Jan. 14, 2009
– GEORGIA TECH COACH Paul Hewitt
Can you just talk about the empty possessions in the second half when it seemed like you were gaining some momentum? Was that the difference in this ball-game?
“I think so. Their defense was obviously very, very good. We did have some very good looks. There were some mis-matches that enabled us to take the lead in the first half, but we got a little impatient and did not take advantage of them in the second half. Right now, I just told the team that obviously we are disappointed with the loss but we are going to get ourselves ready for the quick turn-around at NC State on Saturday.”
I know it’s the No. 2 team in the country, but we saw some intensity and emotion tonight that maybe this team hasn’t shown us in a week or so. Would you agree with that?
“We’ve been playing harder and harder and that’s one of the things that I’ve been pleased with. Going back to the second half of the Alabama game, we fought and played hard. We played hard against Georgia and Maryland too. We played a gutty ball-game against Maryland, but the turnovers hurt us. Two things that have bothered us all year – free throws and turnovers – came back and hurt us again tonight. The effort is there and that’s why I think this team will come out of this funk and start playing some winning basketball. We are certainly playing the nest basketball that we’ve played in a long time.”
You had Zachery Peacock, Maurice Miller and Lewis Clinch for the first time together all season. What were you able to do line-up wise and did you see some good things? “It’s just unfortunate that in the second half, we couldn’t take advantage of some of the mis-matches. They switched so many screens and had so many ball screens; we thought we could go inside. That’s how we got some easy baskets in the first half. In the second half, we had some easy buckets we missed and the free throw shooting was a problem for us. Overall, once they started building the lead we got a little impatient. We didn’t spread the floor out and take advantage of the match-up we wanted and go at it. We took shots too quickly I think.”
Looking at the stat sheet, Gani Lawal was 2-for-8 and Alade Aminu was 3-of-8. Teams are going to try and limit their touches. Were you pleased with the way they were able to get the ball in the first half as opposed to the second?
“No question. In the first half, I thought we did a good job. In the second half, we took the bait. They put those big guys on our perimeters and they started dribbling around too much and put up some tough shots.”
GEORGIA TECH SOPHOMORE Gani Lawal
Thoughts on the game…
“It was a tough night for us. We came out with a lot of energy, but it the second half we got lost in the shuffle and let their shooters get hot.”
On whether these games as challenging mentally as they are physically…
“You have to be on your P’s and Q’s when you are playing a team like this. They are well coached, so if you make a few mistakes here and there they are going to capitalize on them. They are too good of a team and that’s what I think happened here tonight.”
On not being able to take advantage of mismatches on offense…
“We rushed it too much on the offensive side. Our game plan coming in was to really pound it inside and I feel we really rushed it and didn’t exploit the mismatches we had.”
On his career-high 17 rebounds…
“I was really trying to go to the glass hard. Whether my shots were falling or not, I just wanted to make sure I gave it my all and went in hard.”
On how big of a game the N.C. State match-up will be on Saturday…
“It’s a big game. It is our next one, and we are focusing on that the most. We are 0-3 in the league and definitely want to get our first ACC win so we can get our confidence back.”
DUKE HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI
“We won a hard-fought game tonight. We knew coming in that Georgia Tech, for the first time this season, was close to being 100 percent. They didn’t start the year with Clinch, then Miller was sick, and then Peacock was sick the last game, but they had everyone tonight. Obviously those guys will still get in better shape. As a result they can hit you with different lineups now. They can start that big lineup and they can bring Miller in, and you have Shumpert, Clinch and Miller with Peacock and Lawal – they are a good team, tough to score against. I thought our defense helped win the game for us. We played very well, defensively, in the second half. I thought we played the last 10 minutes of the first half well defensively but they kind of knocked us back and we didn’t do what we wanted to do on the top ball screen. And they executed well. They are a very big team. Kyle [Singler] came up with some huge plays for us, especially on the defensive boards. And then G had a really good second half offensively. Both teams had trouble scoring because we are both pretty good defensive teams. We got a big boost in the first half from Paulus and Marty [Pocius]. Greg and Marty gave us a big boost, and then Dave [McClure] was terrific in the second half, defensively. He had two big blocks and was a heck of a defensive player. And we needed that. It was hard fought, and a good win for us. Hooray for me, I’m happy. When you win a game like this, it’s not an easy game. They are good.”
Comment on rebounding.
“Yeah, we had a couple more. But that fact that we weren’t hit hard, a lot of it had to do with Kyle. Kyle had 14 rebounds. All of a sudden on some of those misses, you saw Kyle with two hands coming up and that gives you a possession. Neither team scored quickly, so when you got a possession it meant a little bit more in this game. Dave came up – his blocks were the main thing. And then trying to stay in front of Lawal was huge. Our post defense was a lot better in the second half.”
Comment on Gerald Henderson coming up big in the second half.
“He’s a good player, first of all. Their defense was taking away the drive. They were really playing like zoning up, and we ended up just kind of pounding the ball in the floor. I told him to either shoot it or pass it – don’t just keep dribbling it. He wants to beat you, he’s a good player. In the second half our offense had a little bit more movement and we put him in a couple different places so he could do it. He lost it a couple of times, but we went to both him and Kyle. We tried to run a bunch of things through those two kids.”
Comment on big men going over top of the screens
“I thought Kyle, in particular, defended that well. We’re a very good defensive team. In the first half, we did not do that well. We started switching, and then our little guy went down, instead of the big guy staying and the little guy staying up on top, which is what we practiced. I felt like the father that tells their kid, and they say that they never heard you. Well I said it, I said it a bunch – I even called a timeout. In fact, you’re even IN timeout right now. But that’s what happens, and to our kids’ credit, they got it straight after a while.”
Comment on the league.
“I think our league is the best it’s been for a long time. We’ve got four teams in the top-10. We just played Tech and Florida State, and they can play anybody that we’ve played. Our league is the best league. The fact that we have 12 teams shouldn’t be discriminated against. Believe me, we don’t want more – I don’t want more. But we have a hell of a league. It’s an older league and a bigger league. We have some big teams in our league – Tech and Florida State are two of the biggest teams in the country when you put those lineups out. We’ve been No. 1 in the RPI, We have had the best non-conference. I’ve always been a cheerleader for the ACC, but this year, even more because we have a lot of good teams. And always in the league, there are always two things that bring around the differential: an injury and close losses.”
Comment on strategy on defending Lawal
“We wanted to pressure the passer. I think we were the first team this year that pressured the high post instead of dropping off. We tried to stay where we were between him and the ball. Ball pressure is key – we wanted to pressure the passer (because) the passer can see more. But he’s good. He’s gotten really strong, and you can tell that kid’s really worked. I don’t think anybody that I’ve seen yet, and I know I haven’t seen everybody, but I don’t think anyone runs the floor quicker than Lawal. He goes from the defensive end to the offensive end real fast. He’s a big time player and competitor.