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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE


February 11, 2013


Tony Bennett


THE MODERATOR:  We have with us now Virginia coach Tony Bennett.  Coach Bennett, a few comments about your team and then we'll open it up for questions.
COACH BENNETT:  Coming off of a quick turnaround from yesterday.  We'll have to have a good day of preparing.  Playing against Virginia Tech, I know they haven't won, but when you haven't won, you're closer than you think.  I know as a staff, as players, you're working very hard.  Sometimes we've had a few wins, and you're never that far away.  It's the next game, the ability to be as ready as you can, embrace the challenge.
I think when you play Virginia Tech, there's going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of energy, because it is a rivalry game, as all ACC games are.  With the quick turnaround, we have to have a good day of prep for it.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll open it up for questions for Coach Bennett.

Q.  Tony, last time out I remember you being fairly happy with the way you defended Erick Green, despite his point total.  What did you think of that approach and what is the philosophy going into this meeting?
COACH BENNETT:  He had 35 points.  I think what I meant was, for the most part we made him hit tough shots, but he does that consistently.  He's shown that whether it's in transition or a bunch of different ways.  A couple of a few breakdowns; I thought he had to earn his points.
I guess I meant he didn't get a lot of easy ones.  He's a focal point and is dangerous.  He can get going on streaks.  You have to do everything you can to help stop him.
They do have other guys that can hurt you as well, so you can't ignore everyone else.  We'll try to make it as hard as we can on Erick and be in position with the other guys.

Q.  What did you think of Jontel's approach and will you use a lot of him?
COACH BENNETT:¬† I think we used a couple of different guys, if I recall.¬† Jontel, whether it's him or whoever, you have to be so disciplined because he can score without the ball moving, he can get ball screens.¬† He does it at the free‑throw line, in transition.¬† Whoever gets that challenge, Jontel will be some of the time, has to really be ready and be prepared to play one of their best defensive games against a player of his ability.
It has to be a team defense against a guy like Erick, not just one‑on‑one.

Q.  Tony, do you have any more of a clearer timetable with Mike Tobey?  With Darion, has he reached the point where he should be able to play some every game without a relapse?
COACH BENNETT:  Nothing with Mike yet.  I don't know.  At some point we'll take another blood test and see if it's hopefully turning around.  But not as of yet.  Maybe next day or two.  There's a period where he has to rest and kind of recover.  I'll find out hopefully more about that in his next blood test.
Regarding Darion, I haven't talked to him yet today.  We'll see how he recovered or responded from playing.  I think he played seven minutes.  My hope is if he did not get worse, he'll be able to practice a little bit and then play consistently because the further out we get, whenever that was that he initially irritated it, I hope we got it still healing.  I asked him how he was feeling after the game, he said okay.
Like I said, I'd love to be able to use him.  I didn't say it in the press conference, but the seven minutes he gave us were important because we were in foul trouble.  Whether it was grabbing a rebound or giving us some size, that was important for us.

Q.  Tony, Joe Harris obviously is on a terrific hot streak.  What are the things that he's doing?  He does a little bit of everything, but what in particular is he doing well now?
COACH BENNETT:  He's efficient.  You look at his stat line.  That was a tremendous stat line yesterday.  But I think, like all good players, they're complete.  You're asking something specific, but I don't know if you can pinpoint it.  He moves well.  When his shot is going down from three it really helps.
There's two plays yesterday that I thought were really important.  He had a big block at a crucial time, then he poked a ball away and dove on the floor.  He competes really hard.  Not afraid to throw his body out there and do what's required.
I just think he's doing the right things, and of course scoring.  But I like his efficiency.  I don't know if you can pinpoint anything with the exception of, yeah, he's shooting the ball at a good clip.

Q.  As the son of a coach, played for your father, he played for his dad in high school, how do you see that manifest in the way he plays the game?
COACH BENNETT:  I think if you grow up around the game as a coach's son, you think it maybe a little more.  Your IQ, your familiarity with how coaches think helps.  It's not like Joe is a point guard.  He's a perimeter player.  I think that's been ingrained in him from early on up.
The thing I know about his father and him playing for him, he was demanding, very tough on Joe, hard on him.¬† That to me is great because that's what you want.¬† You want a kid who is battle‑tested, pushed hard beyond his comfort zone.¬† You know when he gets in those situations he's not going to fold.
I think his dad did him a great service by being hard on him and pushing him that hard and being demanding on Joe.  That part I see as a benefit, besides the typical coach's son.  He played football, too.  He has some of that football toughness that's nice to see.

Q.  Tony, whose idea was it to make the ice cream stop after the game?
COACH BENNETT:  My daughter was on the trip, said, Can we get an ice cream?  Actually, I think it was Doug.  Someone was teasing Doug, his family, our senior guard, had some cookies and brownies.  Someone said, Doug, are you going to share those with the team?  You've been kind of quiet.  We were laughing.
My daughter said, Can we stop for ice cream? ¬†There's a place on the way to Charlottesville.¬† We thought it would be a good call.¬† A little 12‑year‑old has a pretty good pull on a dad's heart.¬† Not hard to convince me.¬† We had a quick stop.¬† I didn't know that was public knowledge, but I guess everything you do is.

Q.  Just with being on the bubble, do you feel like your guys are maybe better prepared now that that is going to heat up again this year?
COACH BENNETT:¬† I guess I'm thankful we're in a position to be considered for that.¬† I think the key is really to be resilient.¬† Kind of love the challenge, embrace the challenge.¬† You can't go more than a game at a time because every game provides great challenges.¬† You got to be resilient.¬† It's hard‑fought.
Our league has shown that it's very balanced.  Any game, Miami included in that, you're in tough games, home, road.  You just got to be ready.
I don't know how much last year has to do with it.  I just think it's the mindset of this year's team to prepare as best as we can and get after it.

Q.  Question about the small lineup you've been going with.  Why do you think it's been so effective, especially on the offensive end?  Have you been surprised that you haven't missed a beat these past few games with one big man?
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, I thought we struggled in the first half when we were without Akil on the floor.  Darion gave us some minutes.  At times he was on the floor.
I think it makes a difference.  It really depends who you're playing, how they're playing.  I think we shot it so well yesterday that that covered up some things, as I mentioned.
There's obviously more spacing depending on who you're playing out there as the other guy.  Whether it was Evan, who we were starting for a while, or Justin, they both have the ability to space a little bit.
I think our guys are really at this time playing good team ball.  They're really moving the ball, looking for each other.  The spacing perhaps is a little better in that regard.  If you played Akil and Darion and Akil and Mike.  But there's times that that's required.
Specifically maybe the spacing has helped.  But you also give up some things in other areas.  That's where the balance and depth comes in and you can have some different looks.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, thanks for taking time being with us today.
COACH BENNETT:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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