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Opening remarks –
I feel like I’m saying this a lot more than I like, that’s for sure, but congratulations to Georgia Tech. It’s a great win for them, for Paul and his staff. It seemed like we couldn’t get a stop to save our lives in the first half. It seemed like they were making every shot. Our defense wasn’t as good, but at the same time, they made the shot that you have to make. This league is a tough league, and Dave Leidao will probably be the (ACC) Coach of the Year, and deservedly so, but what Paul has done with this club is fantastic. I said to him before the game, and I meant it: For Paul and Gary [Williams to begin 2-5 and 2-6, to turn it around in this league is not easy. It’s a job that Paul’s done. Dave will win the Coach of the Year, and he should, but the job that Paul has done is really exceptional too, after you get off to a bad start in this league.
Javaris [Crittenton] didn’t play very well in Chapel Hill, but I thought he controlled the first half of the game and Thaddeus [Young] made every shot. I think those are two extremely gifted freshmen who have done some great things, and fortunately for the league, we’ve got a lot of great freshmen this year on a lot of great teams. But when you start talking about the guys that have had such an impact I think you have to talk about those two guys probably more than they have been talked about. It was a sensational night for them.
We were just so bad defensively in the first half, but I still go back and say that just because you’re open doesn’t mean you make shots, and they made shots, made plays that they needed to make. At halftime I felt extremely lucky to be down seven. We got it to five late, and Wayne [Ellington] had a really good look at three, and Ty [Lawson] had a good look at three in that stretch there too, but we could never get another shot to go down to three or four. They made free throws and finished the game off, so it was a great night for them and not a very good night for us.
Usually you guys are so good coming off a loss, so how surprising was it for you to lose two in a row?
The good thing is that we haven’t had that much practice at it. We have responded very well to games that we’ve lost. Georgia Tech was sensational tonight. They shot 62 percent in the first time. It’s not just us bouncing back, if that’s the case then the other team would roll over and play dead, and they don’t do that in this league.
What are you not seeing from the team that you need to see?
In this game in particular, every time I looked up and they were making shots, we weren’t there. In the Maryland game and this game both, we didn’t get around screen, we didn’t get as much help as we needed to. I’ve always thought that a screen is an excuse. You’ve got to be able to get through or around a screen and when you get there, the guy still has to catch and turn and if you’re a split-second late, you can still get there and affect a shot. But we didn’t do that. In the first half, it was dribble-penetration that hurt us, and dribble-penetration didn’t hurt us that much at Maryland. It was more getting around the screens and they were killing us on the backboards. But we now have two games in a row that teams have shot really well against us and rebounded a lot better than we did. We faced two very good teams that are playing very good basketball right now.
What thought process went into changing the lineup?
He didn’t have a very good practice yesterday at all, so I decided to let him wait a little while before he got in the game.
In your opinion, is Georgia Tech an NCAA Tournament team?
Yes. They are 7-8 in the league. Again, I’ve heard people talk in the past that it’s about what you do late, and they have won something like six of their last eight league games. I think they are a very good basketball team. If they are not an NCAA team, then there is something wrong.
Talk about the physical play under the basket.
It is physical under there. I got Coach Smith to give me a couple of tapes for a couple of things that I was looking for, and even my wife, who is a non-athlete but has seen a lot of games says, `my goodness, all of the spacing and nobody is body-blocking each other,’ and that’s what the game looked like 10-15 years ago, but it’s a very physical game right now.
Were you surprised to see Thaddeus take as many threes?
They haven’t shot the three great, but they haven’t shot it poorly either. They are probably in the middle of the league, and Thaddeus is probably in the low-30’s, but 5-for-6 is not the low-30’s. He’s got 22 and 25 against us. I tried to recruit him like crazy, I loved him to death, and I was right.