VIRGINIA HEAD COACH TONY BENNETT
You don’t see that coming. We talked a little before and felt like we needed to have three guys come to the table scoring wise, but we got off to a nice start offensively. We got a lot of nice looks and Joe [Harris] was nice early and got us off to a good start. Our defense took hold and we made them earn. Whenever you have a game like that its due to good defense on our part and they were off in terms of their shooting, three pointers and free throws. They were cold and I think the combination of that allowed us to get some separation. We tried to run our offense hard and our guys were sharp. To start the second half we had a few defensive breakdowns, but we had enough of a lead to thwart that. Sammy [Zeglinski] and Mike [Scott] struggled offensively in the first half, but then as they stayed patient and the second half came there was a shift in terms of rhythm shots and effective offense. We did our goal, got good uncontested looks and made them take contested shots. That was the key.
On the Virginia defense
I think we were solid, not to start the second half, but going back to the Duke second half we had too many breakdowns that cost us. Without a Assane [Sene], who rolled his ankle, they scored three or four in a row to start the second half. That is when it was shaky, otherwise it was solid so I’m not trying to sound like we weren’t good, we were good, but I think the offense when they were missing shots, they only had one offensive rebound in the second half and five in the game, that many missed shots, that is an important stat. We always try to limit teams. One and done. We work hard on our rebounding. I think Akil [Mitchell] was strong on the glass, Scott was, Harris was, everybody was rebounding as a team and that is how we have to do it. We might have gotten some good bounces, but we controlled the glass and got some crucial putbacks.
On the balanced play
There was balance tonight. Guys were touching the paint off the dribble, Mike [Scott] scored in different ways in the post, Sammy [Zeglinski] got it going. They were just really playing together well in the second half.
On winning on the road in the ACC
They always say steal them on the road in the ACC and Georgia Tech went to NC State and were terrific, they shot the ball well and rebounded, they battled against Duke here and I think that we just caught them on an off night. To come in here and get a convincing road win, it is just a win but to play solid and get it, we didn’t expect it to be like this but we will take it and continue to build on it.
On what was said to the team about playing on the road in ACC play
We talked about freeing your mind up and competing. Not worrying about where we are ranked, trying to keep this “thing” going, just be who we are and play. Whether it was in my mind or in the other guys’ mind, we had a shaky practice the night before and I didn’t know if we were feeling expectations, but I didn’t like that and I just said, ‘just play’ and play with great passion. That is all we ask for. We will regroup whatever the results are. Whether we have a big win or we lose, we have too long of a season. We play good basketball and that was the message.
GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH BRIAN GREGORY
Obviously we played a very good team. You’re not a Top 25 team in the country and 15-2 for nothing. Their crispness and sharpness in their screening action – setting screens, using screens – really got us on our heels from the start. There was no answer to it unfortunately. Even when we did get stops and (they) miss a shot, we were abysmal on the glass today. That was disappointing. I know we’re going to have difficult times offensively, making baskets, even when we get some open looks – I thought that would be one of our challenges this year. But we’ve shown flashes of being a much better defensive team and playing much harder than we played tonight. We do that for the first three (ACC) games and then you don’t do it here. That’s also one of the things we’ve talked about to move forward as a program is the ability to maintain and sustain a certain identity of how you’re going to play and we did not do that tonight.
On team’s shooting woes
You’ve got to give them (Virginia) credit. They’re a very good defensive team. Our margin of error is very small. So when you get an open shot, we almost have to make every open shot we get. I felt at times (this season) that who was going to score for us was going to be a problem. That’s why in the games we’ve played well, we’ve defended well enough to go through some stretches where we didn’t make some shots.
On rebounding troubles
They were quicker to the ball. A lot of times we were so out of position defensively that puts you in a difficult spot. The other thing that happened – it always happens , it happened in the Maryland game – if you allow teams to penetrate to the rim, you are going to give up offensive rebounds because now your help is coming from the backline and now your bigs have to step up and try to do something with the drive. Give (Jontel) Evans credit. He played extremely well tonight. He controlled many aspects and many minutes in the game. He completely dominated the game without scoring many baskets. He made three baskets all night, but his ability to get to the rim opens up a lot of offensive rebounding.
As you know, whenever you’re in a position as we’re in of trying to rebuild a program, unfortunately as they say, there will be nights like this. As a competitor, it ticks you off. But we’ve got to bounce back and get ready to go on Saturday.
On Virginia’s run midway through first half
At the first media timeout, they had 11 or 12 points already. And I told the guys, there’s no way you can be successful if you give up 10 or 12 points in the first four minutes. We weren’t guarding a sole. Then we got our wits about us for a bit, and then they went on that stretch right there. And even if you’re a good offensive team on the other end, that still puts you in a really tough situation. We can’t extend our defense because we struggle guarding the ball so much.
Of feelings after Duke game, and tonight
At this phase of where we’re at in terms of our program, you feel a lot better walking out of that bus after the Duke game than you do tonight. At the same time, you also have to keep in mind that our mission is to win the game and we didn’t in either of those two games. Our job is that you play and compete as hard as you can for 40 minutes, and when you don’t do that, you don’t feel very good.
Quotes courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletic Communications