Press Conference: Virginia coach Tony Bennett at the ACC Tournament

virginia coach tony bennettVirginia coach Tony Bennett and seniors Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill talk with reporters after a 72-52 win over Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.

 

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Virginia.

We’ll take an opening statement from coach.

COACH BENNETT: I thought the second half was really key. We did what we needed to do. We talked bit at halftime. It was pretty even in terms that both teams wanted to battle the way they wanted to play. You talk about imposing wills. Let’s get a little tougher offensively. We talked about staying with it offensively. We got lifts from everybody, of course.

Just kind of got away from them a little bit because I thought we stayed pretty sound and tough, did what we did.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. For both players. The double bye is obviously a good thing in trying to win the tournament. Did you feel a couple days off maybe were why you got a slow start in that first half? Did it take a while to get in rhythm?
MALCOLM BROGDON: I don’t know if we could credit it to the days off. Sometimes we have a habit of starting slow, sort of feeling our way into the game. It hurts us a little bit. But I thought we were able to pick it up soon enough to really get going.

The couple days really helped us in terms of rest. I thought our bodies were fresh. We were able to make a run in that second half that we might not be able to do if we were playing back-to-back.

Q. Anthony, talk about the crowd. Probably haven’t had that much support in past ACC tournaments.
ANTHONY GILL: It was an awesome crowd out there today. Coming out of the tunnel, I saw those orange shirts. I was just stunned. It was a lot of people out there for us, a lot of support.

I’m sort of sad it left my hometown of High Point and Greensboro, but I’m happy we had a great fan base here. The fans were just great tonight.

Q. Anthony, you came out of the game like a minute into the game. Was there any reason? Did you do something you weren’t supposed to do?
ANTHONY GILL: Yeah, I did. I fouled really early in the game. Coach Bennett didn’t want me to pick up my second foul right after that, then I would be done for the whole half.

That was just smart coaching on his part, so…

Q. Coach, when you get a lift from Evan or Mike scoring four of the first seven points, how big is that for those guys to kind of spark you guys?
COACH BENNETT: Yeah, I think that balance, when we get other guys, obviously Malcolm, Anthony, usually London are usually there. But when those other guys can give us a lift, hitting a shot, doing some things, it makes a big difference. We needed that really early.

In the second half, Evan got going early. Never saw a guy hit a three and have a whole crowd chant his name that quick. That was impressive.

Q. Talk about the battle with Marcus. Had a great game yesterday.
MALCOLM BROGDON: I can just say it’s a collective effort. Defense is what we pride ourselves on. Even with other great players on opposing teams, it doesn’t matter who it is, we’re going to try to lock them down, we’re going to try to make them uncomfortable and make it a tough night for them.

Q. Tony, Georges-Hunt has been playing pretty well the last few weeks of the season. How significant was it to lock him down tonight?
COACH BENNETT: I thought it was really important. We talk about just making guys earn. Adam Smith made some tough, contested shots. He does that. We put Malcolm on him. Malcolm did a good job. You have to have individual guys who can really challenge individually.

Then I thought Anthony and Isaiah for the most part, but Mike and Evan, too, those are big guys down low. The ability to clamp down and bother those guys. They can score. Georgia Tech has scorers. When you look at the scoreline, to see that, that’s a good sign for us.

Q. Anthony, I don’t remember too many games this year where you were really skying to try to block some shots. Seemed like you were taking off after the ball. What was going on?
ANTHONY GILL: If you remember one game this year, I had four blocks in one game. That was pretty big for me (smiling).

Also, I don’t know, I was just trying to help my team out as much as I could. I saw there was an opportunity to go contest a shot. I didn’t want to give up an easy shot to the basket, so I wanted to protect the goal.

Q. There was a stretch in the first half, Malcolm, where you hit two threes and the jumper. What was happening to allow him to get open?
MALCOLM BROGDON: I think all threes of those buckets came off of a set. On that set, there are multiple options. They have to guard multiple things. They can’t key on one player.

London hit me coming off the stagger and I got good screens.

Q. Malcolm, you guys are not the kind of team that overlooks people. Having lost to Georgia Tech earlier in the year in your hometown, did that make you any more attentive to it?
MALCOLM BROGDON: I think so. I think they beat us. They were better than us in that win earlier on.

But tonight we’re a well-improved team from last time. I think we watched film carefully and made the correct adjustments needed to win this game.

Q. Tony, talk about the next two teams you’re going to face tomorrow. What do you see?
COACH BENNETT: They’re both playing very good basketball. Georgia Tech had won seven of nine, Virginia Tech has won a number in a row. We know how good Miami is. Virginia Tech touches the paint as good as most. They spread you out. LeDay is playing so well. Multiple options. Same thing with Miami. We’ve had hard-fought games against both of them.

Certainly have respect for them and know you’ll have to be ready to go. In the tournament, in the post-season, guys are stepping up for sure.

Q. Anthony and Malcolm, what is it you guys think about Evan?
ANTHONY GILL: He’s just such a loveable guy. He works so hard. When he does get in, he gives it his all. You can’t ask for much more than that. The fans see that.

It seems like every year around tournament time he starts heating up. That’s just who he is. I think the fans just love a guy that they can support, a guy that works hard on his game every day. When he is successful in the game, they want to cheer for him as much as they can.

Q. Tony, everybody wants to be playing their best basketball at tournament time. How do you feel your team is playing right now as you’re getting to this part of the year?
COACH BENNETT: I think we’ve been solid. We’ve had a real tough schedule at the end. We’ve had to go into tough places, play teams that are playing good basketball, good teams at home.

Our guys, I think we’re collectively in a good place. As I’ve said to these guys many times, they’re capable. They can. We just always after each game answer the question, Will we be ready? Will we play the right way?

They are certainly ready to play. They should feel the right way about that. But they know who they are. That’s what I love about them. I’ve seen that over time. These guys are experienced guys right here. I’m thankful for that. We want to obviously see what we can do.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.


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