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Feb. 24, 2007

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Virginia Head Coach Dave Leitao

On today’s game…
“As I just told the team and the assistant coaches for the life of me, I’m not sure what just happened. We started the game really well and we finished the game really well. All that stuff in the middle…I told Coach Hewitt after the game that they really kicked our tails physically. They kicked our tails in the way that I try to have our team do to other people. I think what happened-simply put-we have two very special players who at any point and time can make plays. If you surround them with a team that plays defense and plays tough and rebounds, then you have a chance to win each and every night. For a lot of that game we had two guys who could play, but we weren’t defending and rebounding and playing tough. They decided at the end of the game to get some stops as a group. Jason came up big and Tunji [Soroye] started clogging and it became a little more difficult for Ga. Tech to do what they were doing. I’ll have to look at it all over again; it just happened in a blur. Thank goodness that we have those two and thank goodness that Tunji can make a lay up.”

On the match up against Ga. Tech…
“My main concern with them, and it’s happened over the last two or three weeks with them is that they really turned the season around by defending and rebounding. They’ve always been, you check the stats all the way back to Siena, Paul’s teams have always rebounded the ball and have always been tough. The physicality with Dickey and Smith just gave us problems. Honestly, we weren’t nearly as physical. We didn’t accept the challenge and be as aggressive as they were and it cost us. It almost cost us the game.”

On depending on Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds
“I worry about it all the time. I try to be smart about it and rest them. If anyone is going to be good, especially this time of year, their best players are going to be good for them. My challenge was not to just stand around and watch them be good, but the other three guys on the court to give us some help in a different area. We weren’t doing that for a large part of the good; we were just watching them be good. Finally in the late stages of the game we did other things to help us win.”

On being down 7 in this game compared to being down 8 in the final minutes of the Duke game…
“Well I don’t know if I looked in their eyes like I did at the Duke game; I just kept demanding. I thought we were listless with our energy and we weren’t as vocal as we needed to be during different parts of the game. At that point and time I started saying we need to defend and get stops and they started saying it. They starting hitting each other at timeouts and demanding it. Maybe they listen to each other more than they listen to me. I don’t know. The light switch went on and our rotations got a little quicker and we got more aggressive to the boards.”

Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Hewitt

Opening Comments…
“I’m not sure we could fight any harder than we did for about 37 or 38 minutes. We just didn’t finish the game. We had some pretty good opportunities that we didn’t cash in on, and we had a couple of tough defensive rebounds except in one play where [J.R.] Reynolds got to the basket and drew the foul. It was just a very poor play on our part–not to shut off the lane. Give them credit. They looked dead in the water with three minutes to go, and they summoned a lot of courage and came back.”

On playing their second “nail-biter” this season..
“I thought usually in those situations it’s a matter of poor execution that gets you, but I thought we executed very well down the stretch. We got plenty of good shots even when we ran that side out-of-bounds play and they denied Javaris [Crittenton]. Sean [Singletary] reacted the way you want to react in a flash and got Thaddeus in a back-door. It’s a “bang-bang” play. The last play we got a very good look from [Anthony] Morrow off that down screen. When you’re in those situations, poor execution is what you see, but my guys executed well. It’s a sign of our growth.”

On moving the ball well…
“One of the things that was very encouraging was that they were moving the ball well. That encouraged our players too. One of the things that has been a real problem for us this year is standing around and watching and not screening and cutting. I thought in the first half it was the best we’ve cut all year. I think it’s a product of being unselfish. We really encourage our players to move without the ball.”

On Virginia’s offensive rebounding…
“Well, they took a lot of shots. We knew they would take a lot of shots that came out of offensive rebounds. Singletary had three offensive rebounds and no one else had them, which I thought was a good sign for us. You’re not going to blow these guys out in this building, but it came down to where we had the game in our hands. We got the stop we needed, but we didn’t get the rebounds.”

