Photo by Dean Legge / Dawg Post

UGA Coach Tom Crean: We aren’t making whole sale changes

January 8, 2019
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Head Coach Tom Crean
On Vanderbilt…
“They are like us. They are coming off of a tough loss when a bounce back is important. The mentality and mindset in that bounce back is the most important. I’m sure they are the same way. Bryce [Drew] is a great coach, I’ve had respect for him for a long time. I’ve never competed against him, but certainly have respected him and followed him. They certainly have a good team and I think what he has done with losing Darius Garland and the way they have put Saben Lee is such a position to create offense for them and everybody else makes it really tough. Simi Shittu gets a lot of attention and rightfully so, he is one of the better freshman in the country. He can score at the rim, score at the perimeter, and he is an excellent driver. He can make plays for others. They have an unique situation in how well they use the corners with Joe Toye and Matt Ryan in the sense that they can not only shoot, but do a great job in staying in those corners, so if you overhelp then those are like giving them layups. We can’t do that. They are a deep team even without Darius [Garland] in there and they have developed their depth really well. They are fast and change their defenses up quickly. The speed they bring is a problem and we have to do a much better job of dealing with another team’s speed and we have to do a much better job in transition. We need to do a much better job at bringing our own speed, because of all the things that went wrong on Saturday which there was a lot, we didn’t come out fast. We never played with any pace. We didn’t probed or attacked or got the game into any type of movement or rotation that we needed to do. We can play better. I thought Saturday was relatively uncharacteristic for us in the sense that so many things didn’t go right for us and our mindset never got us to a place where we can compete in the game. We bounced back in the sense of the practices and who bounces back the best in this league and doesn’t let the last game beat them is usually the team that is ends up being pretty good. We need to make sure we learn from that and move right on into Vanderbilt which we have after we studies the film. We have to be ready for a team that is really, really good at getting better.”
 
On different things in practice…
“Well you have to keep looking at your team. You look at it when you win and you look at it when you lose. We aren’t making whole sale changes, but there are different some things we have to do different. We have to get speed in the game. We have to get the ball moving better, and we didn’t do that. We competed more against each other yesterday. We have to make sure we don’t get away from competitiveness that they get out of each other. They like to scrimmage and go against each other. We aren’t always getting as much going against our scout team that I have with teams in the past. It’s just like anything else you learn as you are around a group of guys enough you learn as you go. The question is are you flexible enough to adapt and adjust to do something about it. Our mindset is that the number one thing is that you need to be able to bounce back after a loss and move forward after a win. Any adjustments or changes that we feel we need to make that is what we are trying to do and I think those changes create energy for the team.”
 
On if he’s had a loss like that…
“I’m sure I have. I was at Indiana with eight scholarship players, but I’m not sure. I don’t think in those terms. The final score wasn’t an issue to me, it was how we played is what I focused on. The final score was what it was. The main issue was we didn’t change the way we could play. They played well. Like I said then, we didn’t make them have to earn a whole lot. They had to earn a little more than I thought right after the game, but they didn’t have to earn very much. They got it, because they just went and got it, we didn’t make it tough on them. We were never tough on the ball in that game and we didn’t play very smart in the post. We have guys that like Derek [Ogbeide], Nic [Claxton], Ray [Hammonds], those guys were in completely different roles than they have in the past, especially Derek. You can’t go into the game and get fouls like that early. He is arguably the most improved player on our team. We have some other guys that are up for that award if we were giving it out right now, but Derek would certainly be it right now. So if you get two fouls in 90 seconds, then it changes the entire dynamic of the team and we didn’t respond to it well. With that being said that is what you focus on more than focusing on the final score. Where do we have to get better? What hurt us from getting us there? And like I said I think it was pretty uncharacteristic of us but we’ll see. We have to get better.”
 
