Coach Paul Hewitt: "You Got to Get It Inside"

The Georgia Tech basketball team held a public scrimmage this past Saturday. Coach Paul Hewitt answers questions about the scrimmage, the progress of some of the freshmen, the type offense they'll run this year and he even throws in a Mark Teixeira analogy.

What was your overall impression of the scrimmage last Saturday?

"It was a typical first week scrimmage. You have the delicate balance of teaching and conditioning this time of year. It was evident that we're not in game shape. It was evident that we're not instinctive yet in terms of being in position defensively. Offensively we're a pretty good team. We have some guys that can rebound the ball and we have some guys that can shoot it but the two things that stood out that we need to improve are overall game conditioning and overall alertness on the defensive end of the court."

I noticed that you and Darryl were working with Mfon Udofia during the scrimmage. Is that an area you're concentrating on to get him ready?

"I loved the way and he and D'Andre Bell played for their team. There are little things he can do to make himself more efficient. Instead of wasting all his energy, he can get off the ball a little sooner. He needs to be more aware of his transition defense. He was running below the foul line to get offensive rebounds. He'll learn very quickly that for every offensive rebound he gets, he give up three layups at the other end. It's not a good exchange. I don't like that type of exchange rate."

Is it possible to get into top shape too soon?

"I don't think so. I think you can maintain conditioning. I don't want to peak but we can definitely get in better shape. It's a long season but just from looking at it I'm glad we don't have a game right now. We definitely have to be in better condition."

Does Zach Peacock look more at home on the floor this year now that he doesn't have to play on the wing?

"Yes, he's healthy all the way around not having to play the wing. He had to lose weight last year to play the wing. It really bothered him. He was weak. There were some days that he tried not to eat too much and he'd come out to practice and literally feel faint. He's knees are sore and he's chasing around all the smaller guys. It was something we did out of necessity and the first game Lewis Clinch came back was the game before Maurice Miller broke his nose so it lasted another six games or so."

Many thought highly of the court sense of Glen Rice and Brian Oliver after watching the scrimmage. Was that your assessment?

"Glen in particular is a very smart player. He has a great feel for the game."

Do you have a feel for how the freshmen may fit into the rotation?

"No, you see potential and you get an idea of where they can help but not in terms of what exactly they can do now. Every year you have one or two guys that pop out and you think hey this guy has a chance but you don't know how they'll maintain throughout the year. Finals are coming up and the drain of practice; this is the hardest those kids have ever practiced. Every one of them, not that their high school programs were substandard it's just that in practice they didn't go up against another guy that was the same weight, the same height, and the same level of athleticism to make them work. Their bodies wear down a little bit as the year goes on. There's potential that all of them could help us in some way."

Will Mfon open as your starting point guard?

‘I don't want to close down any options but he's going to play a lot."

Is it accurate to say that D'Andre got more aggressive as the scrimmage progressed?

"He's getting better and better every day. He's much quicker than he was last year before the injury. I can see where the surgery has benefited him. He feels less restricted in his movements. He's quick with the ball in his hands. Now he can make one move and get by you. He's always been a good shooter from seventeen to eighteen feet. He looks like he's making more three's this year. We've kept stats but I haven't looked at it."

Is there any significant difference this year in Iman Shumpert?

"Iman wasn't hard to coach he was just a freshman. The nice thing about Mfon is that understands a little quicker. You have to understand that Iman is a debater. He wants to talk through everything. Some days you don't have time to talk about it. His high school coach warned me about it. He said Iman wants to sit down and debate every point. We don't have time for that just do what I tell you and let's go (laughing). His coach in high school said you think he's bad now you should have tried him in ninth or tenth grade."

The one freshman that most don't know as much about is Daniel Miller. He seemed to have a good scrimmage?

"Yeah, he's doing well. He had a little bit of a setback this week. He had the stomach flu. He lost about eight or nine pounds. He's been doing really well. He's been a pleasant surprise."

How's the offense going to be different this year?

"You got to get it inside. You'll probably see us do a little more high-low. When you have Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal you have to get the ball inside."

Is either one of them better suited defensively to play the four or five spot?

"Derrick might be a little better defensively on the perimeter so he may end up guarding more fours but Gani has more experience."

How easy will it be to get the ball down low?

"Part of it is the ability to catch the ball down there. To give a baseball analogy, it was said that Mark Teixeira has helped the Yankee's earned run average as much as anybody because over at first base he's catching everything. The bad throws in the dirt he's catching and saving runs. A guy like Derrick Favors can catch a tough ball. You throw a fifty-fifty ball up he's going to go and get it. Instead of a turnover we get possession and get a shot. That's the way I would compare it."

Is the plan to rotate Iman, Mo, and Moo?

"You could see that. The best guys are going to play. The guys that are performing at the highest level are going to play. We have some depth but you have to tell people that this isn't summer camp you're not required to play everybody. Iman has been terrific so far in the preseason. He's missed a couple of days this week with the hamstring. He's going to play a lot, Mfon's going to play a lot and Mo has a chance to play. Mo has to come back from his injuries. He's got to get himself back into playing shape."


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