Dec. 12, 2009
Coach, has [Taylor] Battle spoiled us over the years by making those shots?
Yeah he had a good crack at it. The ball just didn't go in the basket, but I thought he was tremendous tonight. He kept us in it the whole time and made basketball plays for 40 minutes. The last one just didn't go in, or we're all singing and dancing. It just didn't happen tonight. I think it's really hard to win games when you shoot 28 percent in the second half. We didn't shoot the ball well from the free throw line tonight either. We rebounded, we defended, and we kind of got ourselves going, but we just made some poor decisions the last couple minutes of the game. Just stupid fouls. I don't know if they had a basket the last few minutes of the game. Defensively we went to the zone, which worked well for us, we kept them away.
[Battle] and [David Jackson] were the only guys with more than two buckets tonight, how do you win games with only two real scorers?
It's difficult, it's challenging. I thought other guys had open shots, but no one really helped us put the ball in the basket. It's just disappointing right now. We've lost 3 close games and they've all gone the same way. We can't make a play when we need to make it. Not just the end of the game, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about other guys making open jump shots or whatever it is. I thought it was a great game, but we have to find a way to win. It's really hard to win when you shoot 33 percent for the game.
Talk about the game [Virginia Tech's Malcolm] Delaney had?
He's a good player. He's under control, he's calm, he plays within himself, and he's a tremendous shooter. Those two kids were fun to watch. They both did a great job tonight. [Virginia Tech] just made one more play. We made one not bright play after another the last few minutes. But I thought Delaney and [Battle] really put on a show the last couple minutes.
[Battle] was 3-10 from the free throw line tonight, is he in the process of changing his shot?
No, they just didn't go in tonight, and no one feels worse than he does. I can't tell you why it happens, but we're going to move on and hopefully next game we'll make some free throws.
[Battle] looked understandably devastated after that last shot. How do you feel when you put him in that position?
Well what I told him all along is that it's not about the last play. It's about the plays leading up to that point in time that we didn't make, or when we made the wrong play. It wasn't even so much with the ball tonight, it was more without the ball; illegal screens, fouls away from the basket. It's really hard when you keep putting them on the line and letting them shoot free throws.
You're going to have limited contact with the guys over the next few days because of finals. What does the schedule look like?
Well they'll be off tomorrow, and Monday as well. We'll get back together Tuesday afternoon and work out Tuesday. We can't tomorrow because they need to focus on academics, and Monday there's no time, they have finals all day long. This has been a really hard week for us academically too. We had several kids with finals this week. Thursday we had a good hard practice but we had guys coming and going. We had Andrew Jones and [Jackson] coming late from a review session. They got there at 4:30 and [Cammeron Woodyard] has to leave at 5:00. Thursday we practiced but it wasn't great because we didn't have everybody because of academics. Some people have finals this week, some people had finals early, projects, review sessions, the whole nine yards. So it's not just a week anymore, it's two weeks academically.
The three guard look, even though [Chris] Babb wasn't able to shoot well tonight, he did some other things well. Why did that work for you?
Well I think we played with a little more energy. I'll have to go back and watch the tape, but we just felt like Jeff [Brooks] wasn't getting any rebounds. He played 16 minutes and didn't have any rebounds. We just felt like we needed somebody else. That was part of our focus, trying to get to the glass and keep the ball alive. [Babb] got some rebounds offensively and did that for us.
Did the missed shots in the paint hurt the game plan tonight?
Well we missed shots in the paint, we missed shots on the perimeter, we missed shots everywhere tonight. Guys aren't trying to miss. You get to that point where you're trying to drop the clothes-pin in the bottle. I told them just to shoot it. They were all trying to guide the ball into the basket, and everybody just needs to feel loose and just let it go.
Some of those fouls down the stretch, do you attribute that to inexperience?
We had some guys do some things that you just can't do. A couple of them were young kids, and one was an older kid. But that's the game, it's a possession game. When you get down to the last 3 or 4 minutes and it's tight, it's a possession game, whoever blinks first. We made 2 or 3 really crucial bad decisions.
