2010-11 Virginia Basketball Postgame Quotes
December 5, 2010
Virginia 57, Virginia Tech 54
Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett
“It was a hard fought game for us. I challenged our guys before the game, I said ‘this is your sixth game in a row away from home, show me that you’ve learned.’ Because we had some painful experiences, had some good ones and I said ‘now you’re in a tough setting against a rival with veteran players who are experienced. They’re going to come out hungry because of their last game. So show me that you’ve learned.’ I said ‘I’m not worried as much about the wins and losses, or winning and losing, but will you approach this game in the right kind of way that will give us a chance to win. With some patience on the offensive end and then defensively make it a half-court game.’ Because we couldn’t keep up with them, in last year’s two games they had crucial stretches where they got out on the break and we couldn’t get back.
“We were maybe an A- in this game. I think we can improve, but we didn’t let them run a lot and guys made big plays. I’m very thankful because our kids battled. We were leaking oil down the stretch, but had enough to come up with the big stop and make some big plays. That’s what you need to do in a game like this. They were bound to make a run and they did.”
Were you hesitant at all to leave Assane (Sene) in on the offensive end, he obviously made two big shots, in possessions where clearly you needed points?
“It was kind of one of those where I don’t know if we can score, but we’ve got to get a stop. You’re looking at do we need to score or get a stop? Assane almost had another one, I think it was Mu (Mustapha Farrakhan) who gave him a nice pass, but it went out of bounds. He made some big possessions. I thought limiting them to one shot, a rebound, his ability with their big kid inside, if we had a mismatch he would just post us deep and he could lay it over the front of the rim. We didn’t have to trap as much when Zu (Assane Sene) was on him, which wouldn’t leave a three-point shooter as open. Our guys scrambled well and kind of gutted it out. They were tired, certainly Mike (Scott) was, I think I played him the whole second half. The decision was should we go four guards, but we had to adjust without Will Sherrill and I thought the guys stepped up that needed to.”
You talked about making it a half-court game defensively. You blocked 10 shots in your first seven games and you got six tonight. Can you talk about the toughness inside, the blocked shots and particularly Mu’s (Mustapha Farrakhan) of Hudson’s layup?
“Big, huge. Mu’s so quick off the floor. He got a couple when he beat a screen and early on he either closes on shots so quick. We’re best when our defense is set and then they’ve got to work to break us down. I thought when we were that way we didn’t want to give them anything easy. Then when you can block a shot or two, to save your defense like Assane did once or twice and other guys did, that’s a bonus for our defense which is predicated on making people score over the top. We made people work a little more, people have been lighting us up from three. It wasn’t quite the case, again whether they were cold or we were closer. I thought we weren’t giving up as many easy baskets. Just a few breakdowns, but for the most part solid.”
Can you talk about the significance of getting a win in that first ACC game and on the road as well?
“With our team I just want them to keep striving for good basketball. I always tell them just keep getting better. That’s kind of our battle cry. I think they have improved. They had a good second half against Minnesota. Had a real good first half here. The second half we did enough stuff, but certainly to get the victory is huge. I liked the improvement. Now we’ve got a home stand and we’ve got to continue to improve and make the most of that. I thought we’ve gained some ground over the last six games in some tough settings.”
How important was it to have Sammy (Zeglinski) when Jontel (Evans) gets into foul trouble and what did you think of his game?
“He had three assists and zero turnovers. There’s no substitute for that experience. Sammy got in there and dropped a nice pass to Mike (Scott) early and had a couple of clean looks that were in and out. That experience of being in those settings is important. That’s why I was impressed with some of our young guys. KT (Harrell) got us off to a really good start and scored some baskets for us. I thought Akil (Mitchell) did a good job and even Will Regan in their limited minutes gave us things that we needed. Joe (Harris) made a big three and did some good things. Back to Sammy, that was important to kind of steady us.”
Did you intend to play him that much?
“I didn’t, I wasn’t going to play him at the start of this week. He really started practicing full this week. I thought we’d wait until after the Radford game, but his knee responded so well and the doc said 20 or less. I was kind of surprised and I said ‘well, I figured five to ten minutes.’ That one stretch we were trying to get him out, but the play went on so long he couldn’t get out. At least we were under what the doctor’s orders were, so I guess I’m o.k. that way. He steadied us and in a good setting away from home that’s a great place to get your sea legs I guess.”
You’re still supposed to be rebuilding, you’re 5-3, you won at Minnesota, you won here, where are you in your process?
“We’re trying to get good people and good players in this program and then become as good as we can. We have a ways to go, I’m real on that. You just watch the Washington game, I’ve just got to pop that tape back in, and see the Stanford game the last 10 minutes, so I understand where we are. I tell our guys for good basketball age doesn’t matter. When you tap into it, when you understand who you are as a team, and I think our team is beginning to understand that more, you’ll have a chance to compete. You have to make plays down the stretch and show some composure and I’m pleased with our guys doing that. We’re fortunate. I’m still worried about losing Will Sherrill, but other guys stepped up. Hopefully we’ll just keep getting better.”
The last three or four games, is that what you envisioned or hoped for from Mike Scott?
“How could you not? He was tired, I wish I could have got him a little more of a break, but he’s just really a workhorse down there. He has good touch. He’s controlling the glass. He really isn’t forcing. He has a nice presence when they’re really converging on him. He’s finding the right guys. I have a feeling they’re going to do to Jontel (Evans) as they did last year and I just like that Mike is aggressive when he needs to be, but he’s letting it come and finding the open guys when he’s doubled and tripled.”