Nov. 30, 2016
GEORGIA TECH COACH Josh Pastner
Opening Statement: First off, I want to give a lot of credit to Coach Chambers. I think everyone here at Penn State is extremely fortunate and lucky to have a coach like Coach Chambers. He’s known in our profession as one of the great guys, and his team just plays so hard. He’s done an amazing job here. I know it’s not an easy job, but he’s done a great job in a great, great league. I just want to give full credit to him. I’m not his agent or anything, but I would say lock him up for a long-term contract. He’s very, very good, and you’ve got a really good one in Coach Chambers.
Secondly, I would tell you that for us, for Georgia Tech, we’re a team that, and I’ve said it to our people in Atlanta, our margin of error is none, so we have to play nearly perfect. When you’re in a situation of a rebuild, when your taking something and trying to build it up in this type of year, you just have no margin of error. So we got to be near perfect in every possession and we had some great downs here and there, but Penn State capitalized. I loved our effort, and our guys competed. We got after 50-50 balls, and there were some things, obviously, that we didn’t do really well and we’ve got to get better at. Our whole thing is our game plan, and we want to attack. We always talk about attacking, attacking, attacking and living in the paint and attacking and skipping back and re-attacking. We didn’t get to the free throw line enough, and I felt, we were just trying to get in there and hope that the ball would go in or hope that there was a foul and hope is a bad strategy. We’ve got to go in there making the right play. This will be good for us, because these are the types of teams that we’re going to face as we move forward in our scheduling season. I’m proud of our young men, and they battled. They competed. We’ll continue to get better. Quinton Stevens has been terrific the last few games. He just continues to get double-doubles. Ben Lammers got another double double. This is all a part of our growth. We’re the youngest team and least experienced team in all of college basketball, so part of that is going to be growing pains. It’s just going to be a process as we move forward.
Q: Did you anticipate that this would be a scrappy game?
A: Yeah. I just think in these types of games, it’s going to be a quieter type of deal. I would love it to be a higher scoring affair for me. For us, we’ve also got to be able to make some open shots. We missed a lot of short shots. I mean a lot, right by the basket there. I mean so many short shots, and that’s what our game is. We’re an attack team, and we try to live at the free throw line, and we didn’t today. We missed a ton, a ton of bunnies, as I would say, right by the hoop. We have some deficiencies and some areas offensively, but for us, we’ve spent so much time on attack mode. We didn’t do a good job today of finishing around the hoop.
Q: When Penn State was on some of their runs, it seemed like you guys tried to slow things down little bit. Is that correct in saying that?
A: Well, a couple of the runs we tried to make sure we got a good shot on them next time, because, as I said, we have some deficiencies in some parts offensively. I wanted to make sure we got the shot to who we wanted to get the shot to. When you’re on the road, and another team is on the run, coming down and taking a quick first eye shot is not the best strategy I feel so just trying to make sure we got a good shot. It worked. We did a good job on anytime they made a run to make a run back. We had some chances. It was a two-point game, and Josh Reaves and the set three. I mean you look at the play clock and it’s a make or miss game, and he misses it, maybe we end the game and I’ll look like a great coach. He makes and you’re like “bad defense by me.” Just kind of one of those games. It’s a very fine line – make or miss game.
Q: You mentioned Josh [Reaves], he’s a guy who doesn’t always fill up the box score in certain areas, but he does a little bit of everything. How hard is it to prepare for a guy where you don’t necessarily know where he’s going to hurt you?
A: Well, I felt coming in, we did a really good job until the end there. Had a couple of shots, but I felt that we did a good job on Banks and then Garner. We did a really good job on Banks, and we did a so-so job on Garner. He made some shots, some key shots where we fell asleep, and that hurt us. Well listen. They’re good. Penn State’s a good club. They got good players. Josh Reaves is a good player. We had our chances, and the bottom line when you look at it, the thing that killed us was the points off turnovers. I know we had missed some of those live ball turnovers. 22 points off our turnovers when we played Tulane last, and that allowed them to hang around. We won the game, but it allowed them to hang around. Tonight, 24 points off of our turnovers, and those turnovers are live ball. They’re just jailbreaks. They just catch it and go and score the ball. We’re better off getting a charge or shot clock violation, so we can set our defense up.
