Paul Hewitt: "It's still a big challenge"

Coming off back to back wins over North Carolina and Clemson, Georgia Tech now must face a tough road test against a Florida State team that has the Jackets number lately. Coach Paul Hewitt talked about the upcoming game today before practice.

What are you looking to do differently the second time around against Florida State?

"Make more shots and take better shots. They did a great job in the last game really bothering our guards. We didn't get the ball where we wanted to and we shot too quickly. A lot of it had to do with the pressure they put on our guards."

Has the offense made strides since then?

"Yeah, I think offensively we're a lot better but they're easily the best defensive team in the league. They have the best front line in the league. They're talented, very long, and athletic. It's a big challenge and obviously you're glad to have Iman (Shumpert) back for this game. It's still a big challenge.

Having Iman is important because he gives us another ball handler and a guy that can break down the defense. Mfon (Udofia) had a lot on his shoulders in the last game. Iman is going to be a big help."

As young as the team is, has winning the past three games by a total of eight points surprised you?

"We're getting better defensively. That's the strength of this team. In late game situations, we've been able to get some big stops. That gives us a chance to win those close games."

How does Solomon Alabi impact the game?

"He had four blocks but there were five or six other shots that he altered. He's much improved offensively. He has a really good hook shot; the classic Kareem (Abdul Jabbar) sky-hook. He draws a lot of attention. Because of that the rest of the guys can play with a little more freedom. Defensively they can take a few more chances knowing he's back there. Offensive if they get in a jam they can throw in to him and he can take that hook shot or throw it back out. He's a classic center and as a classic center it strengthens the whole team."

How promising is it knowing Derrick Favors is more comfortable going into the second game?

"It's exciting to watch him really get comfortable and see what he can do from possession to possession. I anticipate he's going to have a big second half. He understood what he had to do to hold position. When we threw the ball in to him he made sure he grabbed it and made a strong decisive move. I thought there were times earlier in the year that we threw him the ball and he didn't go with it strong. He didn't present a big enough target so our guys we're afraid to throw it in.

After the game, people were saying you're not throwing it to him and the guards were saying we want to throw it to him but we're not sure if he's ready for it. Now I think they see that he's sitting down low in the post and having good balance and presenting a really good target for them. He's adjusting to the banging you have to put up with. In high school you didn't have to worry about that."

How important is the game Sunday after losing to them at home?

"When you look at the standings, both teams have two loses. This is a big swing game. If you're trying to put yourself in the upper division and talking about putting yourself in a position for a bye come ACC tournament time this is one of those games. The fact that we both have two loses going into the game does raise the level of importance."

Is your offense better when you're pushing the ball?

"When we're running the floor that's a way to get the ball inside easily. The big guys are running and establishing position without having to do it against a set defense. I think in the last game in particular the guys did a great job. All the big guys did a great job of running the floor and getting easy baskets."

Is that one area where Derrick might separate himself because he's so athletic?

"Part of the problem he's had is conditioning. From a conditioning standpoint, he's just starting to get to the point where he can run the floor consistently and get those easy baskets. He got an alley-oop pass from Iman in transition the other day. He's wanted to do that all year. Now I think he's got a level of conditioning and stamina that he can run the floor and get those opportunities."


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