The guards had 9, 6, and 5 rebounds, can you talk a little bit about that?
Our guards we've tried to get to rebound the basketball. Especially defensively, that's kind of what we do. They did a good job with it. We talked about blocking these guys out. I thought if we make [Virginia Tech] play half court we could win the game. Between that and the zone I feel like we gave ourselves a chance, but rebounding the ball is very important for our perimeter players. I've tried to convince those guys if there's no outlet, they can just turn and go and we get down the floor faster.
Did you get a good look with that last shot there at the end?
I definitely got a good look. I did everything right on that play besides finishing the lay up. I made a jump stop from left to right into the lane and I went up and shot the lay up and I just came up short. That is about it.
Did they make you alter your shot at all on the last one?
I mean, preferably at the end of the game everyone would rather shoot the ball with their strong hand but I went up with my left and I have a lot of confidence in my left hand. I mean, I asked my high school coach when I went out there if I got fouled and he said yes, but at the end of the game that is not an excuse, I should have finished that lay up.
The basket was pretty big for you tonight and smaller for some of the other guys on the team. Were you just encouraging them to keep shooting and stay in there?
Definitely, I believe in them .I told them to keep shooting, but at the same time, the basket was only big in certain aspects. Looking here, I missed seven free throws and we lost by two points. I really feel that in some aspects I let my team down. That is something I will be working on for the next couple of days here. At the same time I was hitting some other shots tonight. I am going to get back into the gym and start hitting some shots.
What happened on the play that you turned your ankle?
I just jumped up for a shot and came down and landed on his foot. I am all right though, nothing major.
When DJ [Jackson] got that loose-ball foul, you put your arm around him and walked back to the bench. What was that exchange like?
He will tell you. He was trying to get away from me and I just said stop. He was holding me up because I needed to catch my breath. DJ: I personally was kind of upset and whatever. Talor told me not to worry about it and move onto the next one. I tried to get away and he said that he was tired. I carried him over to the bench. That is just part of being teammates: just picking each other up and continuing to do that and work hard. We will be better from it.
After you miss a shot like the one at the end, what do your teammates and coaches say to you?
I mean definitely, we are all smarter than that to know that that wasn't the ball game. Coach told us we couldn't point at that because we gave up too many offensive rebounds. We just didn't make that one shot, one more shot, is what he kept mentioning. Me, missing the shot, I feel like that is what cost us the game, but I mean I know that I need to relax, take a day off. There is more to a basketball game than one shot. I am sure my teammates had confidence in me taking that shot. I mean, Drew Jones just said to me, "You made a great move, you just came up short on it." I said that he was right. I was a little tired. I am not big on excuses, but I feel as though I should have made the shot. Things like that happen and I will move on. I will tell you one thing, I wont be shy to take it again.
Tim Frazier made some mental mistakes down the floor at the end there. What would you tell him to give him advice?
He was beating himself up a little bit because Malcolm Delaney scored 27 points. I mean I would tell him that he didn't score all 27 of those on him. He hit some shots when we were in zone. Keep his head up. At the same time those fouls at the end, all he is doing is trying so hard to defend. Malcolm Delaney is a junior; he does the same things I would do. Tim kept telling me he was holding him. I told him that I knew because I probably would be doing the same thing. He is a little bit more heady so he is going to try and cheat and do little things to get an edge. We will keep him up. He is going to do a lot for us this year so we have to keep him positive.
You were 3-10 at the line today. Can you talk about your shooting from there?
I definitely am bummed out about that. I feel like I let my team down. You know, I make a few of those free throws and we are smiling right now. I will definitely get to the gym and work on that. What is really bothering me is that I have been shooting them so well this season up until tonight. I was thinking about it and I let it get the best of me. Like I said, I will work on it and move on.
Coach went to the three-guard in the last few minutes. Can you talk about how important it is to get rebounds when that offense it out there?
It is very important. At the same time I think we rebounded the ball well in the last few minutes of the game. It all comes down to us needing to make a few more shots. I am looking at [the statistics] we shot 33%, that is not going to win a lot of ball games. That is all it comes down to and everyone understands that. That is what coach keeps preaching. We have to be confident.
