Jan. 17, 2008
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Paul Hewitt
Coach, your team played for 40 minutes tonight and went toe-to-toe with the top-ranked team in the country. It would have been an exciting game even if you didn’t have a vested interest, but most people did.
“We played with tremendous effort tonight. I feel very badly for them. We had a lot of opportunities. There were a lot of situations out there tonight that could have swung the game. Unfortunately for us, they didn’t go our way. As I just told the team, the disappointing thing would be if we come back Saturday and don’t play with that same effort. That’s arguably the fastest team in the country and I don’t think they can out-run us. I thought it was there. UNC got a couple breaks in the end and we lost the game.”
No one would give in this game would they?
“No. You’re talking about two teams that have pretty good depth and it was nice to see Mo Miller grow up tonight. I don’t know if he was tired or what, but in the latter part of the game he got a little loose with the basketball and that’s why we went to [Matt[ Causey. Mo was a big part of our start and how we got out of the gates. “
As big and physical as Carolina was do you think you guys matched that tonight? Jeremis [Smith] and [Tyler] Hansbrough put on a great show. When you needed baskets and were trying to stem the run a little bit Zack Peacock gave them to you.
“We could have gone inside to him a little more. I thought he got banged a little bit on that last shot there and he certainly got hip-checked into the basket support when that ball was going out of bounds. We just didn’t get those tonight. We need to come back on Saturday with the same type of intensity that we showed tonight.”
I know every season is different, but are we seeing this team take some steps forward in the last few days since Miami? Maybe even in the last couple of weeks.
“You’ve seen Mo Miller grow up and that’s huge for us because he’s a guy that can really take care of the basketball and make some plays. Matt [Causey] does a great job, but offensively and defensively we are more dangerous with Miller at the point. Now obviously there is no substitute for Causey’s experience down the stretch, but he did a nice job tonight. Our point guard combined for 10 assists and just four turnovers tonight. I think that’s a pretty good showing out of that position.”
You knew you were going to have to develop some perimeter fire-power tonight to stay with these guys and did that clearly with eight three-pointers in the game.
“We took some good shots. One of the positive things from the Miami game was that I thought the ball movement was where we needed it to be. A lot of that comes from Mo’s confidence being built up. He played well against Georgia and Presbyterian. While he didn’t score much against Miami he did some good things so I think he’s coming along. As he comes along, this team comes along. As crazy as this might sounds, the big thing for us is we are not out of this thing by any stretch of the imagination. Yes we are 0-3 in the league, but we’re making steps. The turning point has to be Saturday. I honestly thought it was going to be tonight. I loved the way we came into this game. We had a great practice on Monday. We were a little scattered with class and things on Tuesday, but nonetheless out guys pulled it together and had a great performance tonight.”
Virginia Tech won tonight in Charlottesville. They come in on a three-game winning streak, all by close margin. It really shows where this league is.
“Like I said, Saturday has to be our turning point.”
GEORGIA TECH FORWARD Zack Peacock
On how much tonight’s game meant to him:
“We are all really disappointed. This game meant a lot for us. Things just didn’t go our way tonight.”
On the effort of the Yellow Jackets:
“I thought everyone gave a great effort tonight. If we can give this type of effort every single night, there is no doubt that we will start to win ballgames.”
GEORGIA TECH FORWARD Jeremis Smith
On the disappointment of losing such a close game:
“Zach Peacock, Gani Lawal, Anthony Morrow – those are tough guys. I know this may sound dumb, but if I’m going to lose, I want to lose with those guys. For seniors like Anthony and myself, this is especially disappointing because it’s our only shot at North Carolina this season, unless we meet them in the ACC Tournament.”
On taking some encouragement out of the loss:
“Definitely, we can take some encouragement from this. Coach (Hewitt) came by each of us in the locker room and told us to lift our heads up, that the only thing we should be disappointed about is if we don’t play with the same effort on Saturday. We just need to come back Saturday (vs. Virginia Tech) and play with that effort and intensity, and then the next week and the next. We have to just keep working at it each week.”
NORTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH ROY WILLIAMS
“I feel very lucky. They had two shots at it at the end, and I thought that Tyler Hansbrough came across and did some nice things, maybe even blocked that one there at the end. It was a great effort, physically, by both teams. I told Paul that it was no consolation because I feel awfully lucky right now, but I do think that Tyler was really something else. He did a great job of focusing their defense on him, getting two or three people around him. We didn’t get a very good night from some of our perimeter players with their movement. Guys that make some shots for us didn’t make many of them tonight. Danny (Green) probably played his worst game of the year with some of the shots at the end that I didn’t want him to take. And Danny and Tyler both missed free throws and they’ve been great free throw shooters over the year, so we do feel very very lucky. Georgia Tech, I feel for them because they’ve had some guys that they’ve been right there, but they just haven’t been able to get over the hump. It was a really hard-fought basketball game by two teams and I have a great deal of respect for Paul (Hewitt) and his staff and their kids.”
Why does Georgia Tech play so well against North Carolina at Alexander Memorial Coliseum?
“I thought they would play really well tonight regardless because, when you start out 0-2 on the road in this league and you come home, there is a sense of urgency I think that your kids really feel. And we get a lot of attention. It was in the paper this afternoon of James Forrest – is that the youngster that played so great against Carolina? I wasn’t here, so I’m not trying to be disrespectful by not knowing his name – I was 1119 miles away at that point. But it says something for your program when, in the hometown newspaper, they talk about the wins that you had over another team several years ago, much less what they’ve done to us recently. So I knew that they’d be fired up, and I thought they would be fired up for anybody because this league is so difficult that you don’t want to lose any home games for sure and especially after you’ve lost two in a row, you want to get a win – That’s my guess”
Is it nice to finally get a win against Georgia Tech in Atlanta?
“Nobody on our staff has won here except me when I was an assistant, and that was 800 years ago. So there’s no question that we talked trying to come down here and play better, being more competitive. I thought that, last year, they out-competed us in every single manner. Tonight, I thought that both teams were really competitive. When balls were on the floor, guys were after it. Guys were knocking each other down, but they were also picking each other up.”
Is this a better blocking team than in years past?
“I was really mad early in the game because Quentin had a guy under the basket, it was a bigger guy, and he went right past him and laid it up. We had three other guys standing there buying a freaking ticket instead of getting involved, and we talked about that. You can’t just stand there and say that it’s not your man. You have to get involved and I thought that was the best thing that Georgia Tech did – they swarmed to Tyler and they swarmed to the ball and every shot that we took was contested. I thought that we let them have too many uncontested. I do think that Marcus (Ginyard) and Wayne (Ellington) really tried extremely hard on Bell, Clinch and Morrow as they were running around those screens, but Gani (Lawal) had six offensive rebounds in the first half and we had five, so I thought their big guys were kicking us in the first half.”