MBB: Tom Crean, Savhir Wheeler and Rayshaun Hammonds Postgame Presser – Georgia vs. SMU

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MBB: Tom Crean, Savhir Wheeler and Rayshaun Hammonds Postgame Presser – Georgia vs. SMU


Opening Statement 

“First and foremost, there is absolutely no way we win this game without the passion of this crowd. And I was telling our team that, because they were looking back at me a few times. And they were tired. And they were a bit on fumes, but they did it all on belief. Honestly, it’s a tie game, and young players, a lot of times they don’t understand how hard it is to win. And then you go — and this is something that we preach a lot, and we’ve got to keep growing into it because we did not play that good a game. There were times we were getting pounded on the glass, giving up open shooters, those types of things. But there’s a couple things. The game is always giving you something. You’ve got to figure out what that is. And the other part of it is, players play to play. Tough people compete to win. And there’s so many times that guys, they come up through their life and there’s always another game. We lost at 10. Okay. We play at 6. We won at 10, we play at 8. And it’s so different now. Every game, the possessions, especially against really good teams like SMU and what we’ll see the rest of the way here, it’s so important that you do not get your head down. And it’s going to take a while for them to understand that, because we’ve got nine freshmen over there. And we’ve got some upperclassmen that haven’t won a lot of consistent games or won games like that. It’s been a long time since Georgia won a game like that. It’s a huge win, because we had to learn how to believe. And that’s not a corny statement. You have to earn your belief. So you have to get stops, make big plays, get rebounds. And that’s huge. And at the end of the game, with what Sahvir did. Sahvir is so valuable to this team in so many different ways. He did not play a perfect game; nobody did. But at the end of the day, we have a fight call we were saving, and had a double high pick-and-roll and we wanted him to operate. And they were doing a great job of their switching. So we wanted to get a potential slip. We put Tyree Crump into the action, which we really don’t do. And we wanted Sahvir to create. And Sahvir is one of the best layup makers I’ve ever been around. Can get better, especially with his right hand. But one of the best layup makers I’ve ever been around. For him to get in the lane and make a play, he’s been there a ton of times, no doubt about that. He’s been there hundreds of times in of those situations because his DNA and the way he’s been raised, his person and as a player, we’re comfortable making a decision. But the other options were that Anthony or Toumani would be in cutting situations. Sahvir made the right play. Very fortunate. And again thankful for our crowd, so thankful. They never let down. They never let down. It’s so great when you can not only hear them but you can feel them. And it’s like one of those football games, you feel that crowd. And I know we don’t have as big a place, obviously, but when you can feel a crowd like that and feel it as a coach you know it absolutely invigorates your players. It was a team win. It was a program win. And it was a passion of the Georgia fan base win for us.”





Q. Yogi Ferrell play there?

“I met with him. I don’t know about play call, but it’s something we’ve got, saving. And again I’ve run that since my Marquette days. It’s not that complicated, but it’s a matter where you’ve got people. Sahvir made a great read. Split the trap, I think. And he made a great read.”

Q. Talk about his DNA, like you mentioned a minute ago, he talked, I guess it was yesterday, when he’s in that kind of situation he’s got the quick — anybody out there that can keep up with him?





“Sahvir? He’s really quick, as is Anthony. But you have to get Anthony to go more, like to really, really attack and drive. And Jordan Harris brings some bursts, too. We have him back. And when we mix it with Toumani like that, for the people who are going to match up with him, he’s got to burst. But we’ve got — a lot of guys did a lot of good things. I’m proud of the way that Ray responded because it wasn’t go live for him. And it’s very easy to get your head down. He didn’t. He bounced back. And Tyree Crump bounced back in that situation and knocked down that 3. There were so many big plays in the game, when you have a game like that, this was truly a 50-minute possession-by-possession game. And so it’s going to be a lot of big plays.”

Q. You answered this to some extent about Sahvir, but at the end of both overtimes and regulation, Anthony didn’t touch the ball a lot but the ball was in Sahvir’s hands?

“Here’s the thing about that: It’s been a rough week on the stomach because we’ve got to get better. I think at Arizona State there was way too much — we settled, didn’t attack, didn’t go through the paint. And there were times it happened to us in the first half, too, and we can’t do that. We’re not good enough to do that. We have to offensive rebound the ball. We’ve got to cut and get layups and cut and get fouled, and get drive and kick 3s that come from a lot of different locations, especially inside/out. And inside/out may be in the pass to the post and then the kickout, or the ball drives into the paint and then gets kicked out. But that’s how we have to play because we don’t have that low post guy that’s going to dominate it. We don’t have Nick at seven foot to see over everybody and make all these different plays with that ball. We don’t have that. The thing about Anthony, he does a great job with Sahvir. They all play off Sahvir. But Anthony is going to be very comfortable with that because he knows Sahvir delivers the ball. And where Anthony has grown, and has got to continue to grow — every one of the guys has got to continue to get better, top to bottom, but Anthony moves better without the ball when he’s down in the corner swinging, especially when Sahvir is in the game.”

