Paul Hewitt: "They're a very dangerous team"

The Jackets are preparing for an important two game road stretch against the University of North Carolina Charlotte and Georgia before they come home to play Duke. We talked with Coach Paul Hewitt about what to expect from Charlotte, the return of Iman Shumpert, and the importance of the next two games.

D'Andre Bell seemed to look for his shot more in the last game. What are you seeing from his progress since coming back this year?

"Over the past couple of weeks he's had a bit of a tight back. He's been doing some different treatments and therapy to loosen him up. I think that's what you probably saw. He's starting to feel a little bit better."

You talked about Iman Shumpert and his conditioning. Will the next two practices determine how much he plays Saturday?

"He's been doing some extra conditioning with Scott McDonald our strength coach. He's been on the treadmill. He did a majority of the work-out yesterday. So far so good; we're not going to rush him back. We just want to take it very gradually. If he's able to give us eight to ten minutes against Charlotte, we'll be happy with that."

Are the next two games on the road going to be important for the team's confidence?

"Oh yeah, they're road games against two good teams in my opinion. Watching Charlotte, they're very athletic. They can be streaky but when they're making three's they're a very dangerous basketball team. Anybody who doubts that should go pop in the Louisville game. They shot Louisville out of Freedom Hall.

I guess it's comforting to know that your defense has been playing well this season?

"Obviously our offense has been a problem. We have not moved the ball. We have not gotten the consistent offensive play we like but you're right our defense has been pretty consistent for us all year. Most coaches if they had their druthers would rely on consistent reliable defense."

Having Shumpert back will allow you to have another player to push the ball up the court to get some easy points?

"Yeah, and he's also a guy that create plays. You're right he does give us another guy to increase the tempo and improve our ability to get transition baskets. In the half-court he's a good playmaker and a good three point shooter. I thought coming into the year he was our best three point shooter. We'll see where he is once he gets back out on the court but Brian Oliver is shooting the ball well and Mfon Udofia is surprisingly shooting the ball well. Lance Storrs is starting to pick it up and now you add Iman and hopefully this will be something to improve our offense."

How is Lance after hurting his hip Tuesday?

"I haven't seen him since the game. Yesterday I talked to him briefly and he felt fine. I'll see in practice today."

Iman told us that he noticed things sitting on the bench that you've told him during games. Is that a good thing having him sitting there while he was out?

"It really is. When kids redshirt or they miss time because of injuries it's amazing how much they see and how much better they understand what you're trying to tell them. Something about when they have the uniform on and the games going on they don't quite grasp it. It's not just me. I talk to a lot of people. I remember talking to a kid that was in the NBA. He said the reason he got in the NBA was because he had to redshirt one year. That year sitting out with an injury let him really see the game and made him a much smarter player."

Can you talk about inserting Maurice Miller into the starting lineup?

"He's practiced well. He's played well when we put him in the starting lineup. He'll probably be back in there against Charlotte. If he's playing well, he'll stay in there. With Iman coming back, he's going to vie for a starting spot at some point when he gets back to 100%. You have Brian Oliver who wants to start. We'll see; it's a good problem to have."

Your message of getting the loose balls, playing with intensity, and boxing out seems to be getting through to the players?

"Yeah, they're seeing it on the court and they're seeing it in the film sessions. They're seeing that the difference between maintaining a lead and building a lead is just getting a loose ball here or box out there and consistently forcing tough shots. They want what we want. They want to be a consistent good team. Of course you want to win every game but you don't want to give away games or give away opportunities." Top Stories