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March 20, 2010

D'Andre Bell

Paul Hewitt

Gani Lawal

Iman Shumpert


DENNIS KRAUSE: We're joined by Georgia Tech student-athletes Gani Lawal, Iman Shumpert, and D'Andre Bell. After that we'll hear from Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Hewitt. Questions for the Georgia Tech student-athletes, please.

Q. Your coach wouldn't let you talk about it yesterday, but could you talk about the match-up with Ohio State, the challenges they present?
GANI LAWAL: Obviously they've got a good player in Evan Turner. We knew that coming in. They've got some good shooters. Like every game, we feel our strong point is starting inside out. And the way our defense has been, it's not like Ohio State, but we feel we can stop anybody. It doesn't matter if it's Player of the Year or whoever. That's the mindset going in.

Q. Iman, are you getting tired of defending the player of the year in every conference?
IMAN SHUMPERT: No. No. It's tiring, but I'm not going to get tired of it. I'm starting to kind of like it.

Q. How much film study are you doing? Do you get to take home a disk for yourself and keep it in the hotel room or what?
IMAN SHUMPERT: I watched a lot of tape this morning. I'll watch a lot more tonight, get ready for tomorrow.

Q. How does Turner differ from, say, James Anderson or some of the other guys you've seen recently?
IMAN SHUMPERT: Evan's really aggressive going down the middle. A lot of people I've guarded this year more so on the wing. And when you're aggressive on the wing you can always force somebody into some help. It's harder to do that when somebody's going down the middle as much as Evan does. So it's going to be a harder match-up, and he raised the bar all the way up. He's not really receiving it on the wing, so we've got to pressure a little bit more.

Q. Iman, is it different defending someone who catches and shoots as opposed to somebody who initiates the offense?
IMAN SHUMPERT: Yeah, definitely. If they're bringing the ball up the court, it's sort of on them what's about to happen. So it's definitely harder to pressure when somebody has the ball as much. But it's a job I gotta do.

Q. Iman, it seems lately that the strategy for defending him in the last couple of weeks has been to rough him up and see what you can get away with and try to get into his head and take him off his game. You go back a little ways with him, I think to Chicago. Have you had any one-on-one match-ups maybe in the summer, and how would -- without telling your game plan -- what do you think is an effective way to defend him?
IMAN SHUMPERT: Man, we haven't played a one-on-one since eighth grade, freshman year, something like that, so I can't really remember what I did then.
But I don't know, just playing tough. I know he's somebody you've got to play hardest. He's calm, he's patient, so he's going to take what he gets.

Q. Gani, a lot of people around Atlanta -- and I know you guys, yourselves -- were not terribly overwhelmed with the regular season you have. If you win tomorrow, do you think you will change the way that people will remember this team?
GANI LAWAL: Yeah. I think we're a very good basketball team. We're not trying to concern ourselves too much with a lot of things going around, outside opinions. We're trying to keep our circle tight and take care of our goals at hand. Right now it's Ohio State.

Q. D'Andre, as a defensive specialist, could you comment on the job that Iman has done here lately and what do you think about his efforts?
D'ANDRE BELL: He's done a phenomenal job. Just everything that we've practiced and the coaches teach us, he's stuck to the basics. And Iman is very athletic. So he's able to -- with his size and length, it's a fairly easy job for him.

Q. Gani, can you talk about what you think your biggest asset is and what you bring to this team?
GANI LAWAL: Me personally? Just try to go out there and be a monster every night. Try to get every rebound, block shots, play good defense, try to get it down low, get some good looks, score, and be a leader. I'm an upper classman now. So just try to be a good vocal leader, lead by example out there for the guys.

Q. Gani, continuing there, can you talk about last year, the end of last year, and thinking about coming out and how tough that process was and making up your mind and now are you glad, and did you get better in the process?
GANI LAWAL: Well, I've been in school a whole year, so that was a year ago. But it's been great coming back. I've learned a lot. I'm better off for it. I've been asked about that before. The biggest thing I gained from it is just my understanding of the game. My understanding of the game has really improved over this last year.

Q. Your coach talked last night about the struggles that you guys had as a team integrating the new guys. Kind of meshing as a unit. Could you detail what that process has been like?
GANI LAWAL: Yeah, obviously coming into this year we had a great recruiting class. It just took time to get the chemistry right. We had our ups and downs, butt heads, what have you. But we're at the point right now where we're clicking, and at this time of the year you have to be playing your best basketball, and I think we are.
And they're obviously not young guys anymore. We've joked about that. They're not freshmen anymore. 35 games in or whatever it is.

Q. D'Andre, kind of in that same line, last night Coach Hewitt was saying it was about ten games to go where he saw that those challenges kind of left him. He didn't have to worry about you guys anymore. That was right around the Kentucky State game. When you heard what Clarence Moore said about the team lacking a leader back then, what went on in your mind, and where do you think you guys are now in that regard?
D'ANDRE BELL: What went on in my mind. Actually, I didn't hear it. I heard about it. Somebody came to me with it. And, honestly, I was just trying to look at what standpoint they were coming from, where they were coming from, and what they meant by that.
In actuality, I asked coach -- in fact, I asked coach, and all he meant was he just wanted me to be more vocal and not only lead by example. There's certain times in the game that you need to make plays and then there's certain times in the game where you have to constantly talk to your guys and know who you can talk to by screaming and know who you have to talk to calmly so we can get the best play from each player.
DENNIS KRAUSE: Thank you. Questions for Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Hewitt.

