Video/Transcript: Tom Crean, K.D. Johnson and Sahvir Wheeler Interviews – Georgia vs. Auburn 2021

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Video/Transcript: Tom Crean, K.D. Johnson and Sahvir Wheeler Interviews – Georgia vs. Auburn 2021

On how much responsibility Coach Crean accepts for tonight’s game…

“I guess all of it, I would say the entire thing. I am the head coach, so I would say the responsibility falls with me absolutely.”

On K.D. Johnson being on the floor and Georgia’s first half…

“Well, that we missed [K.D. Johnson] for 10 games. He brings a different level of energy and competitiveness to the game, and he’s an attacker. The only player that didn’t go through our chest and driving the ball to the rim was K.D. So much of tonight was lack of talk and lack of—you know we wanted to guard the ball screen with two people, well those two people have to talk. They’ve got to talk on the switch. They have to be up. They have to be in those situations, but you’ve got to start with being tough on the basketball. Whether you’re getting under, whether you’re going over, whatever it is, K.D. Johnson brings that. K.D. brings a different spirit inside of that situation. We didn’t talk very well so I’ll go back to Anthony’s [Dasher], so I guess I am responsible for the fact that our talk is not remotely close tonight to what it is in practice when it comes to how we get back in transition defense. It’s got to get better in a hurry, because people are coming at us and were back on our heels. More importantly, we are not taking initiative of the ball stop. We are looking for our own man rather than just being in an area with a man and just taking it. Those are the kind of things we have to get better at. So, I’ve got to coach better.” 

On transition defense… 

“I can’t explain that. I can’t explain Tye Fagan giving up 10 points and transition into the first half and you know a couple lobs in the three, and nine, 10 points, whatever. I can’t explain that because that is not how we do it. So, I have to coach it better. I have to coach it better, and we are too quiet. We have got to get downm and it is basically about getting around your man. Get the ball stopped, get the rim covered, get in help, and find your man, a man, I should say, not your man, but a man, and let’s guard. A lot of times we are back—we were not aggressive, aware, and communicating. That is what has to get better. So, what I have to do a much better job of is getting exactly in the game, and it’s going to be those leaders that are going to get us back and take responsibility for getting their teammates in those positions and to talk.” 

On second half collapse… 

“I thought we were there in the second half too. We were making runs, but then we would give up a couple of baskets. We would get a couple baskets, we would get a couple stops, then we would make a mistake. I think it is just a combination of not bearing down, and what I haven’t liked the last couple of games is we lose a little belief that we can win the game. A 12-point deficit, a 13-point deficit, a 15-point deficit, plus with as fast as they shoot it, as fast as Arkansas shoots it, that is nothing in college basketball. That is just absolutely nothing. We have got to be able to work through that better. So, I don’t know. I have got to look at who I am playing, I have to look at combinations, and I am going to have to make some tough choices.” 

#2 Sahvir Wheeler | Sophomore 

On his leadership… 

“I think the biggest thing for us is the consistency in which we hold each other accountable. Not just when we feel like it, not just when things are going good, not just when things are going bad at the beginning—but when you have a stretch of things that are kind of going against you—to stay consistent in holding each other accountable. I think we did that for a bit, a stretch, a period during the game, but after a while we kind of lost it, and that starts with me. Obviously, if I don’t do it, some of the other guys might follow my lead, but that is something I take blame for—not getting the team ready or holding those guys engaged. That is something we are going to get better at and there will be a difference next game and all the games after that.” 

On Johnson and how they will mesh in the back court… 

“KD is really good. Obviously, you have seen his impact. There is something, I’m sure you guys are familiar with, we keep track deflections, and his first game here he had 23 deflections, which is a crazy number. His activity on the ball, off the ball, defensive end, offensive end. He’s playing with juice, he’s playing with life, he’s playing with passion and that is something we are definitely going to need. Now, we have to get guys to kind of get used to him so we can put it all together, but I love playing with him. We complement each other. We’re both speedy guards, can get to the lane and create for others who can score. We are going to get better, and I am super excited. He worked super hard to get to this moment, to be able to play with us. We are going to get to work.” 

