Thursday, March 04, 2004

Paul Hewitt call-in Show

Great call-in show today, as expected after the big win:

WES: Wes opens the show by saying "Well, today we will be able to talk about the happy re-cap of................. a 19 point win over Clemson (laugh from crowd). Oh, there's another game we can talk about also". Wes went on to congratulate and provide a quick re-cap of the Dook game.
PH: It came down to defense, fighting through screens, keeping Duhon in check and contesting shots. We finished the game strong. At about the 3:52 mark there was a media timeout, similar to the first Dook game. This time though, we went 9-10 from the line after that and Jack hit a critical reverse layup. That was the single most significant play of the game.

WES: When you got back last night you had about 200-250 people there to greet you. It looked like a soccer crowd back to greet the World Cup champions.
PH: You hope as a coach that your players can experience this type of thing. I enjoyed it for my players. I have a great situation in Atlanta with my family, but it was about the players, especially the seniors.
WES: It looked like Robert Brooks could have bowled over 4-5 people he was so pumped.
PH: I told the players to get off the bus first because this was for them.

QUESTION: Who will start at FSU
PH: David Nelson WILL make his 1st start of his career Saturday (crowd goes wild in the studio).

QUESTION: I have been watching games for years. What is the exact definition of traveling? (bigtime sarcasm)
PH: The refs have a tough job to do (he didn't expound any further)

QUESTION: What does it mean that GT will "host" an NCAA regional?
WES: Well it will no longer be known as the East/West/North/South. It is now known as the Altanta/St.Louis/Phoenix/E.Rutherford regionals.
PH: However, we may NOT be hosting the regional. That is all I can say right now.

QUESTION: What did Coach K say to you after the game?
PH: Coach K was very gracious. He had very nice things to say about our players and their efforts.

QUESTION: How do you bring the players back to reality after such a big win with so much more to accomplish
PH: That is really up to our seniors. They are the leaders on the team. It also helps that our administration lets us Charter back to campus so the kids can get back to classes. These kids also know that FSU and Tim Pickett are up next and Pickett lit us up last time. The senior leaders will make sure we get back and focus

QUESTION: Did you give Dickey V a box of Kleenex on the way out? (no response)

QUESTION: Some players don't have big stats but come up big. McHenry's points were big.
PH: More than anyone on the team, Tony buys into his role on the team. At the end of the game, he DEMANDED his assignment on Redick. He told me in a timeout he wanted JJ. I started to say something and Tony said "let me have him". I said ok. Tony keeps growing and growing.
WES: Every good team has an "Anthony McHenry" that makes it succesful
PH: Anthony is our best defensive player

QUESTION (from a very young person): Do you like it when Isma'il dunks? Does it get the team going
PH: No doubt he does provide a spark. It is interesting, because most of the time, his dunks are a result of a good defensive play. Isma'il excites the crowd and even the coaches sometimes.

QUESTION: Can we actually get a 3-seed in the ACC tourney from Wake Forest if they lose their last game?
WES: It is interesting. If that happened and we ended up with the same records, then you go through the tiebreakers. Both teams split with Dook. Both teams got swept by NCST. Both teams swept MD, etc. It looks like it would come down to a coin flip at the league office on Monday.

QUESTION: Hewitt pointed out a guy that had a shirt that said "Bloke: Luke has a posse". PH wanted it.

QUESTION: Defense was really key to the win. It seems that earlier in the year we would fade on defense at times
PH: What happened to us was that we would miss a lay-up on the offensive end and let it get us down on the defensive end. Our defensive intensity would drop. Look what happened at Clemson. We were up 9-0, then the power went out. We came back, missed a couple of easy shots, then Clemson made some easy buckets, including a dunk. I called a timeout - I wasn't even upset. I just told them not to let the offensive lapse impact their defense. C-Moore was a big part of getting them back on track. Since that time they have not let the defense lapse.

QUESTION: In the 1st game vs Dook there was a lot of banging and the inside play seems to be key. Is Luke coming to form now?
PH: We have to go inside. BJ, Isma'il and Luke all have the ability to play inside and post-up and that is critical to our success. Luke has gotten better and better. He is always in the right position - he had 4 blocks and 0 turnovers last night. And defensively he is just so big and takes up a lot of space.
WES: Luke's mom and dad will be watching the game today at 4:00pm on ESPN INTERNATIONAL on tape delay. It will be the 2nd time they have seen him play. The first time happend to be our first game against Dook.
PH: After the first Dook game, I got a call from the Australian Olympic committee. And all of the sudden, now they are interested in having Luke try out. They want him now after I tried to get them interested. Luke will try out for the team and it is a great opportunity for him to possibly represent his country.

QUESTION: It seems when both BJ and Isma'il are in the backcourt they get into foul trouble.
PH: They have to do a better job using their feet and not getting cheap fouls. They had a few games where they picked up some cheap ones.

QUESTION: Back to Luke. He seemed to have a very defining play - the pick-and-roll where he kept the ball in the air. It even got Dickey V to stop talking about Duke for a minute. Is he finally getting some recognition?
PH: People are starting to talk about him and he has been a big part of our success.

