Feb. 6, 2007
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Paul Hewitt
“I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed those last 32 minutes. It was about 12 minutes (in the first half) to go and there was a stoppage, and I just told the team, For 12 minutes the rest of this half and the last 20 minutes of the game, let’s just play as hard as we can and play with a lot of energy. It was great to see. That’s about as encouraged as I’ve been in a long time about our basketball team. Obviously NC State is a very well coached team. They execute their halfcourt sets very very well and they picked us apart the first eight minutes of the game. Some of that also was because I think we just didn’t play with any energy at all. Don’t ask me to explain it. I’ll never be able to explain why that happens. But it was nice to see us dive on the floor. A friend of mine told me, That’s the most I’ve seen you guys dive on the floor in a year and a half right. He’s right, and it’s great to see.
“I said to Javaris after the game, There’s no reason why you can’t lead this team. I’ve been talking about the upperclassmen, but he’s starting to get comfortable with the leadership role. After the all the criticism he took, unjustly, after those four games we lost, it might have been him a little thin-skinned. I just told to play really hard and do the things that you know how to do. And I think he’s starting to get help. Our bigs are doing a better job getting open and screening We’re making our free throws. There are a lot of good things that have come out of these last two games.
[Crittenton’s three-pointer at end of half] “It was big, but you’re not going to make you’re living doing that. It was big, but I thought the biggest thing was that our guys just laid out. D’Andre Bell, Alade Aminu, Zach Peacock played with a lot of energy, and it got contagious. Javaris always plays with a lot of energy, and the other guys picked it up.
NC State is a good team. Obviously they’re a little short-handed right now, but they’re very well coached. We’re very happy to get this win, especially in the fashion that we did. I’m glad to see us get back to playing tough, physical, energetic basketball. I can’t tell you how happy I am with how these guys played tonight.
“He tries hard. He runs the floor hard. He’s focused now. I can’t say he’s always been focused, but he’s focused now. There’s still a couple of breakdowns, but if you’re playing hard and trying hard, any coach will live with some mistakes. He’s going to continue to get minutes. Whoever wants to play like that is going to continue to get minutes. A lot of credit goes to D’Andre Bell. It’s tough to sit on the bench all those games and all of a sudden get the call and get seven points and play the defense he played.
NOTING GEORGIA TECH — Alade Aminu had 10 points, his career high, for the second straight game after not playing in an ACC game this season before last Saturday’s win over Clemson. He has hit 10-of-15 shots in the two games, scoring 20 points after totaling 26 points for the first 21 games of the season . . . D’Andre Bell scored his first points in an ACC game with seven points tonight. He had scored a total of 13 points all season before tonight . . . Javaris Crittenton has 47 points and 10 steals in Tech’s back-to-back wins over Clemson and NC State . . .
NC STATE HEAD COACH SIDNEY LOWE
Opening Statement — “It was two different halves that we played between the first and the second half. I think the game also changed in the second half. It was a much more physical ballgame in the second half. They got some momentum and made a couple of baskets while we didn’t defend the way that we did in the first half. They were able to get the lead and were able to make some big shots. We had a tough time scoring in the second half and they went on to win the ballgame.”
Your team looked calm and comfortable for 25 minutes. What happened during Tech’s run? — “They picked up their intensity, defensively. There was some frustration on our parts for a couple of our guys. They were complaining about a couple of things. That’s tough to overcome. You try to fight through it, play hard and play the right way, but they got physical. It was a very physical ballgame. They were able to get some steals with some active hands and were able to convert them into layups. We were trying to execute. I think if we had hit a couple of shots, that certainly would have helped, but we didn’t make any shots over about 10 minutes. It’s just one of those things. You shoot 76 percent in one half and then have a tough time making one. But you have to give them some credit for the way that they played. They took it to the edge in terms of what they needed to do to win this ballgame.”
Were the players complaining about the physicality of the game? — “Yes, they were. I’d rather not [get into what they said.]”
How did you feel about it? — “I didn’t like it, obviously. But you have to play the game. You have to try to play the same way. If it’s a physical game, you have to play physical. That’s what you have to do.”
Did you feel that they way that you started the game was an extension of the last game? — “I thought that we came out pretty good. We played well that first half, executing. We were really defending really well. We were able to make some shots, we got some layups and fast breaks. I think the play at the end of the first half hurt us a little, and it probably gave them a little bit of momentum going into the locker room. We didn’t push up on the guy when we were supposed to, but more importantly, we had two opportunities for the last time, but we didn’t do it, we turned it over and gave them that opportunity. That was a big play for them, and I think that it gave them a little momentum going into the locker room.”
Comment on your starting point guard, and having not lost with him in that role in the starting lineup. — “They were pressing him a little bit, running different people at him. They are long and big and were leaning on him a little bit and that wears you down. This is only one time that we reacted this way, so things are still good. One time this year, so I’ll take that. We just hope to pick up from here and have a good ballgame in our next one.
“We said in the huddle that we just have to play. We have to make adjustments to whatever is going on out there. We knew that was going to happen. We told them that they are down and they are going to have to pick it up, and that’s what you do when you want to win a game. You pick up the intensity, and that’s what they did, so I’ll give them credit for that. They knew that they had to pick it up, push a little more, and get up and try to deny and do whatever, and they had a little more energy than we did at that time.”
GEORGIA TECH GUARD D’Andre Bell
On the defense and what it means — “Defense is very important to our offense. Coach (Paul Hewitt) time and time again tells us that the way we get going on offense starts with our defense and our energy out there.”
On being ready as a reserve — “I just try to stay focused and continuously have to think that it’s bigger than me. I have to get in the right mind frame and when I get out there, do what I know I can.”
On the second half — “Energy. We were all on the same page. It started with our defense.”
GEORGIA TECH FORWARD Jeremis Smith
On the second half — “We saw coach (Paul Hewitt) was getting ready to walk away from the Coliseum before the half was over. It was kind of embarrassing to experience that type of half. We knew that we were a better team than that and we proved it in the second half.”
On the team coming together — “We’re definitely becoming a team now. There were a couple of times during the game where we turned to one another and said, `Man I love you.’ Honestly, I looked at Javaris (Crittenton) and A’Mo (Anthony Morrow) one time and said, `Man I just love you all.’ We were still down, but we were fighting back. We knew that we had each other’s back and we were going to fight to the end.”
On the two big wins over Clemson and NC State — “If we can put together two halves like we did against Clemson a couple of days ago, it will be scary for our opponents. NC State played a good game, Clemson played a good game, but we came out with the win. If we keep it going, it’s going to be scary.”
GEORGIA TECH FORWARD Alade Aminu
On the energy over the last two games — “It all started with this inspirational speaker that came in to talk to us, Derrick Moore. He just came and told us that we need to stop feeling so down about the four-game losing streak and after that we became closer as a team.”
On his focus — “I feel like I have always been focused. I can see where he (Paul Hewitt) says that I am more focused because I am where I am supposed to be. I’m doing the right things and being where I should be.”
GEORGIA TECH FORWARD Thaddeus Young
On his energy picking up — “I just feel like I have to get myself more active. I’m playing, but sometimes it’s like I’m out there going through the motions. This game I just felt that I had to step it up to a whole different level.”
On his big play in the second half — “Coach (Paul Hewitt) has been telling me that I am not active enough on the ball and off the ball. Obviously the last two games I have tried to be more active. Just stay active on defense and offense and hopefully good things will happen.”