On the adjustment period to play with Johnson in a game… 

“I think he acclimated pretty well, obviously we didn’t win the game, but he was aware. He was one of the guys who brought intensity throughout the whole game. He encouraged his teammates, and offensively he fits right in with Coach’s scheme which is getting downhill, playing with pace, attacking rebounds—if we aren’t making shots and making plays with others. I think he fit right on schedule as if we had him. So, there was no lapse in chemistry there. We just have to play better as a team. Like I said, we’re glad to have him, we are glad he’s back, and we know he has worked super hard for this moment.” 

On whether confidence is an issue with what is going on… 

“No, I don’t thing confidence is a problem. We know we are capable. We know we went to overtime with one of the better teams in the SEC, on the road—that is a winnable game—Mississippi State, those are winnable games. Obviously, the past two games we didn’t play as great. But, we still have a winning record, we still know ways to win. Obviously, we have things to work on. The team knows that. I don’t thing confidence is a big issue because we know what we are capable of. We know what all of us individually have done to get to this point. We know we are working hard. We know we are working hard in practice. We are pushing each other. Every great team isn’t perfect. You are going to have ups and downs, and I think this is just a down for us. I know we are going to get up soon. We want to get it fixed.”

On starting slow offensively… 

“Sometimes, but you just have to be able to fill out the game script. I can impact the game in other ways. I could have done a little better defensively tonight, but I can still impact the game offensively by getting my teammates the ball, getting them some shots, running the offense. I guess, you could say I got going, it took a little bit, but I got it going. We have to play better as a team, and I have to play better.” 

On struggling against the SEC and not letting that impact the rest of the season… 

“I don’t think anyone really looks season to season. As far as like, ‘Oh we are 0-4 like we were last year.’ I don’t think anyone has that mindset. I don’t think anyone playing any sport has that mindset. You try to win every game. You learn from your losses, and you try to win the next game. I don’t have that thought, and I know none of my teammates have any of those thoughts, as far as struggling in the SEC. I mean this is one of the best conferences in basketball. You can play your best basketball and still lose the game. Obviously, you could not play good and you lose. We are just trying to find our way and find our way to win and win in the SEC. We are going to get it going soon. We just have to take it one day at a time, one practice at a time and one game at a time. We know we are capable of winning we just have to make small adjustments that end up being big things in the game to win.” 

#0 K.D. Johnson | Freshman  

On how he can elevate teammates to his level of play when a game is going poorly…  

“We just have to move on to the next day. We’ll go into practice, see what we did wrong, and fix the mistakes that we had tonight. Obviously, we had a lot of mistakes tonight, so we just have to go into practice and get better from where we left off.” 

On any prior history with Sharife Cooper in the Atlanta area… 

“We played in a celebrity game in the summer, but we have never gotten a chance to play each other in a real game. I’ve met him a few times and we’re cool off the court, but that was our first time competing against each other in an actual game.” 

On Coach Crean’s management and current state of the team… 

“Right now, we are in a place where we need to improve on us, on our side. Coach Crean is doing a great of getting us prepared, him and Coach McClain both preparing us for the game. But, it comes down to us on the court and competing, getting into games and getting stops, and winning ball games. There’s only so much he can do as a coach, but when it comes down to the court. We have to get down and do all the dirty work.” 

On adjusting to his first college game… 

“For a couple of minutes, I was juiced up, but I had my coaches telling me that it’s going to come to me if I just calm down and let it come to me. I was pretty amped up before the game.” 

On how he felt he played personally… 

“I did okay. We didn’t get the win so that’s really what I was focused on. I wasn’t really focused on me and my stats, I was just focused on us getting our first win in the SEC.” 

On difficulty communicating in games versus practice… 

”It was kind of difficult because of the different setting from practice and you know the guys in front of you and there’s nobody in there, to fans being in there and you are in an actual game and get to playing. As a team, we need to get our talking up, and I felt I did okay with the talking-side while being in the game.” 

On how to stay in games when free-throws aren’t being made… 

”It’s just getting stops. We were scoring the ball, we didn’t score it as well as we needed to, but it just comes down to defense. They had about six possessions where they just threw outlet passes for dunks and layups. So, we need to do a better job of talking on defense and getting back. We have to sit down and guard when it’s not our day on offense.” 

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