Next, PH brough in Danny Hall, coach of the beesball team to answer some questions. A little PR for the beesball team

WES: You play this weekend. Your team just got back from a tough road trip to the west coast.
DH: We have Rutgers this weekend. I think you are seeing a few growing pains. Our main problem is that we haven't hit the ball well. I have never been in a situation where everyone seems to go into a slump at once (obviously he has never seen the Braves - my commentary). However, I saw more hits in our intra-squad game yesterday than in the last 5 games combined. I think it is just a question of time. We are still playing good defense and getting good pitching. Just like Paul talks about, if you play good defense you always have a chance to win.

QUESTION: Last year you lost a big lefty pitcher. Who is your ace this year?
DH: Micah Owings is our #1 guy. He was the ACC rookie-of-the-year last year, leads the pitching staff and led us last year in HR's.

WES: This Saturday fans have a chance to see both teams. At 1:00, beesball plays against Rutgers, then at 4:30 against FSU.
PH: I always encourage people to try and come to both baseball and basketball games. I love to come myself and bring my kids. You know, some popcorn, some cracker jacks. In fact this Saturday, hopefully "Uncle Dave Braine" can keep my little ones in the box at the baseball game while I prepare the team for FSU (big laugh from the crowd).

PH: How does the rest of the ACC stack up in baseball?
DH: Clemson has a very good team. NCST has the best pitching staff, with everyone coming back. UNC has young pitchers, but surrounded with a lot of experience. I think UVA is a real sleeper this year and we open the ACC season against them.

WES: Will you play 30 games in the ACC next year with expansion? You currently play 24.
DH: It looks that way. There is a conference call coming up to finalize but that is what I understand. I am pretty sure we will play everyone 3 times. Then when Boston College gets in we'll have to look at it again.

PH: Talk about what it is like having kids going through final exams while trying to maintain team sports
DH: Time management skills are critical. Of course we have great academic people to support them. We are starting to see some grades drop as the season has started, but things are going well.
PH: People just don't understand what it takes for these kids to support athletics and the GT academic program. Just this week I had to cut short a 1.5 hour practice session to only 50 minutes because 2 guys had to study. Here we are playing the #1 team in the ACC and we had to cut practice short. But that is the reality that you do not see reported on ESPN. These kids deserve a lot of credit and people don't know what they go through. That's why I think they should be off-limits to criticism.

QUESTION TO PH: Evidently it was hot at the Dook game. Are there any requirements on building environment?
PH: No requirements that I know about. It was hot, but both teams have to play in the same environment.

QUESTION: Caller gets on and does best Billy Crystal impression "I must say coach - last night - you looked maaaaarvelous!".
PH: I have to tell you the story. My wife bought that suit for me 3 years ago and has been on my case over and over again asking why I don't wear it. So I finally gave in. I get back last night and she says "you better wear it again". She gave ALL the credit to the jacket.

QUESTION: Coach, when you look at the recent track record of GT and your ability to develop big-men, it sure must help recruiting. You look at how you turned around Alvin Jones, how you helped get Chris Bosh drafted #4 after just one year. Now you look at Luke's development - who should get at least 3rd team all-ACC this year. Does this help with recruiting? (the question was an obvious wink/wink to Randolph Morris. The crowd laughed because everyone knew).
PH: (Hewitt laughed and said) I like the way you think. First I agree with you 100% about Luke deserving all-ACC honors. Willie Reese really takes pride with our big men. He takes pride in Georgia Tech. Willie has worked with Luke a lot. It just takes time with bigmen. In fact I have told Luke that he is probably more frustrated with his development than I am.

WES: There is a big game coming up on Sunday between UVA/MD.
PH: After Virginia beat us, I said they reminded me of our team a few years ago that started 0-7 in the ACC and made a big run. I said I thought they were ready to make a run of their own and the media just thought I was making excuses for the loss.

QUESTION: I thought you did a great job with the officiating a couple of weeks ago when you made comments about getting quick fouls with our aggressive defense. I thought since that time we have been able to play more of our game. And if I were a referee last night I would have thrown Coach K out of the damn ball game!! (lots of laughs).
WES: ......moving right along

QUESTION: Coach, I am so happy I could kiss you. Wes, would you do me a favor and lay one on him?
WES: not a chance

QUESTION: Coach, I would like to see us track +/- as a stat, so we can see how the team does with certain players on the floor.
PH: We have actually been keeping +/- stats for the past month or so. I haven't even told Wes and he looks hurt.
WES: Are you tracking "Power Plays" too? (sarcastically)
PH: The +/- helps determine the most effective combination of players.

QUESTION: What was it like at the end, knowing you were going to walk over to Coach K with a Win and get congrats from him.
PH: With 13 seconds to go, I was shocked that they decided not to foul, especially with how Duke plays hard and makes runs. I couldn't believe it. When it happened I turned my attention to Marvin. For him to walk-away with a win meant everything. Duke is a class act and like I said, Coach K had very nice things to say, as did the players.

QUESTION: What are the keys to the game versus FSU
PH: Tim Picket. His a the difference on that team and in my mind the strong ACC POY candidate. He is one of 3 with strong consideration. I don't get into projecting who is a pro prospect, but he might be the best NBA prospect in the ACC because he can hurt you in so many ways - offensively, defensively, etc.

WES: On senior day, Bobby Cremins returns
PH: Bobby will be there to honor Marvin Lewis and Clarence Moore, his last recruits. He will probably want to keep a low profile, but he is still a big fan. I'm not going to say he lives and dies by GT, but it is pretty close.

WES: Clarence Moore seems to enjoy the game as much as anyone. He really gets into enjoying the moment and helping lead the team
A great call-in show and some good comments.