Video/Transcript: Tom Crean and Sahvir Wheeler Postgame Interviews – Georgia vs. Ole Miss

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Video/Transcript: Tom Crean and Sahvir Wheeler Postgame Interviews – Georgia vs. Ole Miss

On their offensive ball movement…

“I do not think it is that simple—I think they really came in locked in on the guard, they really did. We were aggressive. I thought the job Sahvir [Wheeler] did on Devonte Schuler was incredible, I mean it really was—to play 38 minutes and guard like that, is a tough matchup. Schuler can score at the rim and can score at the pull-up, he can step back, he just pounds the ball so hard, so you are not going to steal it from him, and he gets by you. He did an excellent job with that. I think to hold them to the threes and to challenge them to the shots that we did, I think gave our offense confidence tonight. Certainly, some threes early like Justin [Kier], Tye [Fagan], and things of that nature—Sahvir’s three. No question that helps, but it was not like we made 20 threes. It was not like we were Alabama, and we made 20 threes. We missed some too, so we got to keep coming. I thought they did a good job of that tonight. I am really proud of their effort.”

On free-throws…

“Yeah, free-throws, we can control the free-throws. We can get better there. There is no question that they had too many points, too many second-chance points. I think the fact that they shot 36-percent and 15-percent from the field that might be the story of the game as far as how our defense played. I hope nobody misses that. That is impressive because that is hard to come by. The only other time we defended the three that well was the Kentucky game. But the bottom line is that we did make some threes. We did have some good ball movement, we had 16 assists. For what we did not get in second-chance points and what we left on the table at the free-throw line—we needed those three’s, but we also needed one-shot stops to get ourselves going off the break. “

On winning a game with turnovers… 

“I really don’t know Marc [Weiszer]. We won tonight, so I really don’t know to be honest with you. That’s a hypothetical, can we win games with 19 turnovers. We have, but I really don’t have a good answer to that. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to focus on the fact that we got a win tonight, and we’ll fix all that stuff when we get in the film room and when we get back in practice. I don’t think anyone is trying to turn it over 19 times, but we were able to overcome that and win the game.” 

On Tye Fagan working against their defense… 

“We put him in the middle of their zone. We put him in the middle of their 1-3-1 zone, and it’s almost like we tried to have two point guards. When we hit him in the middle, then he can operate from there, and that’s something that we do to create. We want to turn it into 2-1-2 alignment as quick as we can against the 1-3-1. Where they’re so good is that they go from a 1-3-1 to a 2-3 zone, so they’ll drop the top to the bottom really quick. You want to get it through the middle, but it’s not the same way to attack it. All of the sudden once they drop into the 2-3, you still have to have the ability now to change your alignment. If they start in a 2-3 like they did tonight, it’s a different story, but when they’re morphing from the 1-3-1 and turning it into a 2-3 zone, which Kermit [Davis] is famous for, you have to be able to shift your players. Having Tye [Fagan] be able to play in the middle and then being able to get in on the baseline makes a huge difference. I said this on the radio show. He’s a very good random basketball player, meaning that random is really hard for a lot of guys. It’s really hard. Some guys are much better at A, B, C, D, E. In the case of random, it means that you can operate, you can get behind the defense, you can flash, and you are just playing basketball. That’s what he does a good job of, and it gets him around the rim where he’s highly efficient. He’s also as good of a cutter as we have, and that gives hope to the younger players on our team because he wasn’t like that when he came here. He probably had the ball in his hands a lot more when he was in high school. I’m giving you a longer answer than maybe you’re looking for, but the bottom-line is that you can move him around in a defense like that, and it makes a big difference.  

