Tom Crean Postgame Presser: Georgia vs. Jacksonville

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Tom Crean Postgame Presser: Georgia vs. Jacksonville

Opening Statement
“To finish this game off with three games in a week and knowing that we had gone the way we had the week before, I was worried about the cumulative effect. We tried to tone our practices down time-wise, but you still have to prepare. you still have to play, and I thought our guys tonight overcame that wall in the second half and played outstanding. To get six guys in double figures is huge. That’s how we want to play here. I don’t know if we’re going to get six guys in double figures every night, but the more we can, the more we can get four, five, that’s huge for us because that’s the way we’re built. The keys to the game were going to be to defend the three, and we held them to 4-23 and to win the rebound game, and we beat them by 15. Something that we have not done here ever, we had 67 deflections, which is a monster thing to us. The stat sheet said that Sahvir [Wheeler] had a double-double. He had a triple-double because he had 10 deflections. Toumani had 14 deflections again for the second game in a row. Those are things that are tremendously important to us. 15 steals is great, but the deflections, drawing charges, getting hands-on loose balls, tips, those are huge for us because we’re not a big team, and we’re going to walk in with a size disadvantage many nights right now, but we can’t walk in with a hustle disadvantage, and we can’t walk in with an activity disadvantage. There was a lot of really good basketball from a lot of guys. I thought a lot of guys got better inside the game. Sahvir is just scratching the service. He’s passing the ball extremely well. He’s scoring. When that jumper comes and as we get him off the ball more and can get it back to him, it’s only going to get better. To know that we didn’t get the greatest game from Andrew Garcia because of fouls, and to still get six guys in double figures, that’s a good sign for us. We were very concerned for this game. They are a tremendous shooting team. They’re big. They’re well-coached. They’re mobile. I’m really proud of the way that we competed in the first half and the way that we took charge in the second half.”

On Sahvir Wheeler…
“He’s a charismatic kid. He’s a leader, and he’s growing in his leadership all the time. He’s a happy person. In football, you can’t have a moody quarterback, you cannot have a moody catcher in baseball, and you can’t have a moody point guard. That doesn’t mean that they don’t get angry, but you have to have someone that’s even keel and who people want to be around and who they want to follow. Sahvir is like that. He’s only getting better, and I think he’s only going to get better. We’re asking a lot of him. He’s delivering. He’s doing a fantastic job. He makes a couple of his layups, and that jump shot starts to go, he’s just going to get better and better. Our challenge is that we have to get him off the ball more so that he has it, he gives it up, he may get it back again, and then gives it up again. I think that will increase the cutting game even more for us. He’s doing a really good job. Our offense is truly a work in progress, and I think it will get better and better and continue to create more space. I don’t feel we will have three straight double-double assist games every night, but I don’t think it’s ever been done here, so to have three is highly impressive.”



On the defense…
“We have to be a team. We’re going to be at a size disadvantage, but we cannot be at a tenacity disadvantage, we cannot be at an activity disadvantage, and we can’t be at a togetherness disadvantage. I thought Justin Kier did a great job or setting the tone defensively, and he was a double-figure deflection guy tonight and was fresh. He was a little fresher than other guys because he didn’t do much on Wednesday in the walkthrough and didn’t play Wednesday night. He was a catalyst for us that way. When you get guys who are active with their hands and are moving their feet, and we have guys that need to get better, but those are all things that we need to work on and get better. We have to get a lot better. We’ve had a good week, but we have to get a lot better because of the teams that we’re going to see down the road and because we’re at a size disadvantage. We have to really make sure that we keep tightening things up every day.”

On game plan defensively and effectiveness…
“We didn’t want to give them space. These guys can back up. They have some NBA plus range shooters with 0 and 23. What we wanted to make sure that we did was challenge everything right. Be there on the pass. Don’t let them back up without us being there as well, kind of where they were. We were type of thing. They’re going to be a good team They’re going to be a very good team because they can really, really shoot the ball. [Tyreese Davis] was shooting 70% coming into the game. [Dontarius James] was shooting 54% coming into the game, [Trey Sides] was shooting 54% coming into the game and when you have that, plus you have the scoring that [Diante] Wood and [Bryce] Workman brings those problems. So, our guys in a one day prep were really ready to go, and we had some adjustments ready to go from practice yesterday that we didn’t end up needing. We can save those. But, the biggest thing was that we had to challenge shots and we had to break the T because you want to get into people’s benches, and you want to get the fatigue level, especially for shooters. They missed some open ones. I am sure they missed someones that they knew could have gone down. For the most part, our guys are pretty active for the shot challenges.”

