Video/Transcript: Tom Crean, Justin Kier and Toumani Camara Interviews – Georgia vs. Florida

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Video/Transcript: Tom Crean, Justin Kier and Toumani Camara Interviews – Georgia vs. Florida

On keeping the momentum going in practice and an update on Christian Brown…

“We went right back to work yesterday. We didn’t do a lot yesterday. We have not been on the court a lot either of the last two days with the short week that we have now with Florida. But, I thought our preparation has been good. We went right to work on Florida. Whether it was the film sessions, the court, getting ourselves ready with what we want to do offensively and defensively game plan wise, and I think their attitudes and energy levels have been outstanding. Christian Brown practiced more today. So hopefully he will be available to us tomorrow.”

On if this season feels more unpredictable…

“Yeah, I think it’s just the year. I think what it shows with Florida is when you take out two starters with Scottie Lewis and Colin Castleton, it just shows how deep they are. They might be as deep as, and consistently as deep as anyone in the SEC. They just keep coming at you in waves. Mike [White] has done a great job of building that program over the years and putting a lot of talented guys in there. There is not much drop off if someone is out, or when they must go to the bench, they just keep coming at you in waves with their pressure. They want to create turnovers; they want to create issues for you. They get great spacing and can play a lot of different line ups. Like I said, because of that depth he can go with two bigs, he can go with a small ball four-man, he can go with three guards, he can really mix it up. The unpredictability is strong. What happens and it has happened to us is that you can lose your spirit quickly in these games. You cannot allow that to happen. You must be in a position where you are continuing to fight back. I understand how long the games are so that is easier said than done in this type of pandemic year—but that is what you have to strive to do in these types of games. I think that is why you see some lopsided scores because some people struggle with that, us included.” 

On Toumani Camara and where he could improve his game…

“We need him to be aggressive. We’re a third of the way through right now so we need him to be aggressive offensively. We need to find him more, he needs to keep being aggressive on the glass, I think he needs to focus stronger on his finishing and the ball just needs to move a bit better. He’s a very valuable guy, he’s doing a lot of important things for us, but there’s no question we need to do more for him to get him the ball and he needs to do more in the sense of cutting, moving without the ball, being ready to shoot. When he drives, really go up with some strength and force.”

On what are some of the keys to the game against Florida…

“They’re so good with their pressure, we have to take care of the ball. We cannot be giving them live ball turnovers. They really, really want to force tempo. They play as many defenses as anybody in the league. Whether it’s a 3-2 zone, a 2-3 zone, a 1-3-1 zone, full court man-to-man run and jump, zone pressure, they can switch, they just do a lot of stuff. It’s to confuse you and to get you out of character. We can’t let that happen, we have to do a good job of controlling the pace of the game, recognizing what’s there, making simple plays and they’re just too athletic  to give live ball turnovers. That’s paramount. I think how we defend the post, especially if [Colin] Castleton is back, to go with [Omar] Payne. It’s going to be crucial, much like it was the other night with Kentucky. Their spacing is as good as anybody’s spacing. I’d put their spacing up there with Alabama’s and Arkansas’. They just do a great job of really staying true and committed to their spacing. With Scottie Lewis back, we can’t be in a position where we’re over helping or over playing because he can back cut you to death. So, I think that stuff is important. It really goes back to the same things. It’s the rebounding, the movement without the ball, it’s not letting Tre Mann get really comfortable in the game. It’s not leaving Noah Locke, it’s understanding [Tyree] Appleby is instant offense. They’re not going to put anyone out on the court that can’t make plays. Every matchup that you have you have to honor it with being alert, aware and then when the shot goes up you have to find them and hit them.”

On the success of the graduate transfers…

“They are all good people. They are all good people, and they have been well-raised. They all have their own story, right, in how they have been raised. We are very fortunate in that. You’re exactly right, it can be hit or miss. The last thing you want is an independent contract, and I think in this day and age it is very easy for that to happen because, and it’s going to get even more prevalent, obviously with grad-transfers and with transfers—the rules are changing here, eventually.  It’s really, really important that they come in, and I want them to understand how important it is that they are at Georgia, not just because they are playing basketball in the SEC, but because of what kind of education this gives them—what kind of institutional memory this school has. The level of when you go someday in this workforce and you have the University of Georgia behind your name to go with what you already had—that’s a pretty impressive thing. All three [Justin Kier, Andrew Garcia, P.J. Horne] have done a really good job of blending in and not making it about themselves, being locked into the team, and I think they really are excited that they are getting better.”