On defending Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds
“Just make them take tough shots. They’re both great players. There was one major breakdown at the end when we allowed Reynolds down the lane. We just inexplicably got out of his way. We were running out to a guy we didn’t think was going to shoot a three, and if he was going to kick the ball out to the guy for a three, we’d like to see him do it. We know in that situation these kids are going to put their head down and go to the basket. We just jumped out of the way. They got a three-point play, and that’s what got their momentum going. That was a critical breakdown because the guy he was going to throw it to, we’d have love to see him take the three.”On Sean Singletary:”He became a one-man press break, and I didn’t want my guys chasing them all over the court. If you give him too much space, he’s dangerous.”

On refocusing his offense…
“We took three or four threes out of the gate, and that is not what we talked about. We had to settle it back down and pound the ball inside.”

On Defending Singletary and Reynolds…
“I don’t think you can think that they will break down, but I think if you throw different looks at people, maybe slow them down a little bit, and for 37 minutes it worked. I’m not sure what the biggest lead was in the last four minutes, but if you have a seven point lead with less than four minutes to go and you get the shots that we got, you hope you close the game out.”

Virginia Player Quotes

#2 G J. R. Reynolds

On Virginia’s play in the last 3:30…
“We just picked up the intensity, got a couple of stops on defense, and at last got on the offensive boards.”

On Georgia Tech’s offensive rebounding…
“They’re a very physical team. They were crashing the boards, and they were killing us on the boards. We just came together. We knew we had to do something in order for us to win, and we did it the last three minutes.”

On Georgia Tech substituting to keep fresh defenders on him and Sean Singletary and whether fatigue was a factor…
“They could have put the whole team on us, and it wouldn’t matter because you want to win so bad for the team. You put everything else aside and suck it up and play.”

On Tunji Soroye’s offensive rebound and layup that put Virginia ahead…
“He did a tremendous job. He took his time and finished the ball. It was a big basket for us.”

On winning 10 games in the ACC…
“It’s been a long time, a long four years, and it’s finally starting to come together. But we’ve got another tough game on Thursday. The season doesn’t stop. It keeps on moving, and we want to keep it moving in a positive direction.”

#44 G Sean Singletary

On Virginia’s play in the last 3:30…
“There was a lot more intensity, a lot of defense, a lot of helping defense. We really played five guys against the ball. At the beginning of the first half, we did that real well, and at the end of the second half we did that real well. And that’s what we have to do to win. We buckled down. We were real emotional about it, and we took care of our business.”

There’s not much anybody can say in a situation like that. Everybody just agrees to give up themselves for the good of the team, and it usually works out well.”

On winning 10 games in the ACC…
“It’s definitely a great accomplishment. It just goes to show you what kind of heart and talent we have on this team. Even if you have talent, it doesn’t always get you wins. We play with a lot of energy and a lot of heart, and we’re very resilient out there.”

Georgia Tech Player Quotes

#23 Anthony Morrow Junior, Guard/Forward

Feelings on the game…
“We fought hard at the beginning of the game and we had our momentum. Defensively I think we let up a little bit, we stopped doing the little things and got a little careless at the end. I missed a shot and it really turned the game around.”

What happened after starting out so far behind Virginia?
“We had our better defenders out there and they were making plays offensively too. It was working and that’s the thing that’s most important. We knew we were going to come back and we just kept trying to do what we were supposed to do. And then they panicked and we got back in the game.”

How do you feel about the final two home games you have coming up?
“We definitely have to get ready to play Thursday, no if ands or buts against Carolina. It’s going to be a dogfight game, we’re going to have to fight for our lives.

#5 Mario West Senior/Guard

What are your feelings about the game?
We’re definitely disappointed. But we’ve got to put this game behind us, there’s nothing we can do. We’ve got to get prepared for North Carolina. We’ve got two home games coming up and that’s where our mindset is. We’ve got go back and look at film. I think we had some defensive breakdowns. They played hard, they fought back, but we fought back too. We definitely felt like this was a game we had.”

Thoughts on the breakdown in the last few minutes…
“We’ve go to go back and look at film. I really can’t pinpoint just one thing. I’m sure it was a combination of different things that happened. We’ve got to go back and look at film.”

Any doubt during the game that you would win?
“You can’t play if you have any doubt. I think that’s a sign of maturity for our team and the type of team that we have and the cohesiveness we have established as far as staying together. When times are tough like that, we need to stay together as a team. Just chip away, taking steps, one possession at time. Then we’re able to get back in the game.”

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