Paul Hewitt - "They're really tough"

The Georgia Tech basketball team is back in town after going 2-1 in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Tip-Off in Puerto Rico. Coach Paul Hewitt talks about the positives they took from the games they played in Puerto Rico and what to expect this Friday when they face a Mercer team that took them to overtime last year.

What positives were you able to take away from the three games in Puerto Rico?

"The biggest one would probably be that we put a great emphasis on execution of plays; our secondary break, half court, man to man, and our half court zone. I thought the second half against Dayton and the next two games we did a good job with that."

It looks like you're keeping your opponents to a low shooting percentage thus far this season?

"Yeah, but I think we can be more consistent defensively. One of the other things that we learned is that when we guard well and do the things we're capable of doing we can be very disruptive on defense. I think for about a fourteen minute stretch against George Mason we played about as well as we can play defensively; the last four minutes of the first half and the first ten minutes of the second half."

Zach (Peacock) really lit it up in two of the three games.

"He's a very good shooter. We're trying to push him to look for more shooting opportunities. He did that on Sunday and shot it extremely well."

How was the guard play?

"It's getting there. I think shot selection, taking care of the basketball, and getting the ball inside are three things that we can do better."

You seemed to do well in the second half against Dayton getting the ball inside?

"In the first half against Dayton we played too fast. We took some bad shots. We forced some things. In the second half we settled down a little bit and didn't worry about what was on the shot clock. I told them that I didn't care if there was three seconds on the shot clock; wait until you get a good look. We then had control of the game."

What happened in the last four minutes?

"We didn't rebound the ball well. We had two or three rebounds where we had our hands on the ball and didn't get them. There was a front end of a one and one and a ball that went out of bounds that should have gone our way. If you don't rebound the ball well, especially in the last four minutes, you leave yourselves open to those type of things."

Did the two halves of the Boston University game show how important Derrick (Favors) is to the team?

"Yeah it did, but I also thought our pressure got the best of them. Derrick didn't play much against Dayton in the first half and he didn't play much against George Mason in the first half. More than anything else, his presence does provide great rebounding and great shot blocking. On the offensive end it gives us somebody we can throw the ball inside to and make a play or kick it back out. It makes the offense run smoother."

Will Iman be available Friday?

"We plan to right now. They did an MRI and everything looked clear. Right now we're planning on having him go. The twist of his knee is independent of what he's been battling with the pull behind the knee."

Are you concerned about the lack of three's?

"I'm not concerned about it yet. I think our lack of three point production is because we're not making good passes to the three point shooters. I've showed them on film where guys were open. There's a saying in basketball that the quality of the pass makes the quality of the shot. Right now we've not been getting good passes out to our three point shooters. I anticipate we'll start shooting the ball better from the three. We have guys like Lance Storrs, Brian Oliver, and Iman Shumpert who are all more than capable three point shooters. One of the things we emphasized to Zach in the Saturday film session was that you're playing with two guys like Derrick and Gani (Lawal) that create so much attention and you don't have a three all year and he went out and hit some. I think he's another guy you can start seeing hitting some more threes."

Is this going to be the same type of Mercer team that we saw in the past?

"I hope not (laughter). I hope they're not nearly as pesky. They're a very good team. (Daniel) Emerson is outstanding. (James) Florence is doing his usual nineteen points a game. I'm not sure where he's at as far as their all-time leading scorer but if he should be somewhere in the top two or three when he's done. They add Jeff Smith who didn't play against us last year. He's a very good scorer. He can shoot the three and go off the dribble. They're really tough."

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