Paul Hewitt - We're Playing Games Too Early talks with Coach Paul Hewitt during exam week at Georgia Tech. Topics include early season games and the upcoming matchup with UT-Chattanooga.

After the last game you mentioned you wanted better bench play. Is that still on your mind?

"It's been on my mind for a while. We haven't talked to specific guys about it. We've just been practicing and trying to keep some sort of conditioning level."

How have the practices been with finals and everything?

"Yesterday (Wednesday) was our first one and I thought it went well. We had a good conditioning practice and we'll do another one today. Tomorrow we'll do some individual instruction and Saturday and Sunday we'll get back at it with two team practices before we go against UT Chattanooga."

You've mentioned shortening the rotation. Might you do that as the competition picks up?

"I don't want to because I think the ability to put fresh bodies on the floor, considering our style of play, is something that can work to our benefit. If we're not getting production then I'll have to make an adjustment in our style of play."

What would you like to see?

"It's not just the points. Its rebounds, being disruptive defensively, and we chart deflections. I don't see enough guys getting their hands on basketballs. I don't see enough guys getting rebounds. I don't see enough guys getting out in transition and getting easy baskets. If we're not going to use our freshness and our energy level to get positive stats for us, then what's the point of playing nine or ten guys?"

Will Brian (Oliver) continue to start?


Is this a strange time of year?

"You get used to it. It's just part of the rhythm of the college basketball season. It's actually a good time of the year. You can put some new things in. You have seven games under your belt and you have an idea of things you need to work on. You have an idea of things you can take better advantage of. We'll probably put in two or three new plays between now and when we hit Florida State a week from Sunday."

Does the team normally come out ready to play after a layoff like this?

"Yeah, they usually do. They're usually happy that school's over with. You see the biggest smiles of the year when finals are over."

Have you noticed anything different about the team?

"No, I think we're making progress. I'd like to see us make more progress especially in the area of being more energetic on defense and paying attention to more details on defense."

How do you think (Iman) Shumpert's loss will affect the team?

"It's a big loss but it does have a chance to be a plus in the long run. We do have a chance to develop depth and get guys more playing time and figure out what guys are capable of helping us."

With Brian starting are you looking for someone like (Glen) Rice or (Lance) Storrs to pick it up off the bench?

"Anyone; don't let me get in your way. When you're called on just go out and do it."

How about Chattanooga? It seems like their point guard has picked it up the last few games?

"I've just watched a few games on them. Obviously they lost a lot of guys from last year's team so they're working their way into form if you will."

Is the lineup pretty set going forward?

"We're pretty set going forward. I think experimentation time is over. We have to start developing a solid rotation. Obviously if things happen we have to be able to adjust but right now I think Mfon (Udofia), D'Andre (Bell), Gani (Lawal), and Derrick (Lawal) are pretty solid in the starting lineup. When Iman comes back, we'll put him back in the starting lineup. Who knows, if Brian is playing lights out, maybe it's better to bring Iman off the bench. Right now we're trying to become more consistent in our rotation."

How's D'Andre looking to you?

"He's getting there. I don't think I have a good enough appreciation for how difficult what he's gone through coming back from eight months of no physical activity. Yesterday he and Zach (Peacock) were clearly the two best in practice. They were really sharp. It could have something to do with being veterans at this time of the year. D'Andre was probably as aggressive as I've seen him in a long time."

With football no longer being a conflict, how important is it to have a full house supporting the team going into the ACC schedule?

"It's funny you ask that question. I saw Roy Williams' comments after the Michigan State game and I was watching the Missouri-Chattanooga game and there was nobody there. I just think we're playing college basketball games way to early. You look around the country and everybody is having the same issue. You look at the Missouri-Chattanooga game and there was absolutely nobody there and Missouri is coming off a final eight run. In my opinion we shouldn't play a game until the weekend after Thanksgiving. The weekend of Thanksgiving is probably the smartest time. I think the fact that more games are on television is bringing to light sparse attendance around the country. I anticipate that when we play Florida State the place will be close to packed." Top Stories