Jan. 4, 2016
Transcript of head coach Brian Gregory’s segment on Monday’s ACC Men’s Basketball Coaches Teleconference. Georgia Tech (10-4, 0-1 ACC) continues Atlantic Coast Conference play this week with games against a pair of top-25 teams. The Yellow Jackets visit No. 25 Pittsburgh (12-1, 1-0) Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in game televised on the Regional Sports Network (Fox Sports South in Atlanta) and host No. 5 Virginia (12-1, 1-0) Saturday at 2 p.m. in a game televised on the ACC Network (WATL-TV in Atlanta).
Tech opened its ACC schedule Saturday with an 86-78 loss at No. 7 North Carolina. Pittsburgh defeated Syracuse last Wednesday in its ACC opener, while Virginia got past Notre Dame Saturday.
On Charles Mitchell’s improvement from last season
“I always say sometimes you’ve got to change as a person before you change as a player, and he just has a much greater commitment level from the end of last season to the spring and summer and into the fall. Obviously he’s reaping the benefits of that commitment. He’s gotten in better shape and has lost upwards of 25 pounds. Last year, there were times where he played extremely well, he just wasn’t able to do it on a consistent basis sometimes due to the conditioning, sometimes due to mental approach. I mentioned it in the media day – the discipline it takes to get in that type of shape is every bit as important as the weight loss, and he’s shown the discipline every day, and that’s really affected his consistency and his performance. It’s good performances at a higher level. Even the games where maybe he doesn’t play as well are at a completely different level. It was unfortunate on Saturday with the foul trouble – because I thought that was key in that game – he still scored double figures and has six or seven rebounds but only played 18 minutes. It’s very important that some of our defensive stuff with guys around him gets tightened up so he’s not put in positions for foul trouble. But he deserves the credit for the work he’s put in and his attitude. He’s always been a high energy guy, he just hasn’t had a high energy body or a high energy consistency in terms of mental approach. Now he does.”
On Marcus Georges-Hunt’s senior season
“He’s been good – shooting the ball better, shooting the ball better from the free throw line and from three. He’s obviously a big part of our offense and has been since day one. But he’s even doing more. He’s playing the 1, 2 and the 3 for us, at times initiating offense. On offense, he’s very good on the fast break either with the ball in his hands or running the wing. We’ve asked him to do more, and he’s responded extremely well. The key in Saturday’s game was we’ve been able to get to the free throw line more than our opponent, and he’s been a key factor in that. He did a great job, but we weren’t able to win the free throw battle in that game. They (North Carolina) got to the free throw line a large amount in the second half, and we weren’t. Other than Marcus, we weren’t able to get there. Obviously as a senior – and Charles is a senior, too, and you can throw Adam (Smith) in there, as well – those guys have been kind of our go-to guys for the year.”
On what he sees from his team so far
“You know, I think it showed on Saturday, our non-conference was challenging. At the 10-3 mark, I thought we played some very good teams. We played some on the road and played some on neutral sites, and I think it prepared us well for the battles that we’re going to face in league play. It was a good mix – I thought, other than two games, we played fairly well. And that’s one of the things we talk about – you can’t have those games in ACC play. But I thought our team did some things that we wanted to improve in. That was our offensive efficiency, getting to the free throw line and our free throw percentage. Our assist-to-turnover ratio is something we’ve talked about since day one last spring. We’ve still got to be who we are, and the one area we can dramatically improve in is our consistency on the glass and our overall defensive efficiency. I think if we can get better in those two areas, or at least consistent in the rebounding and better on the defensive end. If you can do that, because we are better offensively, you put yourself in a position to have a successful ACC campaign.”
On Adam Smith’s transition
“I do think that one of the things that made it easier is he’s coming home. I think that’s made it easier. He’s played against and with four or five of the guys on our current roster. Everybody knew each other on the whole team, so that made it easier. Him being around this summer obviously aided in that transition, as well. As a coach, you’ve got to spend a lot of time. But he’s very mature. He handles things in a professional manner. You never have to worry about him in terms of doing the right thing and getting the job done and different things like that. He’s very mature, very disciplined and very single-minded in terms of the basketball side of things. He’s done a great job in school here in the master’s program, as well. I think it’s going to work out great for him. All around it’s been a great addition, and I do think you’re starting to see some other things that he’s capable of doing. He’s putting the ball on the floor – he’s scoring off the dribble. His assists are almost at the same mark as the end of last year. So he’s doing some other things, and he’s improved dramatically defensively, as well. So he’s been a great addition, and primarily because he approaches things on a daily basis the way you’re supposed to approach them.”
On the offense flowing better this year with Adam Smith
“Obviously, when you make shots your offense always looks better. He’s added a dimension where if you get him open shots he’s going to make half of his threes. That obviously helps. But I do think there’s a confidence factor to it. When you’ve got a guy that you know is going to make shots for you, it makes the other guys more confident when they’re taking shots. I think there were times last year where our offense created some really good shots, and that shot was taken with the weight of the world on their shoulder like “I’ve got to make this because I know no one else is going to make one. We haven’t made one in two weeks. We’ve got to make this one.” And I just think he just eases things up. I thought North Carolina did in the second half of taking him away from some of our stuff, but what it did was open up the driving lines for Marcus. Now Marcus was able to score. We were able to get the ball in the post, and we missed some of those post shots that we needed to make. Him adding to the team the confidence that he brings – I also thing everyone else has gotten better. Everyone else has improved their game. Our point guard play is better, Marcus is a better player, Quinton (Stephens) has been very consistent with his shooting and we score in the post better. So our offensive efficiency does start with the fact that we can knock down shots now, and when our offense creates good shots we feel much more confident that the ball can go in the basket.”