MBB: Tom Crean, Turtle Jackson and Christian Harrison Talk Florida

Home >

MBB: Tom Crean, Turtle Jackson and Christian Harrison Talk Florida

On Rayshaun Hammonds’ availability…

“We didn’t do a lot on the court at all yesterday, so we’ll just see how he is today. But, he’s definitely been taking steps. It’s still day to day right now.”

On Jojo Toppin’s work ethic and playing ability…

“Jojo works so hard. It’s just a matter of time for him. It really is. I don’t know if there’s been a night when we’ve had a home game that someone hasn’t seen him shooting in the main gym or practice gym after the game. That’s an uncommon desire. He’s just got to keep improving, understanding the speed of the game, find that niche and role and he works hard every day. Great young guy and there’s no question he’s got to learn to use his athleticism even more in the games especially in tight spaces. We just want to keep him understanding to simplify his game and the speed of the game a little more.”

On if it’s hard to harness athleticism throughout the season…

“I don’t know if it’s hard, it’s just learning how to use your athleticism even more in a basketball sense. Not driving into two people as much, and he’s just got to keep building his skills. Really like, when you look at Christian Harrison, Christian Harrison’s gone in and taken minutes because he just plays so hard and tough and he’ll defend. Jojo’s certainly just got to keep getting better at that. All the freshmen go through that, it’s a really hard league. It’s a really hard league and you want to go in and improve yourself rather than go in and play. Let it happen. F Amanze [Ngumezi] runs into that sometimes. He wants to go in and do something rather than just let it happen. It always works a lot better when you just let it happen and you can control what you can control like your defense, your rebounding, your cutting, your passing, those types of things and getting into the flow of the game. But it’s not hard to harness athleticism. What you want to do is you want to take basketball players and make them better athletes and you want to take better athleticism and make it apply better to basketball. A lot of the times it’s in the same guy and you keep working on it every day to keep building them to the level. Sometimes guys come in as tremendous athletes like Victor Oladipo was and you’ve just got to learn how to be a better basketball player. Sometimes they come in as better basketball players and they’ve got to build their athleticism and learn how much more they can do inside of that. And sometimes they’re both, but every day you’re coaching both athletes.”

On if he’s ever had a player like Toppin…

“I don’t know. You know I’ve had guys that work after games, yeah. But it’s unique, put it that way.”

On Jordan Harris’s role with the team…

“Since I’ve been here, it’s been good. It’s been very, one on one meetings at the beginning and meetings based on my own decisions and instincts and my relationship with him. And asking him to meet standards, not just standards for him as a person but standards for our team as people. It’s the same thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s academics, it doesn’t matter if it’s basketball, it doesn’t matter if it’s anything. Any aspect of life. He’s worked extremely hard, he’s very hungry and very consistent. He’s very able to look at when he’s made a mistake and fix it. He’s really bought into having a role that’s very strong, which I’m very proud of.”

Why the team is still committed as a coach despite the losing season…

“I don’t know. I mean it’s what we do every day. We work every day, we have energy every day, we practice hard every day, they know they’re getting better. That’s the way it is. Coaching is about being demanding and holding people accountable to standards. It’s not about coming in and being negative or sad or uptight. If you’re like that as a coach, you want the same thing from your players. That starts with the coaching staff, but it’s them. They know they’re getting better and they know their improvement. And I think it’s obvious with the way we’ve been playing that we’re right there. It can cause you to get more frustrated or it can cause you to get even more focused which is exactly what we’ve got to continue to do, you know when you hit struggles like we are. That’s part of it. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about making sure you know, ‘is that guy up? Is that guy up?’ It’s an upbeat atmosphere. You’re going to really stand out if you’re not upbeat on this team right now.”

