Jan. 30, 2012
ATLANTA – Transcript of head coach Brian Gregory’s session on the ACC Teleconference Monday morning. Georgia Tech will head to Tallahassee, Fla. for a Wednesday night meeting with Florida State at 7 p.m. and will return to Philips Arena, Saturday for a 1 p.m. game with Boston College.
We have a tough week again starting off on the road yesterday and obviously playing a team that is playing as well as just about anybody and Florida State on Wednesday. We did some good things yesterday. North Carolina is a very good team and they know exactly how they want play and they play at their pace and we tried to slow it down a little bit early, contain it and we just weren’t able to do that. But at the same time, I thought we did some good things, first on offense, then in our half-court defense which was pretty good. You just need to keep making progress and we’ve got another big challenge on the road on Wednesday against a team that is exceptionally talented and diverse on defense, and, I think averaging 72 points a game in the league, is really kind of found their flow offensively as well.
On what makes the Florida State defense so good
Well they have great length at the basket, so they never give up any easy shots at the rim. With both of those guys, [Xavier] Gibson has played an integral role in the past and [Bernard] James, both those guys as seniors, and [Jon] Kreft is a senior, so you have three post guys that are all 6’10”, 240 or bigger, that know exactly what coach wants them to do back there. It allows them to push up in pressure a little more, even when maybe some guys you wouldn’t think would be able to do that. They use their length for deflections and keeping it in front. You score over or through them and that is pretty tough to do.
On the confidence Florida State is displaying on offense
One thing is that they are shooting the ball better, and that always helps. Again, you have guys that kind of know what needs to be done. Having [Ian] Miller coming off the bench, at a little over 11 points a game, always gives you a spark. But if you look at the starters, you have three seniors, a junior, and a graduate student. I didn’t watch as much early in terms of why they were struggling offensively but they definitely haven’t been lately.
On the shooting performance against North Carolina and what can be taken away from it
I thought we did a better job of our pace in terms of trying to push the ball down the court. We’re limited in number a little bit at times, so you have to be careful with that. What happened yesterday is we had some presence in the low post to be honest with you. Kam[meon Holsey] was pretty good in the low post, we got the ball in to Daniel [Miller]. Julian [Royal] made a couple of nice moves in there as well for a freshman. Whenever you have a presence at the rim, around the basket, then you are going to able to, offensively, have a little better flow. One kind of leads to another. We did a better job of keeping the ball on the move and not having the ball die in guy’s hands. I know at times we did over-dribble the ball. We either were forced to take a difficult shot or turned the ball over. We are just really emphasizing, the fact is that right now sometimes offensively we may get so hard on ourselves, you know and just make the easy play, and we have to get better at creating some scoring opportunities for other guys. And some of that comes with maturity. Some of that just comes with becoming better basketball players, and that is what we are trying to do.
On Julian Royal’s offensive progression
He is a freshman. He didn’t know if he was on foot or horseback when the season started. That happens. One thing that we had to do when he got here, he really did a great job of getting in much better condition than he was before. You emphasize that so much, and maybe some of the other stuff that you are going to pick up later down the road is kind of pushed to the side. Just understanding how hard you have to play and he was our only freshman, and for us to change the program and get the program back on track, he was kind of the only blank slate that we had. We wanted to make sure, especially with him, that he understood from day one, these are the kinds of things you need to do to be successful at this level. As he got more comfortable with that, and understood that more, and embraced that, as he started to play better, all of a sudden, now he is doing it on a much more consistent basis.
Even during that first part of the year, he had some games where he played pretty
well. But then the next day in practice, it was like, “Where is Julian?” and that is what happens with freshmen. You have to do that, just the intensity level and the consistency level is something that those young guys have to learn. And I really like him because I think he has a chance to be a heck of a player, but he is a very coachable kid. You can tell him something, show him something on film, or talk to him during the game and you can see instantly that he won’t make that mistake again. He got a pretty good education yesterday in terms of running the floor because those big guys at Carolina run the floor tremendously well. Julian is going to be, before it is all said and done, a guy who can do that. I thought yesterday, he performed well, he battled, but at the same time, I think he also had some valuable lessons taught to him.
On the mental aspect of the current struggles of the team
During a drought, if you didn’t worry about that stuff, because losing games wears you out. And it is not just coaches; it is the players as well. As a coach, I can take a look at this schedule, this first eight game schedule, and so forth, and say we only played two of those three home games are against Duke and Virginia, top twenty teams. There is a lot; there is no doubt about it. We have talked all year long about the process of how we have to do things everyday, this is how hard we have to work, when it comes to preparation, this is what we need to do. We are not going to evaluate it always on what happens on the scoreboard and so forth. Sooner or later, you got to have some tangible evidence that what you are doing works. You worry about that, you have to make sure that the guys are continuing to plug along, and as you know, there is nothing better for that than to get a couple of wins. Winning makes big problems look small, and losing makes small problems look big. You just need to make sure that you are constantly communicating that, those situations with your players.
On how the team is handling the struggles at the moment
Again, I think at times we have handled it extremely well. I still saw the intensity level and the fight in the guys yesterday. I’ve seen before, those games can get dramatically out of hand. I thought we did some good things yesterday. I thought our half court defense, when we got them in the half court, was very good. They are very versatile, can score in the post, and can also make some shots and create shots, especially with [Kendall] Marshall having the ball in his hands. I thought we did some good things. I don’t think we got out of sorts on offense, with guys taking crazy shots and looking out for their own, and stuff like that, so I thought that was, you know, when you are in this thing and you know exactly where you are at and where you want to get to, sometimes, you have to pull out some positive signs that aren’t as noticeable to other guys. I saw some positive signs yesterday.