Q. Jordan Harris, how much was he able to impact the game tonight with those plays?

“I think good. Never know what’s going to happen with a guy his first game back. I thought he did some good things. We’ve got to become a better rebounding team. There’s no doubt about it. We’re struggling in our post defense early. Tried to change some coverages. When you have a young team, you’ve been through the different situations we’ve been through, you’re going to make changes. And we’ll make more. We don’t have a system of this is what really works for us, because we haven’t been together that long. So not having Jordan for those nine games impacts that because he had been here last year. So getting him integrated back in is important. Not trying to make things happen that aren’t there but using that first, getting his defensive ability. He’ll have to rebound this year. And like I said to him yesterday, you’ve never really been that good a rebounder, you’ve also never been a senior. So let’s go put them all together this year, those types of things. And I’ve said all along we’ve got to be a rebounding team. And a guy like Jordan can help at that. We’ve got a long way to get better, but to get a win like this tonight for how hard they worked against that good a team and that well-coached a team and to find a belief that you didn’t know was there, that when the game is tied, it was a big, big step for a young team.”

Q. What does it mean to get a win like that, I know in Maui you had a chance against Michigan State, to get a non-conference —

“I think it’s huge. There’s always games you would like to have back. And what we’ve gotta do and where we’re behind and we learned a lot of it where we’re really behind right now is situational basketball. I’ll give you an example. We’re doing situations, today I’ve got a group in, we have seven versus seven. So it’s two teams. 5-on-5, obviously, when we’re on the court. But I start the one team down. We’re a minute 47 seconds left. Okay. And the team that’s down is down seven. And I’m saying we don’t need 3s. We don’t need 3s. We need to get to the rim and stop the clock. They’re looking at me like I’ve got three heads. I’ve got to shoot or I’ve got to do this. They don’t understand how long the game is and they don’t understand a lot of times how lengthened the game, how stretched the game, and that’s what we’ve got to continue to — we’re behind in those areas. If you’re a veteran team, you’re ahead of the game more because you’ve got more experiences, and they’re better in situations and they’re better with their confidence. But we have so many things that we’ve got to do to get better at inside of the game before the situations even arrive that we’re behind in. And we’ve got to continue to work to get better there. And that’s the answer to your question, because we don’t understand like the game is long. Like at Michigan State, there’s still plenty of opportunities. But we didn’t make it a possession-by-possession game once we started to shoot some jump shots. Now we’re playing catch-up rather than playing possession by possession. And there’s a big difference. There’s a big difference. And that’s why this was so huge.”

Q. Can you talk about finding that belief? Do you feel maybe —

“We found it tonight. It takes a long time to build a habit. Whether it’s 21 days, 30 days, depending what self-help guru you read, but we’ve got to learn.”

Q. When they find that tonight, it ends up in a win, do you think the young team grows up a little bit when they see the results like that?

“Absolutely. There’s no doubt about it. I don’t know how you don’t. That’s part of coaching. It’s part of coaching — that’s why you’ve got to constantly recruit winners. You’ve got to recruit competitors, recruit guys that have won, whether they’re football players, baseball players, soccer players, guys that have a belief, because when you get to college, it’s a whole other level of what you’ve got to do because they’re over there trying to do whatever they can to win, too. It just takes time. It’s a great feeling for them to see them come back mentally to win the game. Especially the way we did. And really, again, so proud of Sahvir to make the read that he made. And he does a lot. He played 35 minutes. That’s a big play to make when you’re and got his knee — “

Q. You talked about the crowd. What do you expect Monday night against —

“Big crowd. I don’t think we have many tickets left. I expect a huge crowd. They’re having fun. How do they come tonight and not have fun. It’s nerve-racking but they made a difference. I’m not trying to cheerlead in here. I said it on the radio. I’ve tried to shake every hand I could out there. We don’t win it without them. And it’s real. It’s not fake. You need a home crowd. And we’re getting it. And so I hope they come out again for Monday night because we’ll need it. And we’ll need it when Austin Peay comes and we’re certainly going to need it when Kentucky and Tennessee come in early January.”

