Paul Hewitt Interview

Dec. 5, 2010

On Georgia Tech’s defensive toughness against Northwestern:
“It definitely wasn’t as tough as it needs to be. But [Northwestern] had a great shooting night. They executed very well–put a couple of wrinkles in and sprang them free for some three-point shots, but the bottom line is, they made them. We took 12 threes, they took 12 threes. They made 10 in the first half, we made five, and that was the difference in the game.”

On fighting off screens:
“I thought we could have done a better job. We didn’t communicate as well as we needed to. It was a tough game for our young big guys. [Kammeon Holsey] only played 11 minutes. We put him in there and tried to play a bigger lineup but they sniffed him out and went right at him and the kid number four [Alex Marcotullio] got a three. Then another time, [John] Shurna, we ended up with a switch on him and he just faded behind the screen and Kam got stuck. But other than that, I don’t think we really have an excuse. We should have done a better job fighting over those screens. And again, I’ve been in games where we haven’t fought over screens and teams haven’t shot 10-for-12 from three.”

On what he learned about the team over the long stretch of games:
“I didn’t really learn a lot. I know that we have very good potential. I know that we’re a very good basketball team, but our focus sometimes can really betray us. Our attention to detail–we talked about the 1-3-1 fronts. I’ll give you a couple different examples. Syracuse, second half, we talked about getting the ball inside the zone, and Mfon [Udofia] did a good job of punching it inside the zone, and we got back in the game that way. We talked about Northwestern–on at least five or six different occasions between the end of the Syracuse game and the tip of the Northwestern game–about when they go to that 1-3-1 at about the 12-minute mark of the first half, don’t rely on threes. We jacked up a bunch of corner threes. In the second half, we got the ball on the baseline, and we scored almost at will. Any time we got the ball to the elbow or to the opposite baseline, it was basically a lay-up drill. But in the first half, we took about maybe eight threes against that 1-3-1. It was just a killer, when you miss those corner threes. Five of them came with about 25 seconds or more on the shot clock, so we fell right into the trap. Again, our maturity hurt us.”

On needing more consistency:
“I think we need more consistency overall, not just from scorers. I think Iman [Shumpert]’s playing great. He’s just not shooting the ball well. He’s a guy that I think his outside shooting will improve. It’s just a little minor thing that he’s got to change on his shot. But I just think overall consistency, attention to detail, things like that will go a long way for us.”

On long shooting droughts:
“Maybe our competition wasn’t as stiff, but against Albany and Niagara we moved the ball well. And against El Paso we moved it great. We just missed open shots, but we had great looks. I thought that was our best game of the year–offense, defense, everything. Against Syracuse, there was maybe one stretch where we took some tough, quick shots. Against Northwestern, it was almost like we went right back to playing against Kennesaw or Charleston Southern. We just took quick shots. We took so many outside shots with more than 25 seconds on the shot clock. I don’t know the exact number, but I know that it was enough that in the first half, we kind of shot ourselves out of the game. I don’t want to take any credit away from Northwestern. They ran their defense and we fell into their trap. They ran their offense and they made shots. It was a case of–we ran into a team that played exceptionally well offensively and we took the bait with what they were doing defensively.”

On attacking Northwestern’s 1-3-1:
“You’ve got to attack the splits in it. There’s a gap between the man at the top and the guys on the wings, and there’s a gap between the man at the bottom and the guys on the wings. The way they ran their 1-3-1, they were so small on the baseline that if we attacked the high gap and just threw it diagonally down low–in the second half, that’s how Nate [Hicks] got free for that dunk. Glen [Rice, Jr.] had two dunks–missed one, made one. Lance [Storrs] got fouled and got to the foul line. When you attack it with a diagonal pass from the elbow to the opposite block, it’s an easy thing, especially for them because they were so small. I suspect that people will watch the second half of our game and just attack it in almost the same way–try to put the big guys on the baseline and really exploit their small kids.”

On accomplishing team’s goals:
“We are a team that is good enough to be one of the better teams in our league. We’re a team that’s good enough to make it to the NCAA tournament. You don’t want to talk about goals like this because you’re in the season now; that’s the type of stuff you talk about before. Our margin for error isn’t as big as it was. But that doesn’t stop you from being able to accomplish your goals. We just have to stay focused on that, that’s all.”

On having a week off from games:
“To have an extended period of time off before a game, sometimes you run the risk of being flat when you come out. There’s a fine line between rested and flat.”

On Nate Hicks:
“He’s not afraid to stick his nose in there. He had a concussion earlier this year, and it doesn’t matter, he keeps going after it. He’ll go block a shot; he’ll get a rebound in practice. It was funny, we were going through our walkthrough working on the 1-3-1, and he had the ball on the baseline. He went up kind of weak and he missed it. A couple of guys kind of chuckled and he got mad at himself. He said, `That’s it, next time I’m just dunking everything.’ So the next time we ran the play, I think it was in practice, he caught it, went up and dunked it so hard, everybody was like `Whoa!’ So in the game, if you noticed, every time he went around the rim, he said `To heck with all this layup stuff, I’m dunking it.’ That’s good to see a young big guy like that understand that he’s got to play stronger around the rim.”

On Jason Morris:
“When he’s open, his shot selection has really improved. I thought against El Paso, he did a good job attacking the basket. Against the Syracuse zone, he got a couple of baseline jump shots and knocked them out. He’s going to be a good player. He’s really starting to realize that he can play at this level and be a major contributor every night. We’re happy for him.”

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