On flipping current direction to beat Vanderbilt… 
“I don’t think its about, I don’t think you start talking about, ‘Hey we got to beat Vanderbilt. We got to get this win.’ You start making sure that you let them see what it’ll look like because there is a feeling you have when the game ends, and that feeling is on the bus ride or on the plane right. You got to make sure that the feeling doesn’t go away. That doesn’t mean that you live in it because the last thing that you want to do do is you have the last game beat you in the next game, no matter what the timeframe is. But you do have to see it, feel it and see it on film. I think a lot of times you got a group of people that care, and they do. They see it on film and they take that to heart. And we came out in practice yesterday, we haven’t practice yet today, but we came out in practice today with that taken to heart. There is no doubt about that. We made a few changes, and we went against each other a little more, but other than that it’s not like we went and made wholesale changes in practice. I think what you do is you keep making sure…the number one thing as a coach, 'cause again, I didn’t realize the one for twenty until after the game. I knew we weren’t shooting well. We’re not going to sit on that. We came back out and were shooting threes yesterday just like we will today. Right? I mean the bottom line is that is part of it, unfortunately, and we have got to do a better job of being ready to shoot and a better job of moving the ball, but it’s a great example when you’re not cutting, when you’re not screening, when the ball is not moving the way that it needs to. There’s not activity, and you’re not getting offensive rebounds for kick-outs and things of that nature, and you’re not getting defensive rebounds that get you up the court and get the game in rotation, you are not going to shoot very well. Those are the kind of lessons that you make sure that they walk out there with, but the last thing you want to do in practice is raiding that. You want to move forward. That’s exactly what we do.” 
 
On mindset going into next road game… 
“Oh, you mean for what we have on Saturday? It’s going to be much the same. I have never been to Auburn, just like I had not been to Tennessee since I was a graduate assistant at Michigan State [University], but I have seen it enough on television that it makes me think it is going to be a full house. There’s going to be a lot of excitement. You can’t let, um, I said this Saturday too, great crowd, great atmosphere, great team, no doubt about it, but that’s no reason not to run it. That’s no reason not to get out there and play with some confidence, and what we needed is when the game started, go from five to seven. That’s where you need the leadership. So the answer to your question is there has got to be one or two guys that step up to the forefront, no matter how uncomfortable it is, and no matter how they are playing and help bring confidence to the team. You can’t just be coached during it. There is no way! The coach helps, and the coach facilitates, the coach is not the one that is going to drive that. That comes from the players as you go down the line, especially when you get into the league, and so that is what has to happen for us and that remains to be seen who that is going to be because some of the guys that have been doing that for us, that have been bringing confidence to their teammates, we had nobody that did that for us the other day. Derek [Ogbeide] played hard and did some good things, but like I said, it goes to show the value of him when he’s already on the bench 90 seconds into the game and we’re having the foul issues we had with the other guys. Leadership is ongoing. Leadership is emerging. Leadership is evolving and every game you get it’s got to be a little bit more clear on who that is going to be, and it’s like momentum, it’s always up for grabs, that doesn’t mean that it has to be one of the best players. It doesn’t mean that it has to be a senior. Somebody has got to step up that can help the team feel safer in that environment. 
 
On how his experiences at Indiana have helped him over the last couple of days…
“Not much. Every team is different. I’ll watch the film on the way home and take my notes, study that. You vent at the front of the bus to the screen, but we’ve got our film session now. It’s not like we’re going to sit on it when we walk into the film session, but I don’t want them walking out of the film session without absorbing the message or without seeing what can be better, because the worst thing that can happen is you get mad at your team, or you take it out on your team, or you vent at your team, and they know they played poorly, we know it was a bad game, and they don’t get anything out of it, right? That not what we’re doing. I think sometimes when you’re a younger coach, you think that sometimes works out, but I’m not like that. It’s more— by an hour and a half into that bus ride Friday night, I was well into Vanderbilt. So, you just have to keep moving forward, but you have to keep learning your lessons, win or lose from the game before."
 
On how he finds the line between being too aggressive and too passive to avoid fouls… 
"Well, it’s a lot of things., First off, you’ve got to know the psychology of the other team. Grant Williams— he’s one of the nation’s few— he gets fouled an average of about seven times a game, alright? So, we talked a lot about that throughout the week. We don’t want to be overly physical, we want to bring our help off the ball with him. So, he’s bringing the ball to his body, and we’re buying it, right? You cannot do that. You cannot play defense with your hands inside your body, okay? When you start to go for the ball, when your hands are inside your shoulders, that’s not a good place. We teach— maybe we’re gong to get the stick hand up, get it under their chin, but that hand is not here. It’s out. So, if your hand isn’t out, you’ve already given that referee the opportunity to call the foul on you, no matter what the man does with the ball. So, our hand activity and hand pressure was not good, especially with the way [Tennessee] throws passes. We wanted to be very active with our hands on the outside. I know it sounds “X-and-O-ish,” but it’s really the key, right? So, not being overly aggressive on the ball, knowing that teams are gunning for you early, especially when you’re in those types of situations, especially with some of the better players, and then being smarter once you get the foul. I mean, certainly we’re trying to get Nick out of the game with three fouls. You know, we don’t have the luxury; I’m not going to put you back in the half with two fouls. I’m not coaching that way right now. That’s not the kind of team we have. What if we sit there and say, “We can let this guy ride it out to the second half?” Well, we could be out of the game. So, we’ve got to play those guys, and that comes based on your depth, based on your experience, based on your feeling as a coach. Well, we’re trying to get him out of the game. You can’t be overly aggressive on the ball in that situation, and that’s just part of the learning process for [Nick} as a young player who’s moving up the ladder, who’s got a very serious role on this team, and a much bigger role than what he’s used to. So, it’s all part of the process. SO, that’s the kind of stuff you show on film. You try to show him, you try to teach him, you try to mirror it at practice, and you get ready for the next one."
 
