March 5, 2005
– GEORGIA TECH COACH Paul Hewitt
“That’s not exactly how you want Senior Day to go. Not because we played a tough team came in here with a lot of confidence, but you get a couple of guys like Isma’il Muhammad and B.J. Elder, who started this whole thing off, and you have to see them hobble through their senior years with injuries, it’s difficult to watch. We’re very happy to get the win. We battled hard. If we get in the NCAA Tournament, and I’m not on committee, I think we’re tournament-worthy and we should get in, but I’m not going to be the person to say we’re in.
“The reason why I think this team will dangerous is because it defends. One thing I will assure you is, if you talk to any coach and they see our name on the other side of the bracket, they’re not going to be happy about it because they realize we’re going to guard you every single night, every single play. Once you get late in the year, tournament time, it’s going to be a defensive struggle. Have we been consistent offensively? No. I would put a lot of the blame on myself for not adjusting roles when we had Jeremis Smith and B.J. Elder out. But also, we’ve been hampered by injuries. And that comes back to me, as far as making sure we can overcome them. But we’re 8-8 in the conference, and we’re going to go up to Washington, D.C. and get ready to play again.
[Muhammad] “He’s had patella tendonitis the whole year. I think anybody who’s watched him play realizes that he’s not the same player he was last year. He’s done it on just absolute heart and determination. Today it was just too much. I couldn’t stand to watch him hobbling. He’s got a chance, because of the days off, to get some therapy tomorrow. He’s going to have to sit out three or four days. If we play Thursday, he’ll be a game-time decision.
[Sharrod Ford] “He got off to a great start running the floor. He did an excellent job of out-running Luke down the floor. We did a great job on him last game, holding him to three points. Today he used his ability to run and get out in transition. When he didn’t get the layup, he got deep position, so when he got the ball, he’s an excellent finisher. Nine-for-14 from the field, most people don’t shoot that well on Luke. He did an excellent job.”
“It all comes down to more consistent offense. If we have a good offensive night, you’re going to have a hard time beating us, because we definitely, definitely defend you.
CLEMSON COACH OLIVER PURNELL
“I told the guys after the game I wasn’t real upset with the loss because we played against an excellent basketball team on their home court, a motivated team on their own court on senior night. We were right there. I didn’t think we played that well. We didn’t rebound as well as we needed to, we didn’t make free throws, we turned the ball over, our backcourt players turned the ball over at critical times. Late in the second half when we had opportunities to pad the lead, or tie it, or down two or three we turned it over. And yet we were right there. We’re going into the [ACC] Tournament and we have to elevate our play just a notch. This is an excellent team and if we can elevate our play just a notch, play a little smarter, make some free throws, then we can make some things happen. Give Georgia Tech credit, they hung in there when we made a run at them and made the plays they had to in order to win.”
“They did a good job of pressuring the ball. We turned the ball over. A couple of times they weren’t necessarily forced turnovers. They got all over Vernon [Hamilton] in the backcourt, so I’m sure they did turn their defense up.”
“It caused us to go to some zone. It seemed out of character for us. They were in the bonus so quickly. It happens sometimes.”
“Our big emphasis was to get the score tied at four or five minutes. That’s what we talked about at the half. At that point the momentum, pressure, all those things shifted to our favor.”
“We played good. There’s no question we played good in February and coming into March. We had to play good to hang in there with them. We have to play better than we did today when we play in the tournament.”