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Georgia Tech Press Conference Quotes

March 15, 2007

Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Hewitt

On being in a situation of needing to win every game and how that helps the team: “I’m not sure. We felt like we needed to win the Wake Forest game and obviously we did not do that. We’ve been playing well and that’s the most important thing. The thing we try to get across to these guys is to understand how important it is to defend each possession and every cut and rebound the ball. After February 1st, we’ve played about as well as we can play, game in and game out, with the exception of the Wake game. Not that we played that poorly, but we didn’t make some of the adjustments we had to make when they got hot from the three-point line. We’re playing well and as I told our team, we’re lucky to be back at this position where we’re 0-0. Last time we were at 0-0, we were kind of inconsistent throughout the year. Now we’re fortunate to be back at 0-0, and let’s see if we can play the way we’ve played since February 1st and give ourselves a chance.”

On the possibility of making the Final Four in Atlanta: “I haven’t discussed it with my team. But obviously, even when the year started, when you drive by the Georgia Dome, you can’t help but think, `What if that’s an actual possibility?’ Now that you’re in the tournament, that’s the furthest thing from your mind. It’s about UNLV and figuring out how to slow down Kevin Kruger, who’s had a great year and who’s been the difference maker, in my opinion, on that ball club. Last year, they were respectable to now 28 wins and No. 10 in the RPI. He’s made all the difference in the world to that team.”

On what comes to mind when thinking of UNLV: “Pressure defense and a lot of points. That’s what I think about when I think about Coach Jerry Tarkanian’s teams, even if you go back to when Reggie Theus was there back in the mid-to-late late `70s. And obviously, the team that they had that won the national championship, you could make an argument that that’s one of the top four or five best teams of all time.”

On Mario West and his leadership: “Mario’s a guy that leads by example more than by talking. He wasn’t healthy in the Wake Forest game. He was really struggling with the flu and that had an effect on us, no doubt. Not to take anything away from Wake, but the fact that he’s back healthy, he could have an impact with his effort on defense and just what he means to our team defensively. It’s amazing to me. Here’s a guy, in my opinion, who’s the most important defender in the league and he didn’t make all-defense. While people outside don’t know it, we know just how important he is.”

On whether coaches get too much credit for wins and too much blame for losses: “It’s always somewhere in the middle. We spend a lot of time on player development and individually helping the players to improve. It is my philosophy that when the players get better, the team gets better. The way you distribute blame or credit, that’s up to somebody else. I think we realize as coaches that the players are the most important thing. When your team is successful, your players are playing at a high level with a lot of confidence. If they’re not playing on a high level or they’re not playing with confidence, I think you have to look at yourself as a coach and say, `What are you doing to give them that confidence and make them feel like they can go out and execute what you want them to execute?'”

Senior guard Mario West

On the game that the team anticipates: “We are expecting it to be an up-tempo game. They have a lot of shooters, a lot of scorers out on the perimeter. We like to get up and down the court. That’s our style of play – give and take basketball. We expect a high energy game, a high scoring game. There has to be defense played out there. That’s Georgia Tech basketball, and what has gotten us here is playing good defense. A high energy game, a fun and entertaining game, and we’re hoping to come out and win.”

On playing in the 2004 NCAA Tournament: “That was awhile back. It’s kind of like déjà vu. The feeling, there was so much adrenaline out there. I’m just very excited, not only for my teammates, but for everyone who is a fan of basketball. It’s tournament time right now, and there’s not a lot of room for error. You have to get out there and execute, stay together and be patient. I’m just happy to be here. I’m happy to be here with my teammates. We did a lot of hard work to get to this point, and we’re going to show them what Georgia Tech basketball is all about.”

On the team’s progression through the season: “Right now we’ve got a lot more experience. We’ve been through a lot of tight games. We went through that slump where we felt like our back was against the wall. Now, we’ve just pulled together as a team and a family. Every time, we bring it up at the end of practice, we go `one-twothree-TOGETHER.’ We stay together the whole time. Anytime where you go through a slump where you persevere and you get to this point, we can look back and no matter what we go through during the game we’ve already been through it, so we can stick together and come out on top. It brings us back to those situations that we went through in the past and that we’ve overcome. We’re a very confident team right now and we’re ready to get out and play.”

Freshman guard Javaris Crittenton

On having the potential to play in the Final Four in Atlanta: “We’re just trying to take it one game at a time. We’re taking it in steps. UNLV is a great team and we can’t look past them.”

Junior forward Jeremis Smith

On what he anticipates during the game: “The first thing that we said on selection day when they paired us with UNLV was that we should have fun because it should be a very high-tempo game. That’s the kind of pace we like to play at, very high tempo. They play a very aggressive style of defense as well, so we should be going back and forth.”

UNLV Head Coach Lon Kruger:

On the play of his seniors: “We’re excited about being here. We have a great group of guys on the season. Outstanding focus on being better everyday, working hard and making progress. We’re looking forward to playing Georgia Tech. Coach Hewitt has always done a great job.

On how he’s changed since his days at Kansas State: “Sometimes you can’t see those changes. But there are things like more experience, more patience, more understanding. You learn about what guys can do.

On the coincidence of a possible second round game between UNLV and Kansas: “”I didn’t think much about it. People like to point it out. I’m impressed with their club, and the winner of Friday’s game will have their hands full on Sunday.”

On Georgia Tech’s Jeremis Smith: “There’s not a lot he can’t do. He’s a guy who plays physical, he’s involved in a lot of plays. A physically tough player. It’s not just about [Javaris] Crittenton or [Thaddeus] Young or [Anthony] Morrow.”

On the difference between playing on a neutral court in comparison to Thomas & Mack Arena: “Our home crowd is outstanding. When you’re on the road and on a neutral court, you still have to do the things you have done, regardless.”

On the difference between himself as a player and his son, UNLV guard Kevin Kruger: “Kevin’s a lot bigger, faster,


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