#15 | Sahvir Wheeler

On the final shot of the first and second overtimes and if they were the same play…

“The first play was more of a, try to get something else and time was running down, just had to make a play at the rim. I knew we were down by two had to drive it or maybe a kick to someone else or make a play for myself and that’s what ended up happening. Tried for the layup, tied the game.”

On if the game winning shot was designed more for him…

“Yeah, the second one was more of a designed play. Two ball screens at the top, and try to find a way to win and fortunately enough, that happened today.”

On what it means to him that his team and coaches have enough confidence to make that play…

“That’s an everybody thing. We all have confidence in each other. Just think about how Jordan Harris came into this game. He hadn’t played a game in forever and the confidence we have in him. He came over and made a big spark, made a three ball in transition, made a couple of dunks, couple of deflections, he was super active. Rayshaun [Hammonds] did a great job in the paint. We all chipped in, we all have confidence in each other, we all love each other, we all see the extra work and time in, that’s what happens at the end of games. We believe in each other.”

On what Harris brought to the game…

“Jordan, obviously, just experience beyond this level, these type of games. Just his wisdom on the sideline, him saying ‘hey do this, hey do that.’ Just his wisdom is second to none because we’re so young. Him, Rayshaun, Tyree Crump, Donnell [Gresham Jr.], they’re always sharing with us and for us to get that and apply that to the game is big time. Like I said too, his spark. He had, what, nine points I believe. You can’t say any of those buckets weren’t big.”

On how this last second shot compares to his others…

“This one takes the top obviously. The college level, it was in the Steg, a place that is second to none, you got to love the fans, got to love the situation. As a player, a competitor you don’t necessarily want to be in these tight games but you love that, you love that chance to win the game and go out strong.”

On how he got to the rim on the game winning shot…

“I went to the side where the big was slower than the other big. I tried to attack that side and make a play for myself or a teammate.”

On if he’s made shots like that in high school…

Sahvir: “Yes.”

Rayshaun: “You all should know that. You all should know he’s been doing that for a long time.”

Sahvir: “Yeah, I’ve been fortunate to have some of those situations. Game winning or tying shots. It’s just a blessing to be here. Obviously on a whole new level and everything means so much more. I’m super thankful, super thankful for my teammates for believing in me and vice versa. We’re believing in each other. Believing in the coaching staff.”

On if being confident in his speed helped with those final shots…

“Being a confident kid, you just know there’s just certain times where you’re going to be able to do what you do best. I think one of my strengths is getting to the paint. So the first time, I knew that my strength was getting to the paint, had a running start going left, knew it was going to be hard for a defender to stop. Same thing the second time.”

#20 | Rayshaun Hammonds

On what a win like this does for a team…

“It builds confidence. That’s all I can say. It builds confidence, grows out the younger guys, makes it easier for them to play in bigger games now, they know what they’re doing. You don’t have to talk to them, you don’t have to tell them anything, they already know. It’s fun doing that and it’s fun for me to see them do that so it’s cool.”

On how SMU ranks against teams they’ve played so far this season…

“I feel like that was one of the top five teams we’ve played this year. As of right now. I feel like they can play with a lot of teams that we’ve played against. That’s great experience for everybody on the team. Coach Scott and the game plan he came up with. That was big. The coaches on the coaching staff, even during the games, over time, they’re telling us what to do that’s big for us too. People behind the bench, that’s big what they’re saying to us too. You take it from everybody and it takes you a long way.”

On how both teams rebounded well…

“That’s every game. It’s a battle. We aren’t the biggest team. You have to do what you do down there. It’s a grind whenever you get that rebound and for Ant, Sahvir will be down there sometimes. Any guard to be down there is big for me and Toumani [Camara] and the bigs. It makes the game easier for us and a little good for them. I love it.”

On if he got hit in the jaw during the game…

“I think I did. I’ll have to get that checked out. I don’t know what’s going on but I’ll be alright.”

On the team’s defense…

“We’re getting better. We’re getting better with Coach Scott pushing us every day in practice. Dudes like Sahvir, he’ll guard me in practice and it’s hard. Any guard on the team guarding the bigs, vice versa. We work on that every day. We want to be a great team on defense that’s a main thing for us.”

On how big the win is…

“It’s big. It’s going to take it a long way. That’s all that matters is getting a win and going on with the season.”

On what it means to get Jordan Harris back…

“It’s big. A lot of games I’ve played with Jordan and he’s always been a spark no matter what. Even if it’s not going his way on defense, he’s still going to be a problem. It’s a blessing. It’s a real blessing so we’re happy to have him back.”





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Greg is closing in on 15 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.