Post-Game Quotes: Tenn-GT

GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH JOSH PASTNER

Opening statement:

“I was proud of our guys’ effort. I think we competed and battled. We obviously weren’t very good offensively this evening, that’s a lot of credit to Tennessee’s defense. But there’s going to be times when we’re not shooting the ball well and we have to hang our hats and make our identity on the defensive end. I didn’t think we were cutting as well as we needed to do. But I like our guys and we’re a young team who showed their resolve and their competitive excellence. We have to continue to clean some stuff up and continue to get better. Tennessee is a great team and they have a realistic chance of being in the Final Four, and of course winning the SEC. We have to get better and continue to get better, and I really like this young squad that we have.”

Why Tennessee’s defense is so hard to score against:

“It’s hard to simulate because they just get underneath you. They are very good defensively. We were 3-for-19 from three-point range with 14 turnovers. We had six or seven turnovers in the first six or seven minutes. It took us awhile to adjust to Tennessee’s pressure, but I thought we defended them well.”

On Grant Williams’ toughness and Kyle Alexander’s late three-point shot:

“Grant Williams, there’s a reason he was SEC Player of the Year last year and picked preseason this year. He made some tough shots where we had some pretty good defense and it was just better offense. Number 11 hits a three-pointer late in the shot clock, I mean come on. I don’t even know if he’s hit that all year long. I don’t think he’s taken one.”

On Tennessee being a good test for Georgia Tech’s young team:

“We’ll continue to improve and continue to get better. I really like our group and there’s a lot to build on from this game. We’ll keep getting after it. We’re young. We’re a brand new team. We lost a lot. Losing Josh Okogie, I knew we were going to have some deficiencies scoring. I really believe in our team offensively, shooting wise. Tonight we did not shoot the ball well. This is a good test for us to understand. It will be good for us. We have to be better offensively, be more crisp and get better looks.”

On the physicality of the game:

“I don’t think either team got in a rhythm tonight, this was a physical game for both teams. This was an old school, smash mouth, line of scrimmage deal. It was one of those ‘no face mask’ in a sense. It was an old school fight. Part of that is what caused the rhythm to be off for both teams.”

TENNESSEE HEAD COACH RICK BARNES

Opening Statement:

“Tough game. I thought both teams played really hard on the defensive end, and as we knew we’d be in long possessions. I didn’t think our offensive execution was very good, other than the fact we were getting fouled, but we didn’t capitalize there. It made it tougher to move and guys started holding the ball, but when you look at what we did defensively, sometimes you just have to find a way to grind it out defensively and that’s what we did tonight. I told our guys before there are some nights the ball isn’t going to go in and you have to find a way to be in some of those games. Georgia Tech played hard, their offense is difficult to defend, with their movement and their cutting. I thought we did a good job there. I thought tonight was the first time all year that we’ve missed Lamonté. Yves getting in foul trouble hurt the rotation a little bit, Grant getting in foul trouble, where we had to sit him there. I thought Kyle was terrific, his ball screen defense was good, and he had as tough a job on the floor as anyone, with their motion he had to help with cutters and deny his man the ball, because they play through the elbows so much. I thought John Fulkerson, energy again, put us through there. We need to get more of a push on the offensive end, and some of that has to do with people being so concerned about our inside game, that they sit back and hope that we’ll settle early. It doesn’t necessarily mean we get the ball to Grant, we want to attack the high post and get fouled. Even though we missed fourteen, fifteen free throws, anytime you make more than your opponent shoots, you feel good about that. I thought we had some careless turnovers at the end, we just didn’t take care of the ball, and we definitely didn’t execute the last three possessions offensively. Why, I don’t know, but we will figure that out. Maybe it’s fatigue. You know this was the most minutes they’ve had to play. But nonetheless, it was a win over a good basketball team.”

On how he feels about where the defense it at right now:

“I thought it was really good tonight against a team that has run this system for a long time, a lot going on in that offense, a lot of guys you have to defend. Our guys were very alert with our scouting report of playing defense against their man the way we wanted them to. Overall, I think the zone was pretty good. We were able to extend our defense and create a turnover when we needed it and take some time off the clock. Defensively, tonight was probably our best effort defensively against our man, against a team that runs good stuff. They put you in long possessions, very long possessions. We rebounded the ball, Bowden had 11 rebounds, Kyle, Grant has to be more consistent and he can’t have four turnovers. [Williams] has to move the ball and be more consistent, instead of just bogging down everything. Free throws have something to do with it, maybe we could have stretched it out and felt more comfortable, but we didn’t.”