On what he has taken into the second half of the SEC season…

“We’ve got to get better at that and get ready for Auburn and a quick turn around and just keep improving. The big picture part is, we’re going to get beat in size, but we cannot get beat in contact. There is nobody we’re going to match up with this team and this league that is not going to be bigger than us. They have quickness, they’re athletic. We’ve got to make contact and at the same time we’ve got to make sure we’re using our quickness and speed to offensive rebound the ball. So, there’s a long list of things, but I think the rebounding part of that is so important, and we just have to get confidence at the foul line. You know we’ve had nights where we’ve missed two free throws, it’s uncharacteristic for some guys because I’m with them in practice, I watch them shoot them, I watch them shoot them in pressure situations and certainly it’s not the same as a game. They’re so much better at it we just got to get that confidence. I think when the ball moves like that, when bodies move like that it’s give us a chance. I think what we’ve got to keep understanding is how important defense—our ability to change defense is our ability to play to a game plan. We didn’t have anybody that played it well. See that’s the hard part. I’d love to say the thing I hope we can control the most is consistency, but if we had that answer we’d have already done it, as would probably 95-percent of the other teams in college basketball right now. I told my team I just counted 27 postponed or cancelled games today when I looked at the list. It’s unbelievable how hard this year is for them and maybe we’ll go through this again in some point in time in all of our lives where maybe we’ll deal with another pandemic. Maybe we’ll deal with this, but it won’t be like this because this was the first time for everybody. For them to be able to come out every day and understand the hardest thing to do in this league is to win—so the most important thing to do is control what is controllable and that starts with your attitude it starts with your energy and effort—not letting adversity knock you out. These are lessons that all of us, especially basketball teams and young student athletes are learning every day, that we may not be the beneficiary of them when they’re in college sports, but somewhere down the line with their families or another team. People like that, they’re going to be the beneficiary of how they deal with this mental toughness, and they’ve got a pretty good life right? They’re going to the University of Georgia, they’re playing SEC basketball but it’s hard. It’s hard for everybody, it’s hard for student athletes, but we’ve just got to continue to build our toughness mentally and physically, and understand that we don’t have a lot of room for error if we don’t.”

On when they are 2-6 in the conference if there is a sense of desperation…

“I don’t feel like that. I think that’s bad pressure. I’m not into bad pressure. I want to win every game. Right? We want to prepare for every game we want to be at our best for every game, but I think pressure, if I feel bad pressure than they’re going to feel bad pressure. I think the stronger phrase would be urgency. I look at things with urgency. The last thing you can do with people, especially college kids is put undue pressure on them, now if they’re putting it on themselves you’ve got to help them navigate it. What we can’t have is pressure that I have to make a shot because I don’t see too many guys making a shot when they feel the pressure to make it. So, you’ve got to keep building their confidence and keep building their rhythm and their technique and they’re routine. Again, if I start feeling bad pressure or desperation, I’ve coached too long. I’m too confident in what I’m doing, too confident in what we’re doing, surrounded by too many good people to let that happen. I think the bottom line is, we keep building confidence in these guys. It’s like I say to them, ‘Hey, let’s sit around the campfire, sing Kumbaya, and other songs,’ but there’s got to be a positivity to getting better, and positivity can be demanding. There’s got to be positivity to getting better and that’s totally what I am focused on.”

On how to keep good pressure opposed to the bad pressure…

“I think it’s preparation. Anxiousness, I don’t think there’s anybody that doesn’t go through that. You get to the point of urgency, I don’t think you prepare any harder when you’ve lost two games in a row. I really don’t think so because what does that say about the two games you just lost? I think you try to go at it with a good rhythm, you try to go at it with focus and you’ve got to set the example that you want your players to feel. It doesn’t always work out that way obviously, especially in a year like this. We’ve combined so many new guys with the fact of everything that our world is dealing with. I think you just try to stay consistent in your approach and that doesn’t mean that it’s even keel, that doesn’t mean that it’s status quo, it just means you try to read and get the pulse of your team every day for what they need.”

