March 8, 2010
“Well, our guys are looking forward to the ACC Tournament obviously. We feel like we have an opportunity to build on our team and our season, as we look forward to postseason play.”
Coach, can you talk about the opportunity to build your NCAA tournament resume this week and how important that is to you?
“Well, obviously it is very important. Playing North Carolina in Greensboro is going to be a tremendous challenge for our guys. It’s not necessarily home court advantage for them, but it will be pretty close. I think right now our focus is to go up there ready to compete against them. And if we are fortunate enough to get by them, we will see how it goes. Right now our focus is on Carolina in Greensboro.”
Can you talk about what you like your guys doing right now?
“I think our guard play is starkly improved and become more consistent. Iman (Shumpert) in particular has started to put together some really good games, he has been a little up and down this year, but his performance has been a big factor in how games turn out for us. Derrick Favors is starting to play really well, staying out of foul trouble, and posting good numbers. Gani (Lawal) has done well offensively, but his rebounding has fallen off a little. Those three guys are most important to our success.”
You swept North Carolina in the regular season. Was there something in the match-ups that was favorable or did you catch them at the right time?
“Well the first game was a very close game. Zachery Peacock made a great play at the end of the game to help us win. Up there we played really well in the first half and held on in the second half. In this league, the last game does not really impact the next one. You still have to go out and play well. Carolina has a young team and we have a young team, it is just a matter of going out and playing well.”
Do you think your team is playing with a sense of urgency you would like down the stretch?
“Honestly I think we played with too much urgency Saturday. I thought we played a little tight. Watching the tape, Virginia Tech really capitalized on transition offense. You look at the defensive numbers, and it was certainly uncharacteristic of our team this year. In the half court I thought we did a very good job. I thought we got into trouble when we took bad shots or we over-pursued on offensive rebounds. Then we did not get back in transition, and they got several run-out baskets. If anything, I think we played with too much urgency, and that could be attributed to being too young or trying too hard. The times when we settled down, ran our offense, and got the ball inside we were very effective. When they got a couple of baskets, we seemed to press a little bit and tried a little too hard. We committed some fouls that took them off the hook. The last ten minutes of the game they did not score a field goal. During that stretch of about 10:22 to about 4, we were stopping them and missing some easy shots. And then we really started getting anxious and started fouling. That sent their good free throw shooters to the line.”
Last season you had a rough regular season, but came back and played well in the tournament. Is it because the tournaments are redemption for a team that needs it? You were kind of in North Carolina shoes last year? Do you see that this year or did you see that last year?
“Speaking about us, we were playing well at the end. We lost a game at the buzzer against Boston College. We really had a dunk to put the game away and missed it, and they came down and scored at the buzzer to win. We were playing well, but we were just losing close games. We have had a little bit of a run of bad luck around here that has really affected our win-loss percentage, but it has not impacted how our guys approach it and how they have played. Yes, there is a redemption quality to playing in the ACC Tournament, but you also have to go in there playing well to be effective.”