Q. The strategy for defending Turner lately seems to be very physical with him and trying to get him off his game that way. If you go in with that type of a game plan, is it also dependent on whether the officials are going to let you play that way, and do you have to have another kind of game plan ready just in case?
COACH HEWITT: We can't foul. That was one of the things we stressed yesterday, was us guarding without fouling. And it's probably something that hurt us in the Duke game.
So regardless of how you're going to guard somebody, you can't commit silly reach-in fouls. You can't commit hand check. You can't trip people. You've just got to play sound, solid defense, move your feet and not use your hands. We did a great job with that yesterday. Only committed 15 fouls. In order to be successful tomorrow, we're going to have to do the same thing.

Q. So what are your impressions of Turner?
COACH HEWITT: Very composed. Very skilled. I commented to one of my assistants yesterday watching the game, seems like he's like a rebounding magnet. Anytime the ball came off he got the defensive rebound. Over the years I've had some big guards of our own. Javaris Crittenton, Jarrett Jack, going back to Villanova, Alvin Williams, guys I had at Siena. My eye is always drawn to big guards because they can rebound and they start to break. And he is -- he's one of the best big guards I've seen in a long time. Very long time.
Again, you're talking to a guy that recruits. You see Shumpert is a 6'5" point guard. And it's such an advantage when the guy can get the rebound and start the break. It makes your team that much quicker and that much more aggressive on the offensive end.

Q. If you were to outline one, two, three things that have gone well for you in the post season, what would be the list of what's been an asset for your team?
COACH HEWITT: With the exception of the Maryland game, I think we've cut down the turnovers. Obviously we shot the free throws better. And we've been lucky. We've gotten some bounces our way, which didn't happen all the time during the regular season. I think that says a lot about our team. Even when things didn't go our way, they came back to practice the next day and worked very hard and knew that if they stayed persistent, something would break for us.
And we've gotten some breaks, no question.

Q. The first thing you mentioned concerning Turner was very composed. He's very demonstrative at times when things aren't going his way. I'm wondering from you watching his game in total, do you see that despite those -- what he does at times with his body language and comments, do you see a composed player within that?
COACH HEWITT: One of the things I'm careful not to do is to figure out why a guy's communicating that way with his team. He may have that relationship with his players that he can do that. And obviously they're, what, 27, 28 wins? So whatever he's doing is working.
[Laughter] in other words, if it ain't broke -- so no matter -- we had a guy, Jarrett Jack who would do the same thing. When he had the expression on his face, the body language, his players, the guys on the court with him knew we better get our act together. So that could just be his way of leading his group

Q. I think you said yesterday when somebody was asking you about what you're doing for free throws. Was it like three and you get a credit?
COACH HEWITT: We do a couple of different games. One game we're playing I got from Don Meyer, read some stuff he's done. We split the group up into two. You have to make three straight free throws in order to get one, and the game is to ten. The first team to ten wins. And we just do different things. Another thing we call swish game, where you have to have a perfect swish -- no rim to get a point. If it touches the rim you don't get any credit. If you miss a shot it's a minus 1, and again the first team to ten wins. And so we do some different things like that.

Q. So if you, right now it's the credit, it's the three and you get a credit, right?
COACH HEWITT: One point.

Q. What happens to the losing team?
COACH HEWITT: Sometimes they run, sometimes they don't. But sometimes it's just competitive. They talk a little trash with each other about who wins the game.

Q. If you would, talk about your post players, your two big guys, what they've done and what you look at possibly in this match-up tomorrow?
COACH HEWITT: They've really grown and developed throughout the year. Not just individually. Sometimes you're playing with two big guys like that, they can get in each other's way.
Both are so good around the basket scoring. And it's not outside the realm of possibility seeing two guys fighting for the space on the block. But as the years have gone on, they've become real comfortable working with each other. The high-low passing certainly can improve a little bit. But they're looking for it more. And fewer instances of both guys charging to the block and getting in each other's way.

Q. Regarding that, yesterday it looked at times like your guards could have looked more to go to those big guys inside. Is that still a work in progress at this point in the season?
COACH HEWITT: Yeah. Again, if you're around us, you know that our guys -- turnovers are a big thing. If they don't think the guy is there, they're not going to throw it to him. So what may appear to be, hey, he's open, throw him the ball, I tell the guys if you're not comfortable throwing it in, don't throw it. Don't force it in there.

Q. When Iman became this defensive prowess, did that go back to what he was doing last summer at the LeBron James deal where he was playing in these pickup games he refers to every once in a while? And does the fact that he had to guard Vasquez and Scheyer and last night James Anderson and tomorrow night Turner, is that all like a building process?
COACH HEWITT: Yeah, I think being involved in that camp certainly builds your confidence because you're playing against some of the best players in the country, and maybe the best guy in the world, if you get a chance to play against him.
But it has been a building process. We saw it last year with him in terms of him having the potential to be a great defender, because he would get a lot of deflections. And now what we're seeing is a guy that not only is a good off-ball defender, but when he's on the ball he's staying disciplined, not fouling, as you said, guarding Vasquez and Scheyer. And now Anderson, Turner. It's only going to build his confidence, because he's got all the tools. Long arms, quick feet, strong body. He's got the tools to be a great defender. And that's one of the reasons we keep him on the floor as much as we do.

Q. Could you talk about the biggest improvement in your team between now and the beginning of the year?
COACH HEWITT: Just growing, maturing. We were playing four freshmen significant minutes, we're playing three freshmen now significant minutes in a sophomore. The play of Moe Miller, his confidence has reemerged and he's playing good basketball for us, shooting the ball well and making good decisions and stepping up and making big free throws over the weekend, last weekend, he made big free throws and, of course, last night he stepped up, made a couple of big ones.

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