Sunday, March 1, 2015

Georgetown set to face Florida Gulf Coast in NCAA tournament

Courtesy of ASAP Sports, here's a transcript of Georgetown's press conference ahead of Friday's NCAA tournament game against Florida Gulf Coast at the Wells Fargo Center.

Georgetown set to face Florida Gulf Coast in NCAA tournament

Courtesy of ASAP Sports, here's a transcript of Georgetown's press conference ahead of Friday's NCAA tournament game against Florida Gulf Coast at the Wells Fargo Center.

Q. How did you guys manage to pick up the pieces after you started out Big East play 0‑2 and you lost Greg?

NATE LUBICK: Yeah, it was tough after we lost Greg and we obviously got off to a poor start, 0‑2 in Big East play. But we got the team to buy into defense, and still to this day, this is how we're going to beat people is by getting stops and with our defense and we have a team that's very versatile defensively, and that's what our bread and butter is, getting stops.

OTTO PORTER, JR.: Off of what Nate said, just have to adjust to a situation. One of our leading scorers went out and one of our leading defensive players went out, and we just had to come back together and go back to the drawing boards and figure something out, and we did.

MARKEL STARKS: It was obviously tough losing such a pivotal player, but we made the proper adjustments. I think the coaching staff did an excellent job of sliding Jabril, and then D'Vauntes, him giving us the production that he's given us all year, having him step up and play a much larger role for us scoring, for us in defense, and even rebounding, his role has picked up tremendously.

Obviously as Nate and Otto touched on, we've been an excellent job all year of playing great defense, and hopefully we do pride ourselves on our defense, and we will continue to do that. 

Q. I was going to follow up with you, Otto, because I read a story that said that you kind of took it upon yourself to kind of, I guess, up your game a little bit. Was that something that the coach came to you on or is that something that you felt like, hey, I have to do this because my teammate was gone?

OTTO PORTER, JR.: I mean, you're a leader on this team with these two right here. You kind of take it upon yourself to pick up the energy, pick up the team, to get wins, and I think that's what we did. That's what I think I did to help this team win is pick up the intensity and my energy. 

Q. After watching film of Florida Gulf Coast, what are your impressions of them, their strengths and weaknesses and thoughts on tomorrow's game.

MARKEL STARKS: They spread you out. They spread you out. You have to do a good job of not letting Comer get comfortable. I think when he's comfortable, the team plays a lot more comfortable. They're a better team with him, but not just him; obviously they have a lot of other key players that play a pivotal role in their success. But obviously not letting them get off three‑pointers. I think they shoot the ball extremely well from the field.

But also just sticking to the things that we've done all year. We don't necessarily have to make the proper adjustments of how are we going to do this, how are we going to do that, we're going to stay with our stuff, because as the numbers show, our stuff has been working, and we'll hopefully continue to work.

OTTO PORTER, JR.: They're a great rebound team, offensively they shoot a lot of threes, they penetrate, they shoot a lot of lay‑ups, but they also follow them up and they have a lot of guys that can put the ball back in the hole after somebody shoots it. They're great at that, so we've got to stick with our stuff, get rebounds and limit their shots.

NATE LUBICK: Yeah, coming off what these two guys said, they get a lot of stuff in transition, and that'll be a focal point of the game for us, not letting them get out and get easy buckets in transition. And defensively they really junk it up. They play a couple different types of zone, play a couple different types of man to man, they press in a couple of varieties.

So us being able to read what they're in and get into our stuff early is going to be very important during this game. 

Q. High seeds going down last year was something that happened a lot. You guys coming in at No.2 this year, Duke talked about earlier being a No.2, went down last year, coming back this year, do you think about being a high seed with a low seed coming in with really nothing to lose?

NATE LUBICK: Yeah, you know, that's what this tournament is about. It's about those guys getting chances to win. But we think about our high seed being something that we've earned. We came in and we earned this seed and we're not going to let somebody take that away from us. We're going to play our game, we're going to be aggressors the entire game and we're going to go out and take what's ours. 

