VIDEO: Tom Crean Presser – Georgia vs. Mississippi State

Home >

VIDEO: Tom Crean Presser – Georgia vs. Mississippi State

Opening statement

“It’s never easy, and it doesn’t get any less challenging with Mississippi State coming in. They’re playing really well. They’re outstanding defensively. Their physicality, speed, and quickness of their guards on the defensive end create a lot of problems. They’re very good with the ball, and probably as good of a group of guards in the ball screen in the league. They’re in that conversation at least. They’re aggressive , they defend, they give great help to one another. You can see the defensive togetherness they have. They’re really good in transition. They can be a blur at times when they get the ball up the court. When you got multiple ball-handlers, multiple decision makers like that, it makes it a real challenge. The biggest thing for us is we got to make sure we are guarding that paint even more than what we have been doing. It’s a huge emphasis because when they get in the paint, they not only create at the rim, but they do a great job of kicking out to three point shooters. Coach Howland has done a fantastic job there. I have not competed against him since he was at Pittsburgh and I was at Marquette in 2003 Sweet Sixteen in Minneapolis. We had a great battle on a Thursday night in the old Metrodome. I have a ton of respect for him. I’ve gotten to know him better and better, but I’ve always had huge respect for him even going back to when he was head coach at Northern Arizona. He is one of the outstanding coaches in the game. We both lived some similar environments with what he did at UCLA and me at Indiana. He was able to be in that type of environment and win at a very high level. There’s no question that they play with his personality of toughness, tenacity, aggressiveness, and if anything, they’re playing faster than any of his teams I can remember. It is going to be a tremendous battle. We’re looking forward to it. It’s a Wednesday night game, and we haven’t had one of those in a long time. We’re looking forward to a great crowd. We need our students and people here. It’s a 6:30 start, so hopefully we’ll get the kind of crowd we need to compete in this game.

On SEC Basketball in general…

“That question has been coming up a lot this week. Here’s how I would judge it: The margin for error is slim for everybody. The teams are so good that if you make a mistake, if you make a defensive mistake, this league, more often than not, makes you pay for it. It’s not like you make a mistake, and they miss, or they don’t see it. They capitalize on it. That’s a sign of excellent coaching and really good players. There’s depth in this league. I’ve never been in a league that combines this level of speed with rebounding. I’ve been in some situations where people have been more half-court oriented, and they’re really good rebounding teams. I’ve been in good rebounding leagues, but none like this, top to bottom. It just shows the ability that so many people have. Another thing that is a separator of this league, in my opinion, is the number of guys that can get their own shot. Whether they’re in the front-court or back-court, it is amazing. There are so few places where you think you can catch a break against somebody. You have to be so concerned about how many guys with the ball can go create a shot. In turn, it creates offensive rebounding opportunities and kickouts. You have to be so locked in to every possession, and those are some of the reasons that make this such a great league.”

On guarding Peters and Witherspoon…

“We can’t get extended. They want you to chase them around the court because they’re so good and so quick. Lamar Peters is so lethal going from his left to his right on a crossover. Quadree Witherspoon, Tyson Carter, and Nick Witherspoon are all really good with the ball and they can make shots. There’s a lot of multi-faceted players in this league, and Mississippi State has as many as anybody. They’re guys can do so many different things. We also have to be really cognisant in transition and when shots go up to make sure we’re getting five guys in the painted area for rebounding.”

On Recruiting Cycle…

“We’re looking for versatility and skill. We want to get year-round winners. They not only win in high-school, but they also win in the AAU. If they didn’t win, in a certain environment, why? It’s the same thing with multiple sport players. If they bring that competitive nature and that grit to it, it’s such a huge thing. Again for us, we want to really address upside. Not only where are they today, but where are they going to be. Looking as much as we can for people who have the high level of competitiveness and awareness and that want to be great. If you want to be great, we’re not going to have trouble with you making sure that you’re getting to class on time. Or that you’re getting your work done in study hall. Or that you’re putting your best effort into a class. We’re not going to have to worry about your social life. If you want to be great, you’re going to get over the distractions that get inside of you real quick. I think that’s really important as we move forward in recruiting. You want people that understand that if I’m going to be really good at basketball and have this passion for it, I’ve got to be really strong in every other area of my life. That’s what we’re really trying to judge and work on and learn about and get a real feel on in our recruiting.

On making the extra pass…

“I think making the extra pass and moving without the ball has improved this season. There’s still times when the pressure comes and we struggle with that. We try to tell them don’t drive into a crowd to make a play, draw a crowd and make a pass. That’s something that Mississippi State is tremendous at. That’s what you want out of your back-court. That’s also what you want out of your front-court with how many bigger guys are handling the ball for us.”

On how much he looks at assists…

“I don’t. I don’t look at assists as much, because we are going to drive the ball a lot. I really don’t. It is an important stat if you really are making threes. For me, it is the movement, the cutting without the ball, it’s the ability to make a play. I have had teams that I do judge it [assists] on that were good at shooting the ball and their spacing was good, so you wanted to drive it into the paint and kick. Right now though, we are trying to find ways to score. We are trying to cut, score, space, get to the rim, and we have to have a multitude of ways to do it, because we are not as good to be able to create our own shot without it being a tough shot. That is something that we try to work on consistently. Again, I’m more interested in us making the next pass then if that shot necessarily goes in.”

