March 2, 2007
Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Hewitt
“We’ve been saying for the last month that our team is playing much better. There are obviously a lot of good teams around the country. We just hope that we give ourselves a chance to play against those best teams. I feel very confident about how this team is playing. We had a hiccup at Virginia, up seven with 3:41 to go and they made some plays and we didn’t. But that didn’t take away from the effort that we put out there. If you read Dave Leitao’s comments after that game, he felt like his team was dominated but they were able to pull it out. We did a good job closing this game out – we made our free throws, rebounded and took care of the ball. We got a win those kids definitely deserved. They earned that win. They did a great job.
[Roy Williams says if Tech’s not in the NCAA Tournament something is wrong] “I appreciate his comments, but we feel like we’ve got more work to do because of the whole we dug for ourselves. But I do stand by what I say – I do feel that we’re playing as well as anybody out there right now. And I don’t say that if I don’t think it’s true. I’ve been saying for the last month, Just give yourselves a chance to get to that Tournament and let’s see what happens. This was a big step in that direction, but we’ve got to follow it up with a good game Sunday. We’ve got to. We can’t afford any slip-ups now because we’ve left ourselves no margin for error.
[Thaddeus Young] “He’s getting more and more aggressive. He’s an unselfish basketball player in an age where everybody thinks me me me, and he’s getting criticized for it. By some of the national people who don’t even watch us and don’t understand how good this kid is, and how good a teammate he is. He’s averaging almost 14 points a game, almost five rebounds, and he’s as unselfish as there is. Do I want him to shoot more? Absolutely. But I love his game. He’s a terrific player.
“The rebounding thing is a big issue for us. When we lost games earlier, we lost them because we didn’t block out. We have been setting some lofty goals in terms of our defensive rebounding over this last month. As long as we stick to those goals and really make an effort to clean up the boards, then we’ll be pretty good. The fouls? We don’t have any other way to play. We have to play tough, physical defense, and if they call fouls on us, they’re going to call fouls on. We’re not going to finesse people, and I’m definitely not going to out-coach anybody, so we’ve got to get after it. I like the fact that we’re getting after it. We’ve re-established ourselves after playing for a year and a half like something that I didn’t recognize.
NOTING GEORGIA TECH With the win, Georgia Tech now has seven wins over teams in RPI Top 50, including three in the top 12. Only four teams in the nation have more than seven wins over the RPI Top 50 . . . Thaddeus Young scored a career-high 25 points. In two games vs. UNC, he scored 47 points. Young’s five three-pointers tied his career high (also vs. Georgia State) and are his high for an ACC game . . . Javaris Crittenton had a career-high 11 assists . . . The win was Tech’s fourth straight over North Carolina at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
NORTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH ROY WILLIAMS
Opening Comment: “I feel like I’m saying this a lot more than I like, that’s for sure, but congratulations to Georgia Tech. It’s a great win for them, for Paul and his staff. It seemed like we couldn’t get a stop to save our lives in the first half. It seemed like they were making every shot. Our defense wasn’t as good, but at the same time, they made the shot that you have to make. This league is a tough league, and Dave Leidao will probably be the (ACC) Coach of the Year, and deservedly so, but what Paul has done with this club is fantastic. I said to him before the game, and I meant it: For Paul and Gary (Williams) to begin 2-5 and 2-6, to turn it around in this league is not easy. It’s a job that Paul’s done. Dave will win the Coach of the Year, and he should, but the job that Paul has done is really exceptional too, after you get off to a bad start in this league.
“Javaris (Crittenton) didn’t play very well in Chapel Hill, but I thought he controlled the first half of the game and Thaddeus (Young) made every shot. I think those are two extremely gifted freshmen who have done some great things, and fortunately for the league, we’ve got a lot of great freshmen this year on a lot of great teams. But when you start talking about the guys that have had such an impact I think you have to talk about those two guys probably more than they have been talked about. It was a sensational night for them.
“We were just so bad defensively in the first half, but I still go back and say that just because you’re open doesn’t mean you make shots, and they made shots, made plays that they needed to make. At halftime I felt extremely lucky to be down seven. We got it to five late, and Wayne (Ellington) had a really good look at three, and Ty (Lawson) had a good look at three in that stretch there too, but we could never get another shot to go down to three or four. They made free throws and finished the game off, so it was a great night for them and not a very good night for us.”
