Oct. 16, 2012
THE FLATS – Hesd basketball coach Brian Gregory met with the media Tuesday after five days of pre-season practice. The Yellow Jackets will conduct their Jacket Jam season tip-off event Sunday at 3 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion.
Tech opens its first season in McCamish Pavilion on Nov. 9 against Tulane at 7 p.m., beginning Gregory’s second season with the Yellow Jackets. Season tickets and a couple of special ticket pack offers can be purchased by calling 888-TECH-TIX or by clicking here.
Here is a transcript of Coach Gregory’s remarks to the media Tuesday.
“We’ve had five practices now, including one this morning. I’ve been pleased with our guys’ progress over the summer and during the fall workouts, both individually and team. After five practices, you know a little bit more about your team, but the intensity level and the commitment to how we wan to play is on a high level. We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s been a good start.
“I feel very positive about our guys’ attitudes and the way they want to be coached every day. We’re getting good leadership from our upperclassmen, and our freshmen know how to play the game. They’re going to help us. We’ve just got to keep plugging along. In the first 10 days, you’re trying to establish a work ethic within your practices, and it’s almost like football training camp. We go twice a day when we can. Guys have to learn to push through it, and we need to put them into some adverse situations and see how they respond. So far, I’ve been pleased. I like the energy level and the camaraderie that I see on the court.”
On the skill sets of the freshmen
“Because of the summer skill workouts and the fall, we get a good read on the skills they brought to the table. The one thing you never you never get a read on until they start going up and down the court, 5-on-5, is their basketball IQ in game-speed situations. They’re ahead of schedule on that. They know how to play the game, they make good plays, they make good decisions.
“All three of them are physically ready to play in this level, which is unique among freshmen. For perimeter players, Chris (Bolden) and Marcus (Georges-Hunt) have really good strength. Robert (Carter) is a strong player as well.
“Defensively, they’ve gotten better. It’s not like I’m searching the campus to find someone they can guard. They’re getting better. Because of their intelligence level, they’re able to pick up some things quicker. The other thing is, sometimes even when they know where they’re supposed to be, they get knocked off that spot because they’re not strong enough, and that hasn’t happened with these guys.”
Is that something you look for when you go out and recruit (physical strength)?
“It’s a bonus. It’s not something that’s on the high end of our criteria list. We have a great strength and conditioning coach and a great system that has gotten guys stronger. We’ve done a good job with guys who have had to lose weight, and with guys who have had to gain weight, good weight. [Already having physical strength] helps in their transition from high school to college every day in practice. I hope we can build a team that plays very physical and is tough.”
“That’s the hope. You’ve seen the progress that they made from their freshman to their sophomore years, maybe every bit as much mental as physical in their confidence and their acceptance of the responsibility that they’re in charge of their performance, no one else. Sometimes young guys need to realize that, and when that light comes on, there’s a jump in their performance.
“They’ve worked extremely hard. They’ve gotten strong and more physical, which will help. We’re counting on them, as juniors now, to be really good ACC players. They’re a big part of our offense. Last year, I thought they anchored our defense really well, and they’re going to have to do a really good job of that this year as well.”
On what improvement to expect from Tech offensively
“I think we averaged 60 points a game last year. At the same time, I think we’re going to be better defensively. But our defense is not one that gambles a lot, creates turnovers and easy baskets on the other end. We could play at a faster pace and be better offensively, but as we become better defensively and become harder to score on, there are less possessions in the game.
“That number, points per game, doesn’t mean as much as some people make it. Our offensive efficiency has to get much better. You have to be scoring at least one point per possession if you want to consider yourself a half-way decent offensive team. We weren’t close to that (last year). Our assists and assist-to-turnover ratio were not good. If we can get better in those areas, we’ll score more points.
“Honestly, though, because of the way we defense, we’re never going to be scoring 85 points a game. We scored 80-something points at North Carolina last year, but that wasn’t because we became great offensively. That was because we couldn’t guard them. There were so many more possessions in that game.”
On the willingness on Miller and Holsey to be a greater part of the offense
“We joke around with Daniel that he needs a little more Kam in him. Kam sometimes gets the ball in the post, and it’s the black hole. That thing ain’t coming out, which is fine for the most part. We’re constantly talking to Daniel about being more aggressive in terms of scoring. He’s such a good passer, I think he really enjoys getting shots for other people passing the ball.
“They’re both more confident in their ability to score around the basket, finish plays, knock down 12- to 17-foot jump shots as well. I do like the fact that all our bigs can knock down that shot, and those guys are interchangeable. There’s some versatility there that helps. Their confidence has been very, very important. As they’ve grown more confident, and I’ve grown more confident, I’ve been more demanding of our guards to get them the ball. Our guards know that our offense is better when they’ve gotten the ball inside and they make the defense adjust to the interior pass.”
On the development of Julian Royal in the post group
“He has done a good job. He’s probably our best three-point shooter among those guys. He brings a different dimension and can stretch the defense. His opportunity to make a bigger impact on our team always comes at the defensive end and rebounding, and his willingness to battle physically. This league has changed; there are a lot more physical battles than there were a while back. Your posts have to be ready to play a physical game. That’s his challenge. He’s made so much progress, but that’s what’s always going to determine just how good he can get.”
On changing the culture and where your team is in that process
“We’re not at the end of that process yet, by any means, and I’m not sure you ever want to get to the end of that process. That’s always an ongoing thing. Every year, the team is different. The process of valuing your work ethic and your approach every day, valuing that more than your God-given talent is an important step. There are a lot of talented players out there, and what separates them is what you do on a daily basis. Our guys are much better, and because of that, there will be significant improvement in our performance as well. But that is a day-in and day-out challenge. You’ve always got a challenge, always tweaking something to continue to move forward.”