Video/Transcript: Tom Crean, Andrew Garcia and Sahvir Wheeler Postgame Interviews – Georgia vs. Florida 2021

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Video/Transcript: Tom Crean, Andrew Garcia and Sahvir Wheeler Postgame Interviews – Georgia vs. Florida 2021

On team’s energy during the game… 

“I didn’t see it coming, but we did. Our last two days were really good. They were short. They were concise. They were aggressive. We’ve even backed them off the last couple of days because they’ve been so aggressive in practice. That aggressiveness that we had against Ole Miss and Kentucky and the last couple of days wasn’t there at all, and the fact is that we only had four deflections at half, we were getting beat off the dribble, and we just weren’t physical enough. I think a lot of it was the lack of physicality, which made it look like we were getting outhustled, the lack of being down and being aggressive. So, to answer your question, yes, but it’s also because we did not come with the physicality and fight that you have to have to compete against anybody let alone a team that has the talent up front that Florida has.” 

On what is needed to beat a team like Florida… 

“I don’t think so at all. We shot 54 percent for the game, 64 percent in the second half. I don’t think you have to play perfect. I think you have to play physical. You have to be active. Even with a one-point game at half, I didn’t think we were active enough at all. We only had four deflection at half. This is the most bewildering one to me of the year because of the way that we practiced the last couple of days. We haven’t had any back-to-back days, and, again, they didn’t leave it in the practice though. We cut the practices short because they were so aggressive and locked in, but it just didn’t transfer to today. I think the biggest thing we have to learn is if we’re leaning on one or two people to lead us and be the emotional, verbal leaders of our team, we learned a very important lesson about that today. There’s a self-determination that you have to make as an individual every time that you’re going to play, that you’re going to bring your best and be willing to play through it and not rely on someone else. This was another one of those games when, even when we were down, I didn’t look back and really believe we were going to get this. We don’t beat Ole Miss without that. We don’t beat Kentucky without that. If it’s lack of maturity, lack of spirit, whatever it is, we didn’t have that much today, but I don’t think you have to play perfect basketball by any stretch. You just have to be very aggressive. You have to be very active, and you have to be willing to hit and fight and hit first on the glass.” 

On team’s spirit heading into the next game… 

“I don’t know. We just have to get back to practice. We just did it a couple of days ago. I think it’s just that we have to look at the lineups. It was a little out of character for the lack of physicality for guys that I think if you look at Toumani [Camara], P.J. [Horne], and Andrew [Garcia], and you look at the lack of rebounding, it starts right there. Again, a couple of nights ago, we were extremely physical and aggressive on the glass, so I think it’s just lack of consistency more than it is anything else.” 

On losing a valuable player [Anthony Edwards] and expectations with restructuring a new team…

“I don’t know, you know I don’t have a good answer to that. I mean we did a really good job the last few days in these games. Then today we didn’t, so it’s different. We don’t have a guy obviously like Anthony [Edwards] that can get those kind of baskets, we really don’t have a guy like Rayshuan Hammonds that can get those kinds of baskets. So, it has to be collective. It has to be collective for us. It has to be collective of the defensive end too, and I think with eight new players, certainly having K.D. [Johnson] adds to it. I never think in terms of expectations, I think in terms of how we are going to improve. We have been improving, we’ve been improving the last few days and then we didn’t show it today in the game.”

On being down by three coming out of the half and what happened after…

“I think I covered it, we didn’t come out with the same level of fight. We started to get beat off the dribble, we had a couple of turnovers with Tye Fagan, we get beat off the dribble. I have to change this line up, you know at some point and get some guys that are really going to bear down and say, ‘Okay this starts with how we come down and get connected.’ One of our big goals when you get three stops in a row is start at half and to come out with that kind of mindset. We didn’t have that today, so that’s what happened. Nobody took the bull by the horns and said, ‘Okay I am going to lead the way and get us out of this,’ not necessarily with scoring. I think average players think they’re going to lead their way out, well I am going to go get a basket, most of the time it doesn’t work that way. They have to lead with impact, they have to lead with defense, rebounding and be that emotional leader that you need, and we didn’t really have that. They did. I didn’t like how we got our head down in this, I mean we are trying to get guys that have not played together other than this year, since the end of the summer to understand how much they can affect one another. I also think we have to learn that we can’t wait for someone to affect us. We have to be able to put ourselves in position to be that one that impacts teammates.”

