Feb. 11, 2007
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Paul Hewitt
“Slowly but surely I think we’re maturing. We’re really growing up. Our perimeter again was very strong, and the bench also helped us. D’Andre Bell, in particular, came off the bench when we were struggling and got us six quick points. That really sparked us offensively and then he kind of handed it off to Anthony Morrow. Obviously Morrow had a nice run there in the first half. I thought we played some pretty good defense, and we executed some things offensively. We still can get a little better in the late game execution – we took a couple of quick shots. But overall, I thought it was a very good team effort for us.
[Did you think you would have to score more to win?] “Once the game starts, you just adapt to the flow of the game. It was a hard-fought game, a defensive struggle. Obviously with a guy like Thabeet in the middle it’s going to be tough to score around the basket. That’s why we tried to pressure a couple of times. We made some mental mistakes in our pressure and they capitalized. But we didn’t think we could score consistently in a halfcourt setting. I thought the run in the second half that Javaris led was more about our defense, our rebounding and getting in transition to get some easy baskets.
“It’s a sign of a team that’s maturing. Our freshmen and sophomore in particular have really stepped up. Alade Aminu didn’t score today but he made some important contributions. And of course the freshmen are playing very well.
[Being able to extend lead despite Crittenton foul trouble in first half] “In the Memphis game, we were down and and he sat most of the second half, but Mario West came in and did a good job. So we had confidence that even though Javaris had two fouls, we could still play well.
“We’re a good defensive team. The two bad stretches of basketball we’ve had this season were because we didn’t guard. When we defend, we’ve played with the some of the best teams in the country. When we don’t defend, we can beat by anybody. And I mean anybody. We can’t afford another one of those stretches if we want to extend the season. We’ve got to make sure we’re consistent with all our defensive fundamentals. When we do that, then I think we can guard pretty much anyone.
NOTING GEORGIA TECH — Tech’s .944 field goal percentage (17-18) is by far the Jackets best effort of the season. In fact, the last time the Jackets shot higher (with a minimum of 15 attempts) was 1996, when Tech shot .964 (27-28) in a win over Maryland. The previous high this season was .813 (13-16) in a losing effort at Clemson . . . Connecticut’s .309 field goal percentage is the second lowest for a Tech opponent this season; only Troy at .303 shot lower . . . D’Andre Bell has scored 13 points in the last two games after totaling 13 for the first 22 games of the season.
CONNECTICUT HEAD COACH JIM CALHOUN
“Well, first congratulations to Paul and Georgia Tech. I think for both teams, coming in with identical records, not only in conference play but also overall, this could have been a win for either one of the teams. Georgia Tech came and locked us up defensively and we couldn’t make a basket. They continued to do that for virtually the entire game. I don’t understand why we can’t make a basket. I don’t understand why we can’t stay in our offense. But we didn’t. Coaches would say there’s always two teams playing and obviously Georgia Tech had a lot to do with that.”
“Looking at them on tape the last couple of games, they have played much better defense. Paul has them rebounding better. But we just can’t go 12-for-21 from the four line. Those kind of things just kill you. We can’t just keep turning the ball over, throwing the ball on the baseline to people after they’re already open and throw it where they were and not where they are. The turnovers, the missed shots and the missed foul shots eventually did us in. What probably overall did us in was Georgia Tech outplayed us. They defended the hell out of us and didn’t let us score.”
Is the team taking bad shots? — “I think Craig Austrie played very well. He went 1-for-10 and I think he played well. That kind of answers your question, he had some good shots and he missed them. But he competed the entire game; I thought he played well, but the ball didn’t go in the hole. I’ll live with that, but it doesn’t seem like anybody else stepped up to take or make good shots. I thought our passing was atrocious, guys were open, we could’ve gotten Jeff (Adrien) 20 points. But when he’s open, we wait, we stare; the other guy would come over and then we’d throw the ball in there. We’re a lot of games in for us to be doing that kind of stuff. Obviously it was very disappointing.”
Were you surprised by Georgia Tech’s interior defense? — “I was surprised a little bit by their interior defense. They were probably more surprised by Hasheem (Thabeet) then we were surprised by them. He blocked seven shots and probably altered another 10. If you match both interior defenses, it would probably be a wash. But what they did was locked us up and wouldn’t let us run stuff. Then we made incredibly poor choices and some of that has to be ball pressure.”
Is there one guy you can build your offense around over the next six games? — “The problem right now is that there’s nobody who steps up and makes plays. That’s what’s killing us. It’s what’s killing us game after game after game. Our leading scorer who averages double-doubles hasn’t gotten 20 points all year. In this game of basketball, someone’s got to do that. There are guys on our team capable of doing that, but haven’t done it. I saw (Crittenton) make plays and he’s a freshman. Young made a couple of plays too. My point being, simply, is that we have to have guys that have enough courage in their own game, courage in what we do, and togetherness in what we do offensively. We didn’t have a lot of that today. There were two reasons: we didn’t do a good job of it and Georgia Tech took us out of it. For a team that gives up 48 percent, they didn’t play like that today. They really did a good job and overall the defense was exceptional. They stopped us from making passes and put a lot of pressure to make us pick our dribble up.
“It’s about guys stepping up. When a guy comes off a screen or in a position you put him in, he’s got to make a play. Basketball is not that complex. We go into games and it’s been very rare to have anyone step up. I would’ve expected by now for us to have some guys have 26 or 28-point games. I think some of those kids are pretty good. We haven’t done it, and I’m very disappointed. I’m shocked by the number of times we haven’t had a guy go off in a game. Sometimes it isn’t 25-point games, it’s going off for six straight points. We have nobody on our team doing that right now. The combination of Georgia Tech’s defense and our own ineptness offensively, we’re really having a tough time scoring. I honestly don’t have an answer for it. Even the last 10 minutes when we played reasonably good defense, it didn’t make a difference because we couldn’t score.”