Augusta Free Press

Postgame: Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Kyle Guy and Devon Hall talk win over Louisville

Virginia coach Tony Bennett and players Kyle Guy and Devon Hall talk with reporters after UVA’s 75-58 win over Louisville on Thursday in the 2018 ACC Tournament.

Q. Kyle, it looked like coming out you maybe were a little uncomfortable with the brace. You subbed out, subbed back in, and obviously had a great game after that. What were you feeling and what was it like playing with that?
KYLE GUY: I felt really good actually in practice. It took a while to get used to wearing a brace, but I felt fine from tip-off. Maybe it just took a minute to get in a groove.

Q. Tony, the final nine minutes, you held them to one field goal. How was that defensive effort down the stretch there?
TONY BENNETT: I think a couple times they helped us out. There just were a couple hot bounces and they missed a few easy ones. But they made a nice run to cut it to four or six, and we answered, and we got enough stops and guys made some good plays. Because they played them three times, we know how they can pull up and hit shots and touch the paint. So I just think we tightened up a little more, and a majority of the game they did have to earn their baskets.

Q. Devon, when you look at playing a team for a third time, especially a week ago you played that emotional game at Louisville, how do you approach preparing for the game, and is there anything different when you get ready for something like this?
DEVON HALL: Yeah, I think so. Most of the time it was us having a conversation of coming out and punching first. When we played there at Louisville, they kind of hit us in the mouth and we kind of had to respond. The idea was to come out and try to punch first.

Q. Obviously you guys seemed like you were in control; they made the run in the second half. Was it at all hard to keep your focus when you went up big, or are you kind of used to that situation at this point?
DEVON HALL: Basketball is a game of runs.

KYLE GUY: Yeah, we just tried to win the media time-out, so four-minute stints, just leave it all on the floor and try to win those four minutes.

Q. Tony, could you talk about Mamadi’s performance?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah, I thought he gave us a real nice lift with some nice baskets and offensive rebounds to scores, and then a couple times — he actually had a couple good quality individual defense because Spalding is such a good scorer. And when we were trapping, it was effective a little bit, and then they started getting open shots, so he did some good one-on-one shots. But a couple of those moves and put-backs, guys finding him were very key.

Q. I was just wondering, you have a game tomorrow, hopefully a game after that. It’s more that March schedule of lots of games, short prep time. How do you change how the team prepares?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah, I think tournament basketball, it’s about the possessions matter. We talk about this, and we just have been talking about the last — I don’t know how long, not to overcomplicate it, just to try to prepare well, and preparing well is how we rest, how we watch film and get ready for whoever we play next, try to improve from the things we saw, and then when the ball is tipped, really be ready to go and play at our highest.

We’re a possession-by-possession team. That doesn’t change. I don’t know if that sets itself up for this. But records are out now, and it’s just teams can play at a high level. You saw Pitt play Notre Dame close. You saw the swings in the Virginia Tech-Notre Dame game, so you just try to lock in. Louisville made one against us. I think our guys understand how we have to be.

Q. Does it impact you at all when you take the court knowing you’re the No. 1 team in the country?
DEVON HALL: I mean, I think we know we’re going to get everybody’s best shot, so going into it, we have to have a mindset of trying to come out, and like I said earlier, try and punch first. Like Coach said, we’re a possession-by-possession team, so there’s not going to be too many home run plays. We’re going to get everybody’s best shot. We’ve got to play like that every possession.

KYLE GUY: Yeah, when we’re — every time we come out onto the court, we just try to remember our pillar of humility, and I think we do a really good job of that, not getting too high or too low and just staying positive and leaving it all on the floor.

Q. What kind of adjustment, if any, have you made playing with the brace? Looked like it was just fine today.
KYLE GUY: No, all week in practice I was just trying to get used to it. There’s definitely a mental part of it where you sort of feel safe with it on. Like I said, it didn’t really bother me much.

Q. For both players, you guys do a real nice job of keeping the ball alive. How long have you worked on that, and what’s the philosophy behind making that work?
DEVON HALL: Well, our bigs are — do a heck of a job of doing that. I think Isaiah is probably the best at it, even being undersized down there, but he just has so much fight. And our bigs, on our own shots, they crash the glass. Tipping those out are huge momentum swings for us.

KYLE GUY: Yeah, Isaiah is gifted in that aspect. I think I had seven rebounds, and it wasn’t because they couldn’t keep me off the boards. I think he was tipping it out to me.

Q. Tony, you’d seen Louisville twice before. What were the keys to the rebounding advantage?
TONY BENNETT: Yeah, again, I have so much respect for Spalding and Mahmoud and just the way they go at the glass, and they’re quick, and they’re mobile. They’re not just long and bouncy, they’re real mobile. So quality block-outs, and then these guys, like Kyle coming back and Dev and rebounding, group rebounding, and really pursuing, and once a shot goes up, staying engaged the whole time, but quality block-outs. If they get alleys or lanes like Isaiah does offensively, they’re going to keep stuff alive, and I thought for the most part we were disciplined in that. The tape always really reveals that, but we always look at that; are we staying engaged through the whole shot and the defensive rebounding; that’s such a key.

Q. Devon, this may be the last time you face Louisville; just talk about the rivalry this season, and what did you think when you saw them on the bracket sheet coming up?
DEVON HALL: I mean, they’re a heck of a team, and we know that walking into it, it was going to be a battle. Every time we’ve played them it’s been a battle, and they’ve got some really talented players in Adel and Spalding and Mahmoud and Snider, as well. We knew walking into it, it was going to be a battle, so I enjoyed it.

Q. Devon, when you saw your teammate Kyle go down in the first half of that game against Notre Dame, didn’t know what the seriousness of it was, what were your initial thoughts, and how relieved are you to be able to have him on the court here in March?
DEVON HALL: I mean, you guys know how good Kyle is, so obviously we were happy. But to see him go down, I didn’t know exactly what happened and what was going on, but in that situation it is kind of next man up. At the end of the season, guys go down, guys get hit with injuries, and he’s tough enough to fight through it, so that’s good to see.

Q. Could you talk about two shots you took? You drove into the paint, sort of had both hands on the ball over your head and you got the shot off and drew a foul, and also about your dunk?
KYLE GUY: Yeah, I did dunk it, I told you.

On the and-one, I don’t even think that Adel fouled me. I felt like I got fouled before that. But once I heard the whistle I just tried to get it up, and fortunate it to go in. On the dunk, if I wasn’t on a game play, I probably could have done something a little more special than that, right, buddy?

DEVON HALL: Or been a good teammate and handed it off. But it is what it is.

Q. Boston College is a 12 seed here, is making a little bit of a run, and you may or may not face them tomorrow in the first semifinal. Have you seen any tape of them recently and have you been preparing for possibly basing Boston College?
TONY BENNETT: I mean, they’re terrific. They’re hard to guard. We remember our first game of the ACC regular season, they gave us everything we could handle. Interesting ending, the way it was. But they are good, and is it Popovich — no, that’s not — he’s playing really well for them. That’s the guy who coaches the Spurs, right? Popovic? Close. But he’s playing well, their guards are great. But they’ve got to get by. We had to get by Louisville. They’ve got to play a quality team. At this level, it’s just who’s playing their best basketball. So we don’t look at it that way.

Q. Have you had an injury in your basketball career that has forced you to wear a knee brace like that before?
KYLE GUY: I have never really had any scares, thankfully.