On K.D. Johnson’s slow shooting day and if we will see more of Jonathan Ned…

“I think we are going to have to go with Jonathan Ned, he’s a spacer, he took open shots. He just hasn’t been as physical as we needed him to be, and we knew that and it’s just been a little bit shorter. It’s taken a little bit too long but he can space the floor, he knows how to play the game and I think we are going to have to because Christian Brown practiced just a little bit yesterday, I don’t think he was comfortable to be in the game as much. K.D. [Johnson] got distracted early too, K.D. played like a freshman that has only played a couple of games today, and I know he did some things late but that’s where you need leadership to kind of help guide him through. Today he was out there like he was stranded in the water by himself with no life raft. There wasn’t anybody really pulling it together to help. Uncharacteristic, no doubt about it, something we have got to get changed quickly.” 

On free throws… 

“Yeah, that’s embarrassing. It is embarrassing for the guys missing the free throws, it really is. Because, they are way better shooters than that. We went 17-19 I think, the other day, or 15-17, whatever it was against Ole Miss. We only shot nine the other night, we were 7-9. We just have to step up to the line and make free throws. This is college basketball, it is the SEC. You just have to step up and knock them down. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for that because, again, it would be different if they were poor shooters. They are not poor shooters. It’s just get your breath, bear down, stay with it, reach up, get the self-talk right, and go up and knock it down, and that is—I would hope no one would think that we don’t work on free throws. I hope that would go without saying, but I know it does not look like it at times. But, that is an embarrassment when we shoot that way, not with the time we spent on it, not with the quality of the guys that are shooting the shots.”

On what looked promising… 

“They were locked in, everybody was locked in. It was—you never know if you are going to win the game, but to play with the lack of spirit and to play with the lack of aggressiveness, in a game like this today, that didn’t make sense. That really didn’t make sense. They [Florida] have a really great program, Mike [White] has built that program up. He has done a really great job with his recruiting, they are deep, he has had the chance to build it and get guys that can really play the style that he wants to play, and they have been there a little bit with it now. But that is no excuse, we have got to bear down and go. As much as we worked on things, we never took away what we wanted to take away. Whether it was individuals, off the dribble, whether it was the rebounding, we just weren’t aggressive enough. If you don’t come to fight in this league, the other team usually does, and you are going to be behind it. Again, we still had numerous chances, but we just did not put any consistency together today aggressiveness wise.” 

On what was the most frustrating aspect of today’s game… 

“We always harp on that—we have to make our free throws. Those always hurt. But, we obviously got out-rebounded in this game, and they exposed us on the second chance points. So, it was really frustrating. We were trying to just figure it out throughout the game.” 

On if he was surprised by the outcome of the game… 

“It is something we definitely don’t want to back track on, that is something we have talked about as a team. But, we know collectively what we have to do, and we fell short. We kept making the wrong play on the defensive end and giving up those boards. It is frustrating coming off a game where we played as hard as we did. But everybody knows what we have to do. So, we just have to stick together and figure it out.” 

On rebounding and the size of Florida… 

“I feel like on the defensive end, everybody has the fight and the energy to play. The pace we play at offensively and defensively allows you to get down the court. But, we are a small team, but I think that games like this were we verse opponents who are bigger than us you need a collective effort to come crash down if me, and whoever are tracking down the bigs and someone comes soaring in. Fundamentally we just have to remember, ‘Alright let’s get the ball and then we push.’ Because we all want to use our speed and athleticism, but we also have to remember to get those boards and the second chance points.” 

