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March 4, 2013

Tony Bennett

TONY BENNETT:  Just coming off of a tough loss yesterday.  The ability to respond, and that's always what we talk about, try to bounce back, play well and obviously going into a road situation playing against Florida State, we'll have to play well.  Every game is important, so I think our guys will understand that and hopefully will‑‑ I think we learned the excitement of a big win on Thursday, and then you feel, as I told the reporters after the game, the pain or the agony of a tough loss.  But that's where it's at, and you fight to get your team as ready as you can and now we'll have a couple days to do that to prepare for a tough‑minded Florida State team in their own building.

Q.  I guess I was wondering, Jontel seems to get the ball at the end of the shot clock a lot lately, just out far away from the basket, shot clock inside of 10 seconds.  I guess I'm just kind of wondering if that's kind of by design or if maybe you've considered some other options, too, in addition to Jontel always having the ball in that situation.
TONY BENNETT:  Yeah, you know, we try to run our offense, and I think everybody has a red zone or an under‑10 situation, and sometimes you just continue to run your offense, and then sometimes if you're in a certain spot you try to space the floor and put the ball in certain someone's hands, and Jontel has actually been pretty effective for us.  Leading up to it we've tried to make some adjustments in what we do with him, and I feel like he's been pretty solid.  You just have to be careful that you don't run your offense half‑heartedly just to get to that point, and that's the thing, you've got to run your offense to score, and then obviously if you get to that spot you want to have, depending upon personnel on the floor, spacing and opportunities for whether it's Jontel off of a ball screen with good spacing or that, but that is more by design if we get to a certain point in the shot clock, which a lot of teams will do.  Some people run a flat ball screen, some people do different actions.  We sort of have worked on putting him in a spot where we think he can be successful, at least creating or scoring.

Q.  You mentioned briefly coming down off the high Thursday and losing over the weekend.  It seems like that's happened to a lot of teams when they've had the big wins this year, Maryland lost after beating Duke and Wake lost after upsetting Miami.  Can you talk about the difficulty in‑‑ a bad defeat can hurt you but sometimes a big win can be difficult to carry over or respond to.
TONY BENNETT:  Yeah, I think human nature comes into it.  You just‑‑ in our situation, a different environment, there's so much energy and passion from our crowd on Thursday, then you go on the road and you just don't have that.  So really what it comes down to is your ability to be real sound.
I watched our game closely, and I don't think there was a lack of effort.  I don't think it was likely we just laid an egg.  We played well enough to win.  We had some breakdowns down the stretch, they made some plays.  But it wasn't like someone just had an off game.  I said it after, Joe Harris didn't play as well probably as he's been playing, and that's probably true.  He was a little out of sync, partly because of their defense.
But overall it was an okay‑played game, but it's a fine line, and you're not‑‑ the emotion side of it is going to be different when you go into different venues, and that's the test of your team, to be able to play at a very sound level, to minimize mistakes on the road down the stretch because that's what'll get you if it's, again, breakdowns on defense, missed shots, free throws, turnovers, all those things come into play.
You're always in that spot, again, after a big win to guard against overconfidence.  I don't think our guys battled that.  That's why I watched the game.  I wasn't confident that was the issue.

Q.  You guys are locked in a pretty tight race for a third, fourth, fifth seed in the ACC tournament.  How important is it to get out of the fifth seed where you have to play on Thursday to get the bye to play on Friday?
TONY BENNETT:  Well, of course you want to finish as high as you can and you want to be playing as good a basketball as possible heading into the ACC tournament.  So all that stuff is‑‑ you just know every game you play, and the last few when you're in the hunt for postseason play for seeding, they're all important.  So when you can get those big wins, you take them, and then you know you've got to be ready, and then you've got to, as I said, respond after tough losses.  But yeah, it's all coming down to it in those spots, and really there's a crunch of a lot of them.  A lot will be shaken out here the last couple games.

Q.  And if I could follow up, I've been asking coaches about defensive players because we've got to pick an all‑defensive team, and frankly I'm baffled this year.  Are there two or three guys around the league?  I know you guys play great defense and have great candidates, but are there two or three guys around the league that have really impressed you as defenders?
TONY BENNETT:  Around the league, not counting our team, yeah, Durand Scott did a heck of a job when we played against them and he locked on to Joe.  Michael Snaer has that ability, there's some shot blockers out there, Len, just going through.  There's a number of guys that can do it individually, but those maybe off the top of my head stand out.  I'd probably have to sit down and really think about it.

Q.  I know you guys have a team defense concept, but who are the two or three guys that you feel like anchor your defense?
TONY BENNETT:  Well, I think Akil Mitchell is very active, and he's done well certainly and played some very good defense for us.  You always start your defense at the point of attack with Jontel.  As Jontel has gotten healthy and all that he can really put a lot of pressure on the ball and is tough‑minded that way.  Those two would probably stand out, and other guys have played well, but I'd go with those two.

Q.  Could you talk about your last defensive position yesterday?  It was kind of a worst‑case scenario.
TONY BENNETT:  Yeah, right.

Q.  What were you after that play, or was it just a guy‑‑ they elevated and got off the shot.  What could Evan have done differently other than foul?
TONY BENNETT:  Sure.  Well, actually that wasn't Evan's man, that was Justin's man.  We talked about guarding the three‑point line, and we knew we were up two, and as you always say, just stay between the man and the basket and make him make a tough shot, guard the three‑point line, and we played initially good defense.  And you'd have to ask Coach Donahue, I don't think that was the design of the play.  I think the kid made a play.  We guarded for a while, whatever it was, and then the‑‑ I can't remember who made the pass.  I know Rahon made the shot.  I don't know if it was Odio or‑‑

Q.  Yeah, I think it was Odio.  That was in the quotes we got.
TONY BENNETT:  One of those two, right.  He started driving, and he kind of got down the lane line, and we were in front and Akil was over there, and it pulled Evan‑‑ I think the shot clock is going down, and Justin and Evan sort of pulled in, and they sort of sunk in as that ball went over there, and their guys exchanged, Justin and Evan's, and the kid made a nice pass.  He jumped up and he rifled it back behind him, and then we responded a little late, and Evan was closest to it so he went out.
But obviously like I said, if we could have stayed tight on those guys and let that guy make a shot over the top, not foul him, worst case scenario, it goes to a tie game.  But we left the three‑point line is the thing we didn't want to do.  We were on it tight for a while, and then as that ball got deep in the lane, it just pulled them in, and then that guy got the rhythm shot they exchanged on the weak side, and obviously that one hurt.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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