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January 31, 2011

Tony Bennett

TONY BENNETT: Certainly preparing for a good Clemson team that's coming off of a very impressive victory against Florida State and just continuing to try to develop our team, finding ways when we're in games to be strong. We're finding ourselves playing some good stretches of basketball but having a hard time when we've had a lead or been in a game finishing it strong, and that's something that you continue to work at and try to emphasize, a level of soundness and confidence to be able to try and finish games, and that's sort of where we're at. And again, just continuing to prepare and get ourselves ready for a very good, well-coached Clemson team.

Q. I spoke to Assane Sene after the game on Saturday about his three dunks, and as you're aware he had not been dunking very much, and in our conversation he indicated he's still not that confident dunking, but obviously it's a high percentage shot. How have you approached that with him?
TONY BENNETT: Well, watching the tape, I remember we had talked about that, some of the opportunities that he had, whether it was off of an out-of-bounds play or an offensive rebound or something. He really had -- I mean, if you or I could have jumped high enough we could have dunked it. It really was him and the front of the basket, so there was great opportunities to do that.
I think it's harder, what Assane is saying, when there's either a quick decision or he's a little further away from the hoop, trying to finish it.
I think he dunked the right ones I should say, but he's not one of these guys who's so vertical, he more dunks it with his length, and if he gets bumped with his longer levers, he's not as comfortable going up because he's missed a few. But like you said, I just want him to be assertive when he gets it in there, first possess the ball, and he's doing a better job of grabbing it, and then when he has some of those where it's him and the hoop to try to get it there quick, whether it's getting it on the glass quick or attacking the rim and trying to dunk it quick.
But it's when you bend down and wind up or wait a little bit where everybody gets a chance to knock you or they get to your ball, and that's what we're certainly working on. But first things first, yeah, possessing it. We've kind of been working on some rebounding things where he's not dropping it so much, the typical stuff.
But yeah, some of those dunks, two of them he had been just -- they were perfectly set up where there was no one around him, and he did them quicker than he usually does.

Q. And what about the opening tip? He never wins that. Do you ever work on that?
TONY BENNETT: Well, we do. Not that we sit there and work on it, but it's funny you say that because in a way your first question about dunking, how quick can you get up. Like great shot blockers, either they have great length or timing, and to be able to dunk you've got to be able to get to the rim pretty quick. If it takes you a while to get to it and you have to kind of down up and it's a little slower, you're not going to get as many dunks and you're probably not going to win as many tips. And I think we got one this year if you chart it, or we're like the football team that chooses to play defense first. Maybe that's part of the game plan.
But yeah, that's, again, timing and how quick can you get up there. Sometimes those tosses aren't perfect; how about that? We'll throw that in there so it's not all that way. But I think there's a little correlation there.

Q. I know Mike had his surgery yesterday. From what you've heard how did that go and how is he feeling?
TONY BENNETT: Real good. I talked to him and will see him. I think he'll be coming back this afternoon or evening. Good, and he -- the details, he had some -- there was some spurs along the ridge of the top of the ankle that certainly were causing the problem, and again, the initial procedure was a quick procedure to try to get the loose piece or pieces out and allow him to play. But when you go in to remove spurs or a spur, that's going to be where there's an incision and it's going to be a longer recovery that will knock you out for that three to four months.
You know, the hope again was initially we'd clean out the pieces and it could wait, but from what I understand in going in there, it was a very successful surgery, and there was definitely -- you could see where the pieces were kind of, I guess, flecking off if that's the word, or kind of coming off. So those were removed. Everything structurally I think was sound and the pieces and all that.
So it was certainly more aggressive and that obviously will end the season for him. But I think this points him really in a nice direction health-wise for his future, and like I said, he's in good spirits, and it certainly was needed from what was found in the ankle.

Q. After losing a couple of these second-half leads this season, what do you do to maybe keep the confidence up in the young players and keep them, I guess, having that killer instinct and being able to know they can finish off a game?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah, I mean, try to do the things that put you in that spot and not change, and certainly teams as the games wore on or you get there, certain teams will up the ante or ratchet it up, start making some plays and doing some things. But how did you get to that spot? How did you play? You played with a level of soundness on both ends of the floor. There was an aggressiveness. I think our strength has to be with our team this year is our group strength, or as we always talk about, our unity, sharing the ball, playing together, helping each other on defense with screens.
Certainly guys have to make plays, and where some of the opportunities have been lost late either have been -- you can't point to always this one thing, but at times there's a tendency to try to cover for yourself on the defensive end and you're worried about your guy scoring, and it's not as much of a team defense, at least in this last game, and then sometimes guys, it changes a little bit how we've gotten the lead.
So again, trying to be consistent and having some simplicity. I mentioned that after the game, so there isn't as much thinking. You're just playing. But some of it's learned. Part of it is going through it. Good that we've gotten into that spot, but trying to carry it through is another step, and we haven't been able recently to conquer that.

Q. I know when you recruited these freshmen, obviously you didn't tell them they'd be competing for national titles this year, but do you get a sense of how they're handling going through the grind of losing some ACC games?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah, well, I always say, your character gets tested when you're going through adversity, and that's why you'd better have a group that can handle adversity, and they'd better be of the right mindset and have the right goals for this program for certainly improving themselves and the team on a daily basis and a season basis. But then long-range learning from those experiences because what good is it if you go through these and nothing sticks. We repeat it. And certainly in games you've got to be able to retain some of this and put it to good. And I know long-term that'll help for the young guys.
But that's why I think you certainly hold them accountable, talk to the team, the individuals about the areas that they need to improve, but keep encouraging them and pointing out certainly some of the things that they're doing well. There's got to be a balance. It can't be all one or all the other. You can't just stick your head in the sand and say, you're fine, don't worry about it; but you can't say you're doing absolutely nothing right. You have to be realistic and have a true identity of where you're at individually and with your team.
As I mentioned, because of their good character, the young men as a team, they handle this well, and we've got to keep fighting and keep clawing for quality play. I'm trying to get them to focus on the quality of the play more than anything.

Q. I know you've addressed this a couple times this year, but is there a common denominator on your three-point defense that Maryland shot well, and I know there was a lot of attention paid to Jordan Williams which might have opened up some things, but Wake was 9 for 19 the other day. Is it a number of things that are happening or one basic thing that your guys are not doing?
TONY BENNETT: Well, different teams I think do different things, and it's -- you know, again, if they're tough shots they're hitting or contested, okay, but if it's off of a breakdown, whether help -- either help stays too long when it's not needed and then a guy gets an easy catch, lace it up, two-eyed look where there's not someone there close to on the catch or a hand up bothering it, those are the things that bothering you, if it's over helping or if someone gets beat quick off the dribble, and it has to be there.
There's a few things, but again, it always goes back to what kind of -- are they having to shoot tough shots, contested shots, or are they easy shots? Any defense will tell you, you can't take away everything, so you know, if you're giving up the lane or drives and yet still giving up contested shots, boy, then you've got to look at it. All right, if you're taking away the lane and you're getting there, you can't have the best of everything, but you've got to make them contest.
I feel like some of our breakdowns, a few different things, not just one thing, have allowed people to hit some shots and get some clean looks off of, again, a breakdown. And then there have been some that you have to take your hat off to. When a guy has got a hand in the face and he rises up or he's falling away, again, I always look at the quality of the shot, and that's how I judge what our defense from specifically the three-point defense is doing, and again, what we're trying to take away that game.

End of FastScripts

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