Feb. 28, 2011
– Opening Statement
“My goal right now is to build some momentum as we head into the ACC Tournament. I thought we played well on Saturday, but obviously not well enough to pull out a victory. I was very impressed with the play of Jason Morris as he continues to improve. He is having a fine freshmen season. Now, it is time to get ready for Wake Forest on Thursday night.”
How is the insertion of Jason Morris helped running the offense and moving the ball around on that end?
“He is less likely to attack off the dribble when he first gets the ball. I think the ball movement has been pretty good since he has been in the starting rotation. I think we have gotten off to good starts in games, because of that ball movement.”
Can you think of anyway for Iman Shumpert to have given you any more than he has this season?
“No. Not only has he played exceptionally well this year, he has really grown as a player. His off the court leadership, his on-the-court leadership; he has really matured a lot. He has done everything you can possibly do on the court. I know he is not pleased with his three-point shooting, but I have tried to get him to separate shooting and playing well. Don’t make yourself feel like your not playing well if you are not shooting well. I think he has gotten his mind to separate those two things. He continues to work on his shooting; I think he has improved his shot selection, especially from three by taking fewer shots off the dribble. He has had an outstanding year, and in my mind is one of the five best players in our conference.”
Given it has been a tough season record-wise, does (Shumpert) ever seem to get down or does it seem like he is able to go out and play the same every night?
“Certainly after the game when you get the finals up, he gets down but he has the ability to get right back out there the next day. He loves to work on his game, and he loves to practice. He is always talking about getting better. Even after the game the other day, he and I were talking after we got off the bus, I was trying to tell him to keep his head up. He was already like `coach, we just got to get back and keep working hard.”
How important is it to get a road win before you get into the ACC Tournament?
“Well, it would be nice to get that win. We have won a couple of good neutral site games against Richmond and El-Paso. Winning on someone else’s home court would certainly help us. Again, we have pulled off a couple of good wins off neutral sites, but we need to try and get that road win and this is our last opportunity to do it.”
You have been in a lot of close games this season; do you think that your players have the confidence needed for those situations?
“One of things that I have noticed is that they don’t get that look on their face like `here we go again.’ Each and every game is a new opportunity. The other day at NC State, we felt like we were right there again. We didn’t make a play here or there, and then NC State was able to make a play. Then we came up short. I don’t sense that at all. The energy level was great coming down the stretch; we just weren’t making enough plays.”
How much did the red-shirt year benefit Daniel Miller?
“It was a mutual thing. Actually when he signed here, he talked about potentially red-shirting, because we had so many quality big guys. It has benefited him greatly, no question about it. I do feel the year out of competition, and playing the minutes he has played has hit him physically a little bit. I think he hit a wall a little bit by not playing competitively for a year. From a gaming strength, understanding of the college game, and adjusting to college it has been real positive. I think most kids that red-shirt after they go through the experience will tell you it’s a great idea. I think sometimes it is tough to get kids to put their egos aside. They think what am I going to say to the guys back home if I am red-shirting.”
Your first year at Tech, they had the tournament at the Georgia Dome and had the great tournament atmosphere. Have you seen anything change in your tenure at Tech in regards to the tournament?
“I think when we last had it at the Dome, attendance was off from what it was in 2001. From what I have heard from national reports; USA Today did a story about how attendance is pretty much off across the board. You do see a drop I guess a little bit. I’m imaging that has a lot more to do with the economy with people not being the get out and afford the hotel rooms for three days.”
Have you seen any difference from the way teams, coaches, or players seem to approach it?
“I haven’t. You hear a lot of talk, but winning the ACC title is one of the most prestigious things in my mind in all of college basketball, short of the national championship. I think when the ball goes up, the games are very intense. When we got to the finals last year, I did not sense it in any way that it was like `let’s just get past the tournament and get to something else.’ No, when it gets going it is hotly contested.”