Bennett: "They Have Some Talent"
This story originally published on PackPride.com


Posted Jan 29, 2013


Virginia head coach Tony Bennett discusses his upcoming game with NC State.

Opening Statement:
Getting ready to play, played on Saturday, and got a few games here in a short amount of time, so hopefully we can prepare for a very good team coming in Tuesday, and obviously watching them, and Mark has done a real good job with NC State.

They have some talent, and he's allowing, putting them in spots to play in. You see their effectiveness, how they can get it going as they did on Saturday night. So I'm looking forward to hopefully a well-played game.

Who do you feel is your kind of glue guy, the guy who kind of does stuff that maybe doesn't necessarily end up in the box score?
Well, for us this year it's been different every year, almost every game because we've had some guys who have been injured and have played and a lot of young guys, for a while it was Darion Atkins, he was kind of doing a lot of little things, and he's been out.

I thought Evan Nolte did that for us in the Florida State game, and then he hit some big shots for us against Virginia Tech.

It's really been different guys. For a while it was Teven Jones, who isn't playing as much right now, and it's fluctuated a lot.

In a way that's a good thing, and then maybe it's not such a good thing. I can't pinpoint one guy but different guys have stepped up at different times and given us nice lifts.

Do you feel as if maybe that is the difference as far as kind of getting into the second half of the conference season to kind of continue things going in the right direction? Do you need one guy to kind of step forward or is it okay having kind of a different guy every night doing that?
Yeah, as I was answering that question, I didn't mention a guy that maybe if I had to pick one, if you said who would it be for you, I might say Paul Jesperson, the more I think about that, because he's probably played the most.

He's very steady in terms of his decision making, his position on defense, his offensive-- it's his unselfishness and his ability to make shots.

I would probably lean towards Paul. He's only a sophomore, but I tell our guys, he's a smart player, usually is doing the right things and in the right spots. I would say that, and again, it's been other guys, but Paul probably has the most-- statistically he doesn't blow you away, but he does a lot of those little things. You can strike that other stuff, I'll go with Paul; how's that?

When you have a younger guy that does that kind of stuff, that bodes well moving ahead. You sometimes associate that kind of stuff with an experienced guy, but when you can get somebody who's a little bit younger doing that, you hope he develops in time, but that has to be encouraging when you have a younger guy who's willing to step in and play a role.
Yeah, well, I think so. We have three upperclassmen that are playing, and as Jontel Evans is getting himself back into the swing of things and healthier, he'll provide a lot of that, and certainly Akil Mitchell and Joe Harris, those are our three upperclassmen.

But I think when our team has played well, it's had that-- we call it a servants' mentality where they've really tried to serve each other on both ends of the floor. And again, when either you're younger or you go against some teams and you say, boy, they man-for-man maybe have a little bit more in whatever areas, we've got to do it collectively and have that selfless mentality, and it's a cliché that's given, but in basketball I think it's significant, and it can maybe have an impact on the game, perhaps more than a lot of other sports that I see.

So that's something that every coach is trying to get his team to grasp and play with that kind of mentality.

Not related to tomorrow's game, but your team because of your style of defense has kind of become a poster boy, I guess, for the advance stats crowd, Ken Pomeroy. I don't know if you follow stuff like that. I was wondering to what extent you used those stats, the tempo stats and effective field goal percentage and stuff like that and if you integrate them into your prep work?
Well, Coach McKay, our associate head coach, he's a big Ken Pomeroy guy, he looks at those stats and he makes me aware of the ones-- certainly there are stats used, but it's about quality, it really is, and as a coach you know when you see what's happening, whether it's offensively or defensively, are we making it hard for our opponent to get good looks, are they contested shots, are we getting quality looks, and sometimes you can dig into stats but you've got to kind of see is there quality there, are we getting the things we want.

Yeah, it can be more complicated than that, but there's also a simplicity in that that that's the end goal and you try to keep that in mind and make your execution good that way. But I know Coach McKay uses that, and I think there's value in that without a doubt.

There were some comments made before last year's game in the ACC tournament between you and NC State, I guess questioning Virginia's qualifications for the NCAA. Is that anything your players remember or that you remember, or is there anything to be said about it?
Oh, I remember-- since you bring it up, that's the first time I've thought about it. I think Mark was just trying to make a case for his team that they have a-- they had a strong chance to get in, and obviously they want to the Sweet 16.

No, look, I respect the job NC State is doing, and that's-- this is a new year, and obviously we're just trying to get as good as we can.

Look, we got in there, we limped in a little bit at the end, but we got a chance to get in there and got that experience, didn't do particularly well, but no, I just-- I remember that, and that probably-- I don't know the extent of it. I'm sure it was blown out of proportion, but nothing on this end.

Far be it from any of us to blow it out of proportion, but let me ask you another question. Malcolm Brogdon, what is he doing now?
Yeah, Malcolm is starting to-- you can see he's starting to go-- he doesn't practice the whole practice, but he'll do small parts of practice, and then sometimes he'll have to take a day off, but he's building it up slowly, slowly but surely, so that's good.

We're seeing progress. It's been a slow progress, but he's doing definitely more, and we just are being-- again, since the plan is obviously he's not going to be coming back, it's all right, can he go first and how does it respond and he's not obviously able to give us a full two-hour, hour and a half, whatever your practice is and go every day, but he's starting to go more and go at a harder pace.

So that's been encouraging to see, and obviously he's a big part of our future, so we'll keep an eye on that, but everything has looked good up to this point on his progression.

You guys mentioned the past few games you guys have shot the ball increasingly well. What do you think you guys are doing better on offense? Is it simply just making shots or doing things more efficiently?
Yeah, obviously, as I said to the gentleman before, just trying to get good looks. You try to get the good looks, and we always say offense can kind of come and go. Hopefully the quality of looks and a lot of it has to do with the opponent you're playing, how they defend you, but hopefully the quality of looks are there.

But that's why you try to make your defense constant and then keep getting quality looks on offense, and whether it's been Evan Nolte one game or Joe Harris and other guys at different times have stepped up and hit some big shots, different games sometimes we've gotten-- we haven't gotten to the free-throw line particularly well, but we've gotten some transition buckets, whether it's some points in the paint.

You look at supplemental ways as opposed to just making outside shots to help your offense, and there's been at times a good balance, and again, just like different guys at different times have either gotten hot or been the guys we've tried to go to.

And I'm sure you're not really-- the NCAA Tournament is probably the furthest thing from your mind right now, but a lot of people have made light of the fact that you guys are 4-0 against top-100 teams this year but have a pretty high RPI because of some of your missteps in non-conference play. Do you think about that at all, kind of how those missteps have kind of left you guys a little behind the 8-ball in terms of--
Yeah, no, just we were a different team. If we could have played well enough to get to the NIT preseason at Madison Square Garden, certainly all those things help if you could have played, and Michigan and Kansas State were there with Pitt, Delaware came in and played well and beat us.

We had different guys, we had some guys out and weren't playing particularly well, and that's the risk when you're playing some of those-- a game that you don't guarantee that you're going to go to Madison Square Garden. We didn't play well, some other teams played well that beat us, and you just try to evolve as a team.

It's a long year. Actually I heard Mark say that about-- they asked him about, because they had lost a tough one on the road, and he said, look, this is about how you finish, and when you're in a league as good as the ACC, in my opinion that's what determines how well you do, and I know when you talk about postseason you look at everything, and it is the whole body of work, but as a younger team trying to find yourself, you just keep trying to get better and better, and there's so much basketball left in the conference, and that's going to make your main statement, and hopefully we can just play good basketball knowing we've got an excellent team coming into our place tomorrow night.



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