Postgame: UVA basketball coach Tony Bennett on win at Maryland

tony bennett uva basketballOn how his team handled the game:

“Well, I think early on we ran good offense, made some shots and defensively we were not solid in terms of blocking out, they were making plays touching the paint, and then we made some subs and the guys really stood in there. That’s why depth is so important, I though Marco, Braxton, Mamadi gave us a good lift defensively and then we got on track, but we needed to. We knew there were going to be runs in the game and there were enough plays made and I was really happy for Jack Salt, and Kihei, and Braxton, I thought they made some really good lifts down the stretch.”

On making adjustments in the second half:

“Just don’t let them score in the paint. I challenged the guys, said it was too easy. They were doing some tricky stuff on the ball screens, taking advantage of our aggressiveness so then we decide to say alright, if they’re not setting it then they’re faking the screen, and dropping back in, let’s not go out as much and put two on ones. We tried to make adjustments there, I think Jack challenged himself and other guys did and we tightened our pack defense. We thought that was important that guys guarded on the ball better. I thought Kihei made some defensive slides that were real big and they hit some tough shots at the end, but it was enough and we took care of the ball, I want to emphasize that, because they can get out and run and our ability to normally have two turnovers and not lose the ball or any live ball turnovers I think was a big storyline.”

On the play of Jack Salt:

“Well Bruno is such a good shot blocker, he’s so athletic and he goes after stuff, so when shot blockers go after it, if you can get it on the rim, there’s going to be open lanes or alleys to the glass and Jack was all over that. Again, he did have his career-high, but you know he did do some good things defensively. He played against Heath and Happen. I’d like to see you banging out there with them, but I thought he was aggressive and tough.”

On the lack of turnovers this game:

“Pretty good, we had a couple near misses and I had that line up of De’Andre and Braxton and Kihei and Kyle. All those guys are guard type players and can handle the ball so that helps and we made pretty good plays. They’re good at a one hard trap and they kept a couple, but we had a nice play and that was a nice play in transition when we scored and we needed to break that press just enough.”

On the comfort of having experienced players on the court during crunch time:

“I think that’s our formula, it always has been, to get guys and get them to their upperclassman years and those experiences. There’s no substitute for playing in the games that Ty and Kyle and De’Andre have played in. That’s why the young guys, how Kihei is staying in there and is steady, is very promising but that experience is important because it is a different feel. We played that first road game in the challenge, all the teams that went on the road, Nebraska beat Clemson, I don’t know how the games went tonight, but you take something, especially the first time. I’d like to say the Bahamas was a road trip, I don’t think it was. It was a road trip but it wasn’t an away game with that many fans that are so polite all game.”

On the positive first half performance of Kyle Guy:

“Certainly, I thought because we weren’t defending as well, they were getting in the paint and hurting us. I thought Kyle was terrific. He’s got such a gift when he’s on to move without the ball and quick release. We found him, and guys moved hard, but he certainly helped us absorb some of our defensive deficiencies and I thought that was big.”

On how Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome like to play on the road:

“I think they’re better athletes than people give them credit for, but they rely on their mind, their skill, and their mental discipline and that has to be there. The experience that you asked about is important and they’ve played in tough situations and took some lumps as first years, as second years, and that’s part of it. Usually those experiences help form what you’ve got. They’re not afraid of the moment, maybe that’s too strong of a word, they’re ok in it. They know who they are and were continuing to forge that into our team and in each player.”

On how meaningful it was for De’Andre Hunter to play on this stage and play as well as he did:

“De’Andre is continuing to improve. He has played in big games before. He had a really good tournament in the Bahamas and I thought he did some really good things. You saw his athleticism. He’s a complete player. Those plays ignited us. We needed those. Because he’s such a shot blocker, if you don’t go hard at the rim and attack like that, you’ll be on your back and they’ll be going the other way for a layup because he’s such a good shot blocker. I like the way he attacked and almost beat him to the rim a couple of times with the dunk and that’s what you have to do.”

On how improved has De’Andre gotten considering the shots he blocked this game:

“His length and versatility, whether it’s guarding a four or a three- and losing Isaiah last year- Isaiah would just come out of nowhere and just come and get shots. I love that. When I see guys, whether it’s off the ball or on the ball, I’m not sure which one you’re referring to, that’s kind of an anticipation and going to get it. Sometimes you just need plays to be made. Guys are such talented individuals you have to bring guys over and that can be the difference in a tight lead and a position game.”

On what he says to Jack Salt after a stretch with three fouls in a two minute stretch:

“We’ll watch the tape and see, and again it’s the discipline to not grab. We had a different action on. We called a play and maybe it didn’t get relayed to him, but he got that and that seems to be a little bit of a pattern for Mamadi. Mamadi is talented and I just want him to play really hard. He’s still new to the game, I know he’s in his third year but he’s newer to the game them most young men because of when he picked it up. He’s going to continue to give us good stuff and continue to get better, but that’s discipline- hands off, locking in and with the rule emphasis you can pick up quick ones in a hurry.”

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