March 22, 2014
Louisiana Tech at Georgia
NIT Second Round
March 22, 2014
Head coach Michael White
"Obviously, it was a very good win for our program, being able to win our second in such a prestigious tournament. Just getting to the postseason was nice and to beat a very good Iona team at home to start a postseason run. To be able to back that up with a very solid win at an SEC school is terrific for the continuing building of Louisiana Tech basketball. I think Georgia is a very, very good team, the second place team in the SEC. To come in here and beat them in their building is significant for this team and for this program."
On the good start to the game:
"We were in a great rhythm at doing what we do best, creating turnovers and turning those turnovers into points. In the open floor, we got descent looks knowing how good Georgia is in the half court defensively. That was key. The early turnovers that allowed us to play in the open floor and allowed for open jumpers got us a lead that we were fortunately able to hold onto for the rest of the game."
On what changed in the second half:
"They are good. They are Georgia and they are playing at home. It was a great crowd. I don't know how great it was compared to other games here, but I do know it got very loud. The crowd was a factor. We were playing with a lead which changes things a little bit. You preach let's not be tentative, but at times I thought we got tentative both offensively and defensively. Some of that is me. You are watching that clock probably a little bit too much and we are not at our best when we are doing that which makes us have to score against a set defense. Playing against any set defense is not our strength as compared to playing in the open floor. Then the set defense being Georgia's set defense which is very good. It was a tough equation for us."
On the bench in the first half:
"They were phenomenal. Early in the game, for Cordarius Johnson to come in and make shots and got it going, it was arguably his best game of his senior year. I am very happy for him. And Kenyon McNeail's play was similar to what it has been probably since Christmas. He has been as consistent a player as anyone on our team. He probably deserves more minutes. It is just hard to find him more minutes when other guys are playing well. For these seniors to prolong their senior year and play as well as they are playing late to finish their career is really satisfying to see as a coach. These are good guys. We have talked about those two seniors off the bench, but Jaron Johnson was as good as he has been all year. Chris Anderson was arguably the best player on the floor. I thought offensively and defensively, using his athleticism and his elite quickness, getting by guys and getting loose balls, he was phenomenal today."
On Anderson's physicality:
"Chris Anderson allows us to negate our potential biggest weakness because of the way we play. As a wing who we play at the four, he plays with a physicality which he has played with over the last month, including today. He allows us not to be abused so much on the interior, but then allows us to press by being fast and quick at four positions. And then offensively, he has a mismatch. We always have Chris out there on the floor. When he is in a good offensive rhythm, he is hard to guard with a big and he is hard to guard with a guard."
On the full court pressure:
"That is what we do. That is our strength and we are always going to somewhat play to our strength except for Iona. Iona was the first game all year we did not start in press. That said, we were eager to get back to playing with our defensive identity and because of Georgia's strength of being able to really pound you on the interior and how well they execute with the great actions they run, the full court and the half court pressure was as important today as it has been all year."
On Cordarius Johnson's performance:
"It is really rewarding. Cordarius is such a great young man. He is a kid that as a sophomore and as a junior, and even as a freshman, was having a lot of offensive success. He has really sold out as a teammate to being our best defender and not carrying that he doesn't start anymore. He is just so unselfish. He just cares about winning and if he scores 15 and we lose he is upset. He has been in an offensive drought for the past couple of months, and he came out here and hit a couple of shots that got him going. He is playing with a little more confidence, offensively, as of late. It was great for him to be such a big factor in such an important win for us. I am happy for him and I know his teammates are happy as well."
On being able to score in the paint:
"We are a really good passing team, led by Speedy Smith who I think is the best passer in college basketball. Alex Hamilton is a really good passer. We play four guards so at the four position Chris Anderson is a terrific passer. It is on down the line. Because we play those small lineups, in addition to our unselfishness, I think those extra passes have allowed us to be a little more patient and get it into the interior. We also have good team speed and quickness. When we put our head down and drive it with conviction through hand-checks and through contact, it allows us to have somewhat of an interior presence even though we don't throw it to the block."
On the status of Kenneth Smith:
"No idea. I am just hoping it was a bruise. I think there was contact there and am just hoping it was a knee-to-knee thing."
Forward Chris Anderson
On overcoming second half scoring drought:
"Coming to the bench we said we had to keep our heads up. We had to stay focused. We knew there were going to be times where we would go through a drought. It was mainly just about trying to get a stop and then trying to score."
Guard Alex Hamilton
On being able to start the game so well:
"It was part of the game plan. We talked about it all week, coming out with our pressure and try to force Georgia to turn the ball over. That was a big key to the game, to get a couple of turnovers and score points off of the turnovers. That gave us a little run and we were able to hit shots. It just led to a good lead. They were a good team and they were able to get back in it, but through the drought we found a way to fight through it to come out with a win."
On being in foul trouble and Cordarius Johnson hitting big shots:
"it was real big. As a teammate, I knew it was in him. I believed in him the whole time. We were just waiting for CJ to break through. Kenyon McNeail has been on a roll lately. For both of them to come out in a big game like this with the crowd, it was good to see."