Nov. 22, 2011
ATLANTA – Head coach Brian Gregory met with the media Tuesday and gave a progress report on his team following the Charleston Classic as it prepares to host Siena Wednesday night at the Arena at Gwinnett (7 p.m., ESPNU, 790 AM, 106.7 FM). Here are his comments.
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On the progress of the team: “Obviously, we still want to win every game. But we are making progress. I think we’ve seen that in a lot of different areas. Some are tangible, some may be not so tangible. Some of those intangibles are as important, if not more important. I think we’re a much different team than we were when we ran out for warm ups against Florida A&M just twelve days ago. So that’s good. At the same time what I like is that these guys understand that we have a long way to go, but they’ve seen some glimpses of what we might be able to get to.”
On Glen Rice, Jr. and Jason Morris:
“It’s obvious that Glen gave us a big boost, especially in that first game. He has proven the ability to not only rebound exceptionally well at this level, but also the ability to score. We’re going to ask him to do a little more in terms of create some plays and make some shots for some other guys. He’s our best post feeder from the wing right now, and that’s important because we’re really trying to get the ball inside. He played in both of those games. Even though there were six turnovers in the LSU game, which was way too many, I think he played pretty well in those two games. Are we a better team with him giving us significant minutes? Yes, there’s no question about that. His challenge is in his ability to remain consistent every day in his effort, attitude, and his ability to remain a dependable teammate. That’s something that is very important.
“There’s no doubt that Jason is struggling a little bit. He’s not shot the ball extremely well. That’s a jump going from being a freshman where anything he does is seen as a positive to being a guy who is counted on for production and performance. Sometimes that transition is difficult for young players. We just have to help him through it. He’s an important part of this team and what we’re trying to build. We’re just trying to stick with him and put him in situations where he can have more success.”
On the importance of early-season tournaments:
“The negative with those is the amount of games that you play in such a short period of time. We’re going to play six games before Thanksgiving. That’s a lot of games, especially when you try to put in a lot of new stuff. Every player and coach is new. That’s a challenge. What’s important is after those tournaments to have a good read on where you’re at as a team and to have clear objectives of where you want to get to over the next couple of months. Those games are played at a high level if you watch those games in Maui and Charleston. You hear all the time that those have a February or March feel to them. There are a lot of mistakes being made because no one is at that level of play yet, but the intensity level is pretty high. So you’re able to get a pretty good read on if your team is going to have the intensity that they’ll need to at another level, in league play in particular.”
On fatigue in the last game of the tournament:
“There may have been a little bit [of fatigue]. There was some slippage. I contribute the slippage more to a lack of being able to practice. And everything has been new to the guys, and so there’s going to be some slippage. Because it’s not in their core yet in terms of built-in habits, there’s going to be maybe a little greater slippage in terms of some of those things. You saw that a little bit on the offensive end where guys weren’t being able to read and make plays for each other, and you saw that on the defensive end as well. I do think there was a little bit of a fatigue factor, but I think that our guys physically through three games handled themselves pretty well. LSU is as big and athletic as any team that we’ll face, and we were able to outrebound them, and so that was a good sign of things to come, I hope.”
On taking advantage of Siena’s short bench:
“They have one player out with a head injury. I think they played seven players last night against St. Bonaventure. Obviously, the pace that we want to play at has the ability to wear some other players down. I’m not sure if we’re effective playing at that pace for 40 minutes when it comes to pushing the ball and attacking while in transition. But we’re not able to put the defensive pressure in the full court. What we need to do is wear people out physically by our intensity on the glass, our screening and movement on offense, and always being there defensively. If we can get some offensive rebounds, we can wear some people down a little bit.”
On evaluating the team at this point:
“Well, I watch those games and I check to see if our guys are playing at the intensity of the other teams. One thing I noticed in Charleston was that there were a lot of teams out there playing extremely hard and really doing a lot of good things. I said that prior to the tournament that there are some teams in there on the cusp of having a really good season. After watching Charleston, it was only confirmed. In terms of a comparison, I like the effort and intensity that our guys are playing at. We have a long way to go in terms of creating consistency and using that to tighten up other areas of our game.
In terms of the progress that we’re making, the effort, and the things that we’re emphasizing, our guys are starting to grasp and buy into them. Believe me, we’re along way off. But there’s a concerted effort and a receptiveness by the guys, which has to be the foundation in terms of being able to grasp it and do it. So we’re somewhere on that continuum. Obviously, we’re still in the very early stages of it.”
On how far along the players have grasped the new system:
“I think the guys are starting to grasp all of the stuff. Everything is new for them. How long does it take a freshman to understand a system? We have guys who understand what it takes, but they’re also now placing it in a completely different environment. It does take some time. The most important thing is to buy into it. You can’t move forward unless if you have both feet in. That takes some time. You want tangible evidence that the process works. That’s why wins are very important, because in this day and age, that’s the tangible evidence that everybody looks to.”