Q: With those points off turnovers you just mentioned, what ultimately kept you from not being able to take the lead last night? What was the biggest driving factor behind that?
A: It was turnovers, and we at key times, there were some bang-bang plays. They would score. Then, we’d come down and try to throw a pass and boom. They’d just throw it. It would just be like a four-point swing or six-point swing just like that. Then, we’d find a way to inch back, and I’m just telling you we missed. How about that time when the game was tied? It was going back and forth. Like Josh Okogie there missed that layup, that put back layup. Then we had another layup we missed, and then we just had some shots right there that you need to kind of get over the hump and just make. It was one of those nights were the ball didn’t go in for us around the hoop.
Q: What did you think about the battle between Lammers and Mike Watkins in the paint?
A: Both guys pretty much, obviously evened themselves out. You look at their stat lines and they’re pretty similar there. Both were double-doubles, but both guys are good players. I love Ben Lammers. He’s really gotten better. He’s improved from where he finished from when I first saw or worked at him in April. He’s gotten a lot better, but I think Watkins is a nice player. He’s obviously going to continue to get better as well.
PENN STATE COACH PATRICK CHAMBERS
Opening Statement: Hard fought, major Big Ten game. It was not pretty for sure. I’m really proud of our guys, we did not shoot the ball particularly well and we still found a way. That’s really encouraging. If Payton [Banks] is only scoring four and Tony [Carr] finally struggled and he hasn’t struggled all season, we were looking for some answers and we found them. Lamar [Stevens] almost getting a double-double and Mike [Watkins] getting a double-double. After GW you don’t know what you’re going to get and getting a consistent effort is terrific. Shep [Garner] has been really consistent and it was nice to have Josh Reaves make some great plays. We give them the confidence to make that three at the end. He made a good read and the play was a little bit broken and he shot it with confidence, which is terrific for him and his confidence moving forward. I give Georgia Tech a lot of credit, they mixed up their defenses all game long and we probably ran five plays because we wanted our guys to be confident with the ball and not sticking and trying to do little things by getting the ball below the free throw line and getting it in the post. I thought for the most part they did that but I give Josh [Pastner] a lot of credit for getting his team prepared. I’m really happy for our team and I’m happy for this win.
Q: What is going through your head when Josh made that shot when he is 3-for-43?
A: I didn’t even see it go in but there was no hesitation and it just looked really good off of his hand. It’s tremendous for that kid because he has to be one of the hardest workers on our team.
Q: Shep is talking about not letting missed shots effect their effort, is this prototype for that?
A: We’re starting to get our identity now. Obviously your hands get a little tied when you’re not making threes and we made 11 last time at home, so you think when we’re at home we’re going to make our shots and I give Georgia Tech credit with their defense. They’re very long at a lot of different spots and that’s what it’s going to be. We practice every day to not make shots and how are you going to handle it – how are you going to react? Are you not going to put your head down and not defend or not going to rebound? That’s what we did tonight. We didn’t make shots but we found a way and that’s the sign of a team maturing and growing up.
Q: I don’t know if Mike gets rattled or not but how is it having a few games in a row where he is doing all of the things you needed him to do before you get into the Big Ten?
A: I think it’s great and you can see he is coming along – we are getting consistency from him. He goes for 20, he was 20 and 8 last time and today he is 12 and 12. I’m sure he thought he could have played well and that, to me, is a great sign of a great player who is still learning how to play and wants to get better. He did some great things today. I think Julian [Moore] did a great job today too, so let’s give him some credit. He had a monster dunk, he finished, and he defended and made his free throws so his minutes were quality as well. Our bigs did a really good job versus him so if we can get Mike a little more consistent he is going to be ready for Big Ten play.
Q: How important was that run to close out the first half? You seemed more confident in the second half.
