On Monday afternoon, Florida State's Leonard Hamilton and Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt talked about their teams recent games, the improvement of players such as Luke Loucks and Gani Lawal, and the upcoming showdown between the two ACC squads. Here is a transcript of that conversation.
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton
"Well we got beat by a very good University of North Carolina team last Thursday. We got down by a substantial margin in the first half, went into the locker room down by about 12, we were able to fight and claw and scratch and get back to have a three-point lead with a minute and a half to go and we had a couple turnovers and made a couple poor decisions and got beat by a very good team that was really difficult for us to compete against in Carolina. I am hoping that we can kind of regroup while we prepare for Georgia Tech on Thursday night of this week."
On the team's reaction to the Carolina loss:
"Well we were very matter of fact in our approach and in just pointing out the things where we thought we faltered. I thought we were somewhat tentative on the offensive end where we had about 12 to 15 opportunities to score, I thought we weren't aggressive enough. Obviously the turnovers that we made at critical points were huge for us. We were able to evaluate the film, edit some things out for us to look at, and hopefully we have learned from that game and will come back and be a little better prepared going into the Georgia Tech game."
On the progress of Luke Loucks:
"Well Luke was not a very good perimeter jump shooter in high school and he has worked very hard to improve in that area. He has done a great job, I think he is shooting close to 40% from three-point range. We all knew he was a very clever passer but he had a lot of adjustments he had to make early in the year in just handling pressure. The area of his game that has improved the most is his defense. He had some adjustments to make early, now he is solid where he does a very good job containing his man and contesting shots. Probably the thing that he has had to overcome more than anything else is just adjusting to the speed of the game as it is in the ACC and as it is in major college basketball. I think most freshmen have those types of adjustments when they come to college."
On him being a surprise:
"Well what has surprised me is that he seems to be a lot more aggressive offensively than we had expected. He has made a lot of key buckets from the perimeter and he attacks the basket and uses either hand well around the basket. He is still one of our best passers. I have been overall pleased with his progress. The good thing is that he is coachable and he is a sponge and is really, really passionate about getting better."
On his thoughts on Georgia Tech's Gani Lawal:
"Well he is just turned into a man-child I think. He is pounding that glass, rebounding, and finishing his plays. He has really been a real factor in just about every game. I had noticed him in the past but his field goal percentage, he is shooting 55%, and is averaging 10 rebounds a game with 16 points, he is strong, physical, and blocks shots. He has been a guy that has really come on as fast as any player that I have seen in the ACC in several years."
On defending him:
"Well I think that in the ACC because there is so much penetration and so much rotation, you can't really get caught up with individual match-ups because if (Uche) Echefu is assigned Gani Lawal, it might be a difficult task. I think we all have to contribute into adjusting to Georgia Tech. He is averaging 10 rebounds and has had some real big rebounding games, I think that is one reason his field goal percentage is so good because he gets an awful lot of put-backs. The way the defense's are and the way they penetrate and throw the ball inside, Echefu could very easily be helping someone else out when the ball goes up so I think it is going to our schemes versus Georgia Tech's schemes and I am sure that Echefu and Gani will be matched up for the most part individually but I think it is going to take more than Echefu for us to be successful against a team that is rebounding as well as they are."
On Georgia Tech beyond Lawal:
"When you look at Georgia Tech you see that they have lost three overtime games that could have very well one either way, so they could be 4-and-whatever, 4-3, as opposed to 1-6 because those games could have gone either way. Even in the Duke game, Duke had to really step it up in the latter part of the game to extend the lead if I remember correctly. So when you take those factors into consideration, they are a typical ACC team where the ball just hasn't bounced their way a couple of times this year. They could have very easily won those three games and been right in the thick of things. We respect that and made our players aware of it. I believe that they are very close to being in the middle of the pack if not for those balls bouncing in the wrong direction."
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt
On playing Florida State:
"They are coming off of a difficult loss, and it's probably a tough way to go into a bye week, but it is that time of the year where they could use some rest. They are a very long, athletic team. Toney Douglas is playing outstanding basketball right now. They have Derwin Kitchen on the floor to relieve some of the ball handling pressure on him. Also Luke Loucks is another point guard, we tried to recruit him. They are a good team. They have some good wins, some quality wins. We need to go down there and play with the same sense of urgency, and execute the way we have been executing, and hopefully come out with another W if we shoot free throws well and don't turn the ball over."
On the starting lineup adjustment with three guards now starting:
"The ball movement is better. I think I may have mentioned when we were changing the lineup that I anticipated us becoming a better shooting team because of that ball movement. Having Zach (Peacock) at the (power) forward again improves our ability to space the floor out, have crisper ball movement, and have better skill players out there. It also gives us a punch coming off the bench, when you can have a guy like Alade (Aminu) coming off the bench who can get you a double-double, that is a nice lift."
On Gani Lawal's offensive development this season:
"I think he will tell you that he has slowed down quite a bit. Last year he was always in a hurry when he got the ball in his hands, trying to out-quick people for the shot, out-quick people to the rim, as opposed to getting the ball, seeing where the defense is, and seeing how they are playing him. The other thing I have talked to him about all year is in addition to playing with more poise and more patience from the low post and he has done that is that if he could ever get to the point where he was a 75% free-throw shooter then in my mind he becomes somewhat unguardable."