Paul Hewitt: Defensive Consistency Is Needed

Georgia Tech gets ready for Siena this week. Prior to practice Coach Paul Hewitt talked about his assessment of the Mercer game and what we can expect from his former school when they come to town for the 7pm tip off this Wednesday.

Old home week for you?

"Somewhat, it would be more significant if I looked across and saw some of my former players. I've been so far removed. I have a lot of fond memories. I know the athletic director and the secretary up there and a lot of the administrative staff. It's a new coaching staff and I didn't recruit any of the players. It will be a little easier to detach myself."

Is it good to play a strong mid-major opponent?

"Yes, that's the main reason for the game. Two reasons; we thought it would help our power rating and next year we go up there and that will be a lot more emotional. It will be a chance to see some of those people and play in that old building. It will also be for Brad Sheehan."

They seem to have pretty balanced scoring in their lineup?

"They have two guys that are big time players (Ronald Moore and Edwin Ubiles). They could pretty much play at any level."

Clarence Jackson has been shooting most of the three's?

"He's a very good shooter. Not to diminish Alex Franklin or any of the other guys but the reason they've been able to win games is because of their guard play. Ronald Moore is a big time guard. He creates the tempo and gets a lot of easy baskets. He's tough."

Iman seemed to have a good floor game the last time out?

"The last two games he's had fifteen assists and two turnovers. As far as his scoring is concerned, I know that is going to come around. I'm very pleased with the way he's playing especially in the last two games."

What is your assessment of how the team played against Mercer?

"It's a thing we've been talking about all year. We've got to become more consistent with our defense. In terms of intensity, execution; all those things We have stretches where we defend in the post and the half court where we do those things we're devastating. We'll get up and all of sudden we'll commit a silly foul or we'll take an unnecessary chance. More than anything, the fouling is momentum stopping plays. We thought we had a chance late in the first half to put them away. We're up ten and they couldn't score. D'Andre Bell commits a foul, Gani Lawal commits a foul, and we don't get a loose ball. That's six or eight points they score. We basically handed them six or eight points. It made it a five point game at the half instead of a fifteen point game."

It seemed like the guys underneath weren't challenging the drives to the hoop?

"We tell them all the time that they have to come out and challenge. They have to come out and challenge. Especially the rule this year if you wait for them inside the paint it's almost always going to be a blocking foul. You have to meet them outside the paint. If you're outside the basket, you can get the charge. You leave it in the referee's hands and you're not going to get the benefit of the doubt as a defensive player if you're meeting the guy inside the paint. There were at least three times when we saw a guy driving and we did not step up and meet them outside the paint. Even if you're not going to take the charge just stop them and contest the shot."

There seems to be a little hesitation on getting the ball inside to the big men?

"Probably because of the twenty six turnovers against Dayton; I told them just throw it in there and they'll catch it. It's gotten better but there were some situations in the second half against Mercer where I think we had Derrick Favors open a couple of times and we just didn't throw it in."

Is he demanding the ball?

"He can do a better job of that. He can do a better job of running the floor and establishing position earlier. With that said, we can still do a better job of getting it in to him."

Were you satisfied with the foul shooting (77%) against Mercer? The guys mentioned they've been working hard at it.

"We always work hard at it. It's a funny thing about free throw shooting. When I was at Siena, we led the nation two years in a row. When I got here we were a good free throw shooting team. It's kind of like hitting in baseball. A couple of guys get hits and everyone brings up their confidence. You make your first couple of free throws in a game and everybody relaxes and you knock them down. The key thing is to get off to a good start early in the game. That means getting the ball to the right guys early in the game that is going to get fouled and get to the line. The other thing is that Gani Lawal has to continue his improvement. He gets to the line because he plays so hard and he's so active around the basket. He's going to get to the line at least four or five times a game."

You also have USC this week. What do you know about them?

"I haven't seen anything on them. I saw the last eighteen seconds of the game the other night. I just realized the game was on and flipped over to it and saw the last eighteen seconds.


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