Feb. 25, 2013
THE FLATS – Head coach Brian Gregory previews the Maryland game and talks about other topics in his weekly chat on the ACC Coaches Teleconference.
The Yellow Jackets (14-10, 4-10 ACC) host the Terrapins (19-8, 7-7 ACC) at 8 p.m. Wednesday night at McCamish Pavilion in a game regionally televised on the ACC Network (WATL-TV in Atlanta).
“I thought last week we played two teams in North Carolina and Virginia that are playing at a really high level right now, maybe playing as well, maybe the best basketball of the season. Then unfortunately we weren’t able to match over a 40-minute span either one of those two teams’ intensity or execution level. When you do that in this league, things aren’t going to work out. That’s unfortunately what happened in both those games.
Got to get back to the drawing board starting today and prepare for a team in Maryland, other than one hiccup, has played extremely well also over the last few weeks, is really starting to build its identity in terms of their offensive efficiency, being able to go inside to Alex (Len), who is their premiere big guy, maybe in the country, starting to come into his own. They got a lot of weapons, great depth, which allows them to kind of ride the guys who are playing best during those games. We’re going to have a tall task on Wednesday night.
Q. You just mentioned Len, the problems he presents. Daniel Miller doesn’t get a lot of attentions, but he’s about to reach a major milestone in blocked shots. Can you talk about his development and the matchup with Len?
COACH GREGORY: I’m really proud of Daniel. You look at his growth over the last two years. Proud of the work he’s put in. It’s been every bit as much of his just understanding and acceptance of the fact that he’s a key component to our success.
His daily work and energy level has been good. I think that’s why he’s improving. He’s been tremendous on the defensive end, anchoring our defense. He’s never been a high-rebound guy, but he’s becoming that, and he’s becoming that on both backboards, which is good. I think he had seven offensive rebounds yesterday. Again, you don’t do that unless you’re playing really hard with really good focus.
I still believe that his best offensive basketball is in front of him. I know he understands that. But his matchup with Len is a challenging one. A lot of teams in this league, some teams in this league, are playing a little smaller at that second post spot, and Maryland will do the same, but not many guys have as physical a post player with great size like Len.
So it will be a great challenge. You can’t allow him to get the ball in deep, and he’s highly skilled when he gets the ball. He can finish with either hand and has a variety of moves.
For Daniel, it will be a great challenge. But it’s hard to guard him one-on-one. You got to do some different things in order to throw him off balance.
Q. I was also interested in the matchup of power forwards. You have a big freshman from Georgia. He doesn’t start, but plays a lot of minutes. (Charles) Mitchell, another big forward. Those guys must have gone against each other in high school or AAU.
COACH GREGORY: In the heavyweight wrestling championship, too, I think (laughter). Both those guys, I love Charles, I always have. I love the attitude he plays with. He’s an energy guy. Mark (Turgeon) has done a great job with those two freshmen because, similar to Robert (Carter Jr.), most freshmen either need to gain weight and strength or lose weight. I think all three were in that second category. I think their performances will continually get better as they get into college shape with the strength that you need and so forth.
But they have a very good rotation in the post. Saturday against Clemson, it was clear who played really well for them. Padgett is a guy that I always really liked, played well against us in both games against us last year. They have those four posts, and as I said at times they go small as well. I do know that Charles and Robert have gone head-to-head. I think they both respect each other very much. In terms of the big men coming out of the state of Georgia last year, they were two of the top ones.
It will be kind of a renewal of the battles they did. They played a high school game against each other last year, as well.
Q. I remember as you previewed the season you talked about expecting to lean on your experienced post guys returning with Kammeon Holsey and Daniel Miller. Do you have any idea that here in late February you would have two freshmen leading your team in scoring right now?
COACH GREGORY: In the ACC, our three freshmen are leading us in scoring, in ACC games.
That’s a little bit of the challenge that we face. As young as this league is on a lot of teams, I think there’s maybe us and Boston College in terms of the freshmen having to lead us in scoring, in the rebounding as well, because Robert is second in rebounding, but behind Daniel right now in ACC play.
That’s the challenge. I think there’s been a lot of teams that have played younger guys, and this league is a little bit younger. Some of those teams have some upperclassmen they can rely on to get them through some of those times. Wake Forest beats Miami and Harris has a tremendous game. (Travis) McKie has been good for them. You kind of go through the league, you look at that.
One of the teams that doesn’t necessarily have that is Maryland. (James) Padgett has done a good job, but they rely on freshmen and sophomores to do their scoring for them, too. It has been a little bit of a challenge because one thing that all freshmen do, is there’s some inconsistency. You’re not only asking them to play 32 minutes a game, but you’re asking them to be consistent and be able to sustain over 32 minutes a game a very high level of performance. Sometimes that’s a challenge for younger guys.
Q. You’ve been coaching for 10 years at Georgia Tech. The previous eight years as a head coach, have you had a leam that you had a field on the floor this young?
COACH GREGORY: My first year at Dayton, we were very old. I think we started four seniors on that team, maybe three seniors, and our sixth man was a senior. The second year we brought in five freshmen. I started two or three a good part of the year.
Again, they weren’t necessarily the go-to guys on that. The difference is not just playing the freshmen, but having to rely on them so much. Everybody talks about freshmen hitting the wall, things like that, our guys have done a pretty good job of being able to fight through that.
But, again, we don’t have the luxury of those guys not playing well. Those guys have to play well every single night for us, for us to be competitive, have a fighting chance in some of these games.
That’s been the biggest change in 24 years or 22 years, whatever it is, in terms of coaching, an assistant at Michigan and Northwestern, not only have we had to rely on those freshmen not only to play but to be in some cases go-to guys. We went to Marcus at the end of the Wake Forest game, and he played extremely well.
All that is going to do, those guys are going to grow up a little faster. Down the road, it’s going to play dividends.
Q. You play 14 ACC games. Now you’re facing Maryland, a team you haven’t seen before. You also finish the year at Boston College, who you haven’t seen yet either. Is that a problem at this time of the year or is there so much information and tape available on ACC teams that it really doesn’t matter?
COACH GREGORY: Well, one, it is a little difficult just due to the fact there’s almost too much information. You can watch all 17 league team games prior to playing Boston College. The only good thing is both teams are in the same situation. But you do have to streamline it a little bit in terms of looking at maybe the last four or five games as opposed to their whole body of work. It’s just too many games.
The biggest challenge is they’re a much different team than they were last year. We played Maryland and BC twice last year. Both are remarkably different teams. So it’s the way all conference schedules are now. When you play 18 conference games, when these conferences continue to enlarge, you’re going to get situations like that, the last game. Conference season you’re playing a team for the very first time. It’s just the way it’s going to be in college basketball now.