Video/Transcript: Tom Crean Postgame Presser – Georgia vs. Samford 2020

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Video/Transcript: Tom Crean Postgame Presser – Georgia vs. Samford 2020

Opening Statement

“I told our team right after the game that that is a character win. Any season, but especially in a season like this, you find a way to win, you don’t give up, you don’t panic, and you just keep coming. We got better inside the game. We were down by five in the rebounding game at halftime. We out rebounded them. I believe it was a 13-point turnaround in the second half. We just kept plugging in there. We kept finding a way. We had three stops in a row seven times tonight. We made some timely shots late, and we just kept going. We missed Toumani Camara tonight, big time. We had some other guys who were banged up that were playing through that, some sickness. We just had to find a way to win, and fortunately for these guys, they did against what I think is a really good team, and a guy who can really coach. They are committed to that style of play. I knew we were ready to play, but I was afraid that they could come out and stun us because of how fast they play, and we have not seen that, and that’s exactly what happened. We were able to hang with it, and there’s a lot of room for improvement, a ton of room for improvement, but to find a way to win the game and improve inside the game and know that you have a lot of improvement to move forward on is really good.”

On team’s experience…

“I think it’s important because they’ve had the experience. They’ve been in different battles. They haven’t been in as many battles with us, but we found a way on Wednesday night. We’re not shooting the ball great yet. It’s just not there yet, and it will come. We spend a lot of time on it. Our saying that is such a great saying- I didn’t come up with it, but we use it all the time- is the ball finds energy. At times, that happened tonight, but there were times that we didn’t cut, didn’t go as well, and we made some adjustments late in the game. I wish I had made them a little bit earlier. We were trying to take what the defense was giving us, but we weren’t really recognizing what the defense was giving us. I wish I had made it a little bit better for them early on, but we made the adjustments, and we found a way. To have experienced guys out there late, made a big difference for us.”

On this year’s team compared to last…

“That’s exactly what happened tonight. They came together inside of it. Toumani Camara is playing at a really high level right now. I think he’s our leading scorer and rebounder and has just had three really fantastic games for us and is our leading deflector. He’s just such an active guy, and we missed that. We missed that size at 6-8, he’s so strong, and he’s gotten better at that. I think we’ve had some of that. We’re playing without K.D. Johnson who we have earmarked as a very important player for our team. We didn’t have Justin [Kier] one night. Our guys are finding ways to adjust, and I think it’s really important that we do that because we don’t have that one guy that you know on any given night is going to go out and get you 20, 25, could get you 30. We just don’t have that, so it has to come more collectively. We had five guys in double figures tonight. We found a way to rebound. We got to the foul line. That’s how the team has to be built, and we have to make more shots certainly. The most important thing is that we continue to defend when the offense wasn’t going well. We can get a lot better defensively, but the bottom line is that we did continue to defend. That’s the sign of the maturity that we have to have moving forward in this season. Can we continue to play really hard and together when things are not going well for us on the other end of the floor?”

On putting Jaxon Etter in and his delivery…  

“Well I tell him and I just told him again tonight, ‘He’s an SEC player to me right and I’m very confident in him.’ He works hard. He works as hard as anybody on our team. I can’t tell you when he has had a bad practice, sometimes I invent stuff just to get mad at him in practice so people know that I am coaching him at the same standard, but he brings a high level of intensity, and he’s gotten so much stronger. I felt very good, that was a feel move and he did a good job, now I wouldn’t have put him in late if he hadn’t played in the first half, but he did a good job in the first half. He is aggressive. He’s really smart. he talks to his teammates. He’s unafraid. He is physical, and I thought it was a great. I thought it was a great presence of mind for Tye Fagan to find him and Jaxon to make that cut.” 

On Samford’s defensive impact on offense…

“Well, I think it had quite a bit, I mean Mikal Starks went down at a crucial point for us because I was really getting ready to play Mikal and Sahvir [Wheeler] together so that we would have another guy to break the pressure. What we have to do is, we have to get Sahvir off the ball more. Tonight, I wish I had gotten him a ball screen at the middle of the floor. We did it early, I got away from it. I wish I had done a little bit of a better job there to give Sahvir more relief in the pressure but he is in great shape. He is in phenomenal shape. He weathered those storms. He handled it, that’s not easy. I mean that is not easy to do what he is doing. I am proud of the way that he handled that. Their defense is good, they’re going to keep you uncomfortable the whole game. You knew whether it was going zone out of time outs whether it was full court pressure, zone pressure. Whatever it was. Bucky’s [Williams] has a big kitchen sink. You know when they talk about throwing the kitchen sink at you? He has a big kitchen sink, offensively with what he’s got with the ability to shoot the ball, and what he’ll do defensively. I think that is why he is an outstanding coach, and they’re going to have a great program.” 

On Toumani Camara’s injury…

“It’s not COVID[-19], and it’s a lower body injury. Hopefully, he’s going to be back here real quick.” 

On having the first 5-0 start since the 2001 season…

I did not know about that until after the game, I don’t put a lot of thought into that. I think we have just got to keep getting better and better, I mean that’s the bottom line. We’re playing different styles of teams, and certainly, we’ve got to ramp up next week when Cincinnati comes in here and when Mississippi State comes in, in between Northeastern coming in. So bottom line is, we’ve just got to improve. What I like about these games is we are finding ways to win. Some games we are scoring points, some games we are not scoring as many points, but we are finding ways to win the game. I think those things, hopefully, will serve us well as we go down the road. The bottom line is we have to get better this week, you know we’ve got to do our job academically and make sure we are on top of that, but we got to get better as a team. That’s what I am focused on right now. 

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