On guys who played well defensively but not offensively and if that is a sign of a mature team:

“It is. Again, we know that when you get in games like this, and you need games like this because we’re going to have some more, I promise you. We’re going to have some more like that where we’ve got to hang your hat on something. For the last two years, we’ve tried to hang our hat on our defense. When it’s not going in, there’s a tendency for guys to start pressing on the offensive end and trying to get too close to the basket, and that’s where we’re losing the ball. But yeah, I thought Fulky’s blocks and his energy really helped. We needed Yves. There’s no doubt we needed him. I don’t know why he went in the game in the first half. I think he heard his name, but we didn’t want him in there, and he picked up a foul. I guess he doesn’t understand my English, but the fact is that that shouldn’t have happened, but we needed his minutes tonight.”

On how much having big men that can shoot the ball can benefit the team:

“It will; there’s no doubt. Tonight, we were 4-for-12 from three. We missed a couple, but yeah, those guys work on it, and I’m glad that Kyle Alexander walked in there and shot it. He spends a lot of time on it. He really has. Kyle is going to keep getting better this year, I’m convinced that he’s going to get better as the year goes on. If he can do what he did tonight, because he did a lot that didn’t show up on the stat sheet. I mean his ball screen defense was good. He does a lot of little fix it things. He’s a very important part of what we’re doing.”

On if tonight was a reminder of how tough teams will play them due to their ranking:

“That’s exactly what I told them at halftime. I said, ‘you guys don’t think that people will give you those herculean type efforts, now, you’ll find out.’ If we’re smart, it will make us better. It will make us better if we embrace it and know it will make us better. There are going to be nights like this. I give Georgia Tech credit. I thought that Josh Pastner had his team well-prepared. It’s quite obvious that their mindset was to make it really difficult for us to score around the basket. When we hold the ball like that, we’re a much easier team to guard. Again, we’ve got to trust what we’ve worked on and what we practice, but yeah, I don’t think that there’s any question that if that’s not a reminder tonight certainly for everyone that the people are going to come at us, I mean, why not? It’s a chance for them to do something, and this team, I will say that this team, we’re where we are because of what we did last year. It’s still a matter of what is this team going to improve on and what can they do? We still haven’t totally defined ourselves. Tonight, we put a big emphasis on rebounding. I thought we did a better job with that than at any point in time this year. We were down there, battling for those types of things. But we’re still trying to create our identity, like I think most teams are, but this team has to embrace what you’re talking about. Whether they believe it or not, they’re going to find out it is real. People are going to come at them.”

On how Lamonté has handled this season:

“I think the biggest thing is he wants to get healthy. I think that is the biggest thing. We want him to be healthy. He certainly has done all that he can do to rehab it and get it back. I do think he wants to come back. We need him. There is no doubt. We know that. He is a very integral part of this team. I am happy with our guys that we have gotten through three games without him. Out of all these games, this is the one that he would’ve impacted more than any because we needed that third scorer tonight. We definitely needed that. We know that he is the guy that can create some offense. I do think he will be ready in New York. That has been the timetable pretty much. These next couple days will be important for him to get his wind back and play in shape. We are going to need him to do that.”

On if he was able to visit with Shembari Phillips and what he thought of his performance:

“I have always loved Shembari. He was here when we first got here obviously and all I got to say to him in the line is to have a good season and give his mom a hug for me. She is a wonderful lady. We really felt at the same time that he needed a fresh and new start. Josh and I talked, and I told Josh he should want him on his team. Tonight, he probably put a little pressure on himself, which you somewhat expect that. I do think Georgia Tech is going to be a good basketball team this year, and I think he’s going to play 20-25 minutes a game based on what we have seen so far up to tonight. He played 22 tonight, so I think he will be a good part and we hope that those guys have a good year and that Shembari does well.”

On if Lamonté aggravated his injury in the Tusculum game:

“No. I think he has had two surgeries with one on his shoulder. You could ask him, but I think he irritated it more in practice. Lamonté is a gym rat, and he is in there all the time. It got to where he just couldn’t pick it up, and it was affecting the way he shot the ball, passed the ball and he started to avoid contact when trying to screen. He just wants to be at his best, and I do think him and Chad have worked hard. I do think it became very much a mental thing to him because he is a competitor and for him to say that he can’t go really means he can’t go. He is just that kind of person. He would never not go if he could.”

 

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