Feb. 6, 2009
GEORGIA TECH COACH Paul Hewitt
We really had a chance to win tonight. Especially with a lead, six points, we had a couple of looks that could have put it to nine. But at the end, give them credit, Douglas played great basketball at the end to finish the game off for them.
What did you guys do with Toney early to get him off his game?
You just have to keep the ball out of his hands the best you can. He is a great player, probably a first team all-league guy. I think we did a good enough job to have a bigger lead which would have taken a lot of heat off us, but we didn’t capitalize offensively.
It seemed like both teams had a slow start offensively.
I thought they were really physical with us and our guys did a poor job. They were coming back to the huddle complaining about fouls. I said, “Don’t play to the whistle.” It’s something we were doing early in the year, and we went back to it for some reason early in the game, we got out of that, and started taking the ball strong. That is how we got a six point lead at the half. In the second half we kind of came back complaining about the whistle again. That’s how children play. We played like children in the second half.
How important was Kitchen for FSU tonight taking pressure off of Douglas to handle the ball?
I give them credit for gutting it out. I mean, they were shooting 30.9 percent from the floor, and 17.9 from three point range. They were able to hang in the game because they were real strong defensively. Their big guys blocked out good, we missed a number of chippies.
FLORIDA STATE COACH LEONARD HAMILTON
“We feel very fortunate to come away with a victory tonight. Georgia Tech gave us all we wanted. They did a very good job of defending us in both halves. They played kind of a contain and switching defense that didn’t really leave us with a lot of open looks and open areas to penetrate in. We are just very fortunate we got over it there in the second half, got some stops, and came away with a victory. It seems that every night out in the ACC something interesting and exciting happens. I feel very fortunate to come out on the winning end of this battle.”
“They are extremely athletic inside, even though we had hammered in all week that we had to put bodies on them, they were so quick to the ball – the ball hit the rim, it was amazing to see how quick they got up on the glass. Obviously, we have been doing a much better job of keeping guys off the glass, but in the first half we were concerned that – we worked on all our block out drills, but we just didn’t seem to be able to match them. In the second half, we came out – and obviously we challenged our kids at halftime. Derwin (Kitchen) stepped up and gave us what we thought he should have been giving us all along. Singleton looked extremely tentative in the first half for whatever reason. We told them we had to move the ball, we had to reverse the ball, and be patient because their defense is geared to stop the inside game. It seemed as though we were more cautious than patient. We were awfully tentative and we missed a lot of opening looks in the first half. Hopefully, we got that out of our system as we go into our next game on Saturday. We need to be a lot more aggressive and not so tentative with the ball.”
With only two turnovers in the second half, how important was it for you to get stops and have more possessions?
It was extremely huge because we were not shooting the ball, there is no doubt about that. We had to have stops. We went with the guys that we thought could give us a high energy that we needed in order to defend them for a long period of time. I thought our guys came out in the second half and gave a lot of energy. I thought that even though we didn’t play very well offensively, I thought we challenged a lot of shots, we got the rebounds we had to have, and I thought our defense probably made the big difference tonight.
Did Solomon Alabi being on the floor help you there?
Solomon is a guy who is coming so fast. He is really kind of just blossoming before our eyes. He is eager to learn, coachable, he is a guy that really wants to represent his team and play well. He is a guy to tries to do exactly what you want him to do. We made it very clear to him that he needs to be the guy in the lane. He had some defensive breakdowns where instead of helping over – they got so many passes there – being a big guy back there, he deters shots. He deters people from coming in. That makes a big difference. We didn’t have that last year.
How close is Kitchen to becoming the player you need him to be down the stretch?
Kitchen is still trying to find himself. He is a youngster that probably is under a little more pressure than he should be playing under. He got in late, mentally, he was not real sure when or how he was going to gain his eligibility, and he is pressing. The tempo of the game is something that he is still adjusting to. I thought in the second half, he let it all hang out. We have been challenging him all week, but I thought he was extremely tentative in the first half as well. It is a learning process, and when you have six first year players, the intensity, the athleticism is different from what they have been accustomed to. Tonight I thought he took a step forward. I was still pleased with Dulkys, and Luke (Loucks), and Chris (Singleton), it was just that we didn’t execute and played sometimes like freshmen on the offensive end. On the defensive end I was very pleased with the effort. That was a big play at the end of the game Dulkys came up with. That was a big presence of mind. He made some shots we had to have, Uche (Echefu) missed some big ones, Chris missed some big ones. I think sometimes with youngsters, the importance of the intensity of the game to create anxiety. That is part of the growing up process. I was just glad we were able to pull the game out when we were not as sharp as we have been, or we should have been. Hopefully, that will cause us to be a little more focused against Clemson.
You missed some free throws early, but made a lot of them down the stretch when you needed them.
We are a very good free throw shooting team, and when I saw us missing those free throws in the first half – I watch them shoot free throws every day in practice. We shoot 85, 86, 87 percent for the most part, and sometimes even better than that. We are a good free throw shooting team. The you have to be relaxed, you have to be confident, you have to be able to block things out of your mind when you are at the free throw line. I was glad that when we had to have them, the guys stepped up and came through.
Another night when Toney kind of took over the game.:
We felt like we had to give him a few more screens at the top of the key, then a double screen at the top of the key, and let him read them. He makes good decisions under those circumstances. There is no doubt he is our go-to guy. Every team in the ACC has a guy to go to when the game is on the line. On any given night a guy will step up. Somehow we have to be able to play energized without playing tight, or under the pressure that I thought they were playing with at the beginning of the game.
What did you say to them at halftime?
I was nice, sweet, loving, kissed them on the cheek, hugged them a little bit. No I will be honest with you, we told them to grow up. Grow up. We had to get our stops, we had to do better defensively, and we had to make shots. We had great shots in the first half that didn’t fall, we just had to step it up and play. It sounds like a broken record. We keep finding different ways to say the same way. We have to keep on them and hopefully it will get through and you will see us play a little more relaxed. This was a game we had to have.