On practices this week…

“We didn’t practice Sunday, but it was outstanding yesterday. It was absolutely outstanding. We have had very good practices, but yesterday was high-level competitiveness. We won’t do nearly as much today. It has been good. When they start to realize that they can bring that more consistently. Because that has been the measure of our team with the exception of Texas A&M game, I don’t think we were aggressive in that game. The zone slowed us down a bit and we weren’t aggressive. Then there were times at Ole Miss and South Carolina where we got our head down, especially Ole Miss. Otherwise it has just been a few things that have tripped us up. I know the score has not always agreed with that, but that is really what it has been. The bottom line for us is when we play and understand that even when it is not going well, if we stay consistent with our spirit and talk on defense, which has been an issue, stay consistent with our rebounding and moving the ball, then good things will happen to us. Sometimes we get down and confidence doesn’t carry over like it should, but the other day we just fell a little short at the end.”

On strength training schedule…

“They’ll do that after practice today, because it is a little bit earlier of a day and we really have to work times around class schedules, especially for the seniors right now. We’ll lift after practice today. Certainly we work on strength and conditioning at practice, but there has been a component of that throughout the season.”

On performance in the weight room…

“This time of the year it is a lot more about getting in there and getting your job done. You are working and trying to get stronger. It is not as much competition in the weight room. It isn’t about maxing out or anything like that. I’m not unhappy about it [weight room progress]. Whatever you do no matter what you are doing, you have to be all in on it. You have to understand the value of it. When we say, ‘everything matters’, in the weight room or where ever for whether it is 30 minutes or longer or shorter, you have to put your best in it. This time of year we aren’t trying to wear people out in that area. We are just trying to get stronger and maintain our strength.”

On focus of getting strength and weight on Nicolas Claxton…

“Absolutely, that is nutrition. It’s part of it. It is not just Nic [Claxton]. We have everything possible here, you guys cover football. We have everything you want nutrition-wise, hydration-wise, all those types of ways. You have to carry it out. What you eat, what you drink, etc. I’ll look out my window sometimes and I’ll see Nic [Claxton] carrying that jug of water with him. I’ll send pictures of any of my former guys that are getting on an airplane or walking into an arena with a water jug – it works. You have to keep putting that on and replenishing, but not everyone understands that. There’s times in the past I’ve gone through the locker room and thrown out jugs that weren’t used. It all matters. When building a program no matter how you want it to be, because all programs are different – you have to make sure you are doing everything you can to make sure those standards are met and some guys don’t understand that, but that is when education process keeps coming. That also is when real competition inside of a team. They understand that they have to be on top of this and if I’m not on top of this I’m not going to play as much, and If I’m not on top of this then I can lose some minutes. We don’t necessarily have that. We have a lot of guys. We don’t have that all-out full throttle competition for minutes every day. Some of that plays into it when you’re building  a program. That is a 365 day year a thing though. Nutrition, hydration, strength and how you gain weight is a big part of that and it takes 365 days. It goes for the same thing for people trying to lose weight.”

On strictness of nutrition choices…

“Strict is a tough word, because we aren’t with them [team] 24/7. I go to Chick-Fil-a, and I’m not stopping them for going either. What you want them to understand is the value of what they are doing. What they put into their body when, a lot of the times. You can be mad at everything if you want to be and find something to poke at every time, but that is not how you coach and make people better. You try to coach them and educate them to make them better. Then hopefully the light bulb goes on and they realize this really matters. In these power schools like Georgia, everything is here for them to succeed, but you have to take advantage of it. That comes down to the individual. I’ve never sat someone down, because they don’t drink enough water, but they have lost time because their body didn’t keep up with it compared to someone else. That is part of it.”

On growth of Tye Fagen…

“I think Tye [Fagen] is a great example of someone that is bringing his practice game more to the court. He is playing faster and better defensively. There is times in practice he is really good at that, and now he has shown some more at games. But going out and really playing with confidence defensively. If you miss a shot, your confidence drops a litte, or make a turnover, your confidence drops, but it can’t drop on defense. It can’t drop on defense or on the glass. For him it is about to continue to develop and be that swiss army knife that can find different ways to get to the rim, create layups, drive, cut, play faster, better decisions with the ball and continue to understand what he can be defensively.”

On growth of Ignas Sarguinas…

“Ignas [Sarguinas], needs to play faster. He needs to be more consistent shooter, but he needs to play faster. I think defensively is a big situation as well, being about to get down and guard the ball, but that is part of it. Playing with a good first step, coming off the ball screen and attacking, and looking to make a play. What happens with young guys is that they get tentative. But we have to get quicker and faster in those places. Some of it is athletic training, some of it is strength training, but also some of it is mindset. But, playing faster without turnovers. Those are the bigger things.”

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.