Q. For any of you, if this is relevant, I'm just wondering, given the spark that D'Vauntes has added of late and the fact that this is his first NCAA Tournament, have any of you talked to him at all about what he might expect or what this is going to be like or are you just kind of letting him go with it?

MARKEL STARKS: Great question. This is considered the playoffs, so he's done an excellent job all year. We're not going to tell him what to expect. He's mature enough, his head is strong enough to make the proper adjustments. I think he's done that when things get tough, and he'll be fine. He'll be fine.

I mean, people put the label on freshmen and think that once it comes to a big stage, oh, my gosh, he's going to get scared. No, no, not at all. He's seasoned, he knows what this time means, and he'll rise to the occasion.

Q. I was talking to some of the kids from Creighton and some of the other mid‑major schools. They seemed to say that because of, I guess, VCU's run the last couple years and going back to George Mason that there's a kind of parity and they don't get the kind of respect that say you guys get and whatnot. Do you see that as the case? Does that formulate your approach when it comes down to playing some of these schools?

OTTO PORTER, JR.: I mean, they're a great team. They had a couple runs this year. They've got a couple great players. I mean, as far as them playing in the tournament, I think that they have as great a chance as anybody else in the tournament. That's how the tournament plays out to be.

I mean, you have to look at the bigger picture in the tournament. So I think they'll be all right. 

Q. It says in the media guide that you want to become a congressman. Why, and what are you doing to make that happen?

MARKEL STARKS: I thought we were talking about basketball. (Laughter).

Yeah, that's what it says, so yes. We'll discuss that at another time. 

Q. Markel, can you talk about Jabril's contribution to the defense, what his presence out on the court means for you guys?

MARKEL STARKS: Outstanding. Having to battle with him every single day last year, he's helped me ‑ I want to take on a more personal view. He's helped me become a better defender. He's helped me have that mindset of being nitty‑gritty when things get rough, especially late in games. He's not afraid to come to anybody and share his mind, and collectively as a team, he's helped us in many different ways.

His intensity every single day is what makes us a better team, and he's helped all of us. He's helped all of us become better defensive players.

I think with his mindset of stopping the guy in front of you has obviously rubbed off on everybody. So obviously having him on the team and having him come in, fill in that role is outstanding. 

Q. How much do you feel this game is going to be a contrast in styles, listening to FGC they want to get out and run and you guys like to slow it down. Do you see that as a key?

NATE LUBICK: I think that's kind of a misconception about us. We don't really want to slow it down. We want to get out in transition as much as possible, and that's something that starts with our defense.

But yeah, as I said earlier, that is something that they are very good at. They have guys who can rebound and take the ball all the way up the court without passing it. They have a bunch of different guys who can get other people shots.

But you know, I don't think that us slowing the ball down is something that we're looking to do. We're looking to get as many possessions as possible. We're looking to get the ball up and down the floor as much as possible.

OTTO PORTER, JR.: Going off what Nate said, we do look to push it more in transition. We do look to run plays in transition to get quick buckets.

It just has a faster‑‑ pick up the pace a little bit more and then pull it out if we have to. We do look forward to pushing it in transition a lot more.

THE MODERATOR: We have head coach John Thompson III.

COACH THOMPSON III: We're excited to be here and get started. I'm not sure who asked the question, but Markel's political aspirations are put on hold for a little bit. He'll start worrying about that a few years from now. But we're ready to go. We're ready to go. 

Q. How concerned were you when you got off to the slow start in Big East play and you had lost Greg, and what do you think you guys did to pick up the pieces at that point?

COACH THOMPSON III: Yeah, I don't think we looked at it as the pieces needed to be picked up. You know, obviously you don't want to start off conference play 0‑2, but it's a long season. It's a long Big East season, and we knew we had time to climb back up the standings in the league play.

