March 3, 2008
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Paul Hewitt
We were just looking at the stat sheet and you picked up on two things that explain why things didn’t go your way tonight.
“The offensive rebounds were a major concern of ours going into the game tonight and they got 20 of them. We knew [Lauryna] Mikalauskas was going to be back in the line-up and he was a major presence on the glass. He got five offensive rebounds but created a lot of loose balls for the other guys to clean up and get some easy baskets.”
22-of-29 from the free throw line too. That’s significantly better than they’ve shot for most of the year and certainly compared to your meeting up in Charlottesville.
“Yes, but again we had plenty of chances. It came down to just getting a couple rebounds here or a rebound there.”
I guess we should start with the last 90 seconds. Baker gets the tip, you come down and Jeremis [Smith] seems to do exactly what you wanted and puts you back up one. Was it a surprise to you that Baker was the guy to pull the trigger?
“Well we tried to get a timeout there, but it wasn’t acknowledged. We knew [Sean] Singletary was going to drive with his head down and go to the basket in a one point game. That was the best offense they could have. I thought I was up off the bench in time, but obviously I wasn’t and then Baker buried the three in the corner.”
What about your play at the end? Was that what you were looking for to have Mo [Miller] take it down the floor and see what you had?
“Well, we were trying to get Mo going towards the basket. He got a look. I certainly thought we could get at least four dribbles and get a decent shot off, but it just didn’t happen for us tonight.”
Is this tough because you had such good momentum after the overtime win against Virginia Tech on Saturday and then see it slip back? What does it do now as you get ready for your last two games and another quick turn-around?
“We have our mandatory day off tomorrow and we all need it just to clear our heads. The bottom line is we did some things tonight that hurt us. We had the lane violations and technical. You can’t give up points in this league and expect to win. “
VIRGINIA HEAD COACH DAVE LEITAO
“Coming down the tail end of the year, we are continuing to put forth better effort. Game-in and game-out it hasn’t always been pretty, it hasn’t equaled a `w.’ But on the road, especially against a team that, in my opinion is very talented because they’ve beat us before, to have the stick-to-it-tiveness to come through in the end and in the clutch is good. We were in the last TV timeout, and I spent the better part of the game just trying to get guys to play at a higher level. I thought they were playing hard, but not necessarily playing well or smart. We were fouling a ton and giving them free points. Somewhere within that timeout, things changed. We played much better defense without fouling and were able to get some key baskets, particularly with Sean (Singletary) leading us down the stretch. And then that huge basket at the end that Calvin (Baker) made and then to defend with four seconds to go. So I’m very very proud of our guys and the ability to bend, but not break, today.”
What is it like winning one of these (a close game) now?
“It’s what we talked about in that timeout. We’ve been here, done that a few too many times and come up short. At some point, you have to, in your mind, say, `to heck with this, it’s not going to happen anymore.’ I could see that, when we came out of the timeout, they did that mentally because their defensive rotations, executions and just body language was much better.”
Comment on the last 11 seconds, and Coach Hewitt wanting to call a timeout
“With 11 seconds to go, I was the one that was going to call a timeout. I thought about it and we had, over the last few weeks, worked on some situations. I have been asked that question of `do you call timeout?, don’t you?’ and fortunately we got it in so quick that Paul couldn’t call timeout. But I decided to let Sean’s speed work for us. I thought, because it’s happened just about every time in practice, that he was going to go coast-to-coast and just lay the ball up and in. It was a very intelligent play on his part because he drew a ton of attention – I think it was either three or four guys – and spotted Calvin. Calvin had the where-with-all to confidently step into the shot and make a huge, huge basket for us. That’s a credit, because nine times out of 10, Sean will take that shot and I want him to take that shot. But the fact that we didn’t call timeout was just me trusting Sean’s instincts.”
Was Sean struggling early in the first half with fatigue?
“Fatigue. With a lot of our guys I was trying to be a little bit more liberal with substitutions because there are some physical and mental fatigue that we’re going through. Obviously with him being a little bit banged up and us going through this whole flu run with four or five guys, fatigue did play a factor.”
Comment on Mikalauskas
“Energy was productivity. He’s come back with a vengeance and given us a huge lift – scoring the basketball; being a presence; playing and trusting defense; rebounding the basketball; particularly on the offensive end. He had five again tonight and had nine in the last game. It gives us extra possessions and it gives us another weapon where, after being here a while, we can say to get the ball inside. Lars has been very good that way.”