Usually you guys are so good coming off a loss, so how surprising was it for you to lose two in a row? “The good thing is that we haven’t had that much practice at it. We have responded very well to games that we’ve lost. Georgia Tech was sensational tonight. They shot 62 percent in the first time. It’s not just us bouncing back, if that’s the case then the other team would roll over and play dead, and they don’t do that in this league.”
What are you not seeing? “In this game in particular, every time I looked up and they were making shots, we weren’t there. In the Maryland game and this game both, we didn’t get around screen, we didn’t get as much help as we needed to. I’ve always thought that a screen is an excuse. You’ve got to be able to get through or around a screen and when you get there, the guy still has to catch and turn and if you’re a split-second late, you can still get there and affect a shot. But we didn’t do that. In the first half, it was dribble-penetration that hurt us, and dribble-penetration didn’t hurt us that much at Maryland. It was more getting around the screens and they were killing us on the backboards. But we now have two games in a row that teams have shot really well against us and rebounded a lot better than we did. We faced two very good teams that are playing very good basketball right now.”
What thought process went into changing the lineup? “He didn’t have a very good practice yesterday at all, so I decided to let him wait a little while before he got in the game.”
In your opinion, is Georgia Tech an NCAA Tournament team? “Yes. They are 7-8 in the league. Again, I’ve heard people talk in the past that it’s about what you do late, and they have won something like six of their last eight league games. I think they are a very good basketball team. If they are not an NCAA team, then there is something wrong.”
Talk about the physical play under the basket. “It is physical under there. I got Coach Smith to give me a couple of tapes for a couple of things that I was looking for, and even my wife, who is a non-athlete but has seen a lot of games says, `my goodness, all of the spacing and nobody is body-blocking each other,’ and that’s what the game looked like 10-15 years ago, but it’s a very physical game right now.
Were you surprised to see Thaddeus take as many threes? “They haven’t shot the three great, but they haven’t shot it poorly either. They are probably in the middle of the league, and Thaddeus is probably in the low-30’s, but 5-for-6 is not the low-30’s. He’s got 22 and 25 against us. I tried to recruit him like crazy, I loved him to death, and I was right.
On the run made after timeout down 7-0 “Every game this year we have been down early. We expected that because they are such a good team in transition, but we just kept fighting. We got back into the game and continued to fight.”
On holding the lead tonight “We kept talking to one another, letting each other know that if we kept fighting out there we could win the game.”
On what transpired between last Saturday and tonight “We knew that we had to finish the game. We haven’t been finishing games lately.”
On the difference between the game in Chapel Hill and here “We got into our offense better. We set good screens, got open on the wing and I think that was the difference.”
On what this win means to the team “This is a big win because they beat the mess out of us at their place. We came out of here with another huge ACC win and we are looking forward to another big game on Sunday against Boston College.”
On what Coach (Paul) Hewit said “Great job, and that he knew we could do it if we played hard. He also complimented us a lot about how hard we played tonight.”
“I just want to thank God that we got the opportunity to play and we took advantage of it. I played up to my potential with flu like symptoms and I still played through it. Javaris (Crittenton) played tough, Thad (Thaddeus Young) played tough, all of our big me played tough. D’Andre (Bell) came in and did some good things, so did Rio (Mario West) as well as Alade (Aminu). This was a team effort and we just got it done.”
On moving well and setting good screens: “It was more mental than anything else and in practice we were just working on execution. Working on moving without the ball, using screens by getting your feet set. This game I really concentrated on getting my feet set off the screen. We have to keep moving and setting good screens. I told Jeremis (Smith) and Ra’Sean (Dickey) that they were setting great screens and I would knock some shots down if they kept doing that.”
On doing enough to be in the NCAA Tournament” “No I think we can still do more. Boston College is a great team, one of the top teams in our conference, and we have to play with the same amount of intensity, aggressiveness, that we did tonight. We have all the right tools to do that and if we play like that, I feel like we are the only team that can beat us.”