Post-Game Quotes: Georgia Tech 81, Houston 62
NIT First Round
“I’m extremely proud of our guys on a lot of different fronts tonight. First – in terms of just the game tonight – Coach (Kelvin) Sampson and myself have a long history. We both started our careers as graduate assistants at Michigan State and have known each other for a long time. I’ve been fortunate to be on the bench when he was the head coach at Washington State and Oklahoma, and playing against his teams. I have an unbelievable amount of respect for him as a coach. His guys always play hard. They’re always tough, and he’s done a great job. They’ve had a great turnaround from, I think, 13 or 12 wins last year. They’re 5-5 in the league against NCAA Tournament teams. They slipped up a bit in the (conference) tournament and lost to Tulane, but they went into it winning nine of the last 11 games – beating Cincinnati, at UConn, which is impossible to do. So for our guys to respond against a team of that caliber that the fourth-most offensively efficient team in transition in the country and has some great players, I just couldn’t be prouder of our guys’ energy, effort and discipline they played with tonight. At times, we decided to put the discipline a little bit to the side on some of the plays that we made, but you guys know me well enough now – if you play that hard, I give you some freedom to make some of those plays, and I can live with them. And then - most importantly for me – I’m so proud of our guys. Different index reports have us playing the third-most difficult schedule in the country overall. The BPI has us as having the third-most difficult, and the RPI has us as having the 21st-most difficult. For us to win 20 games against that schedule, and with it being only the fourth time in that last 20 years that a Georgia Tech team has won 20 games, and to add the schedule into it – its’s a great accomplishment for our seniors. And they deserve all the credit. Our players deserve all the credit, and next comes an unbelievable staff that has continued to get our guys positively motivated and well-schooled in what we needed to do to be successful, even when we lost, we’ve been able to get them to bounce back and just play our best basketball over the last six or seven weeks. The guys have just continued to fight, and that’s been good for me to see because now our younger guys – and it’s so hard to build a culture – our younger guys have seen what it takes and what you need to do to win games. Not just compete – because we’ve competed for the last couple of years – but now to actually win games. We’ve won eight more games than last year and six more league games. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing. Our guys have been tremendous and for them, especially our seniors, to be able to hang their hat on the fact that they’ve done something that a lot of teams over the last 20 years haven’t done. And we’ve still got a lot of fight left in us. I just feel good for them, and that – for me – to beat a team as well-coached as Houston, I’m just very, very proud tonight.”
On fan support
“I appreciate the fans. Unbelievable. They had great energy tonight. Our students were off the charts. That whole student section was full, and that was great. I was very, very happy, and I’m much appreciative of that as are our players. If you take a look at our last five or six games – our students have been off the charts. I’m very happy and very appreciative of that.”
On if there’s anywhere on the court where Adam Smith doesn’t have the “green light”
“Not here. Sometimes I get onto him for not taking some shots. Here’s the one thing with him – have there been time where I’ve told him he’s taken a bad shot? Yeah, and he just kind of gives me a look and we go on to the next play. He’s earned that right now. He’s not only earned it because he makes it, he’s earned it because of the time he puts in. I know how much time he spends on his game, so there’s a confidence in that. You reap what you sew. He’s put in a lot of time in the gym on his own.”
HOUSTON HEAD COACH KELVIN SAMPSON
How difficult was it to defend Georgia Tech’s size inside?
“Our Achilles heel all year has been defensive rebounding. You can tell that team is very veteran. The team in our league that they are probably most like is Cincinnati. They’ve got a very veteran point guard [Marcus Georges-Hunt] and [Adam] Smith makes a lot of bad shots. Those are bad shots. You’ve got to be disciplined enough not to foul him. You don’t foul shooters. The only other guy I’ve seen make shots like that is Steph Curry. Obviously Brian [Gregory] knows… I can only imagine the shots he takes in practice. He allowed [the post players] to get some separation with those shots and they scored 16 points on second-chance points. We’ve done that to a lot of teams. We are usually a good offensive rebounding team but not a very good defensive rebounding team. We can play better. Our team’s obviously had a good year [after] winning at Connecticut and at Temple. We didn’t play very well tonight though. Hat’s off to Brian. We don’t see a lot of teams with that many fifth-year seniors. Obviously playing at home during the NIT is a big deal. It’s always an advantage. Brian’s a good guy and I’ve known him a long time.”
Why did your offense struggle tonight?
“Well [Rob] Gray Jr. is a good player. He was 2-for-9… he’s better than that. The biggest thing was runouts. We get a lot more transition baskets, but it starts with your defensive rebounds. Their offensive rebounding kind of negated that and they made a bunch of shots. It was a very good offensive game for them. We’re usually better than that defensively and we get a lot of shots in transition because we defend. We had 10 fast break points. I don’t know what we average, but it’s a lot more than 10 lately.”
It seemed like LeRon Barnes defended Adam Smith pretty well?
“He did the whole night. I don’t think [Adam Smith] had an open shot all night. He made hard shots. Now if those shots don’t go in… but they went in. There’s no such thing as make-believe. He made hard shots. He has the freedom to take them so obviously he’s a good shooter. We hadn’t played anybody who takes shots like that, much less makes them. I saw Stephen Curry take a shot like that in the Oklahoma City game.”
What did you need to differently tonight?
“They hurt us early. It was a fairly close game until the last two or three minutes of the first half. Their offensive rebounding hurt us. Smith got loose in transition. I think he did have an open shot, my mistake. It was in transition. That was the only time we lost him, but he made it. They’re a veteran team. We have no excuses. We got beat by a better team tonight.”