Dec. 15, 2004
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Paul Hewitt
“This is going to be a very obvious statement, but when we score, we can do good things. In the first half, when we were able to set up our pressure, we were able to get force some turnovers and get some easy baskets. But they did a good job of defending us in the first half and grinding the game to a halt. On the offensive end for them, they do such a good job of getting the ball inside. They ran their offense very well. They set some very good screens. You could see how they were rubbing us off screens and getting the ball inside. With that said, certainly we need to take better care of the basketball. Part of the reason why we couldn’t set up our press as much as we wanted to in the first half is because we just turned the ball over too much. We couldn’t get into a flow offensively because of their defense forcing us into some poor shots and some bad turnovers.
“We’ve got to pass the basketball better. I’ve said that the whole year. When we pass the ball, we’re a very good offensive team. When we don’t pass the ball, we have some trouble scoring. Trust me, we have shooters. But when we don’t pass the ball crisply, we make guys who are good shooters have to catch a short hop or jump up to catch the ball. Now the guys aren’t open anymore. It comes down to us passing the ball well. Defensively, we’re very good and we’ll get better. Fortunately we are a good defensive team, so when our passing is killing us, our defense makes us well again.
On facing former assistant Dean Keener: “It’s weird. It’s the first time in my career that it’s 12:30 on the day of a game and here comes the opposing coach walking into my office. We were sitting around talking for an hour, and I finally said, `This is strange. Get out of here.’ He’s a very, very close friend, and he had an awful lot to do with the success we’ve had here the last four years. The kids you saw on the floor tonight, he had a big hand in recruiting. When I came here, I was mostly a guy who just concentrated on offense. My teams at Siena averaged 88 points a game. He was the one who kept hammering away at me about improving defensively. Now, I’ve come full circle. I’m more concerned about the defensive end of the floor, and I give him credit for that.”
JAMES MADISON HEAD COACH Dean Keener
How hard was it to coach against Coach Hewitt: “It was hard. He’s as good a friend as I have in this profession and even outside that. Our families are close, he and I are close and I told somebody today that we talk three or four times a week and it’s not just about basketball – it’s about a lot of other things. I understand now what head coaches mean when you hear through the media that it’s hard to play friends.”
What can you take away from this loss: “You hope that you can win by losing, but certainly you don’t want that to become a habit. I hope tonight our guys can come away with the fact that at least they competed at a pretty good level against one of the best teams in the country. I hope they understand how hard it is that you have to work each possession offensively and defensively and how hard you have to work if you are going to score points at that level. We played Virginia Tech Saturday, we’re here against Georgia Tech today and then Saturday we’re at West Virginia and if we can grow through these games, win or lose, I don’t think we’ll see this kind of pressure or environments once we reach conference play and we’ll be better for it. I don’t mind playing these kinds of games, I just would prefer not to play three in a row.”
On coaching against guys he coached last season at Tech: “I shared so many things with those guys – the highs of last years and even the lows over the last three years at different points of their career. I helped recruit some of those guys, attended BJ Elder’s grandfather’s funeral, it’s just deeper than just basketball with these guys and it becomes emotional. But, now that this game is over, there’s not a bigger Georgia Tech fan than Dean Keener.”