March 19, 2010

Hewitt talks OSU: Defensive changes?

The last time Paul Hewitt faced Oklahoma State, it was for high stakes and the end result was most pleasing to the then-fourth-year leader of Georgia Tech.

It's a bright memory for the coach, now in his 10th season in Atlanta. It should be, too. Since then, his Yellow Jackets have only made three appearances in the NCAA Tournament and have won exactly one game since that victory over the Cowboys.

So what memories linger from San Antonio?

"Marvin Lewis making five 3s in the first half, first thing," Hewitt said. "Of course Will Bynum's shot at the end of the game. It was a great game, great college basketball game."

While the stakes won't be as high tonight, it's still a game that offers an opportunity to survive and advance in the Big Dance.

To that end, Hewitt and his staff have been preparing for the Cowboys all week. Now that they've had some time to check OSU out, who do the Pokes remind him of?

"They remind me of Duke, actually, in terms of how they shoot the basketball, and they run more sets than Duke," he said. "But both teams do a great job of screening for their shooters and creating space. But that's the team, when watching them, that's what I keep thinking about, Scheyer, Singler and Smith and how they shoot it; and these kids, Anderson and Page and Muonelo, all those guys shoot the ball very well."

Of course, the biggest thing that stands out is James Anderson.

"He's a great player," Hewitt said. "I've heard about him. I read about him during the season, but haven't watched watching tape on him, I'm not sure there's anything he - there's nothing he can't do. He shoots the 3, go with the dribble, great from the foul line. The only thing I haven't seen him do consistently is post up. I'm sure if he needed to, he could do that, too."

Speaking of posting up, Hewitt says the inside game of the Pokes is underrated. The combination of Matt Pilgrim and Marshall Moses has helped to give the Cowboys an inside presence this season.

"They're very athletic," he said. "Bouncy guys. They can really finish strong around the basket. And the other thing, all of their players seem to be able to put the ball on the floor and attack off the dribble pretty well. Even Pilgrim and Moses, both of those guys seem to put the ball on the floor very well."

It's been said all over the place that Tech has a definite size advantage in this game, which is true. But what does Hewitt think the Pokes will do to attempt to counter that mismatch?

"I anticipate they're going to change defenses," he said. "So when they change defenses, we've got to recognize it and still do what we have to do to get the ball inside to our bigs and play inside or attack off the dribble and get the ball to the paint."

But the Jackets don't have all the advantages. Two areas in particular could haunt Tech by late tonight.

"Turnovers," he said of the mistakes his team can make at times. "Turnovers, taking care of the basketball. When we do a good job in that area, then obviously we're getting more attempts. The other thing is defending that 3-point line. And obviously that's crucial for tomorrow's game against Oklahoma State, because they're a great 3-point shooting team, one of the better 3-point shooting teams we've seen all year. When we've struggled we've really allowed people to get going from 3."

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