 

 

 

 

On Sahvir Wheeler leading older teammates…
“He rooms with Justin [Kier] and Andrew [Garcia], and I think that helps a lot. There’s good respect on this team, you know the camaraderie is building. You enjoy not only playing with Sahvir, you enjoy being around Sahvir. I mean he is a happy person—he’s a joyful person and that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have bad moments and get angry, but like I said you don’t win with moody, especially in leadership. He is anything but, he’s everything but I should say. He’s a very charismatic kid, can laugh at himself, doesn’t take himself too serious, but takes the game extremely serious. People enjoy being around him. He is a very, very confident young man.” 

On Toumani Camara’s growth and expectation… 
“We’ll just to continue to build on the confidence level that [Toumani Camara] has and he’s getting better. The jump shot is definitely better. He’s got to learn to learn to play in traffic a little bit better and the passing will need to improve, so we can play through him. as a passer, you know on the drive. The cutting, the movement, the getting on the glass, the going up strong. All that stuff is starting to come—I think he’ll get better and better. He’ll finish even better as we go along. I think the bottom line for him, for Christian Brown, for a lot of guys is let the game come to you. Chris Brown didn’t do that on Wednesday night, so he didn’t have as good a game. Tonight, he did he let the game come to him. He cut, he moved. I think he’s starting to recognize where that’s at, and Toumani is the same way, you know the way we move and the way the ball moves. There were times in the first half the ball didn’t move very well. If it had we probably would have been up more, but it moved much better in the second half. I think the way we play, we are not a pull-it, isolation team. Yeah, we will isolate some in the post but we are driving-kick, cut, space get through the paint, cut behind the defense—constantly working on our cutting every day. When you’re doing that, especially playing with a kid like Justin [Kier] and Sahvir [Wheeler], you can’t but help but get some looks. I think that’s where Toumani has to continue to grow, and I think he’s got to be talked into the presence of the defensive stopper. right, whether he is guarding the post, whether he’s guarding the guard. Nicolas Claxton sophomore year, obviously Nic was bigger, but Nic could guard one through five, not early. He couldn’t guard one through five early, but he got to the point where he could, and that’s what Toumani has got to be able to do for us.”

On improved turnovers…
“We didn’t do a lot on offense yesterday in practice, we really didn’t, we did much more defensively. We didn’t practice very long at all, we need to. But, a little bit of it the other night was trying to make plays that aren’t there. We deliver the ball; we don’t try to get cute. A lot of our turnovers the other night were from trying to make plays for other people, but they weren’t fundamentally sound. There were a few others, like on the break, if we throw a bounce pass on the break behind the defense that’s a dunk rather than a turnover. There are a lot of little things we can get better at, and now hopefully we will have a little bit of time that we can dive into the film and work through that as well. We want to be a high possession but low turnover team, or lower turnover team. I know when you play this fast, you’re going to have some turnovers. But really, if you’re out playing and running and you’re getting an advantage on the break with your first three steps and the balls out in front and your rim running game is good, your wings are running to the corners, it should make it a lot easier and it shouldn’t be a lot of forced passing. That’s what we need to continue to build on.” 

 

 

 

 

On Sahvir Wheeler’s speed and performance… 
“I don’t know the speed, I know he is moving, and he’s got some changing gears. He came in a very good layup maker and there’s no doubt about it. We feel that he and Justin [Kier] should be the best layup makers, and Tye Fagan’s in that poll too, as in the best layup makers that we play against that are in this league. Sometimes we miss because of context, sometimes we miss because we don’t use the board. You know, Justin had one, we don’t finger roll. He should’ve dunked it or used the glass; you know we’d like to have some of those back. But, Sahvir has been taught very well by his father and his coaches before he ever got here. We just try to expand on it and also at the same time be able to score with either hand around the rim. We try to spend a lot of time on layups and we’re going to continue to spend even more because that’s how we have to win because we are trying to get a lot of cuts.”

 

 

 

 

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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.