Dec. 18, 2007
– GEORGIA TECH COACH Paul Hewitt
“Defensively, we played very well around the basket. We got some good looks around the rim and their big guys contested our shots all night. Going into this game, we tried to beat their big guys off the dribble. We did that early, but were never really able to take full advantage of it. We gave up four offensive rebounds in the first half and it seemed like every one of those led to a bucket and gave them a seven point lead. Down the stretch, we just didn’t execute. We had a chance obviously to get a shot up on the rim, but it’s very disappointing when you can’t get a shot off with nine seconds to go in the game.”
Have you talked to Zack [Peacock]? Do you know what he was doing on that last play?
“The idea was for him to hit Matt [Causey] streaking down the court. During the game we saw that they were trying to face-guard Matt when he came to the ball. We put him there with the idea that Matt came streaking down and [Anthony] Morrow was far left. If Zack got into the open court, he could draw Morrow’s man in for a kick-out. Both the pass and the cut were very tentative and that’s just a lack of practice.”
Is that a play you worked a lot on in practice?
“No we saw it during the game and talked about it. We knew they were going to press on dead balls. The bottom line is we didn’t execute. You have to put that on me. Things like that happen in the game of basketball all the time. We’ve made adjustments against the press before.”
What was your mind-set going into this game?
“I thought we were going to win the game.”
What gave you your confidence?
“Because we are a good team.”
What did you do differently tonight defensively. They still shot a high percentage but you were able to stretch out the possessions.
“We talked and did the things that we are capable of doing more tonight than in previous games. I don’t take away anything from Kansas but we did it to ourselves again tonight. We had a two-on-nothing breakaway and didn’t score. You can’t blow as many opportunities as we did tonight against a quality opponent. They are a good basketball team; a very well-coached team. They executed very well tonight and have great size, but we can’t do some of the things we did tonight and expect to be a good basketball team. We’re a talented team, but not a good basketball team and there’s a difference. That’s why I thought we were going to win. We are very talented and were prepared, but we just weren’t prepared well enough. It’s that simple.”
Coach, at about the 9:15 mark of the second half you took your jacket off and called a timeout. You clearly looked frustrated. What were you frustrated at and do you wish you had a timeout at the end of the game?
“I guess it probably could have helped if we had a timeout at the end. I was frustrated with my team and it wasn’t anything else but that. Some fouls were called on the bigs and we just looked glazed. I don’t know. Maybe snapping at them brought them out of it. After that timeout, we went on a run. We just have to realize that we are a good team and not have that glazed over look that we have sometimes. We do it to ourselves, but again that’s not to take anything away from Kansas. People can make all of the judgments about what we have in our locker room, but we are a good basketball team. When we lose games like this, most of the time we do it to ourselves. We were in this situation at Indiana. Led most of the game and just made three inexplicable decisions that led to a 6-0 run that cost us the game. Again, I think that’s coaching. We have to get in the gym. We’re off tomorrow, will practice Thursday and Friday and now Centenary becomes that game. The turning point. In my heart and mind, I thought this was the turning point game. I thought this would get us right and we would show what we are capable of. Now we have to rack it up again on Saturday.”
KANSAS HEAD COACH BILL SELF
On if he was planning on fouling on Tech’s last play
“No, we talked about it. I asked the guys what they wanted to do and they wanted to defend them. With the small lineup and missing the free throw, I think that was the percentage play in that situation. But our guys did not want to foul there, they wanted to defend them.
“We maybe would (foul) if we had under five (seconds) left and as soon as they’d throw it in we would foul, but with eight (seconds) left and having the guys to decide that when it gets under four we would foul…they just said they wanted to defend.”
On if the last play was a steal or a mishandled pass
“He may get credit for a steal, but I honestly think it was mishandled. There were a lot of mishandled balls tonight, on both sides.”
On Rush’s defense
“Defensively he was pretty good tonight, but offensively he wasn’t very good tonight. He was very passive. It started on the first play of the game with a loose ball between he and Smith and Smith came away with it. So I just felt that he played on his heals and wasn’t very aggressive at all tonight. Health-wise, he’s close, but emotionally and mentally he’s got to trust it more. He didn’t play well but still came away with 11 points and six rebounds.”
Were the mishandled balls on both sides?
“I thought we really got after them to start the game and after that I didn’t think we did. Georgia Tech got after us in stretches (too). But I didn’t feel like every bounce or pass was contested the whole night. The pressure did bother some of our guys, more than we thought it would to be honest with you.”
Did you expect it to go down to the wire like it did?
“I expected it to be a close game, but I didn’t expect it to go down to the wire when we were up 13 with about six minutes left, or 10 with five or whatever it was. But I expected it. I told our guys that they were going to make a run. I had hoped that it would have been early in the half, and then we could handle that, but they made their run late and we missed free throws. We did some things – Darnell (Jackson’s) fifth foul on a ball screen that didn’t have anything to do with anything and then throwing the ball back inbounds under our basket when we had three timeouts left – those are plays that you just don’t make. We certainly hurt ourselves late not being able to put the game away (due to) those missed free throws. But it’s good to win games on the road where you have to grind it out. That’s not a bad thing. We played out of foul trouble and we played out of weird rotations – we hadn’t played small all year, so there were some things that happened tonight that should give us some confidence that we can still win when things don’t go as scripted.”
On if Tech was sluggish after the break
“I can’t speak for their team. They have probably gotten better over the last two weeks, which is the most important thing – to get better. But sometimes after a layoff you can have a bad start. It wasn’t a bad start for them though, because they were ahead 17-13 or something like that, so I don’t think that had much to do with it to be honest with you.”
Did Tech live up to your expectations?
“They did. We knew Morrow and Clinch could make big shots, and they did. We knew Smith was a beast inside, strength-wise, and he proved that to be true. The one thing that really hurt us was that they got more scoring out of their point guard position in Bell – and Causey made a shot late, but I thought Bell had a good game. He got the ball in the paint, he forced help and finished a couple of times on some nice plays. And defensively I thought they played really smart. They are a well-coached team and we were fortunate to win that game. They are going to get better. There is no doubt. Put two first rounders on this team and think of how good they’d be – they are just going to have to keep growing.”