Jan. 6, 2009
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Paul Hewitt
“This was a great effort from our players. In the first half, Georgia played very well. I thought we had a lot of opportunities that we just didn’t cash in on. We were only 50 percent from the free throw line. We executed well, but couldn’t take advantage of a lot of open shots. I didn’t think the energy level was where it needed to be at the end of the half. Give the kids credit – they really pulled themselves together. We got a nice lift from Bassirou [Dieng]. He came in with a lot of energy. It was a hard-fought win.”
Can you talk about your press?
“I’m not quite sure we have the physical strength right now to chess match people in the half court all the time. I love to press and I think we’re good at it. It’s just going to be a matter of me spotting guys like Bassirou [Dieng] and Brad [Sheehan] and trying to stretch the bench. It’s nice to have Nick Foreman. At the beginning of the year, I couldn’t have told you that he would be a significant part of the rotation. That is like finding gold on the street.
Will you continue this when Maurice Miller comes back?
“When he comes back, we will definitely keep pressing. The biggest thing that Moe is going to do for us when he comes back healthy is allow us to put Zachery Peacock back at forward where he is really comfortable. At the end of last year, I think they were our two best players. He was such a match-up problem for people at the four position. This year, Zachery is our toughest guy and probably the most agile guy on the perimeter. When we play teams like Georgia, you can’t go that small. When Moe comes back, it will strengthen our team in a lot of ways.”
How big was a game like this heading into ACC play?
“It was big to have a rivalry game on our home court. We’ve lost some games here that were just crushing in terms of how it happened whether it was turnovers or free throws down the stretch. I won’t call us a young team, but we do have a freshman point guard and a sophomore center that we depend on a lot. We had some really tough losses and now we need to find a way to bounce back and get some of them back. I hope that tonight is the start of something good.”
Can you talk about the play of Iman Shumpert?
“He’s a freshman and that’s why my hair keeps getting greyer and greyer. This is the third year that I’ve had a freshman point guard starting ACC play. We’ll work through it and as long as we get Mo Miller back and can put Zachery back where he is comfortable then we have a chance to put together a team.”
GEORGIA HEAD COACH DENNIS FELTON
“I told our team that our immediate challenge is right in front of us – it’s easy to identify and it’s something that has re-occurred for us a couple of times this season. That is taking care of the ball when we get pressured and consistently being better than our opponent at rebounding the ball. I thought we did a lot of things really, really well tonight, but the game slipped away from us for three main reasons: No. 1, the second shots, No. 2 the steals – Georgia Tech had 12 steals. And then the big, big statistic was the eight blocks that they had because when a team is running around and double teaming, they are running around and trying to steal your ball. You are going to turn it over a little bit against that, but on the other hand you balance it off by breaking it for easy shots at the other end and we did that many, many times only to have Georgia Tech make really good, athletic plays at the rim to block layups and dunks. When I think about their eight blocks, I can almost count them in my hand and have an easy time coming up with the fact that almost all of them were point-blank shots where we did a good job of attacking, beating the pressure and getting it right to the rim for a dunk or a layup only to have them make a spectacular block at the rim. If you counter the turnovers that we had against the pressure with the layups or dunks that we earned against the pressure, the entire fabric of the game is different. But they made some really hard-to-believe number of plays to erase layups and dunks by us. But the rebounding is a really, really concrete thing that we can control that we didn’t control well enough. To be out-rebounded by 13 in the second half – we defended extremely well, holding them to only 36 percent shooting and they only assisted on 11 of their 26 baskets. So I thought that we were really disruptive of their offense, and it made everything really hard-earned, but it was the second shots that allowed them to break through and squeak it out. Twenty-three offensive rebounds is obviously too many.”
On the inbounds play to set up the three-point shot near the end of the game.
“It was a special situation play designed to get a misdirection three. There are a couple of options, and the one to Wood is the primary option. We wanted to try to score a three and tie the game. The one thing is that I can’t wait to see it on tape. Obviously the shot – Wood was open, but the pass was high. And because the pass was so high, the defense was able to recover a little bit and put the pressure on him. I would probably like to see him make an extra play there since the defense caught up to him, and there is a chance that Trey [Thompkins] might have been open for an extra pass on the wing in the corner. Out the side of my eye, I thought I saw him open.”
On Trey Thompkins making big plays, including big free throws
“Sure, and I think that our team is getting a little better with each passing game of getting him the ball for those opportunities down there and that is a good sign for us.”
On not being able to build once they got to a 13-point lead.
“Georgia Tech started trapping full-court, and we weren’t quite good enough against it, and I can’t say enough about the impact that their blocks had. You’ll have some turnovers when teams are flying around and double-teaming and trapping like that, but on the other hand you will get some baskets on that too. We did a good job of getting in position to get baskets many times only to have them make plays to block shots that were literally in the rim – I mean dunks and layups. And that’s what normally balances off some of the steals that you give up. They were all point-blank, right at-the-rim, dunks and layups right at the rim. And if we don’t get so many of those blocked after doing a good job of attacking and getting it to the rim, then the whole texture of the game is different. But there is no doubt that they fought really hard with their pressing, and at the end of the day it was the second shots [that made the difference.] We’re in their place, and no doubt the crowd really helped them – it was as loud in here as any other place that I’ve ever coached – and I thought our guys competed well for everything being considered. It was a hell of a ballgame, just a couple of plays away from finishing and winning.”