Press Conference: Virginia coach Tony Bennett at the ACC Tournament

virginia coach tony bennettVirginia coach Tony Bennett and players Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes talk with reporters after the Cavs defeated Miami, 73-68, on Friday in the ACC Tournament.

 

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Virginia. We’ll start with an opening statement by coach.

COACH BENNETT: I really liked how our guys fought and battled. I asked them to have a warrior-like mentality heading into this game. I’m thankful to God for the guys that He brought in my path to coach, that they get after it, they sacrifice a lot. They do things that are about the right stuff. Were we perfect? No. Did Miami get in the paint? Did we have some breakdowns and just did not communicate and did they exploited it? Yes.

I love the resiliency, and the warrior-like attitude that I ask from them. They laid it out there and now they get a chance to contend for it tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Malcolm, 16 turnovers, you guys got 19 points off that. How big a factor was that in getting a little separation?
MALCOLM BROGDON: I think huge. We’re not a team that presses you really hard and forces turnovers. Anytime we can get another team to turn the ball over that many times we try to capitalize on it. I think we did tonight.

Q. Coach, second ACC championship game appearance for you guys in three years, what does that mean for this program moving forward?
COACH BENNETT: It means I’ve recruited well, or we’ve recruited well. Our staff has. We’ve got the right kind of guys. They play the right way. We’re just trying to do it the right way, as I said.

It hasn’t been easy. This year has been a little different than the last one. We know how good Miami is and we know what — I don’t know the final score, but Carolina put it on pretty good to Notre Dame, how potent they are.

We’re looking forward to the opportunity and we’ll have to be at our best.

Q. Malcolm, it’s interesting, the turnovers you get, they don’t instantly produce transition opportunities, but you have a knack for scoring off of them. Is there something to just the way you get a turnover, you’re mindful or eager to score?
MALCOLM BROGDON: I’m not sure I understand the question. I’m sorry.

Q. When you get a turnover, are you more mindful of, Let’s get a score here, than you would in another opportunity because you have that chance to bury them a little bit?
MALCOLM BROGDON: Not necessarily. When the opportunity is there, if we can get a turnover into a fastbreak, otherwise we try to run our offense, not try to do anything out of the ordinary.

I think the way we turned Miami over tonight, we ran the gaps, swiping at the ball, that’s the pack line defense. That really frustrates straights team. They did get in the lane a good bit, but at the same time I think we turned them over by being in the gaps.

Q. Malcolm, can you talk about your comfort level on the free throws.
MALCOLM BROGDON: It’s all mental. It’s nothing but your mental. You just have to step up to the line and be confident in yourself and knock ’em down.

I feel like that’s one of my roles on this team as one of the older guys, is to step to the line confidently at the end of the game and try to finish it.

Q. London, the matchup with Carolina, you played them not that long ago. What is the key to playing well again against them?
LONDON PERRANTES: Keep them off the offensive rebounds, keep them out of transition. Two big things we do really well. Two things we try to pride ourselves on the defensive side.

It will be the clash of the different styles, but we’ll be ready for tomorrow.

Q. Malcolm, both coaches and basically every player was so intense that they emotionally reacted to something good or bad. Do you force yourself to be the most even-keeled person ever or does it come naturally?
MALCOLM BROGDON: I think it comes naturally. But I also feed off of my coach. He’s not a guy that gets too excited about anything.

Then the rest of my teammates. We’re a pretty even-keeled team. I try to pride myself on the court as being one of the guys that can remain calm and not show any emotion. That’s just one of the things I do.

Q. London, tonight you really did a great job handling the press at the end of the game. What were you looking for and how did you ball fake so well?
LONDON PERRANTES: In the press, the only thing I really look for is Malcolm, to be completely honest (laughter). We just have that touch between both of us. We know we want to get it into his hands at the end of the game so he can knock down those free throws. We have the connection from the past three years we’ve been playing together.

When it comes down to the last couple of minutes, I’m really just trying to get the ball into Malcolm’s hands. If he has it, he’s going to try to get it back to me. That’s what I’m really looking for.

Q. Tony, what Malcolm said about the free throws, what does that say about your guys’ readiness in the post-season?
COACH BENNETT: You need to be composed. Apparently David didn’t think I was too composed (laughter).

They have a steadiness about them. You have to. Even though I told the guys they’d miss some, you’ll get your chances again, you step up. I think Malcolm said it best.

You have to be able to finish games. You have to be able to make free throws. You have to be able to get stops, big rebounds. Those are all the things that are huge in games that swing back and forth.

Seems like this tournament, there have been big comebacks. Seems like a lot of conference tournaments. You have to stay locked in until the final buzzer as we’re seeing.

Q. A couple years ago when you got that 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, it meant a lot to everybody. Is that something you talk about? Would a 1 seed in this tournament matter?
LONDON PERRANTES: We’re not worried about that. We’re worried about what’s ahead of us, the game tomorrow. After that game tomorrow, we’ll worry about what’s ahead of us in the tournament.

We’re just taking it one game at a time. We’re just worried about Carolina tomorrow.

Q. Coach, are you at all concerned about Anthony’s foul trouble the last couple games?
COACH BENNETT: Well, he picked up one early. I decided to take him out. It’s a physical game, things happen. We got in foul trouble with Isaiah Wilkins, even Evan and Anthony. Their quickness, the way they went at us and put us in ball screens. We went with the four-guard lineup. We showed some versatility with that. You want guys to stay out of foul trouble, but they can’t be passive on the floor.

We want them to be aggressive, but be as smart as he can. Play with his feet, not his hands.

Q. Coach, a lot goes into saying you have the right kind of guys who play the right way. Elaborate on what goes into you saying, I have the right kind of guys and they play the right way.
COACH BENNETT: Our program, we base it on what we call pillars. The first one is humility. They don’t think too highly of themselves or too low. They have a true identity. I love guys that have humility like that. They’re willing to buy in and they’re passionate. That’s our second pillar. I could go through all of them.

I love that they’re humble. I mean that. That’s a position of great strength. A lot of people think it’s a weakness. True humility is strength. These guys are humble in the right way. They play that. That’s where you start. We can go through adversity with them. We can go through success with them.

Q. Malcolm, seemed like every time you guys started going on a run, the crowds would get into it. Does it feel like you played two home games in a row or do you not notice that?
MALCOLM BROGDON: No, you definitely notice it. I don’t know about home games because our home games are pretty crazy. We’ve had an awesome fan base that’s given us great support and great momentum during these games.

If any team has home base here, it’s us or North Carolina. Our fans have been awesome, for sure.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.


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