So there was no feeling of, whoa, the sky is falling, nor is there a feeling of we need to totally reinvent the wheel.

When Greg went down it was a huge loss, it was a huge, huge loss, and there's a lot of things tactically and every other way that we had to adjust, tweak, change, completely overhaul, but I think our group throughout the course of the year believes in each other, they believe in me, they believe in how we do things, and so the fact that we started off 0‑2, that was not what we wanted.

The fact that Greg goes down, that was not what we wanted. But I think at no point did this group lose faith in us.

Q. It seems like Otto Porter, Jr.'s play stepped up a little bit more. Is that a function of that or is that something you kind of expected out of somebody who's a leader on your team?

COACH THOMPSON III: Part of it had to do with Greg going down, but also I think it was just our team continued to progress and evolve, and Otto's production numbers have been a part of that growth of our team.

I think one thing that we have consistently done even through the losses is I think each week we've gotten better, and so a lot of ‑ it's easy to sit and look at ‑ I've said this before to the people that have been covering us, it's ease toy look at Greg goes down and then you make adjustments and all of a sudden things start to go well, but I think that would have happened anyway, just as the year went on.

Q. In talking about this game coming up, there's talk about you guys being a contrast to Florida Gulf Coast. You guys have been talked about as - 

COACH THOMPSON III: Who's making that talk?

Q. Well, there was a question to the players about the game being a test of contrast, that you guys slow it down and they speed it up. My question is more along these lines: You guys get perceived as wanting to slow it down and there's a lot of talk about your offense. Do you enjoy the misconceptions or do they bother you?

COACH THOMPSON III: What do you think the answer to that question is?

Q. That's why I'm asking. I don't know.

COACH THOMPSON III: I think a lot of it is misconceptions. And I came in right at the‑‑ I was sitting just off the stage right at the end of that question, and I think Nate answered that we don't go into any game trying to slow the game down. We want to push it as often as possible. We want good shots, and whether that good shot comes after two seconds or 30 seconds, we just want to get a good shot.

Also I think one thing that gets lost by that line of questioning, which a lot of people sitting out there perpetuate, our defense gets lost in that. And the fact that for the most part or most nights or most days this year, we've guarded people pretty well, which means they go deep into the shot clock, which then affects the score of the game as much as it has to do with our offense.

Q. Is there anything that Otto does that surprises you at this point?

COACH THOMPSON III: No, not at all. During the recruiting process, I knew we were getting a player that was extremely versatile, that I thought would be able to have success in a lot of different areas on the basketball court at both ends of the basketball court.

Quickly when practice started, that summer we were getting ready to go to China, it's like, ooh, he's got a chance to be pretty good, really good. He's continued to progress, he's gotten better. But no, nothing surprises me. He's a person that can control a game in many different facets, and I think the layman has a tendency to look at the stat sheet and start talking about points.

Otto, a lot of his national attention started when he scored 33 points against Syracuse, and everything else he's been doing, he's been doing for two years. He just hasn't gotten the attention for it. But he's someone ‑ he's a special, special player.

Q. Is it sort of an odd dynamic to have like a Creighton coming into the Big East and teams leaving at the same time? Can you just talk about the addition of a team like that? They obviously have a good player in McDermott.

COACH THOMPSON III: Yeah, he's pretty good, huh? I am extremely excited about Creighton's addition to the Big East as well as Butler's addition, as well as Xavier. I'm excited about our new league, and I think you will quickly see that as our inaugural season, the rebirth of the Big East, whatever you want to call it, we're going to be one of the best basketball conferences in the country, and that's something I say confidently.

Over time you will see the established - we will establish the rivalries, the venom that Georgetown and Syracuse had with someone, and that's going to take time. But just as it relates to the quality of play, the quality of the players, the quality of the coaching, it's going to be one of the best from day one.

