WATCH: Tom Crean, Players After the South Carolina Loss

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WATCH: Tom Crean, Players After the South Carolina Loss

Head Coach Tom Crean

On todayt’s game… 

TOM CREAN: “I had no doubt that our team would come back. We were missing close-range shots. We were missing some lay-ups. We were staying on the glass. We were staying aggressive. So it wasn’t about the offense. We missed — definitely we missed some lay-ups, we missed some open threes, but today we didn’t guard the ball well enough and we didn’t guard the shooters well enough. Whether we were in man or we were in zone, we just did not have a hand up the way we needed to, and the basket started looking like Lake Michigan for them because it was open, and I’m disappointed in that because this team is improving in a lot of ways. And those of you that have been covering us, I think you can see they’re improving, and it’s not a — it’s not a moral victory, this speech. It’s a, “we are improving.” But we have got to quit hurting ourselves with not having our hands up or not communicating a switch. There’s no excuse for that.





As much as they’re improving and as much as they’re getting better and as much as they’re getting better mentally and physically, that’s still hurting us. We just — I don’t have a great answer for it because we work on it every day. We work on stick hand every day, we work on challenging shots every day, we work on getting up on the shooter every day, we work on getting around screens every day, and we just can’t be late. And when we’re there, we’ve got to get our hand up better. We’ve just got to get tougher on the ball.

Q. This alludes to what you were talking about a little bit. How frustrating was it, it seemed like you guys would get it to two, three, maybe four, and then they would immediately get down there and get off a really good shot.

TOM CREAN: That’s the hard part because we were pressuring, we were trying to bring some pressure, and we had some luck with the press with that, but you’ve just got to get matched up. When you’re switching as much as we’re switching, it’s not about the match-up, all right, and when you’re switching, there shouldn’t be very many open shots.





Now, there might be a shot that goes in because a bigger guy shoots it over a smaller guy or a smaller guy gets around the bigger guy. We’re going to deal with some of that. When you’re switching, we’re going to deal with that. But when you’re man-on-man, when you’re up on them, there’s no need for that.

We had some guys that were disappointing with their level of hand pressure and hand activity today, and as a team I’m very disappointed with our communication because it was a winnable game, and they made a lot of — they’re a very good team. They’re a very physical, aggressive team. We figured out the offense as we went. We got tips and we were getting the basket, we just had to make sure our cutting game was going, and the defense loosened up, even though — obviously they played very hard, but they were in a hard denial to start, which we figured they would be.

But we just — too many open looks. Too many open looks and a few too many open drives.

Q. You talk about your team improving. It seems like every game it’s something else that you’re —

TOM CREAN: Exactly. That’s why it’s the first year. Let’s call it what it is. We’re in our first year. Yeah, it is. If we were clicking on all cylinders, I’d be — it is what it is, right. We don’t put 40 minutes together, all right. We’re in the first year, right, and we’re trying to get what we’re trying to get done established. It’s part of it, and I don’t think we’re asking for anything more than anybody else would. We’ve got to — we are not a consistent basketball team, hence the record. But we’re working at it constantly, and again, that’s the bottom line. Does that make sense?

Yeah, I mean, I could come in here and just talk about all the things we’re doing bad, but that wouldn’t be accurate. We’re doing some things good. Or I can come in here and just talk about the good and not allude to the bad. That wouldn’t be honest, either. I’m trying to give you guys an honest assessment of where we’re at, and that’s the bottom line.

Let’s all remember it’s the first year, right, and I’m as glass-half-full as anybody can be. But we’re in the first year of trying to get this thing established in a very, very tough league.

Q. You mentioned it being a winnable game. When you look at the last two, three minutes, seems like it was the first time in a long time that you guys were in a situation where you’re down maybe one score, two scores. How do you think when you were in situations like that earlier in the season to now, how is it —

TOM CREAN: I think we’re much better, and I’ll take you through my thought process at the end of the game. They go to the foul line, and we put Derek in because we want to get a quick two. It’s 20-some seconds left, we have two time-outs left. It’s a two-score game, okay. We don’t want to come down and go right to the three-point line, we want to come down and get inside because we’re in the double bonus, all right. And on the radio show they asked me was I concerned because we never got in the lead. No, when you’re in the bonus like we are, that gives us a chance to set our defense. I’m not concerned about that. If we weren’t getting to the free-throw line, then it would certainly be a concern. But we come down, we run around the screen to get it inside to Nic because we need Nic in the middle to break the pressure, right, so then we bring Nic into the middle. We don’t get it there, and we wanted to score, get fouled, and then go to one of our time-outs and set our pressure. If we’d have had one time-out, it’s another story, okay, but now it’s a hard — with two time-outs and a five-point game, you still have enough time to score, get the time-out, get your defense set, play stretch the game a little bit. We missed three wide-open threes at the end, right, and then telling the refs, score, time-out, score, time-out, because at that time you’re not going to get a good time-out. We’ve got to take the open three. We’re rebounding the ball, we just missed them. One of those go through, it’s time-out, we’re setting our press and we’re playing from there. It didn’t work out that way.

