Jan. 6, 2008
– Head Coach Paul Hewitt
“Give Presbyterian an awful lot of credit today. You really have to salute the effort that they gave, especially with it being their second game in 24 hours. They never, even showed any sign of quitting. We got a pretty decent lead but missing that layup in the open court always gets you. If you don’t do the right things all the time it gets you. If we go in and finish that play off they we’re up 13 points. Next thing you know, they bang out three straight three’s and it’s a two point game all of the sudden 58-56. From there, we steadied ourselves and got a win but I think anybody that watched that game has to give them, their staff and players an awful lot of credit for what they’re doing and how hard they came in and played the way they did. “
Can you talk about the play of Maurice Miller?
“Yes, he’s getting better. The injury in the Virgin Islands was a very tough one for him. We were playing three games in three nights so he lost three chances to improve. We were going into finals and his mind was kind of distracted so he probably took a little longer to recover than he would have liked but that’s just the way it is. He’s playing better. He’s been playing better in practice. Every time I see him in the cafeteria or around the building I say just don’t turn the ball over Mo. He looks at me and just recites it back. `I know coach. Don’t’ turn the ball over.’ The fact that he had no turnovers today is a good thing and he should have played more against Florida State. He played well in the first half and should have been in there. That was a mistake on my part in the second half of that game.
Turnovers were a big problem against Florida State. Can you see when you’ve worked on something like that in practice that the guys were paying attention?
“Well let’s face it; Presbyterian didn’t pressure us as much on the perimeter as Florida State did. I’m sure some of that had to do with their fatigue. It’s tough to gauge it. You’ve got to understand that those guys again are coming off two games in 24 hours. You need energy and legs to get out pressure. That might have had something to do with it.”
Can you talk about the play of Gani Lawal? Do you tell him to shoot the ball more since he has such a high percentage this season?
“As I’ve said before, he’s one of those guys that understands what we are trying to do. He picks things up and it is really starting to show. He’s getting better every day. We’ve hit a point now where in tight spots I think you’re going to see us getting him the ball more. He’s got to do a better job on the foul like and he knows it. He works at that too. Today was a good day for him. In the Florida State game, he stepped up and made two big free throws down the stretch. I’ve got confidence in him but told him that today would have been a more complete performance if he had done a better job at the foul line.
He’s improving on the passing game. At time, I think he’s a little too stubborn when double-teamed. If they come and double you, you have to find that open man. “
Did Gani jump center because of Jermis’ [Smith] knee?
“I don’t know. Those guys decide that. I looked just as surprised as you. We got the ball though.”
Can you just talk about the upcoming game with Georgia and the added pressure of a rivalry game”
“I haven’t watched any tape on them yet. I will start this afternoon as soon as I get out of here. I know its going to be a very physical and emotional game. Their big guys are very strong. They have some veteran guys so we have to get ready for a very physical game.”
Presbyterian Head Coach Gregg Nibert
On the way that the team played today after playing NC State yesterday
“As I told them in the locker room, I couldn’t be more proud of our basketball team in all the years I’ve been coaching. To go through this stretch – Georgia last Sunday, Wake Forest on Wednesday, NC State on Saturday and Georgia Tech on Sunday – as I told our guys, we had a chance to win every one of those games with five minutes remaining. We were down eight with five minutes to go at Georgia, with nine minutes to go against Wake it was a tie game, NC State is tied with three minutes to go, and for this game tonight, it was 60-58 with three or four minutes to go in the game. We had three or four times that we could have come down and either tied or taken the lead, but they made a little run on us to make it a 13-point game [in the end.] I couldn’t be more proud of our group of guys – the stretch that they went through and what they’ve done. What I told them and what made the difference is that they have to execute on offense – you have to get that shot, get that score, take care of the ball and get some stops. Everybody’s got it. We’ve proven that we can play for 37-38 minutes, but you have to make the plays at the end in the final two or three minutes.”
On the effort put forth today, and having the chance to win late in the game.
“What we did tonight was we were 7-for-24 yesterday from three and 10-for-31 against Wake, today we were 15-for-31, and Pierre obviously made some big threes. We have to make three to win. If we had made 15 threes against Wake or one or two more against NC State, we have a chance to win those games. We shot the ball really well. Alonzo went to the line and I think he’s one of the best post players, so I couldn’t be more proud of our team and hope everyone on Tuesday will be out on Tuesday to watch us at 6 p.m.”
On playing man-to-man late in the game and the mental toughness.
“We’re tough. We’re going to do this, and I believe Louisville and other teams will do it – I think Davidson has done it this year. You really get better when you play against really, really tough people. Beating someone 100-20 and not learning anything [doesn’t matter].