On Justin Kier, Sahvir Wheeler and Andrew Garcia living together and how that has benefitted them…

“I think it’s good. I think it’s good. I think where I am heading with this is, I like the way they’re together. I’m not going to let guys live with non-basketball players anymore because you need that comradery, especially in a situation like this this year where you have so many new guys, it has been so different, you are so isolated—I think all of that is good. It’s really, really hard to find ways to make sure that your team has comradery the way things are laid out. You don’t want them out and about a lot. You don’t want them in a lot of different places, because it’s just too risky right now with the way the world sits. So, when they are together like that, I think that’s really, really important. I have learned my lesson on, if you are going to be on the team, unless it’s a really, really unique situation, you’re going to live with your teammates because it’s really important that they get that extra time because it just builds bonds and that carries over to the court from the locker room and things like that.”

On if he is putting an emphasis on ball-movement for this game…

“No, I didn’t know that. I never look at comparison stats because it really is—those have no variance on what we’re doing. I think they’re one of the better ball-moving teams around. Those are just statistics and that doesn’t really tell a story to us at all. We just need to move the ball at a good rate and make sure we are cutting and moving and ready to shoot. That’s what’s most important to us because I know they are going to do the same thing.”

On how the team is taking a breath after their last game…

“I think we had to take that huge breath and settle down. These last two games, we may not have shot the ball well, but we’ve moved the ball a lot more. We’ve played a team game and the games we’ve lost, not that we didn’t play a team game, but defensively and offensively we had some individualism. We know we can compete with anybody when we play as a team, the right way and lock in on defense. As you’ve seen in the last few games, we may not have shot the ball well but our defense was on point and we try to do that. We’re going to try to continue to stay focused on the defensive game plan, because you never know how well you’re going to shoot.”

On what Georgia has allowed for them to be successful as grad transfers…

“I think it’s our maturity and our willingness to want to win. P.J. [Horne] is probably the most winningest player on this team, coming from Buzz Williams and Virginia Tech. Andrew [Garcia] and I come from being the best player at our school. Maybe not won as many games as P.J., has but we know what it takes to win and I feel like that’s the maturity of us three. We know this could be our last year, you never know what’s going to happen. We’re going to fight every single night to improve and represent Georgia. I think Coach Crean, and the whole coaching staff, have done a great job at letting us know we never need to step our foot off the gas. There’s definitely guys who do, I was in that position as a freshman and sophomore, like everybody else in college basketball. Being a graduate student it’s that maturity level that if you come out, you can’t really have bad games and if you do, you still have to impact the team. That’s what we’re focused on, winning and doing what we need to do to fulfill what we want to do this season.”

On anticipation being a key factor for his steals…

“I’ve always been pretty good at reading passes. With the scouts and film, I watch a lot of film. So with me watching film, I’ll see the play before it happens. I see what play they’re running and know what’s going on, I don’t always like to jump the gap because if I do miss the pass, that puts my team at a disadvantage. I do try to pick the ones I’m going to get. It’s just studying the game and other teams, I’ve always been pretty good at that. I’ve been watching film since high school when you watch that much film and go through the plays, I know which ones I can probably get. If you’re aggressive and study the game mentally, it makes the physical part easier.”

On keeping the momentum…

“It’s going to help us a lot, those last two wins. Just keeping that mindset and being able to keep the same speed and motivation we have been doing the last two games. It’s easier for us to go to another game after a win than a loss. I think it’s going to start a trend for us.”

On if he saw this team having a potentially breakthrough season…

“Yeah I believe so. It took us a long time, compared to the other teams, to find ourselves. Every game we’ve learned about each other as a team. I think we’ve come a long way on the court and outside. Everything is going the way it should be, we’re just missing a few pieces of the puzzle and we’ve got K.D. [Johnson] back.  Things are going in our favor, we just need to keep going and have a positive mindset.”

On how comfortable he is with playing as the “five”…

“Playing the five, is what I did most of last year. Being able to be versatile and play outside or inside is something I think showcases me a lot. It’s something I’m able to do; guard guards, guard bigs. So, being versatile is really important to my game.”

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