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Postgame Quotes (Game 27)

Feb. 17, 2018

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Opening statement:

First off, you’ve got to give Virginia Tech and Coach [Buzz] Williams credit. They really shot the ball really well. You look at their numbers from three-point range this year, they’ve shot it well all year long. I don’t know why, last year we were sixth-best in the country in defensive efficiency, four weeks ago we were 20th-best in the country in defensive efficiency, and we were the best in the ACC at three-point field-goal defense. Our identity and our culture has all been through defense, and the last four weeks, we just have not guarded. Losing Jose [Alvarado] obviously hurts. It hurts us on the offensive end, it hurts us with his toughness that he brings, it hurts us that it’s hard to play without a point guard in ACC play. But, that being said, what we can control is the controllables, and that is defense. These last four weeks, other than the Syracuse game, we have not guarded. We had guarded at such a high level last year and such a high level, for the most part, all the way up to [the] North Carolina [game] and we just aren’t getting it done on the defensive end, bottom line. Tonight was no different. Part of it, obviously, is we’re relying on some freshmen to get it done, and there’s going to be some holes there defensively with that, but we’ve got to find a way to defend better.”

On Georgia Tech’s defense:
“Last year, we changed defenses so much, that kept teams off-balance. This year, we’re changing a lot – zone, man – and it hasn’t been as effective the last four weeks. We’ve got to look at, with the youth of our team, do we just need to lock in to one defense and commit to that more so than changing so we can become really good at one defense right now? Because the last four weeks, we haven’t been good at any – zone or man.”

On upcoming schedule:
“We play at Virginia Wednesday, we’re at Clemson [next] Saturday, North Carolina State at home the following Thursday, Wake Forest at home [the next] Saturday. I told our guys we’ve got to stay the course. Anything can happen. It’s basketball. We’re playing teams that put their shorts on the same way as we do. We’re not playing the Atlanta Hawks or the San Antonio Spurs or a pro team. We’re playing other college teams in the ACC. We’ve just got to keep fighting. We’re on the ropes – we’ve got to get ourselves off the ropes, keep attacking and, somehow, we just can’t get knocked down. We’ve got to get ourselves off the ropes and find a way to turn things around. There’s not a lot of time to do it, but we’ve got to find a way to get it done.”

On Georgia Tech’s offense:
“We’re asking Josh [Okogie] to do a lot. We’re asking him to be the point guard, two-guard and three-guard, pretty much, and go to the offensive glass. I knew there were going to be some things with us offensively where we’d struggle. Tadric [Jackson] got hot to start the game, but we didn’t get stops. We got up 14-8, and we just could not get stops. I’m just disappointed, because that’s who we’ve been. Up [until] the last four weeks, we’ve been a very good defensive team in this program. The last four weeks, we just haven’t, other than the Syracuse game. So as much as there’s going to be some issues with us offensively without Jose, without a true point guard, the defense, that’s something we can control and we’re not getting it done. And I’ve always said this – any time we lose, losses should go to the head coach, wins should go to the players. I’ve got to do a better job of making sure that we’re defending better.”

On Georgia Tech’s energy:
“It’s not our energy. The guys are giving everything. It’s just you’re switching Josh – we’re asking him to run a point-guard spot in the ACC and to score and offensive-rebound. You’re asking guys like Moses Wright and Evan Cole to produce as freshmen … our two top-tier freshmen, Curtis [Haywood] and Jose, are out. Brandon Alston, who has had just an awful situation with his father [passing away during the season], he’s given us everything he has. But a year ago he didn’t play because he was injured – he’s coming from Lehigh, and we’re asking him to produce in the ACC just like that. In the end, we’ve just been hit with that injury bug, and it’s hurt us. If I could’ve done it over again with Ben [Lammers] … should we have held him out for those two weeks and just let him get fully healthy? I don’t know, looking back on it, because he hasn’t been the same since his injury after the UCLA [season opener].”

On how the team was better today than against Duke:

“I think we’re continuing to improve in all of the different facets defensively. That’s all we’ve been doing since Miami. I think the numbers reflect that. Any win, any game, regardless of locale, regardless of opponent in this league I think is incredibly hard. I thought we were better defensively in some fashions than we were against Duke.”

On what has made this team a good road team this year:
“I think the fiber of our kids. I think the character of the kids. I think our staff has been phenomenal relative to what to give our kids, to present to our kids on a scouting report, I think they’ve been very disciplined in how they’ve executed it. And I think the togetherness of everybody in the program, I think it’s just kind of crescendo with each passing game. Obviously, we’ve been on the road forever it seems like, over the last three games and I think it’s just kind of continued to morph and grow and develop. I think it’s a credit to our staff and to our kids.”

On what the game plan was defensively with Josh Okogie and Ben Lammers:
“I thought 44 [Ben Lammers] would shoot more. I told our kids I thought 5 [Josh Okogie] would shoot 15 balls, that 1 [Tadric Jackson] would shoot 10-12 balls, that 44 [Lammers] would shoot 8-10 and that 34 [Abdoulaye Gueye] would shoot 6-8. I was a little off on the guards and the bigs. I thought we did a really good job in the first half on 34 [Gueye] and 44 [Lammers]. And then I thought in the second half, defensively, I thought we were even better. Individually, I think 1 [Jackson] and 5 [Okogie] are really difficult to guard, and I think the two different continuity offenses that Coach [Pastner] runs is perfectly suited for Josh. We recruited Josh really hard at Marquette, and his skill set is perfect in how they utilize him. I thought KJ [Kerry Blackshear, Jr.] and P.J. [P.J. Horne], even [Justin] Bibbs a little bit, did a really good job on 44 [Lammers].”

On making any defensive adjustments:
“I thought the ball was going to 44 [Ben Lammers] at the elbow to easy, too quick. I think 1 [Tadric Jackson] and 5 [Josh Okogie] shot every ball through the first two media timeouts. I could be off one or two. I thought 12 [Moses Wright] played really well down the stretch. They had six points in transition and they had eight points on offensive rebounds. Fourteen of their points out of 29 at half were not out of their offense, but I thought those baskets – 1 scored a floater on the baseline – but a lot of those baskets he was shooting were coming out of their continuity, and we were just a little slow at the start because I thought 44 [Ben Lammers] was catching it where he wanted it.”

On how they executed offense:
“It’s so counter-intuitive. It’s a paradox. We haven’t done anything, literally anything, offensively since Miami. And I think that because we spent 100 percent of our time defensively, I think that in an unspoken way it helps our guys understand the difference between great and perfect shots. I think it forces them to move the ball because of what we’re trying to accomplish defensively. I thought we shared it, the first 30 minutes of the game, I thought we shared it as well maybe since we’ve ever been here. I’m thankful that those other guys got the minutes that they were able to get, because I think down the stretch that will be really important.”


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