Dec. 16, 2015
– GEORGIA TECH COACH Brian Gregory
“A couple of things right off the bat. Obviously, that is a very, very good team that we just beat tonight. They are difficult to play against and play extremely hard. They really force you to make basketball plays and never lose your concentration. They’re probably the best 5-4 team in the country right now with losses to us, Duke, Wisconsin and Florida State. But, that’s a team that is going to win a lot of games this year and will challenge for the A10 Championship. No question about it. And in his first year, Will [Wade] has done a great job with those guys.
“And at the same time, I’m really proud of our guys and the way they played. I thought that second half was the best basketball that we’ve played. At times, they force you to into some mistakes and speed it up a little bit. And those things happen, but defensively we were tremendous. We were great on the glass. I think we were plus seven in the second half. Offensively, we moved the ball, we got good shots and we responded when we needed to. I thought the key to the game was our three guys off the bench in Quinton [Stephens], James [White] and Tadric [Jackson]. I thought that was probably the best all-around game that Tadric Jackson has played. He didn’t shoot the ball well, had some good looks, but defensively understanding what we were doing. Defensive rebounding, four assists. If we can have him make a couple of those shots it’s really going to make a big difference. James gave us a huge lift in the second half. Offensive rebounds, five of them. And then Quinton, obviously, with the two big threes which kind of overshadows all the other things that kid does for us. You know, when Marcus is in foul trouble, now he [Quinton] is a primary ball handler for us. I thought he did a great job.
“We’ve talked about our depth. We’ve talked about guys being able to step up when their number is called. We were shorthanded today without Travis [Jorgenson] and our guys did exactly that. I’m really happy with the way we played and the way we competed, because you have to compete every single play against those guys. If you don’t, they take advantage of it. And they did when they made that run in the second half, and then we responded well. So, it’s a good win for us.”
On Tech shooting 92.3 percent from the foul line
“You’ve got to get to the line against them. And they [VCU] are not a great free throw shooting team; they go 12-for-12. So it must have been something in the air tonight. I’m not great at math, but that’s 36-for-38. That’s pretty good shooting by both teams. Yeah, I’m happy with the way we shot the ball from the free throw line.”
On Tech’s performance with Marcus Georges-Hunt and Charles Mitchell on the bench in the second half
“Yeah, we’ve got to rely on those guys. They are a big part of what we do. And you know, minute-wise, you had guys that had 16 [James White], 14 [Quinton Stephens] and 24 [Tadric Jackson]. I mean, they stepped up and they made plays for us. And, defensively they were great. Nick [Jacobs] got two or three big deflections on our ball screen coverage. We were well prepared by the staff and those guys bought into the game plan. We changed up some of our coverages on Melvin Johnson because he’s such a special player. And, even at the end all he did was prove it. But, we made him take 17 shots to get 17 points. So, the guys followed the game plan that the assistants put together to a t.”
On Charles Mitchell’s ninth consecutive game with a double-double
Again, I expect a lot of him. I didn’t think today was one of his better games of the nine. But, he plays with an extreme amount of energy on offense and he’s very efficient. 12 points, 11 rebounds, eight defensive. Because some of those games early it was more offensive rebounds than defensive rebounds. He’s starting to figure out how important he is for us on the defensive glass. So, it’s pretty good when the coach says you didn’t think he played as well as he has been, and he still gets a double-double. If he doesn’t, I guess I’m probably going to be ticked at him. So, it will be big news.”
VCU COACH WILL WADE
“The second half got away from us a little bit. We took some poor shots, and that led to some of their offense. Georgia Tech played well. I thought they guarded us well. They did a good job on Melvin [Johnson] and made him take some tough looks – tougher looks than he normally takes. Overall we didn’t play well enough, and Georgia Tech had a lot to do with that.”
How difficult has the non-conference road schedule been?
“It doesn’t get any easier. We’ve got Cincinnati on Saturday. Some idiot put together the schedule. That’d be me. It’s what we signed up for. If you don’t want to play in these types of games, then go play intramurals or something, I guess. This is what you want to do. We just haven’t been able to get it done in these games. We’ve been close in a lot of them. We were close in this one for a half, [but] we just haven’t been able to sustain it over longer periods of time.”
Did you see any change in Georgia Tech’s rebounding in the second half?
“We did a good job. We got 15 offensive boards. In the second half [when] we made our run, I tried to play a little bit smaller to see if we could kick-start our offense a little bit. That obviously gave up some height down there on the glass which ended up hurting us. They just bring body after body after body. My goodness [James] White is a live body to be your third post. That tip dunk he got looked like the clip tape we saw at Tulane. He gets one of those a game. That’s a pretty live body to have.”
Did Georgia Tech defend Melvin Johnson differently than teams in the past?
“They really crowded him and made him come further out on ball screens. They wanted other folks to beat them. I thought our kid [Justin] Tillman really stepped up. That’s the best he’s played all year – best he’s played in his career here. Hopefully that’s a positive that we can move forward with. He’s played well, but he’s played well in guarantee games. He hadn’t played well against some of the better teams that we’ve played. That was a real positive sign that he played well tonight for us. Teams are going to force other guys to beat them. Melvin’s our best player, and we run a lot of stuff for him, and teams are going to force other folks to beat them. But Georgia Tech did a good job. They crowded him and had two guys on him most of the time. They really made him work for it.”
How does Georgia Tech compare to the other teams you’ve played?
“They’ve got an excellent front line. [Quinton] Stephens hit those two threes in a row. If Stephens and [Adam] Smith hit threes, they’re really tough to beat. They’ve got steady point guard play, they don’t beat themselves at the point guard spot. They’ve got a bunch of big bodies which is what you need. They’re not quite as big as Florida State across the board. They’re going to be able to compete. Anytime you’ve got those two big oak trees down there, you’re going to have a chance. They rebound the ball. They’re success will be dictated on how well Stephens and Smith make shots. [Josh] Heath made a three which he hadn’t done much. I think he was 1-of-8 coming into the game. If those guards can make threes, they will be very tough to beat because you can’t dig down on the post as much. They’re a veteran team, and they’re a good team. I kind of root for the non-blue bloods. I went to Clemson so I know how it is fighting uphill battles in that league. I hope things go well for them this year.”