Augusta Free Press

Postgame: UVA coach Tony Bennett on win at N.C. State

UVA coach Tony Bennett talks with the media after the #18 Cavs won 70-55 at N.C. State on Saturday.

On how nice it was to see shots falling: “Certainly. We talked about just keeping playing the defense to keep you in there and sooner or later hopefully we’ll knock down some shots and get some different kinds of looks. That’s what we’ve been talking about in all of these games. It got away from us against Carolina, but the other games we’ve been attached because, for the most part, our defense kept us in there. But to see Kyle (Guy) get going, and make some shots, and he really loosened it up. It was very important.”

On not playing Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome against Miami, but what he was hoping to get from them today: “I thought Ty and Kyle did a great job. That fifth foul on Ty hurt, but Darius (Thompson) was sick, couldn’t play. I was actually going to start Darius, but the plan was to definitely go in that direction, to get them more minutes and they were forced into it, and then again to loosen things up with Kyle and his shot, we wanted to get that. Once it started falling, you could see that was huge for us. I thought Ty and Kyle defensively, they came of age a little bit, of being smart, of being in the right spots. Sometimes Kyle was on Dennis Smith, I thought London did a heck of a job. Our defense stayed solid and then we made some shots. Still missed layups, still missed free-throws, not perfect by any means, but rallied enough and the young guys gave us a great lift, and of course, London (Perrantes) and Devon (Hall) gave us nice lifts. Jack (Salt) has a bad back and Isaiah (Wilkins) has strep throat, he wasn’t maybe going to play so we knew we were short handed, and we just had to play through it.”

On if looking back at the Miami game, he wishes he played Kyle Guy more than two minutes: “Yeah. We have a group of guys, that they’re different, but they’ve all helped us at different times, and I thought we had the Miami game if we made some free throws, which we didn’t. I thought we need it because the way they were attacking, a little more size and physicality on the perimeter. But, yeah if Kyle shoots like that, absolutely, that’s a good insight, I should have played him more. That’s it. For sure, he only played two minutes and you’re always when you get beat close, and though I thought we had it defended it well, you’re going want to think about that. That’s part of this team and evolving and certain guys play well in certain situations and certain don’t, but yeah that, that was important to see.”

On his thoughts on London Perrantes today: “I think early, you know, he just struggled. It’s like when you’re missing shots, you’re missing putts, whatever, how do you find it, but you just keep playing, you try to get to the line, draw a foul. You try to have your whole game be your strength, not just be identified, or to have your emotions go by if my shots falling. We’ve missed a lot of good looks, we’ve missed free-throws, we’ve done things that have cost us, and there is such a big to-do about it from the media and rightly so, I guess it’s covered that way. So you have to be able to put the blinders on and say, ‘I’m just going to keep plugging. Find different ways to impact.’ That’s why I liked him creating, him guarding Dennis, and then making the big shot. You just keep taking them if they’re good shots, without second guessing yourself, and that’s challenging, but that’s what you have to do.”

On if the team playing again Monday gives them a look at what the turnaround will be like during the NCAA Tournament: “You have to look at it that way. Scheduling is an interesting thing. We’ll discuss some things when the time is right with the people we should discuss it with, in terms of games and spacing and all of that. Some of this stuff is TV driven and I get all of that. Quick turnaround, you have to be ready. Absolutely, if you’re fortunate enough to get into the NCAA Tournament you win a game, you have a day of prep and then you have to be ready to play a great team. We know what Carolina is and we have to get back, get some guys healthy and come at it better than we did down there. We tried to come at the right way there, but we didn’t. We have to be ready and know what we’re going against and just keep moving on.”

On London Perrantes and Devon Hall making big shots to keep NC State from building momentum: “They are huge. You can play and play and play and the game comes down to can you go make a play. Sometimes you can execute and go make a play, but a lot of times when you look at all of these close games and how teams are winning or being beat, they are tough shots. We’ve been beat by guys making plays. The games we’ve won, we’ve made some plays. It always comes down to that or in some cases, can you make the free throws or get the big stops. It was good to see some of those finishes and plays being made to keep it not a one or two possession game.”

On if he felt like today was a must win situation: “Every game we want to win and is a must win. It’s an opportunity, but focusing on that wasn’t going to do it. I have no idea where we stand, in terms of projections, if we’re in or we’re out and all that stuff. I know we let some slip away and its frustrating. It was just can we play some quality ball because there are enough games left. I guess that’s our ninth win so we finish at least .500 in the league and we still have two more opportunities in the regular season plus the conference tournament. As far as quality of play, I thought we needed to have a better offensive shooting performance and hopefully that can help us. Knowing realistically what’s coming Monday, we have to be right.”

On Isaiah Wilkins’ performance today when he didn’t feel well: “We needed it. I don’t know if you guys could see Jack (Salt) wincing when he landed. It’s why he banked his first free throw because he’s never done that before. (He) didn’t practice yesterday. We thought he was a little better last night, woke up this morning, temperature was up – and Darius (Thompson) out of the blue, high temperature – we said, ‘Warm up and you tell us. Don’t need much, but you let us know.’ Darius was getting nauseous on the bench. (Isaiah) said he wanted to try it and that’s why we played him. We needed it all, and I thought he did a good job. We put him, at times, on a perimeter player, so we could keep going. I thought his smarts and his ability to be in those spots helped.”

On what have the last couple of days been like in practice with five days between games: “It was nice. I know a lot of people suggested we go bowling or do something, swimming. We worked. We got back, we worked. We took a day off and then we really worked hard on our shooting, our fundamentals, quality shots. We had three days prep, so we had a day off and then we just did a hard shooting, fundamentals, skill development on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday were abbreviated, shortened days, but heavy emphasis on shooting. It was nice to have that preparation. To breathe and not play the four games every other day, it was nice to work on some things and fine tune.”

On Devon Hall’s play today: “We played him as the four most of the game. You look at his stat line and almost a double-double, 18 (points) and 9 (rebounds). He’s been a key for us this season. We need the balance because we’re not dropping it inside and playing out of the post. We got some scoring from him. I liked his game, didn’t turn it over and was just efficient. He’s got some leadership in him. I see him and he’s trying to urge and pull and lead the team along with Isaiah (Wilkins) and London (Perrantes). He’s been very important. Marial (Shayok) didn’t have a very good game today and the other guys stepped up. Marial has had good games in the past and that’s part of having the balance and depth. That’s why we recruited that way.”