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January 21, 2013

Tony Bennett

COACH BENNETT:  Got to prepare to go on the road and play our in‑state rival Virginia Tech.  They had a nice road win at Georgia Tech, and have finished games well, made plays down the stretch of both games and been successful.  So we'll have to prepare well and play well, to go in there.

Q.  You guys have held‑‑ I mean, you're coming off a game in which you held Florida State to 36 points.  That is the fourth team this year that you've held in the 30s.  In a shot clock era, what the heck are you guys doing back there?
COACH BENNETT:  Well, we haven't been scoring too well ourselves, so we better play good defense.  You know, Florida State had some good looks.  They missed some.  We tried to make their shots contested, and, as always, limit them to one shot.  But that's with our team we know we have to be good in that area, real good, to be in games.  We were on the same page.
Again, I think they probably missed some open looks, ask we happened to take advantage of that.  But it's a team, that obviously is very talented.  So we felt good that we at least made it hard for them for the majority of the game.

Q.  What is it that's working so well for you defensively right now?
COACH BENNETT:  We've certainly had our break downs.  It's just when we've played well, the games we've defended well, I think we've been able to sustain our commitment to the defense and the battle that you have each possession, defensively, who within your own mind as a player and collectively as a group, you know, trying to get the ball stopped, trying to beat the screens.
There are so many little things that happen on each possession when you've got to play ball screen defense.  You've got to play off ball defense, on ball defense.  You've got to be sliding.  You've got to work on blockouts.  You've got to have vision.  It's just something that you have to be committed to if you want to be good.
And every program, every team works hard at that.  Everybody has different systems how they do it, but it comes down to the same stuff.  Can you sustain your commitment to it?  You know, do it over the course of the game?  You won't be perfect, but when you're committed to it, and locked in, you've got to have some good fortune too.  Sometimes guys are just not on that day on the offensive end.  And, boy, if you can capitalize on some turnovers or things like that, that helps too.

Q.  Over your four years, you've seen Erick Green evolve from a secondary to a primary scorer to one who is now leading the country.  Can you just talk about how you've seen his game progress and the challenges he'll present to you defensively?
COACH BENNETT:  Sure.  Well he learned from a good one in Malcolm Delaney how to score and get to the free‑throw line.  He's just complete.  I'm sure it's rewarding for him and James their staff to see a guy improve who has just sort of stayed with it and gotten better each year.  He's just very complete.  You look at him statistically particularly and it's impressive.  When you look at his conference stats, shooting Threet‑point ball well.  He's got a mid‑range game gets to the rim, scores in transition, plays off ball screens.
Yeah, he's complete.  You can't say well, if we take this thing away from him, then he's in trouble.  He's got a lot of different weapons.  His maturity in his mind and all those things makes him a great threat.  He's doing some things for other players, so, like I said, he's just every year a little stronger, more athletic, and then fine tuned his skills.

Q.  We were asking a little about Justin Anderson the other day.  I'm curious where you guys assessed his scoring and shooting ability when you saw him in high school.  I know a lot of you have used him as a defensive replacement a little bit this year.  Is he the kind of guy that even if the shot doesn't come around, you'd still want to see him in the game, maybe like Jontel?
COACH BENNETT:  We talked to all of our players about completeness.  Just mentioned that about Erick Green.  Obviously, he's a scorer.  But how you can impact the game, regardless of your shot.  Even if you're a shooter.  Yeah, that's a great weapon, but you better have other areas to impact the game, and that's what, you know, for someone like Justin with his physicality and athleticism, we want him to impact the game and become better defensively, sustaining loose ball plays, offensive rebounds, driving.
So, absolutely, if guys are struggling with their shots or not a lights‑out shooter, they've got to make sure they're taking good shots.  And the one that's present themselves and knowing which ones aren't theirs.  And then evolve that way, and keep working and working to get your perimeter game more consistent and better.  And I think that comes over time.
But, yeah, specifically you want him to impact the game in as many areas as you can, and being young, learn how to be real sound and not have the break downs on either end of the floor.  And we talk to our team a lot about the stats that are unnoticed that you want to be good at.  The pass that leads to the assist, or being in the right position and just taking care of the things that you need to.

Q.  Could you talk about Jontel?  It seems that he's very eager to do a lot out there.  Is he sometimes trying too hard?  The five turnovers in the last two games are kind of uncharacteristic.
COACH BENNETT:  I look at Jontel and think this is his third week of playing.  You look at him, and he played against Carolina then we had no prep time.  It was just game, game with a day or two of practice in between.  Then we had a week to prepare.
And I thought he played better in this game and had more control.  But he still had some travels and tried to press the issue on a couple of the drives, but I thought he was better.  I think if you look and say he's had three weeks of basketball because he's been out so much, but I think it's just part of timing, part of getting better, and him having some patience at times.
But you don't want to take away‑‑ it's a delicate balance, Doug, with a good player, and a player that's really can attack and has that kind of speed and quickness.
I've mentioned it before, but every coach talks about this too.  It's that fine, delicate balance.  We want you to be patient and sound but not passive.  We want you to be aggressive and assertive, but not out of control.  And that's what we want him to get to.
And he'll be the first to tell you he gets frustrated with those.  And I'll keep challenging him and hold him accountable.  And my hope is he gets better and better.  But, boy, if you watch the Florida State game, he got us out in transition sometimes and made some nice plays for us.  Then a few times he may be forced it.  But my hope is that's just being three weeks into getting consistent reps and playing.

Q.  Unrelated, have you seen any progress in Darion yet?
COACH BENNETT:  His is now based on his symptoms.  It's kind of how he feels and what he can do.  And you test it.  So it's really how he'll respond.  So that's where it's at.  It's not like we took another X‑ray or got him another MRI.  He's got a stress reaction.  We quieted it down, tried to.  Said let's test it.  Is it ready yet?  How are you feeling?  How much can you handle?  How does it respond?  That's what it will be from here on out or until we can get rid of it completely, which is probably not something until after the season, is my understanding.

Q.  With Erick Green this week, do you as a defensive coach kind of relish the idea of let's see how many points we can hold our nation's leading scorer to and double team him and get him down low, do a low number?  Or do you look at him and say let us get 20, shut everybody else down, and we'll win the game that way?
COACH BENNETT:  You've got to try to with all their players, but Jarell's doing some nice things.  And they have some other guys that can score, he's special.  He gets to the free‑throw line at will, or if he gets a lot of easy shots, you just try to make him shots contested.  Pretty much the way most people have been playing him.
I don't know if you can, again, limit them completely, but you've got to make it hard for them.  But they have to be sound too, because they have some guys that are capable.

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