On carving out practice time for end-of-the-game situations…

“Well, we do. The other night we knew what we wanted. We knew we wanted either a two or three, but really with that kind of time we wanted to go inside and play from there. We did not execute it properly at the end. At the end of the game at Ole Miss we knew what we wanted, and we didn’t post as deep to the elbow. But, you have to. The pressure of the moment is hard, so you want to keep putting yourself in those situations of end game. You want to keep getting them comfortable during the game, even though you save some things for the end game. But, what we were trying to run at the end of the game was something we’d run a couple plays earlier and we just didn’t get into it. The timing was good to come down and get the best play so we could do it again and there’s plenty enough time. That gets under 10 seconds, now you’re looking at taking a three unless you can race the ball down the court and get to the rim. But with that kind of time, 20 something odd seconds we knew what we wanted and we just didn’t get it. So, we’ve got to keep reviewing that. We look at it on film, we look at it on the floor and keep at it for what we think is going to work in that next game.”

On facing Florida…

“They’re on a real roll. G Jalen Hudson is averaging 17 points in his last three games, he’s playing well, that’s a key thing for them. He makes them a different team. They shoot the ball extremely well; they use the corners as well as anybody in our league. As far as driving and shooting, especially shooting, they’re aggressive. They set tempo and pace as well as anyone because of their pressure. When they pressure you to try to get time off that clock and they really want to slow you down. Their cutting, I would say Ole Miss and Florida their cutting is really special with the way their guards cut off the high post, the way they’re always moving. You’ve got to really defend that. But, [head coach] Mike [White]’s an outstanding coach. I’ve never a coached a game there, I’ve been there a couple times but I’ve never seen a game there, never coached a game there I’m sure it’s going to be a tremendous atmosphere there tomorrow night.”

Senior Guard William “Turtle” Jackson

On how it’s felt to see Georgia’s shots, including his, falling more this season...

“Yeah, I mean, it’s always great to see some shots go in because it builds confidence, and from within that, I can attack and look to get more people involved because the defense is more worried about me and, from that, I feel like we make shots. It’s a great chance to show your point guard skills and leadership [skills]. So, we’re improving. I feel like I’m improving, and we’re just getting better.”

On how much improvement he’s seen from his team on offense…

“I mean, this offense is great. Coach Crean’s coaching styles and what he wants from our offense is just unbelievably great because he knows what he’s talking about, and we’re buying in and learning what he wants, which takes time to learn a whole new system. That goes for just any sport that you play. I feel like these improvements will benefit us going into these last games and then the SEC Tournament.”

On what he remembers Florida doing well last season/years past…

“Florida’s extremely athletic, and they hit a lot of three’s in transition. So, we’ve got to make sure we’re focused on transition defense and getting stops and making sure we’re executing on offense, which will help our defense.”

On how big the Georgia-Florida rivalry is…

“Well, it’s a big game. Georgia versus Florida is a game some kids dream of playing in one day, and I’m just very thankful for this opportunity to play against Florida again and, within that, we’re going to try to go out there and get a win and give our all.” 

Senior Guard Christian Harrison

On how nice it has been to get out on the court and see increased playing time… 

“It has been great to have the opportunity to be able to step up into a bigger role. It has been tough because we have not been winning, but for myself, individually, in terms of that role, playing more has been good for me. From a team standpoint and my biggest priority is for us to win.” 

On how important it is for you to bring your defense and energy to the team…

“I think it is really important. I am not someone who cares that much about scoring. I like playing defense, I pride myself on playing defense and stopping the opposing team’s best player. I think it works well with me out there because the ball is able to move through me, my cutting allows the offense to move smoothly and it takes some of the pressure off the guys offensively if I am out there and able to guard the opposing team’s best scorer.” 

On how good of a team Florida is and what makes them a tough opponent… 

“They are definitely a good team. We will have to do better in transition and stopping them in transition. Winning the rebound battle will be a major key to the game tomorrow.” 

On the rivalry… 

“It is definitely a big game. Going there, I remember last year was a huge rivalry. Their fans and their environment is always big and fun to play in so I am excited and looking forward to it.” 

share content

Author /

Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.