 
#33 Nicolas Claxton | Sophomore | Forward | Greenville, S.C.
On the mood following that tough day on Saturday… 
“We have just been trying to stay confident and have a short term memory. That is the good thing about basketball, that you have a quick turnaround unlike football. Tomorrow against Vanderbilt we will be ready to go.” 
 
On the challenges that the Commodores present tomorrow night… 
“They have a forward that is a really good player. They have guards that are quick and like to get downhill. They have some good shooters that shoot really well out of the corners. We have been game planning and we will be ready for them.” 
 
On classes starting tomorrow and having students back and the energy that provides… 
“We will have our students back behind us and we love their support. We can’t wait to see them at the games.” 
 
On what this team learned from Saturday’s tough experience… 
“We learned that we have to come out and play hard, but also play smart. You can have the right mindset but if you aren’t playing smart then it will just take you out of the game.” 
 
On what you learn from watching the video of a lopsided game against a top team like the one on Saturday about what you need to do to get to that level… 
“I think you can learn from your mistakes. We came out kind of flat. We have to come out more energized. Me, Derek and Rayshaun all got into foul trouble early in the game and I think that hurt us. We have to make sure we are doing what we can to stay on the floor and help the team in anyway that we can.” 
 
On how you can apply the lessons learned in Knoxville when you hit the road against Auburn this Saturday… 
“It will definitely be a similar atmosphere and they are also ranked in the top 25. We have to make sure we are playing smart and staying out on the floor. We have to give it our all for as long as we can when we are out there on the court.” 
 
On your description of your personal season so far… 
“It has been alright. We have been losing so that has definitely been bothering me. I just try to stay consistent and help my team in any way that I can. I am gaining more and more confidence, game by game. I know from the beginning of the season compared to now, I feel a lot more confident out there and in my abilities. 
 
 
No. 34 Derek Ogbeide | Senior | Forward | Lagos, Nigeriga
Senior Guard Derek Ogbeide
On what they learned after Tennessee...
"A lot of things on how we have to play. Just being more locked into details, the little things, the extremely little things are what killed us. The accumulation of all of those little things, being piled up makes one big thing. It's a serious issue that  we've been working to fix since then."
 
On what the coaches have said...
"The messages become extremely more real and extremely more reinforced. We really have to lock in those little details and its easy to slip away. We had major slippage as coach has said. Major, major slippage and we just slipped little by little. Things didn't work, they piled up on us, and it became too heavy to carry."
 
On coming back from the loss...
"Of course take it one step at a time and focus on the next step. You review, you take away the things that need to be taken away, you look at the positives, you look at the negatives, and you try to fix. You adjust, you make adjustments and that's what we've been doing. We've had to get back to ur old selves, our identity as a team, and playing the way that we want to platy. Imposing our will instead of wills being imposed on us."
 
On the challenges Vanderbilt presents...
"They're skilled and they're a tough team. They're smart and of course like any team they're quite worthy adversaries. They're here in this position. We need to take away their strengths and try to highlight their weaknesses, force them to do things that make them uncomfortable as we do all teams. We need to force them to be as uncomfortable as they can be in our environment."
 
On practice...
"We put [Saturday] behind us immediately. We've been learning ever since then. The next day, the next practice we had we began to learn, we began to put effort into things that were clear and obvious mistakes on our part and how they piled up and try to trim them down.
 
On having the students back at the games...
"They've been gone for a while and we did have a lot of good crowds. Not having them takes a toll but we're super excited and super happy tp have them back, back in our environment and really show the Georgia way again."

 
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