Postgame: Virginia coach Tony Bennett, UVA players on win over Clemson

tony bennett uva basketballVirginia coach Tony Bennett and UVA players Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and Devon Hall talk with reporters after the Cavs’ 61-36 win over #18 Clemson on Tuesday.

Coach Tony Bennett

On the key to the defensive effort tonight:
“I thought in the second half, that was some of the best defense we’ve played. They had a couple of careless turnovers on their part and we turned them into points. Without Donte Grantham, that’s a huge blow in their first game. They were really good early and had some breakdowns. I want to acknowledge that because Brad has done a terrific job. They are a well-coached team, but that’s a hard blow. In saying that, I don’t want to take away what I thought our guys did, especially in the second half defensively. I thought they were so active with their hands. Mamadi (Diakite) gave us some lift and everything was contested. It was physical. They kind of punched us in the face a little bit in the first half and we were a little sped up and stretched out. We then righted the ship and played some of our better defense. They were a little fatigued, but I like how our guys responded.”

On the tone at half time:
“I talked to them right when we came off the court and I said to them, ‘fellas, whether you like it or not, this is going to be a blue-collar game.’ This is a physical game and that’s how they play. They are going to bump you and play hard defense. They are going to screen hard and we have to do the same. You have to respond to this. Nothing soft or with fluff is going to work in this game. I addressed them at the start and then went into the coaches. We just talked about can you find it within. I like how our guys responded. I thought we did a good job offensively in the second half, moving a little more and just letting it come. We were stronger with the ball as opposed to being a little impatient at time.”

On being 8-0 in the conference and what is special about this team:
“I mean we have respected everybody we have played. We have said this game is significant. It’s the only game we’re playing, so it’s important. They have just found ways. We struggled in the first half, but use the saying, ‘we don’t have to be great, we just have to be good all the time.’ That’s our way. Again, I don’t know what our ceiling is or anything like that, but like Clemson was playing before Grantham got hurt, they had a special connectivity. I think there’s a special synergy with our group. There’s individual talent, but I love the saying that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We have some really great parts, but there is something going on with that synergy. You saw that on the defensive end and even offensively. Guys are understanding their roles and making big shots at the right time. We have different guys with different balance. I think those things up to this point has been high level. You work hard to get there, so you don’t want to back up.”

Guard Kyle Guy

On defense:
“We grind every day and we work on defense. We preach it. Like you said, we get back and we rebound and do our job, it is hard for anybody to score on us. So, when we are hitting on all cylinders, it is actually really fun to play defense like that.”

On how this win relates to the upcoming game at Duke:
“This game Saturday was the one everybody circled at the beginning of the year. It is going to be a really good test for us and we are really looking forward to it. Our defense was great this second half, so that is good momentum and a boost going into that game.”

On the defensive stops being a motivation:
“We like being different. I think I said this a couple weeks ago, that when we miss a shot on offense we are not very worried about it because we know our defense is going to make up for it. Most teams feed off energy if they are hitting shots, and we do it when we are making other teams miss.”

Guard Ty Jerome 

On coming back in the second half after two fouls:
“I think that that is happening too often. I keep picking up two fouls, whether they are fouls or not. I cannot keep picking up two fouls. I do not like sitting that long in the first half. I do not think you have time to be angry. I just have to always play my part, cheer the team on, and help in any way I can. They did a great job getting the lead going into halftime and that is when I knew I needed to play my part in the second half.”

On sensing frustration from the other team:
“Yeah, a ton of frustration. They stopped running their offense. A lot of it, I think, is when you can do two things: when you can keep them off transitions and keep them off the glass, that takes away the majority of their offense. When you play good ball screen defense, that is another thing that is demoralizing. Those are usually the team’s three main things: offensive looks and transitions, offensive rebounds, and then ball screen defense. So, if we are good in those areas that sets the foundation for our defense.”

On the halftime talk:
“[Tony Bennett] said it was a real blue-collar game. So, we needed to roll up our sleeves and just fight it out, be physical, be who we are. That was his message to us after the Wake Forest game too. A lot of times, at this point in the year, teams start slipping a little bit on the things they do best so we wanted to turn the screws back just a little bit and get back to who we really are. That was the talk at halftime and we did a good job of executing in the second half.”

Guard Devon Hall

On Ty Jerome’s defensive play:
“[Ty Jerome] today, his activity with his hands was amazing. He really helped us because sometimes they would get around a ball screen, and him being active with his hands really helped us.”


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