On the 16-3 run in the game… 

“We have to work on out coverages on the pick-and-rolls. We probably freeze a little bit. It’s a little too much. Then, it’s probably me shifting to help out the guards off the picks. I think understanding the weak side and the strong side. Just helping and bumping. It’s those little things we have to get back to, and we didn’t execute today on that end. I think we just need to stick to the game plan and stick together, and understand that everybody has each other and to keep talking. Everyone plays with heart and energy, but the other team is going to do stuff to take that away. We just have to stick to the game plan and each other.”  

On starting SEC play with rough games and how to start winning… 

“I think it is a quick fix. We have been there and done that. We had little lapses in the game today. But, I feel like we did bring some fight, there was some positives. So, we have to come together individually, as players, and bring back some of the stuff we talk about, and bring back that dog mentality we showed the last two games. Because we have already proved we can play at that level. We need to continue to have that consistency going forward.” 

On what falls on the veterans moving forward… 

“It’s big for us to keep having a voice, but it’s everybody. Everybody has to have that voice. If it’s not going for them or even if it is going for them. Because we have to collectively help each other, and we have to bring our own energy 100 percent. We shouldn’t have anybody telling us, ‘Alright let’s play hard.’ Mistakes are going to happen, even myself. If I don’t box out if I’m not being more active. We have to continue to have that will—continue to have that voice and that talk so we can open it up for everybody to have that energy.”

On what the most frustrating part of the game was tonight…  

“I think everything was equally frustrating, but you can’t just decide if the ball goes in. You don’t miss free throws on purpose, you always go up there trying to make them and if it doesn’t fall, then it doesn’t fall. On the rebounding, everyone can get better, every person on our roster, that’s just an effort thing. That’s just going down there and attacking the ball and that’s something that we didn’t really do today as a team. I think that will be a little more frustrating and we’ve got a couple of days to correct it.”

On the difference between his solid first half and poor second half… 

“I’m not sure. I’m a part of the same game that you’re watching, and I’m just trusting Coach [Crean]. He felt like he had something good going there, and he went with it. We trust Coach and his game plan, and we are trying to win games, so I want to do whatever is best for the team whether I am out there or not.” 

On team inconsistency from game to game… 

“I think now looking back in hindsight as a group collectively, we know what it takes for us to win games and we know some of the common factors when we don’t win games. We’re still in the growing process. We’ve had some pretty good wins and losses that we wish we could have taken back some plays here and there to come back. But obviously, it’s frustrating to lose games, no one wants to lose. But, we have found some bright spots in today’s game whether that is Mikal [Starks] and his defensive pressure, K.D. [Johnson] getting to the basket, and even Johnathan Ned coming in for 10 minutes and getting two threes and a couple of rebounds. So obviously, we lost but there are some bright spots, and we’re going to get back to the drawing board and keep getting better.” 

On those common factors when things are not going well… 

“I think some of it has to do with our performance at the free-throw line and our lack of defensive tenacity. It’s a whole new game, as Coach [Crean] says, ‘There’s one game where you’re playing the possession and guarding the possession, and then when a shot goes up, that’s a whole new ballgame as far as the athleticism and the physicality required when it’s time to rebound the ball.’ That’s something we have to get back to. In games we’ve won and games we’ve played well, we’ve been fairly close–either winning or losing or tying the battle. We can’t be outrebounded how we were today if we want to win games.” 

On the health of his shoulder… 

“I’m good.” 

On what happened during Florida’s big run to start the second half… 

”Basketball is a game of runs. We’ve made runs in prior games where we’ve sustained the lead and in other games, we’ve had the runs be on us. Today was one of those games where we took a hit and we didn’t respond, we didn’t counterpunch. We have to find ways to battle through adversity and know that these are high-major teams, these are SEC teams, everyone has a pro on their team. So, we have to know that that is going to come, and we have to fight back.” 

On what didn’t translate from practice to today’s game… 

”I think that’s a little bit of the mystery for the self-reflection that we have to do as a team. Because, when you practice the way we practice—I don’t think we’ve had a bad practice all year, maybe one or two on the year—we practice hard and guys are competing; we’re dialed in. It is frustrating when we practice so well and come in and play like this. So, I’m not really sure what actually happens, but I know that it can’t go on for much longer if we want to win games.” 

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