Q. What's your take on FGCU and how do you slow them down?

COACH THOMPSON III: How do you slow them down? No one has figured out how to do that all year. They're outstanding, I think, at getting what they want, and as it relates to when they're on offense they spread you out, they have shooters and guys that can attack the basket and they pose problems.

They put you in difficult ‑ some offensive systems, as you attack it defensively, you say, oh, this is how we should do it, they don't put you in that many binds. They have good players, but the way they go about it, they put you in difficult situations where it is hard to defend all of their options.

So on our defensive end, we are going to have to be very, very good. And as much as any team we have played this year, they mix up their defenses to try to keep the opposition off balance.

We're going to have to be very good at both ends of the court tomorrow.

Q. Following up on the Creighton question, could you talk about the challenge those three new schools have coming in and playing against you established seven?

COACH THOMPSON III: I don't think it's going to be that big of an adjustment. I mean, those guys are used to playing basketball at the highest level as it is, and so the challenge is going to be ‑ the challenge for them is going to be the same as for the other seven, just getting to know them, just getting the familiarity with how they try to skin the cat, how they try to win games.

That's not common right now. But I don't think those programs ‑ those coaches are too good entering the league to say, oh, they have this main obstacle to overcome coming into this conference. They're a good team, and that's why we want them to be part of what we have.

Q. I kind of wanted to follow up on that. With the successful runs of VCU and George Mason and even Davidson, have we truly reached parity in college basketball so when you go out recruiting a kid and everything, if they can't make your school there's other schools where they can kind of shine and be a star and all that?

COACH THOMPSON III: Well, I think if you just follow college basketball this year, maybe the last couple years, there is truly parity, and I think as fans, as reporters, as writers, we want to‑‑ we've been forced to categorize teams. This is a power six, this is a high major, this is a mid major, this is a low major. So we walk in with these labels.

But then you take away the label, you take away the names on the jerseys, you put 10 bodies on the court, it's close. I mean, everybody is pretty much the same.

And so just because of time, because of how we've always done things, we want to assume that a person, a team from this conference is not as good, as talented, as tough, as well coached as a team from this conference, and that's just not the case anymore.

Q. Earlier Markel was asked about Jabril, his defensive contribution, and Markel talked from a personal point of view about how he felt Jabril had improved his own defense.

So my question is in addition to teaching defense, as a coach do you see individual players able to elevate the defensive play of their teammates? Is it something that happens by osmosis? And if so, does Jabril deserve credit for lifting other players?

COACH THOMPSON III: Good players make each other better, whether that's offensively, whether that's defensively.

So Markel has gone through two years now of Jabril guarding him most possessions in practice. And Jabril is a pretty good defender, but in his intensity is infectious. His intensity rubs off. Anyone that's ever checked the ball up there at the playground, you've got somebody that's up under you the whole time, you're ready to get up under them and get them back, so it's a competitive thing.

One good thing about this group as it relates to them elevating and making each other better is they go at each other pretty hard in practice, and a case in point, as good of a player as Otto is walking in the door, as he is right now, he's gotten better because he's got to go against Greg Whittington every day who's a terrific defender.

And so that's the dynamic that Markel, Jabril, and across the board, it's not just with our team, good players make each other better.

Q. FGCU doesn't have a whole lot of size. Is that something you're going to look forward to exploit on your end?

COACH THOMPSON III: We don't have a whole lot of size, either. We're going to do what they do, they're going to do what they do. I may disagree with you. A lot of times when you get to the NCAA Tournament and you look at lower seeded teams, they're very good teams, but physically they don't match up.

Florida Gulf Coast is a very athletic team. They aren't a small team that just happens to be playing well right now. They're playing well right now, but physically they match up with teams in our conference. They're as athletic, as bouncy, as teams in our conference. So that's - we don't look at that as who we can just exploit them physically, not at all.

Jonathan Tannenwald Sports Producer
About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Jonathan Tannenwald Sports Producer
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