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March 11, 2013

Tony Bennett

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by Coach Tony Bennett.  Coach, a brief opening statement.
COACH BENNETT:  Certainly coming off of a fortunate win last night.  Hard‑fought, our last couple of games before that we had come down to a possession and came up on the wrong end.
So it felt good, obviously, to come away with, on senior night, with a good win.  When we were down by a lot Maryland played certainly excellent basketball and put us in the hole.  And we didn't respond well to start the game.
But our guys did show some resilience.  And, again, every time you step on the court it's a battle.  And like most leagues, but especially this one, there's not a lot of separation and we were fortunate to get that one.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions?

Q.  Could you speak to the‑‑ everybody talks about Akil Mitchell's improvement but could you speak to his consistency this year?
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, he's really brought it, I think, every game, first of all, his effort level.  And I guess‑‑ yes, he's improved but he's so active.  To see whether it's on the glass defensively, whatever he has to do he finds ways to have an impact and you look at his numbers.  They're very consistent.
You talk about a jump, I just heard again the tail end of Coach Johnson's talking about how much Erick Green has improved from his freshman year.  When you see big jumps statistically in players, it really causes you to step back.  And Akil benefited from playing early on with some of the injuries in his freshman/sophomore year.  But this year, right, to put up the numbers at times that he has, it's been a pleasant surprise.  I didn't know that he would put up those types of numbers, but he has done it consistently.

Q.  I had a broader question for you.  In terms of the way college basketball is being officiated these days, do you think it's changed at all in recent years; and if so, how?
COACH BENNETT:  I think it just depends on the game.  And it's just‑‑ everybody just like teams have different styles of playing.  I think officials sort of have different styles of officiating, within the parameters.  Some games sometimes are more physical.  Some are not.  I don't know what determines it.  And I don't know if there's been a shift or not.
I mean, I don't think it's been as dramatic.  I can remember the days that I played in the NBA when they allowed hand checking and a form bar, but the game really changed when they wouldn't allow you to hand check and they opened up the lane.  That really changed the NBA game.
I think the college game, I think there's been points of emphasis and certain things, but it's still allowed to be played pretty physical and fairly consistent over the years with some subtle changes.

Q.  When you guys find out which guys are calling the games, I'm not sure how much time you have between then and tip‑off, do you guys give a mini scouting report to your guys, this ref calls this, and watch out‑‑
COACH BENNETT:  A scouting report on the officials, huh?  I usually get the sheet right before we're in there.  I don't choose‑‑ you try to play the right way.
But guys that are experienced, the ACC has a lot of experienced officials.  And since I've been in this league, it's been solid.  Again just like everybody has their ups and downs like teams do, but for the most part it's been solid.  But we don't do a scouting report or talk to the officials.  Some officials you know you probably as a coach you just‑‑ you're a little less involved with them.  And that's okay.  You just have to know that.

Q.  Obviously Joe Harris will get some ACC recognition today.  Was there a point during the season when you realized this guy was having a special season and that he was not the player that you saw last year?
COACH BENNETT:  Yeah, again, he improved.  Well, we took the foreign tour trip and he showed‑‑ he was good.  You could just see he took a step in the workouts in the spring and the fall, the summer trip.  And then it's one thing to do it in those settings.  And then you gotta do it obviously in the games.  And we went to Wisconsin, and he had a real tough game.  Tough, when I mean tough, I mean a good tough.  A hard‑fought, had that look I'm not going to let you lose and he made the big plays and he added a couple more dimensions to his game than last year with his mid‑range and a little bit more play off the dribble and physically improved in the weight room, all those things have improved from the previous years.
So I think the Wisconsin game and a couple of those outings that he did it under the lights or however you want to put it I think showed that he had taken that big step.

Q.  And the season has gone on, have people been defending him much deeper than they were last year and he's had to deal with that?
COACH BENNETT:  He was defended pretty hard last year, but I think this year he's really getting defended hard, and he‑‑ it's just something that comes with the territory when you're a marked man.  So the ability to help your team find ways.
I was talking about if your shot's not going in, find ways to help your team.  I thought he was better.  He had a hard shooting game last night.  But different than probably the previous two games.
I thought he had a better impact on our game, our team's performance in light of not shooting the ball particularly well.  And a lot of that has to do with how they guard them.  I think that's always a key.  And that's a sign of maturity.  That's what I want for Joe is really impact the game on both ends of the floor when maybe the ball isn't going through the basket because he went through an unbelievable stretch.
And so I think those are good signs for his growth and his development.

Q.  I just wanted to ask about Michael Snaer.  I'm guessing you're one of many coaches in the ACC who won't mind him graduating and moving on, but just what makes him tough to defend in those late game situations?
COACH BENNETT:  Well, we didn't do a good job.  He made a great jab and we got shifted, and he got‑‑ he made a left‑handed floater a little too close to the rim but it's still a big‑time shot.  And he guarded really well in that game we just played.  But going back to just watching him over the years, he's complete.  He's tough, and he plays both ends of the floor.
And then there's just those certain players that they have that ability, when the pressure's on or a play needs to be made, they just kind of slow it down and they end up more times than not doing it.  And he has done that this year and over his career, and not a lot of people can do that.  That's a separator.  I think he possesses that ability.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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