Dec. 20, 2011
ATLANTA – As Georgia Tech prepares to host Mercer Thursday night for its final pre-Christmas game, head coach Brian Gregory talks about his team’s win over Alabama A&M and the Bears.
On the value of watching tape from the last game
“Some games, we will watch tape. There are times we don’t show them anything. Guys will also come in and watch tape with their position coach, and sometimes with me as well. We’ll watch three, four, five clips … good, bad, things they need to work on, something that we feel is important in preparation for the next game that we emphasized in the two or three practice prior.
On teaching points from [the Alabama A&M] tape
“Those clips were mostly from the offensive end … impatience, not reading the defense correctly, trying to force the action a little bit. That’s not only going to be important for Thursday night, but for the games to come. You’re going to have a hard time winning games with 22 turnovers. We scored 60-some points and had 22 empty possessions. On those possessions where we didn’t turn the ball over, our efficiency was pretty good, even with some questionable shots.”
On how to cut down on turnovers
“It would be like, in football, after you throw three interceptions on a certain play and then saying, we’re not running this play anymore. If a guy’s open, you’re not going to throw it to him? You’ve just got to throw a better pass. Along the same lines, guys have to understand where their strengths are. If a play is called, or an opportunity comes up, and it’s something they’re not good at, they need to hold back. I tell our guys, if it’s a 50-50 shot, take it. If it’s a 50-50 pass, don’t throw it. It’s a fine line.
“To be good offensively, to give a baseball analogy, you need to hit singles and doubles. Yesterday, we went for triples and homers, every possession. You can’t do that. Sometimes when you’re struggling, you want to hit the home run. You can’t do things like that. As Glen said, you can’t get sped up.
“We need to dictate what we’re going on offense. A good way to do that is to reverse the ball, get the ball moving side to side, break the defense down. Make the defense make a mistake; you don’t always have to make an offensive play. The second way to do that is to get the ball into the post. Once you get the ball in the post, then you have to have the correct actions off of that.”
On Mercer playing Georgia tonight
“That’s on TV, so we’ll watch that a couple times tonight. We already know a lot about Georgia, so we’ll see what [Mercer] tries to do against them. Other than that, it’s just another game to use as an evaluation and preparation tool.
On Mercer’s size and potential matchup problems
“I don’t think it’s a matchup problem, but they’re big. They do a great job of getting the ball in the post. They lost at Seton Hall in overtime Sunday, and all five of their starters were in double figures. All five of their starters and a couple of their subs are capable scorers. It’ll be really important on defense that we do a good job. They’re very solid on defense. You can’t give them opportunities where they don’t have to work in defense, so that means you have to limit your turnovers.”
“Mercer’s good. They’re a 20-win team before it’s all said and done. They’ve got a bunch of young guys who played last year, so they’ve got some experience. I like Langston Hall. I like the pace that he plays at. He can play fast, he can play slow. He’s got great size. He can really pressure the ball and cause some havoc defensively. He’s an ACC player. They’ve got a few of them, and that’s why they’re good. Bob does a great job there. I’ve always been impressed with how hard they play and their system. They know exactly who they are and what they do well. Sometimes that’s the greatest compliment that you can give a player.”
On Glen Rice, Jr.’s recent performances
“He’s been fairly consistent. That was his challenge this year, to be a more consistent player. He showed flashes his first two years. His practice habits are better. The more he does that, the better he’s going to be on game night.
“He’s better defensively. Steals are overrated. More often than not, that means you’re gambling and you’re out of position. Last year, Georgia Tech led the league in steals, but also gave up 46 percent from the field. Unless you’re a high-pressure team, full-court pressing, and we’re not that. He’s become a much better defender, even though yesterday there were times when he struggled. Again, it’s a consistency thing in terms of positioning and concentration off the ball. He’ll be challenged Thursday night because he’ll guard either their two-man or their three-man, and they can score inside or from the perimeter.”
Is there a difference in Rice since missing the first three games?
“I think he made some strides even before that. That probably humbled him a little bit. With everyone in our program, not just Glen, we have a lot of steps to take before we can designate who the leaders are in the program. We’re not there yet. You have to be OK with who you are and what you need to do before you can lead other guys. He’s much more serious in his approach on a day-to-day basis, but he still has lapses, as everybody does. When we get to the point where nobody has lapses, then you’re going to see a team that plays on a more consistent basis.”
On how to achieve consistency
“It’s not hard to figure out, you see it every day in practice. A player that does that (disappears) in games doesn’t value the daily process of practice. My experience has shown me that that is the case. The best compliment that you can receive in our program is that you’re dependable, that we know what you can give every single night, and your teammates can count on you for that. That’s built into daily practices. We’re putting a much greater emphasis on the value of what we get done daily. Then the games become a little easier, and that shows up in your performance in the games.”