A: We challenged the team and we have to win the last 3:30. We have to go in the locker room despite the score and win the last 3-minute game and they did. We went on a 7-0 run then halftime we were up 30-28. Again, a lot of positives can be taken away but negatives can always be cleaned up. We held an ACC team to 28 points and it was a slugfest because we were going back and forth but it was nice to see us go into halftime up two.
Q: What are Tony [Carr]’s spirits like tonight? This season he has been leading the team in scoring so far but what is his attitude after going 1-for-9 tonight?
A: I grabbed him before we sang our fight song and I talked to him about this being a learning experience. He isn’t used to having a bad game where he doesn’t shoot very well but we will watch film and we will get better. He needs to keep his head up, we gave them a day off tomorrow to rest their bodies and rest their minds and make sure they take care of their academics as we finish up the semester but Tony Carr is going to be a great leader for a long time.
Q: It doesn’t show up on the box score but do you think Terrence [Samuel] is starting to knock off some of the rust?
A: He is getting there for sure. I had a gut feeling that he was prepared and ready to play. We had a great practice yesterday, we were energetic and it was unbelievable and we also had a great walk through and Terrence had a lot to do with that. He rode a lot of juice and he was ready to go. His shot fakes were great and he got us to the foul line and got [Ben] Lammers another foul so he played extremely well and did some great things on the defensive end. He had a monster rebound to finish the game out and it was great to see our guards rebounding the ball because we can’t rely on Mike and Lamar [Stevens] all game long.
Q: In your mind is cashing in on the turnovers what kept you ahead or at the very worst tied at the second half?
A: Just looking statistically, we got 24 points off of turnovers so I would have to agree with you, meaning we are in the open floor and are getting the open shots because when you have live ball turnovers, all coaches hate those, we’re doing a nice job of turning teams over. We took those turnovers and put them into points and we produced, which is really important for us especially when we’re not shooting well, so we have to get ourselves to the free throw line or make the layups. We did have some great dunks tonight, Lamar especially. It’s the little things we need to do on nights that we struggle with.
Q: You talked previously about Josh and the impact of getting his length and athleticism back in the lineup, what did you see as far as that on your offense?
A: I thought he had a critical steal at a big point in the game. We hit a rough patch where we were struggling to score and he jumps the passing lane and gets a big dunk for us. I also think for him on Josh Okogie, who had 38 points and is a heck of a freshman and Quinton Stephens, who is a senior and came out on fire, Josh’s length really hurt them. We held Quinton Stephens to 2 points in the second half and for us to hold down Josh Okogie, he is a big part of that.
Q: How did you think your guys handled the stretch of a one-possession game in the final two minutes?
A: We work on game scenarios all the time, but when you put fans and everyone in there, it can be a little different. We try to calm them down in huddles and be clear with what we are doing defensively and how we are going to defend them during that possession. I think they were all ears and I am really starting to see some trust being developed. We have a good eight guys right now. Devidas is hurt right now – he sprained his ankle at GW – which is why he didn’t play. You can see they really executed well defensively down the stretch the last four minutes.
Q: When you have a player who has been leading you and you have Shep’s consistency, what is the relationship between the two and carrying Tony through this slump?
A: They are great friends and I think they are going to be one of the better backcourts in the Big Ten when it’s all said and done, which is really exciting. They were good friends in high school and Shep is leading the way and helping him understand practice, me, and what to expect. Tony needs to continue to get better and hit the weight room and watch the film and put shots up. They seem very connected and supporting one another and making sure they are making each other better. I think Tony makes Shep better and I think Shep makes Tony better.
Q: How far away from 100% is Josh and what do you think his time frame is of getting there?
A: I think he is right around 80%. You can see the subtle limp here and there and I’m right around 80 with him. He made an incredible impact in the second half at GW and his energy and juice just lifted us to victory, even though he only had two points he was all over the place, he probably had 15 deflections by himself. Tonight, he started out slow but in the second half he really picked it up. I’m hoping for Wright State and by the time we hit Pitt he will be 100%