Hewitt - Worrying About Ourselves

The Georgia Tech basketball team, fresh off a win over UT Chattanooga, spent Tuesday preparing for their game with Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Wednesday. We met with Coach Paul Hewitt to talk about the quick turnaround after Monday's game, the toughness of the team, and areas that the team needs to improve.

How difficult is it to prepare for a team you normally don't play after the short turnaround?

"It's not difficult. It's the old coach cliché that you worry more about yourself than you do about the other team. There are some things we need to continue improving especially on the defensive side of the ball."

Arkansas-Pine Bluff played Michigan, Arizona State, and Oklahoma State a little closer than some may have expected. Is that a concern?

"They're a good team. They're a veteran team. They have experienced players. They're very athletic and good off the dribble. The thing that concerns me is that they're not going to be worried about being on the road. They're not going to be awed at anything. They're veteran guys that have been on the road for seven games so the experience factor is what catches my attention."

How do you think the freshmen will bounce back?

"I think they'll bounce back fine. They're smart kids and the one thing that I've been impressed about this group is that they pick things up. They rarely make the same mistake twice. We're home now. It's not like being on the road. We'll see how they react when they go on the road and play (UNC) Charlotte."

You'll be facing another team that relies on their guard play. Will this be a good experience in preparing for the ACC schedule?

"Yes especially this group of guards. You have guys that can create their own shots. We have to do a better job of guarding off the dribble. We've become, in my opinion, too dependent on help defense. If you end up helping with these guys a lot you're going to put our big guys in foul trouble. Zach (Peacock) is a little banged up now and will be a game time decision so we're down to one guy in the post so we might have to switch Brian Oliver or Lance Storrs to play some minutes at the four spot."

You had some good intensity in the half court defense by let them get out of some traps for easy buckets?

"We're not being aggressive enough. We're allowing people to be more physical than us. When the Chattanooga kids doubled the post they were borderline fouling. You play to the point where the referee tells you that's enough. We almost play like we don't want to see what the referee's threshold is. We play kind of soft and back off and they play thorough the trap and make a pass. Now were defending four offensive players with three defensive players. We just need to get a little more physical with our traps."

The fact that Chattanooga was playing physical something you don't mind seeing to prepare for future games?

"What I was hoping to see is us respond to their physical play with smart tough plays. I don't think we were smart and tough at times. We had nineteen turnovers. That's not good enough. Obviously Gani (Lawal) had a tremendous game. Glen Rice came off the bench and gave us a nice lift. Mo Miller probably played his best game of the year. Those are the things that enabled us to win the basketball game. Cleaning things up moving forward the nineteen turnovers and the soft play could be a problem. It's something we could recognize and correct or it could be a sign of danger to come."

Is there anything you can do to correct Derrick Favor's slow start at the beginning of games?

"We're lucky we don't have to depend on him to carry the load. I said from the beginning of the year, when Gani came back, that he was going to help Derrick a lot more than Derrick Favors is going to help Gani. So far it's worked out that way. Gani has provided great leadership and has provided a great example for him. He's having a great year. He's somewhat being overlooked. It's amazing when you read about people in the ACC all he's doing is averaging a double-double. In my mind he's an ACC player of the year candidate. If there's a person out there, maybe Kyle Singler, that's playing better basketball than him I'd like to find out who that is."

Could Derrick be relying on Gani at the start of games?

"No, Derrick's still trying to figure it out. I watched tape and there were some three's taken when he was wide open under the basket. He'll throw it back out. That three should not be the first option; throw it in and if he's doubled he'll throw it out and then take the three."

From an outside observer it seems like the chemistry on the team is pretty good?

"It's getting better. Winning can sometime mask things, not that we have anything to hide. We don't have any locker room problems. I do think we can be more cohesive and on the same page especially on the defensive end of the floor. I think there are times when two guys are doing one thing and the other three are standing around and watching. We're executing parts of our defensive plan better but it's not complete. We trap the side ball screen well and the secondary defenders won't step up to take the pass away out of the trap. Offensively the two threes that went up to quick you had Derrick down there open especially with a guy we're trying to get more assertive offensively you have to reward him and throw him the ball. There are some things like that we need to brush up to become a cohesive unit in addition to cheering for each other on the bench."

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