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February 20, 2012

Tony Bennett

COACH BENNETT:  Getting ready to play.  Last time we played Virginia Tech it was a very physical game and a hard fought defensive game.  They certainly made some good plays down the stretch and came away with a hard fought victory.  So hopefully we'll be a little better and more prepared.  Knowing that, again, you're going to go against a team that prides themselves on the important things of playing good defense as we try to, and getting good shots every time down.
We're both a bit shorthanded.  So whoever wants it more will probably come away with it.

Q.  You mentioned both teams being shorthanded.  Do you have more of a feel right now for whether Assane is going to come back and if so, when?
COACH BENNETT:  Not really.  Physically he's 50% weight bearing, still on crutches.  So it's too hard to speculate on that physically where he's at.

Q.  Different from last year's match‑up, you guys have a real go‑to established score with Scott.  How does that affect you guys?  How does that make you sort of more comfortable in those clutch situations?
COACH BENNETT:  Mike's having a very good year, as everyone knows.  He certainly draws a lot of attention.  Last game we played against tech they did a very good job on him.  Lot of teams, whether they're trapping him with another big guy coming off with a guard or really pinching or smothering him, he's having to work for his buckets.  But he does draw attention.
He's been showing versatility with his ability to face and shoot and also score with some strong moves.  So whenever you have a guy that commands attention like that, it certainly helps in his experience of being a fifth‑year senior makes a difference in a lot of those situations.

Q.  What does Virginia Tech do effectively in the first match‑up?
COACH BENNETT:  They made touches hard, they made catches hard.  They just did a nice job of surrounding him and smothering him, and sometimes coming off of guards.  They just were very aware of him and played a very physical game and made some plays offensively.
But a lot of teams, Mike's having to work very hard to get good opportunities, and that is to be expected when you're putting up the numbers he's putting up.  He's a focus of a lot of defenses.  Obviously in that game, Tech did a good job of really making them work.

Q.  The last thing is kind of the reverse of that a year ago, Tech had a go‑to guy.  This year they don't have that one focal point.  How do you see that affecting their offense?  Does that make them hard to defend, easy to defend?  They don't have that one go‑to guy?
COACH BENNETT:  I think Green's very good.  I think Eddie can stretch it from three Green's good.  Hudson can get it going, makes big plays.  So I think they have certainly some capable guys, but they do a good job with their balance and their attacks if they need to be patient or they need to be aggressive.
So I think you have to be sound in your defensive approach against them, because I've seen Green take over games certainly.  Again, they have an ability that they can kind of play a four‑guard lineup, or depending upon who is available for them, they have some physicality inside with Davila and certainly their inside players.
But I do think they have some balance on that perimeter, and you have to be certainly aware of all three of those guys with some of their other players as well.

Q.  Obviously Mike was not the only person who had trouble in this past meeting.  What do you need to do to get the offense to perform better in a rematch here?
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, it wasn't just Mike.  When we got a couple opportunities, really everybody struggled from the floor in that game.  I guess it sounds simple, but you've got to capitalize and make shots when you have those opportunities.  Try not to give it away and be strong with the ball and keep your defense strong.  But there has to be, as we said, some balance.  Continue to work to get guys the right shots and be certainly better than we were in that first game when we played them at our place.

Q.  I'm sure this rematch will be close again alike the last one was.  Considering the last one was 47‑45.  Can you promise the TV viewers and fans of the game that it will be an entertaining game to watch?
COACH BENNETT:  I wish I could.  All I know is both teams are going to play really hard and it's always a battle.  So you guys will have to be the judge of that.

