March 5, 2013
THE FLATS – Head coach Brian Gregory previews the Miami game and talks about other topics in his weekly chat on the ACC Coaches Teleconference.
The Yellow Jackets (15-13, 5-11 ACC) visit the 6th-ranked Hurricanes (23-5, 14-2 ACC) at 9 p.m. Wednesday night in Coral Gables in a game regionally televised on the ACC Network (WATL-TV in Atlanta).
Last week did some good things. Obviously had a great win on Wednesday night against a very talented, very good Maryland team. For even them to be talked about being a bubble team, I think they are more than good enough now, playing in the NCAA tournament, but winning games in that tournament, they’ve proven that.
We played well. It was our best 40 minutes of the season. Did a lot of good things. Really moved the ball well on offense, defended well, rebounded the ball exceptionally well. I was pleased with that.
We just didn’t play well enough yesterday against, again, a very good NC State team to win the game. NC State is two last-second tip-ins away of from being 12-4 in this league and probably being a top-15 team in the country. I think there were two losses with Oklahoma State and to Michigan, neither one at home, one on the road and one a neutral site. That’s how close it is.
Unfortunately, with five or six minutes to go in the game, it’s a one-possession game. So although that shows the progress you’re making, you still want to figure out a way.
I heard Mark (Turgeon). You want the seniors to end up on a good note. It’s unfortunate the two seniors, probably their impact and their sacrifices they made for this program won’t be maybe realized until down the road. But that’s how it goes when you’re rebuilding the program.
Q. I’ve been asking questions about defensive players. Daniel Miller leads the league in blocked shots. Is that a reflection of his defensive value? Anybody else on your team that you consider a defensive anchor?
COACH GREGORY: Well, Daniel is our defensive anchor. Maybe it’s our fault in terms of our program, and I’ll take responsibility, I’m not sure he’s getting any credit at all for how good he is defensively.
I think maybe if the coaches took a step back and looked, hard to score around the post, not just our post players, but guys running to the basket and so forth.
It will be interesting to see if he’s on the all-defensive team. He very rarely gives up offensive rebounds, he anchors our defense. We are one of the better defensive teams not only in the league but in the country. A lot of times, three freshmen out there, two on the perimeter, the guy alongside Daniel is a freshman, so he has become a very good defensive player.
He maybe doesn’t have the SportsCenter type blocked shots that you see, but he gets his hands on a lot of stuff. If you had to list the top five defenders in the league, you’d be hard-pressed to find four better ones than him. The way I look at it, defenders make an impact on the game, and that’s something he does.
Q. Can you help us out picking that all-defensive team? Are there three or four guys around the league that jump out at you as great defenders?
COACH GREGORY: (Florida State’s Michael) Snaer is a great defender on the perimeter. I think if you looked at it, you’d say Alex Len is a great defender due to size. I don’t know where his block total is at, his rebounding total is at. You keep going down the list. Those would be the guys that kind of jump out.
Virginia’s a great defensive team. You can maybe throw (Jontel) Evans in the mix there. Sometimes you got to be cautious. He leads the league in steals. Sometimes it’s because he is the guy that gambles the most and is not really a solid defender. You’re always a little cautious of that.
Again, we’ve got to win more games to get more accolades. Would you throw (Julian) Gamble in there from Miami? The difference is, with Daniel, he’s as good of a big guy in terms of getting out on the perimeter, guarding guys on the perimeter, trapping ball screens. Some of the post defenders are so good because of their sheer size, ability to eat space around the basket. Daniel is unique in terms of he can step out and do a pretty good job of defending on the perimeter as well.
Q. You’ve played three freshmen extensively. With only two games left in the regular season, then the ACC tournament, in what areas have you seen the most improvement?
COACH GREGORY: I think their understanding of the game. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint. But their defensive rotations, which four months ago they would have looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language when you talk to them about dropping to the line, with the big guy rotates over, that you got to drop, help the helper, stuff like that. They wouldn’t have had any idea what that was. They’ve really picked that stuff up.
Their overall basketball IQ, understanding of the game, understanding of the multiple plays that you have to make. Talk about offenses, multiple actions, multiple efforts, they’ve grasped that. They don’t always do it, but at least now we’re on the same page with it. That has been the biggest thing.
They have become more consistent. Our challenge, you just look at the stats, if our freshmen, those three guys, don’t play exceptionally well, we haven’t won. It’s when two of those guys have playedvery well that we’re a different team. So that’s been the challenge, not so much playing freshmen, because a lot of guys are playing freshmen. But in a lot of ways, we depend on them.
I thought T.J. Warren yesterday played exceptionally well, maybe his best game. Everything he did, he played off of C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown and (Richard) Howell. That’s not to take anything away from him, because he’s going to be a great player in this league, but that’s where our challenge with our freshmen has been at.