Jan. 9, 2016
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Brian Gregory
“We played a team today that is obviously very, very good and as well-coached as any team in the country. I’ve talked before in losses against them and the one win we had a couple of years ago about how much respect I have for Tony (Bennett), the program he’s built and how he’s built it and the kids that he’s built it on, and you saw today two teams with guys that play with a lot of heart and a lot of character, play tough, play physical, play with the grit that you need to play with, and we were just a little bit better. I’m proud of our guys, proud of the way we played and proud of the way we competed, and it’s just a great ACC home-opening win for us. Our guys have never wavered over the last week with the tough road losses. I think our guys fully expected to come out and play well today and win the game, and that’s exactly what we did. And you have to. You have to play well for 40 minutes. Even when you make some mistakes you’ve got to be able to play hard enough and compete well enough where you make up for those, and that’s exactly what our guys did.”
On Quinton Stephens and the decision to insert him into the lineup
“Q made us look good. I like his size going to the offensive glass. And this is to Q’s credit – he didn’t play much in the last game, and nowadays kids would be so broken and not be happy and all this stuff, and he’s one of our captains and he knows how important it is every day to have a positive attitude and to go to work. He’s been putting in extra time, and one of the things we told him, but we told everybody – if you’re open, be ready to shoot, and you’re going to knock them down, and that’s exactly what he did. I’m proud of him – not just because of the performance, but because of his attitude and how he’s approached things over the last couple of weeks. That’s why we inserted him into the starting lineup, to be honest with you. Nothing’s more important than how we’re supposed to do things on a daily basis here, and Q does them. I think, potentially, that lineup may be a little fluid according to matchups and different things like that, and our guys have been good with that, and I think it’s something that we need to look in the future. But obviously Q gave us a huge lift to start the game, made those two big threes, had really good execution on our set plays, and it probably was the difference in the game.”
On whether this was the biggest win in his time at Tech
“I thought I might get asked that question. Our wins against Georgia, for me, are always our biggest. That’s just me personally. I started in the coaching profession as part of a big rivalry with Michigan and Michigan State, and then it was Dayton and Xavier. Now it’s (Georgia Tech and Georgia). But, outside of that, this, by far, was our biggest win. We’ve had some big wins, but unfortunately a lot of them have been on the road. We won at Miami when they won the ACC that year in the second-to-last game of the year. But at home with that atmosphere –that’s the way we need it every single game. And I know with the games over the break it’s hard and different things, but that’s why they built this building. And we need to perform – I understand that. I don’t know what we are at home this season now, 8-1 or something like that? Pretty good at home, but we’ll be really good if we get crowds like that. I would say any time you beat a top-5 team at home… but as I said, our guys went into the game expecting to win the game.”
VIRGINIA HEAD COACH TONY BENNETT
Was there one specific area where the game was decided?
“I’d say it was probably a combination. Statistically you look at the offensive rebounds and our three-point shooting and them hitting the big shots. We’ve got work to do. That’s the bottom line. The group that got us back, I thought they showed the effort in playing the right way and moving the ball and what we’ve got to just have more of. It was Jack [Salt], Marial [Shayok], Isaiah [Wilkins], London [Perrantes] and Evan [Nolte]. You always try to find something positive. I thought Evan did a good job coming back and he hadn’t played in a while. I thought at least the ball moved and they scrapped and fought to get us back to 49-49 all. That was positive, but the play on the glass and struggling… but fine line. Maybe the players will believe me and maybe when I say it even some who don’t believe me will, but it is a fine line from being successful to being not successful. The league is better. Credit to Georgia Tech. [They’ve] got a better team and I know they played twice on the road and fought against [North] Carolina and Pitt. They’re so much more balanced inside out this year and that was an issue. Whenever we got it close, they hit a couple big shots.”
How did you prepare for Quinton Stephens?
“He’s long and tall. They started him. He’s got such a nice stroke. Being 6-8, we tried to get to a couple of his shots. I think he hit that big three when it was tied [and] they ran a little wrap-pop for him. That’s big when he shoots the ball like that. We tried to get to him a couple times. We got hammered in screens and [they] did a good job. We were definitely aware of him and he had a breakout game.”
What prompted the starting lineup change?
“The size we were playing against. The physicality. I was trying to go back to when I thought we played fairly rugged, tough basketball this year and it was when we were in Charleston. We started Jack [Salt] and Anthony [Gill]. I kind of paired those bigs together. I don’t know if rim-protector is the right word, but you saw Jack did some good things with his size. Sometimes individually I thought we were a little small when it’s Isaiah [Wilkens] and Anthony only, so I thought let’s get some size. Then quite honestly, they surprised us with [Quinton] Stephens starting, but we wanted the length. If Evan [Notle’s] going to play that’s a good matchup, but we wanted Marial [Shayok] for some aggressiveness and trying to get to shots. He got nicked on a couple screens early and that kid rose up and ‘boom’ got his confidence.”
Where’s your team’s confidence?
“I don’t know. We’re in for a fight. We’ve got to improve. You’ve got a heckuva ball club coming into our place in Miami. We’ve got to find a higher level of quality from start to finish. These guys have won so many games and it doesn’t always just happen. You’ve got to battle for everything. You can never get tired of doing the little things that have gotten you to win. Those are hard things to do every time… the discipline that’s required. We’re a different team. We’re still trying to find ourselves as you can see with me rotating around different guys at different times.”
How did you try to slow down Georgia Tech on the offensive glass?
“We were trying to limit them to start the second half. [James White] had three or four of the first six possessions and that was frustrating because we choked the post. We didn’t trap it that time so we could have our defensive responsibilities. We had a couple of good stands believe it or not defensively, but those are killers when you take them to the end of the shot clock and then all of sudden they’re on offense again and that happened too much.”