Q.  In terms of last week you talked a little bit about the mental toughness of the team, and they responded well this past game.  What do you say to them going into this one?  Do you have to say anything just because it's a rivalry game and they beat you at home last time?  And I wonder how much last year plays into this in terms of you guys swept Virginia Tech last year and some people would say that you kept them out of the tournament.  Do you think about it like that that they could maybe sweep you and hurt your NCAA chances?
COACH BENNETT:  I think every game is significant at this stage.  When you get to the stretch run of the season, it really comes down to having a mental toughness.
You're always trying to play hard, but you're certainly trying to amp it up in these games.  You just know when you play on the road and certainly at Virginia Tech, it's going to be a war.  It always seems like every game we've played has been like that.
This is obviously my third year here.  So as far as what do you say?  I mean you prepare as best you can.  You try to get yourself, again, addressing the areas you feel like you need improvement then tomorrow night at 9:00 o'clock, that ball goes up and everybody has to be all out.  Trying, again, to do what we've got to do‑‑ again, we've got to do what we do to the best of our abilities and that will certainly be important because they're dangerous at home.
They came off of‑‑ they've had two amazing swings in their games and a big, certainly a big shot and an inspirational win, so we'll have to be at our best.

Q.  Was the second half Saturday as efficient as you guys have been on both sides of the floor at the same time this year?
COACH BENNETT:  We were complete in terms of you always win it when you have a good half or a team doesn't score.  I think it's both.  They were a little cold, Maryland was.  They hit some tough shots and made a lot of threes in that first half.  In the second half, they didn't go in quite frequently, and our crowd got behind us and we knocked down some shots.
Just the ball got rolling and we really continued.  So I thought we were complete.  But I also think as always, it's not just that we took away absolutely everything from them.  I thought it was a both/and and that's usually the case.

Q.  I think one of the players you didn't talk about on Saturday was Joe Harris.  Obviously he got in some early foul trouble.  He's gotten in some early foul trouble previously.  Could you talk about that aspect of it, also where do you think he is in his recovery from the broken hand?
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, hard to say.  To answer the latter part, the doctors said and our trainers said when you get to 10 to 12 days from when you fractured it, which was the NorthCarolina game on Saturday, so we're getting around that point.  You should start to see some of that inflammation going away and the swelling coming down.  It should start feeling a bit better.
So I'm hoping he's getting closer to that.  The further along we can get him without him really irritating it or reinjuring it, it gets a little better.  At some point you start streamlining the protective brace that's on their there.  So all those things hopefully help your ability to handle it.
You could see he did a good job on Saturday.  You could see a couple of times, again, it limits you.  But that is what it is.
As far as him with foul troubles, we always say you can't pick up a silly foul.  I think on Saturday it was a play that pretty much they had the ball and he reached over the top and picked up that over the back foul.  With one hand he probably wasn't going to get it anyways, and it's crucial for guys to not pick up and having a mental error foul or break down where it's on you where it didn't need to happen.
Again, we've got good support when he was out and Paul Jesperson came in and that was positive.  But for me it was avoiding some of those mental breakdowns and picking up a cheap foul or one you shouldn't break up.  Because there are going to be some judgmental calls or bang‑bang calls that could go either way, but you have to avoid the one that's you lose concentration and pick up a silly one.

Q.  Did you make a conscious decision to put in Jesperson after the first timeout because he had been coming in after the second timeout?
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, in looking at that situation with Joe where he's at, I just thought sooner than later.  We tried to feel it on the bench a little bit, but I think he had picked up a foul in just looking at him, and let's get a look at Paul early.
Paul did a nice job defensively and was sound in there.  Yeah, it's usually a little later, but we decided later with the foul, and the situation and the status of Joe.

Q.  One of the interesting things about your team in looking at some of the other teams in the conferences is how well you play on the road.  Lot of teams might be looking at going into a game like this where you've lost to the opponent on your floor going to theirs.  Where do you think that comes as well as your team has played on the road this season?
COACH BENNETT:  I go back to at Clemson and NorthCarolina, and I thought we didn't play particularly well.  Those were our last games.  We played well for stretches of the game, but we weren't in there at the end when we needed to be.  So I guess we need to reestablish that.
When we've played well on the road up to this point, I guess we've been complete.  We've defended well.  We've taken care of the ball and had a little more balance in terms of scoring.  It hasn't been one dimensional.  So I think those have been the key things for us home or away that we've done away from home.  But the last two games we haven't.  So that will be the challenge heading into tomorrow night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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