Q. I just wanted to ask you about heading down, down four points, and then Haase hits a big three —

TOM CREAN: Yeah, we wanted to switch out, and we would do it — that’s what we do, right, is switch out and deny. Well, not even switch out and deny, just switch out and cover. We do a lot of switching. This was a game we were going to switch everything, and the other night with Gafford we weren’t going to switch that, right. There’s certain things that — we have two things we say. When in doubt, cut on the offensive end; when in doubt, switch on the defensive end, and there should have been no doubt in those situations, but there were, and he made some shots, and we knew he was a good shooter.

Q. Speaking of good shooters, Tyree was a little bit off early on after getting some good looks, but you stuck with him and he makes three threes in the first half. Seemed like a long stretch — seemed like he sat for a long stretch in the second half after missing a few to start. How did you assess Tyree’s play?

TOM CREAN: I thought it was solid. I thought Jordan Harris was doing a really nice job, Teshaun did some really good things, Turtle. We have rotations — the reason I sat Tyree down, he gave up two buckets, two lay-ups. He’s got to guard better, right, and so that’s the bottom line.

We’re not — we don’t have anybody that you look at — Nic maybe comes the closest. And here we are today with Ray in foul trouble and he didn’t guard very well, and one of the reasons he’s in foul trouble is because he’s standing straight up. He’s not down low playing like an athlete. That’s one of the reasons he’s not scoring as much in those situations. It just is what it is. But it’s one thing to score, which Tyree can, but he’s got to guard the ball better, and that’s the bottom line. That’s why that stretch was like it was.

Q. I think you guys only had four turnovers in the first half, but there towards the end you had probably more than you wanted down the stretch. How do you feel about where —

TOM CREAN: I’ve got to watch the film. Yeah, I’m not really sure. I know we had the four at the half. I have to watch the film. It was a two-score game with 20 seconds to go, so the turnovers weren’t the issue as much as the open shots for them were.

Q. You talk about this not being a consistent team right now. Defensively what is keeping you from being as consistent as you want to be? Is it lack of communication?

TOM CREAN: What did I say? How did I cover that? I just covered that. We’re not getting our hands up as much, and our communication, yes. We’re not switching it as well. And if I had a couple guys that I could go to that I knew were going to hold the fort down, communication — I did it with Christian Harris, put him in, he did a good job. We’ve got to get better in those situations. So it would be communication; it would be staying true to what the game plan is when it comes to what we’re trying to do, and in this case with the switching; and it comes to being tougher on the ball and challenging shots. That’s the biggest things.

Senior Forward Derek Ogbeide       

On trying to make a comeback in the second half…
“We definitely did our part, for the most part in getting stops and getting them handled. We brought it down, I think two or three times, we brought it down real close to really single digits and just let it slip again. So, it’s that kind of slippage that really is what affected us, it is was lost us the game. It wasn’t the matching the shots, because you’re going to make shots, and you are going to make runs making shots. But, being able to close out that little slippage that we had when we brought it down close was our issue. It was our main issue all game.”

On confidence level going into the game…
“Well, shooting the free throw it was a small detail that I had to fix. Coach brought it to my attention, Coach didn’t notice it in the middle of the game, I was not aware either. But, then I fixed the detail, I tweaked it, just literally stepped my foot back a little bit. Then, I was back to shooting a more comfortable way, how I know how to shoot, that I have been working on this past year.”

On improving consistency on the defensive front…
“In that sense, the improvement is the improvement. We have improved offensively and we have also improved defensively. The fact that we need to improve some more is a different question. When it comes down to it you just have to do little things to get the big stops, to just really man up and just get it done in those heat of the moment situations. And every now and then, like anybody or any team you just slip a little bit. We slip too much and too often to have a chain in consistency in our defense and offense sometimes. There are things that we have been tweaking and fixing and we will continue to tweak and continue to fix. “

On vibe in locker room with 6 straight SEC losses…
” Combating something like that you have to have a very particular mindset, just to be able to overcome something like that. It can’t be handled regularly it can’t be handled like any other loss or win, those losses stack and they hurt. They literally just hurt so bad, but you can’t think about the hurt, you can’t think about what you are going through selfishly. We literally just turn all of our attention to the next game.”

 Junior Guard Tyree Crump

On frustration of not hitting shots in the start of the game…

“I never get frustrated, You’re a shooter, you shoot till your hot. That’s how I feel. I did not get down on myself because I missed a couple shots. I feel like the next one is going in, and it did. It just started from there.”

On problems scoring…
“I feel like we executed the plays. South Carolina is just an aggressive team. We were kind of able to fall back on our shots some, but we were not going up as strong as we usually do. But, we were kind of able to bounce back and figure it out. And came back.”





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Greg is closing in on 15 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.