Georgia Tech Head Coach Josh Pastner
Can you speak on the impact the team’s defense had on tonight’s outcome?
“First off, coming and playing Syracuse and Coach Boeheim, one of the greatest coaches regardless of sport so we knew we were going to have to play an incredible game. The only way to survive was through our defense. In my first year at Georgia Tech we were an elite defensive team. Last year we were very young, not as solid, but this year we’re back to being at the level of a really good defensive team, trying to lead towards the possibility of great but right now we’re a very good defensive team. That’s our only way of survivability. Because we have a lot of limitation, the thing that we can control is our defense and that’s what we do, and that’s what we are. I love our team; our team gives every ounce of energy.
“We’ve had two great true road wins. At Arkansas and now at Syracuse; that is nearly impossible to do. When you’re trying to climb and crawl and scrap up the ladder of this league. Besides the NBA, this is the best basketball league in the country. For me to be able to coach against Coach Boeheim who we all know is one of the greatest coaches – not just in basketball but in the history of sports – is quite an honor.”
What was the reason behind driving so much?
“They have some really good talent and players. We are active defensively and do a good job in regards to energy. Our way to survive in basketball is to be energy givers. We have to have a toughness about us and that’s got to be multiple efforts. We did a nice job of that today. I think we rattled their cages a little; maybe they were thinking about Duke Monday. For us to win the game we were going to have to be near perfect and I have to give our guys credit.
How have you seen this team improve?
“I want to give our guys full credit, they have been outstanding. I love our team. Our team has gotten better, and better, and better and has continued to improve. To have two road wins, at Arkansas and now at Syracuse, that’s so hard to do. We’re trying to climb, crawl, kick, right, and rise up that ACC ladder in any way possible.”
How were you able to clog Syracuse inside while also still blocking their shooters?
“We played hard. That’s part of the multiple effort team. The only way for us to survive in the ACC is through defense. I talk about motor all the time…motor, motor, motor, and to play defense you must have a motor. “
Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim
“I thought Georgia Tech’s defense was just too difficult for us tonight. We obviously settled for too many three’s, but it is a difficult defense to get inside (on). You have to make shots from the perimeter and we didn’t. Again, we have not shot the ball to the level we need to to be successful. It’s difficult for us to score inside. I thought we got good 3-point looks, but when you’re not making them it’s not very pretty.
“The game turned on two or three bad offensive possessions that they (Georgia Tech) got out and hit two open three’s on and established position on us. I thought we fought back as well as we could. We did a good job in the press, but we really aren’t able to press that well for that long. It was a battle to try to get back in it, but we didn’t do that.
“The last two games we had 15 turnovers and 19 turnovers. We can’t play at that level, we can’t make those kinds of mistakes. That’s really what the game revolved around – too many mistakes and not making shots.”
How was the Georgia Tech defense able to clog it up inside, and also get out to your shooters?
“You have to try to get in the middle and you have to try to score in there. We’re not good in there, we got in there, but we’re not really good in there. You have to get some offensive rebounds. We did at the end, but we didn’t do it early. But again, their defense is very good. They held Virginia Tech to 50-something points the other night and they’re one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country. We’re not. Our defense was good in the first half, we hung in there, but we made too many mistakes in the second half, which put us in a hole. We have guys that have proven on the road and here that they can make three’s, but we’ve also proven in other games that we can’t. When you play against any zone, you’re going to have to shoot to win, bottom line. They were a little better inside – Banks is good, Cole, they were pretty good around the basket. We really don’t have that ability to score around the basket.”
What made them so effective getting the ball inside when they don’t have a ton of length?
“With Marek (Dolezaj) in there – he’s a good player, but he has trouble when he gets one-on-one with those guys and he got one-on-one and they turned on him. That’s a weakness that he has that he can’t guard those guys in that one-on-one situation. They did a good job of getting in there, we didn’t, and when we did we didn’t capitalize on it. When we got some opportunities to drive, we didn’t really drive very well until it was too late at that point in time. Elijah (Hughes) finally got there, Oshae (Brissett) got there. He has to get going, he has to get to the basket to be effective. At some point, 20 percent from the three, what am I going to do? What’s the best way to help the team? Both Tyus (Battle) and he were really looking to shoot the three, and percentage-wise it’s not a good look. We don’t score as we do get in there, but they see that we’re not shooting and they back in even more and force you to try to shoot some three’s. I put Buddy (Boeheim) in there because we needed somebody to be a threat and he made a couple, and he made some good passes and got it inside, but he’s not quite ready to go that much right now. We’re reliant on our veteran players in these situations and today we just didn’t get it done.”