Feb. 2, 2008
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Paul Hewitt
Coach, it was a really hard-fought game today. Was it how you expected between these two teams other than maybe a few more points?
“Maryland came in here and executed really well today. They shot a very high percentage from the floor, but the story of the game was that we just couldn’t get enough stops. We scored enough points. When you score 86 points, you expect to win most of the time, but we just didn’t do enough defensively. It certainly wasn’t about the turnovers. When you commit only 16 turnovers in a fast-paced game like today with a lot of possessions that’s not bad but we just didn’t do the job on the defensive end. [Bambale] Osby inside really set the tone for them early on.”
You have to be proud of how this team didn’t cash it in. They showed a little but about what they are made of coming back several times from double-digit deficits, even as late as five minutes to go. There was no quit in your group today.
“That’s true, but we have to be more mature, especially in the first 10 minutes of the game. We were sleepwalking and I can’t understand why. I wasn’t crazy about our practice the last few days and I think those bad habits caught up to us. We were not as prepared as we needed to be and certainly some of that falls on me. Mentally, we were just out of it in the early going and that is what cost us today.”
Talk about what you did defensively. It also looked like Maryland made it tough to get set up in the half-court on your offensive end of the floor early on as well.
“They did a good job. I don’t think anything they did really surprised us. We were scoring pretty well when we threw the ball inside but on the first handful of possessions for some reason we just refused to get the ball inside. We were in some kind of a funk and I don’t know what it was. We talked about looses balls right from the top and Maryland came down and really executed well. Osby beats us to a loose ball and scores and then does the same thing with an and-one a few possessions later. The tone was set right there.”
You managed the last part of this ball game very well. To get back and have a one-possession game at the end speaks volumes and it seemed like almost everything you needed to go right did.
“True, but again the way we started is what put us in the hole. Maryland is really playing well right now. They are starting to find themselves kind of like we were finding ourselves. Now we have to go back out on the road and see if we can re-discover what we were doing well there.”
As you mentioned, it’s back out on the road for three straight games. That’s another tough obstacle it looks like.
“You know what, I’m not sure if the place or the opponent matters with our basketball team. It’s just a matter of us going out there and being focused. Games that we’ve lost this year we’ve had these lulls. I thought we were through it, but obviously in the first 10 minutes we were just in some kind of a fog and Maryland was very sharp. They executed well and got great shots. All five of their starters got into double-figures and they moved the ball very well. We forced 24 turnovers on the strength of a lot of energy, but the first 10 minutes just put us in too much of a hole and we were digging out all day.”
Coach, you have to be impressed with [Maurice] Miller’s play today. He had only six points, but nine assists and only one turnover in 18 minutes of play.
“He did a nice job for us today in only 18 minutes. I certainly don’t want to take away from that effort and statistically he was good, but in those first 10 minutes he was involved in some major breakdowns. You have to be really proud with the fact that he stuck with it and came back and played a really strong second half.”
MARYLAND HEAD COACH GARY WILLIAMS
“I’m proud of the team. Each game is 40 minutes. Sometimes you can win it in the first half. I thought we did a good job offensively and defensively. The second half, we gave up a lot of easy scores to them in transition. They did a very good job of attacking and it really hurt us and put us in a position where we could have lost the game. We were tough enough down the stretch to get the win, and that’s what counts. When you’re on the road, nobody is worried about how it looks. You’re just trying to get out with a win and we were able to do that today. Bambale Osby has been really tough for us, playing big when we need him. I hate to even talk about it, but he’s quietly become a pretty good free throw shooter. He hit the big 1-and-1 down there, or two-shot foul, whatever it was, when we were missing some. It was great to see. If this was December I would have taken him out and put a different guy in there to hopefully get him fouled while sitting Bambale. But that’s where he’s come with the free throws. A special thing about Brandon Milbourne coming back to Atlanta and playing as well as he did. I was glad to see that because he really had a tough year last year. A lot of guys would have thought about transferring or would have been disgruntled because he didn’t play a lot, but he came into my office right after the season was over and all he said was, `what do I have to do to play next year?’ I told him what I tell every player, that each guy has certain things to work on and Landon was one of those guys that did it. He went home for the summer and just did a tremendous job and earned a right to be the starting three-man for us. I’m proud of him.”
Comment on having five guys in double figures achieving the balance that has been successful the last few weeks
“If you’re going to be a tough team and you play a good team like Georgia Tech, for instance Greivis (Vasquez) might not have had a great shooting day today, so if that does happen, if guys are used to scoring they can pick up the slack. But if a guy has scored three, four, or five points per game the last few games, and you tell them that they have to pick it up, it’s just not going to happen. So guys have to be used to scoring. For us, that’s what’s valuable about it, because the team you play against can’t put all their defensive effort and preparation on the one guy because we’ve got other guys who can score.”
How big was the stretch with the young guys playing and holding the lead
“It was really big. Both Bambale and James (Gist) had three (fouls), and we had to get them out of there. It was too early. I don’t like both of those guys out at the same time, but we had to. I felt that, because we had a little bit of a lead (those guys could go in.) Shane Walker gives us a big, quick flare. He’s learning how to play basketball. He’s a big-time soccer player, but fortunately he’s not 6-2, he’s 6-10. So they switched him into basketball, and he’s learning how to play and getting better. I thought Braxton Dupree took up some room and made it tough for them to score inside when he was in there. We are still searching for more scoring from the bench, there is no doubt about that. But the balance is there with the starters and if we can give them enough rest it is possible that they can get enough points to win the game.”
Was there a psychological lift, not giving up the lead despite the multiple runs Tech had?
“That always helps. As long as you have the lead you think you are going to win. The other part of that is that it’s really hard to battle back a couple of times. Teams get really tired of doing that. They get close and just can’t get over the hump, and I’ve been on that side of it too. We were tough. We got fouled, and we were tough with the ball down the stretch. We didn’t make all our free throws, but we did what we had to do and I think we’re a good enough free-throw shooting team that you expect to make them.
Comment on fouling late in the game, and if you planned on doing it “We were going to foul. Morrow, Causey and Clinch are big-time shooters, and I didn’t want any of them to get a chance. It’s a gamble, but it’s a pretty safe play. Causey is shooting very well from the three-point line. Getting ready for Georgia Tech, I was very surprised at how well he was shooting from the three-point line. The odds of them making one, missing the second, getting the rebound and putting it back in are probably less than them making a three in that situation.”
Did Greivis try to make the second (foul shot)?
“No. I told him to miss it. The reason being that the clock starts as soon as they touch it.