I know I haven't done this in a while (my apologies on that), but I am back for a little TechTalk blog action today. Between taking on several different work-related tasks outside the GT beat, and in addition to having very little time to spend with the GT men's bball team itself, it's been tough to get extra content to place on the blog.
But have no fear, I'm back for the ACC Tournament with some added insight, and some extra access for you, the Georgia Tech fan. So don't give up on me, ask your buddies to come on back and check me out because I'm still cooking up some good stuff for you guys. And definitely get your laptops and desktops ready in two weeks as I'll start coming back with a little TechTalk blog, Spring Football Edition. Join me on here and on macon.com, where I'll give you a taste of as much early football as I can muster. Hey, I know it's just spring, but you Yellow Jackets fans are thirsty for football info as we inch closer to Paul Johnson's second season on The Flats. So be on the lookout for that. In the meantime...
I've got a quotes-filled blog post today. This is everything you might have been wondering about the Yellow Jackets following today's (it's still Thursday night for me) 86-81 win over Clemson. We'll start off with Lewis Clinch, and his shout out for his hometown of Cordele, Ga. Of course, Maconites know Cordele as the town along I-75, about an hour south of home, that's known for watermelon and it's old raceway. But it's also Lewis Clinch's hometown, and he had some good insight on coming out of that area. Also, I've got some Gani Lawal, and his thoughts on the team forging on. As well, I've got Moe Miller's brief take on why he wasn't wearing his protective mask today (Drs. cleared him yesterday, he's good). So without further ado:
G Lewis Clinch
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(On focusing on finishing tournament with win): First of all, whatever I have to do, I’m going to do it. I’m not trying to go home, I don’t want to go home. I’m not even planning on going home. I’m here to get in the championship game. And now, I don’t want to look too far ahead or anything, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get my teammates and my team to make it to the next game.
(On watching tape of old Tech ACC championship, and NCAA qualifying teams): I actually worked out with Mark Price--with me and Javaris Crittendon--and with them actually giving me advice on how to shoot and how to be consistent, and it’s great; because (Price's) jersey is in the rafters. And to have the opportunity to be in his position, and to be a great professional and to be a great college basketball player, it’s great to have some one like that. He’s always been a great role model to me.
(On playing for championship): I see us cutting down the nets, that’s what we came here to do. I didn’t come here to play in just a play-in game or something of that type. I visualize us wearing those hats, and hoisting that championship trophy.
(On continuing to practice before games with asst. Pete Zaharis): We continued to do it. We were there this morning at the Coliseum putting up shots. That’s the advantage to us being at home. We’re able to get there and put up the shots whenever. And Coach Hewitt, Coach Zaharis have done a great job giving good individual instruction, and that’s kind of what I really wanted in the past, was getting that great one-on-one instruction with a coach, and practicing the shots that I know I can hit.
(On what they work on): Basically the same cuts I’ve been working on in the past, the Iverson cuts, the spot screen shooting. One thing that really helped to is shooting with those balls. The balls we use in the ACC Tournament has a very different grip. There’s a different texture to the ball. Whatever ball we have to play with, we always shoot with it all week. For example, whenever we play Wake and North Carolina, we always play with Nike balls during that week.
As a competitor and as a college basketball player, you always come to play college basketball and turn it into a pro career. You always want to leave your mark on that program, and you want to be mentioned as one of the great players. I always felt like, if I wasn’t doing that, then I was letting my team down with my performances. And to not even play in a championship game, even in high school, it’s been tough on me. But she’s always told me not to give up, to continue to pray, and to continue to work hard. And that’s been my main focus on this stretch.
As a competitor, you have to continue to work and put up shots, and my teammates have continued to believe in me, and I’ve really just relied on praying and working hard. These last few games have really rewarded me and my teammates with a few wins here and there, but it could have been three-in-a-row for us if it hadn’t been for that loss to Boston College. But I think this is the snowball effect that we’ve been looking for as far as having that motivation and everything we can do going into the ACC Tournament.
(On never winning a championship game): I dunno which player would want to just come and compete to play. The only championships I’ve ever won came on the AAU circuit, or in a Christmas tournament, but I’ve never had that feeling of cutting down the nets or winning a true championship. In high school, we always lost in the Elite Eight or the region championship. So I’m really trying to get that first championship.
(On Cordele): That’s what I represent; Cordele, Georgia, and all of South Georgia, because there’s not much opportunity there. It just shows that you got to go find opportunity and if you set your goals and you set your bar high, then anything is possible. That’s probably the best thing that you can ever relate things to, especially athletics; is that anything’s possible. And this is for the kids, too. You’ve got to stay out of trouble and work hard, and you can attain your goals.
Gani Lawal(On sense of urgency in needing to win every game): There is a sense of urgency and I’ve thought about that. I do know that it’s definitely in the back of my head. I mean, this could be my last time playing with a guy like Lewis, and I don’t want that.
Today was the first step in us going out and reshaping our focus and giving us a new chapter to the year so to speak. We just want to keep fighting through it, and some things off the court, just a little adversity of things here and there.
(On being in a zone with Clinch; the two connected on an alley-oop in the second half): It was a team zone in my opinion. Everybody wanted to contribute, everybody wanted to come out and play hard. We all knew that if we came out and did what we were supposed to – I’ve been telling you all season – we have the talent, it’s just a matter of us being focused down the stretch and making plays.
(On keeping his mask): My mom is going to frame it and put it in a case at home like she does with everything else. She’s got shirts of mine, jerseys, my paraphernalia, shoes, all of it. So I know that’s going in there, too.
(On taking mask off): I talked to the trainers (Wednesday) and they said I was mask-free, so I left it at home. I didn’t even want to see it again. (superstition) That’s not for me. It only depends on personnel and that kind of thing, in my mind. If it wasn’t for being injured, I wouldn’t wear it. It just wasn’t for me. I didn’t wear it in practice and was surprised, because at first they told me I might have to wear it the whole season.
(On importance of Clinch, Lawal): To have a person like Lewis and Gani in there, they draw double teams, which helps the rest of us out. I mean, your best players draw double teams, so once you have players like that, there’s no way that the other team can guard all those good players around you, they have to give up something. My main thing is just learning my role and taking my shots whenever I get it.
(On Clinch's hot shooting of late): Whenever I’m getting ready to deliver it to him, I just try to watch his feet and get (the ball) to where once he catches it, he can go straight up with it. I just try to make it easier for him because he makes it easier for me. I mean, I get an assist, he gets a shot, or he gets 3s. So we’re all comfortable together.