On the team’s energy… 

“I do not agree with that, but I can see where you could see it, I see where you could see it. We did not let our confidence drop today. I think what happens when your confidence starts to drop you can really lose spirit and that can really—then your effort can be misjudged, and it can look like lack of it. Really what it is, is lack of mental focus and lack of mental toughness; that is what it is. If I saw somebody that I didn’t think was—and I might give you one possession, but you don’t play hard the second possession, you are not finding number three. That becomes what my eyes see, what I see as a coach. What somebody else sees might be something different, but I have to judge what I see. So, to me, I think confidence is the hardest thing by far, and how players respond to in-game failure, okay, because they see it as failure, and it becomes very hard to get them back or get through to them. All it is, is a mistake, a miss, or a turnover. You have to be able to get them through, and we struggle at that. That is why deficits go from 12 to 20 sometimes with us 12 to 4. It is a constant challenge, you know, with the team, and a lot of the times when you have a full spring and summer you are getting a lot of that bonding built in. You are not playing games obviously, but you are getting that bonding built in and we did not have that this year, we didn’t have that. So shorter season, shorter non-conference, there is so much learning that continues to go on, and like others have mentioned, we are halfway through the league right now, and we are still in a huge learning process because of where we sit. How many games did we play total? Sixteen, right? Sixteen, that would be half of a season. We would have half of a season left to go if this was a normal year, 15 games left to go. It’s just different so you have to keep working the best you can.”

#2 Sahvir Wheeler | Sophomore

On how the good three-point shooting night helped the team…  

“When we shoot the ball pretty well, a lot of things open up for us including our driving. When you make a three and you see the bench go crazy, you get a certain jolt of energy and you get the motivation to get that stop on the other end to come down and score again. That can build our run and build our team energy. We shot good threes, it was our ball reversals, our offensive rebounds, our inside out threes. We were sharing it and tonight was one of those nights where we got it going, we made 50-percent, I believe.” 

On free throw struggles when the team is shooting well from the floor… 

“I honestly don’t know. Everyone felt good; I think I was kind of psyching myself out towards the end because I was realizing that I had missed four in a row. We got the win, so I’m going to wipe it off and get back to shooting some more free throws in practice and make sure everything is in line. It was a great team win, and even though we didn’t make free throws, we made up for it by making three-pointers and sharing the ball by getting everyone involved and playing a happy brand of basketball.”  

On why this team does so well offensively against Ole Miss… 

“Someone told me not too long ago that we’re a really good zone team, we’re better against the zone than the man. I think part of that is because of how we attack the zone, we kind of attack it unorthodox by having a guy sealing the man in the middle and playing out of him. Tye Fagan is a great layup maker and a great playmaker for us. He’s unselfish, and he can also make highly difficult layups so having him there and using him there to make plays for other people is really good for us. We stayed patient, we took good shots, every game is going to have a couple of quick shots but for the most part, we stayed patient and we listened to coach. We encouraged each other to knock down shots, and we got easy layups when we needed them.”

On reacting from the tough loss at South Carolina… 

“It was pretty quiet on the bus ride back. I think we try to take positives from those types of games like on the first 18 possessions against South Carolina, we got 15 stops. It’s on us on the offensive end to convert and score on those so that maybe it’s not a 15-9 game, but instead a 25-9 or a 27-14. We knew that we were right there, and I think that it’s just one little run against South Carolina that got us down. We’re a few steps away from preventing those runs, and when teams do go on those runs, keeping our composure, knowing that these are great teams, and we have to counterpunch with our own run. I think Ole Miss tried to make a run today toward the end of the game, and we really forced them to take contested shots, and we rebounded the ball well at the end as we got stops.” 

On extra effort being shown in tonight’s game 

“When you’re two and six, you kind of get a little desperate. When you’re two and six and right there in those games, a couple of mistakes here and there cost you those wins, you get antsy, you get thirsty, and you really want to win. I think that our guys today came out with the energy that we’re not going to be denied. We’re going to come out here and get a one-game winning streak and win the day, and we did a great job with that today.” 

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