
“They have dynamic guard play in [Charles] Mann and [Kenny] Gaines. The kids that came off the bench last year have greater experience now. They are able to score. They’re able to get to the free throw line. They’re able to get to the paint. They can hit you in all three phases of the game. They’re great in transition in terms of getting to the basket or knocking down open jump shots. If you’ve got a scramble situation in the open court and you don’t communicate and you don’t cover the ball, you’re in trouble. They’re able to put the ball on the deck and get to the basket. If they don’t score at the basket, they’ve got a great ability to get fouled and get to the free throw line. And I think as the season progressed last year and heading into this year, they’re confident in their shooting as well. With that, you turn around and look at the post players, and they’re veteran players who have played a ton of minutes in their career. One’s a fifth year senior and one’s an international player who has played a lot since day one. Those guys anchor it and know exactly what they’re doing. There’s no question on the system or style or what they want to get done. They have a lot of strengths.”

Expectations for this season
“I think first and foremost, the most important thing is that we mold how we are going to play and what we need to do to be successful. That’s going to start on the defensive end [because] we need to be a great defensive team. We need to force low percentage shots, and we need to guard the basketball. There’s nothing more important on defense. Even though we play a team system defensively, you have to guard the ball one on one. You have to have on-the-ball toughness and pride in guarding that basketball one on one. Behind that, one on one defense is that you have to have your team concepts down. I always say, guys have a tendency to be more selfish on defense than on offense where `you’ve got your man.’ You can’t do that. Not with our schedule and not in our league. It starts on the defensive end and then you have to control the defensive glass; win the battle of the boards. Our record is pretty good when we outrebound our opponents. Then for us I think we have to do a great job on our assist-to-turnover ratio. The defensive field goal percentage, the rebounding margin and the assist-to-turnover ratio are key components for us this year. If you do those things and you continue to improve in those things then I think this is a team that is steadily going to increase and our performances will be dictated by those three key areas.”

Georgia Tech’s top perimeter defenders
“Right now Corey [Heyward] is our best perimeter defender – size, strength and understanding. But all of the guys are going to have to do it. If you only have one defender out there, then you are in deep trouble. Marcus [Georges-Hunt] and Q [Quinton Stephens] know the system. Travis [Jorgenson] has a good understanding. Josh [Heath] is a high IQ guy, so he’s really grasped the concepts and gotten better. Then you’ve got some other guys that are taking a lot more pride in that. It’s going to be a collective effort.”

Roles of incoming freshmen
“It’s early. We haven’t played any games. There’s a big difference in what you do in practice and how you perform under the bright lights. But I’ve been pleased with all three of those guys and their development. Tadric [Jackson] has played well. All freshmen have to gain their consistency and the idea that what you do every day is going to show up in game situations. He’s got an innate ability to put the ball in the basket, and you can’t teach that. It’s something that we need to continue to cultivate so he feels confident in where he’s going to get his shots. And confident that if something breaks down, he can make a play and that we are okay with that. I think he’s starting to grasp that concept. A.D. [Abdoulaye Gueye] and Ben [Lammers] played very well on Friday night. We had a big advantage inside over Clayton State. They both played well in our other scrimmage also. They’re both going to be very good players as well. Really good players. They both had size and length. They’re both going to get stronger. Obviously the physical component will be the biggest challenge for them. When you go into a game like Friday night, their veteran post players are very physical players. They’ll be tested early, but I think their growth potential, if they were a stock, you probably want to buy it.”

Playing time
“It’s hard to play twelve guys. It’s just going to be hard to play twelve guys. What we have to do is make sure that all twelve guys are ready to play and if their number’s called they have to, through their preparation and their discipline in getting ready for the game, be ready. If it’s two minutes, then it better be the hardest two minutes that they’ve ever played in their life.”

Redshirting Abdoulaye Gueye or Ben Lammers
“No. Neither one of those two will be redshirted.”

Altering schemes to cater to personnel
“On the offensive end we talked about it a little bit. As long as we stay healthy we are going to be able to play at a faster pace. Again I always throw the asterisk on the fast pace, it’s not up and down undisciplined basketball. We want to push the ball and we want to quickly get into our offense and flow it to our offense with a lot of movement and a lot of extra passing and having the ball find the open shot. I think we’ve done an unbelievable job of that in the preseason. Now will that carry over to the games? You hope so. Where the ball doesn’t what we call `stick,’ and we’ve gotten a lot better at that. There’s no question about that. Hopefully we will be able to do that. We still want to go inside and play some inside-out basketball with Demarco [Cox], Robert [Sampson] and Charles [Mitchell]. All three of them are good passers, so you want to get the ball inside and make some plays from there. The biggest thing defensively, my hope is that we are a much more physical defensive team. I thought, even with the veterans that moved on, we weren’t as physical as we needed to be. I think some of the rule changes have put us in a position where we can play a more physical brand of basketball, in a legal way obviously.”

Starting Marcus Georges-Hunt at the two and Quinton Stephens at the three on Saturday
“Marcus has gotten to the stage where being a two or three doesn’t matter for him. Our perimeter spots, primarily at those two, are relatively the same. So I did like that.”

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