You guys seemed to make a conscious effort to get to the lane and get some offensive boards. Is that something that coach stressed to you coming into tonight?
You know our main focus coming into every game is rebounding. We send three guys to the glass trying to get those offensive rebounds and that is a big part of our game play. I think we were pretty successful doing that, I think we had 17 offensive rebounds and it is just a matter of converting them and making the shots.
Did Ed say something to you at half time about offensive rebounds?
He got into us and he talked about toughness and blocking guys out and we took that to heart. I know that is how they were scoring a lot of their points in the first half. If we could limit their offensive rebounds we knew that we had a pretty good chance to win. We did that today and we had a chance but things happen during the course of a game and it just didn't happen for us today, but we will move on. We will look at what we did wrong and try to correct it for the next game.
What do you learn from a game like this, where a lot of things went wrong but you guys stayed in it till the very end?
We can take a lot from this, especially just valuing each possession, because every possession counts when you are playing a very good team like VT, or teams in league play. Just know that every possession counts in the course of the game so we don't slack off and that we are in there for every single play.
You contained Jeff Allen tonight, was that your focus coming into the game?
It was a big part of the game because we knew coming in he was their second leading scorer and their second option behind Delaney. He looks to be aggressive on every touch, so we knew he was going to get his points. We wanted to make it as tough as possible for him. I think we were able to do that today.
Virginia Tech Head Coach Seth Greenberg
We were really fortunate. That wasn't exactly a Picasso, but it was two teams that really played hard and played to win. Two teams that at times offensively challenged but compete. In the second half, I thought we did a much better job guarding [Talor] Battle in ball screens. We stayed with him rather than letting him come back a second time, which I thought helped us but it hurt us rebounding the basketball. We didn't come back and rebound the ball very well. When they were playing man, I thought we did a pretty good job when we were poised. At times, we shot ourselves out by not being as poised as we needed to be. For sure, need to convert more in transition. We had a point to do something special at one point in the game but then our defensive transition, our bigs weren't helping us at all. The second half was more a byproduct of our offense. Especially when we got up five coming out of that timeout, punching it right in the block, we didn't finish it. But, it was a good road win against an extremely competitive team that has a terrific player that is like a pit bull. The guy just keeps coming at you. I'm proud of our guys. We could have in the first half folded our tents. J.T. Thompson gave us really good minutes to get back in the game. The three at the end of the half was really big, coming out of the underneath out of bounds play.
In the last 14 minutes, talk about how Malcolm Delaney really put the team on his back
He spent less time trying to draw fouls and more time making shots. That's the biggest thing. He's got to focus on making shots, and if he gets fouled, he gets fouled. It's imperative and that's got to be his focal point. Finish, and nothing else. The better he does at that, the more times he will get to the line I think.
Was there any question in your mind as to what was going to happen on that last play after your last free throw?
Oh no, Battle. It's funny, I was just telling our guys and staff at pregame meal, I remember driving back from D.C. listening to the Penn State-Michigan State game at Michigan State. It was about the same play. The guy just took it and just put his head down and was like Heisman trophy winner and just went wire to wire. I thought Jeff Allen made a great play because Jeff Allen stayed with the basketball. We had two guys on the ball. He wasn't guarding it originally, I think it was Malcolm [Delaney] or [Erick] Green. As he crossed the floor, he stayed with the basketball and contested the shot. So yes, we knew he was going to get it. We went the 1-3-1 and we just didn't get out. They skipped hit, and the guy made a great shot. He's a great player.
Were you surprised Penn State went zone?
No. I actually was surprised they didn't go 1-3-1. That's what they played last time so we worked a lot on that. I watched the Tulane tape, they went some 2-3 in that game. We have not been shooting the ball well. We have some guys who are capable of shooting it but we hadn't been shooting the ball that well. And, we were getting the ball inside. I thought we could get the ball inside. When we were patient and poised and executed, we did a pretty good job of getting the ball inside. So no, that did not surprise me.