Paul Hewitt - Miami "Balanced Team"

After surviving a frantic comeback by North Carolina State last Saturday, the Jackets hit the road for a game with Miami this Wednesday. Coach Paul Hewitt met with us to discuss what to expect from Miami.

Paul Hewitt – Profile

What do you expect Wednesday night?
"They're a very good three point shooting team. They have two good big guys with (Reggie) Johnson and (Dwayne) Collins who is the senior. They're a pretty balanced team. They're young at the guard position with the transfer Malcolm Grant and the freshman Durand Scott.

Derrick Favors was the ACC rookie of the week again. How's his progress?
"He's coming along great. Right now he needs to stay out of foul trouble. I think he can post some big numbers. The fouls are nickel-dime fouls and inexperience fouls. It's made him a little timid. We talked after the game and he said he wasn't as aggressive defensively as he wanted to be because he was afraid to pick up the foul. He just has to work on it and get used to how their calling and what they're calling."

Miami runs a three-guard offense. Do we match up well against them?
"I think so with Iman (Shumpert), Mfon (Udofia), and D'Andre (Bell). Glen Rice gives us a big lift defensively when he comes off the bench and Brian (Oliver) is improving defensively as well."

With Brian and Glen improving do you think we might be a better team with them on the wing and Mfon backing up Iman at the point?
"We're a defense first team. In watching the game the other day, obviously offensively it wasn't one of Mfon's better games. He still manages to get two or three loose balls. He does a good job of just pestering the other team defensively. I think it establishes how we want to play. Offensively we didn't get off to a great start but we held them to two points for quite a while. It's something I'm evaluating and looking at it all the time. When I look at it, I feel it's the best move to have him on the court."

How much time do you spend in practice on defense?
"It's interesting we don't spend as much time as we used to because we struggle so much offensively in the half-court that I've done more offense than ever before. Having a guy like Iman out there who's so disruptive and Mfon, they get their hands on a lot of balls. We chart deflections every game and in the Duke game where Iman wasn't feeling very well he had thirteen deflections. That's a lot. If you get six or seven, you have one every five or six minutes. He's getting one every three and one half minutes. We always open the practice with some fundamental defensive drills. We work on guarding one on one and being active with your hands and moving your feet. The last month I've spent a lot of time on half-court execution."

They have seven or eight players that score an equal amount of points. Does that make it difficult to concentrate on one or two players?
"Yeah, and they do a pretty good job of spreading you out. They throw the ball inside to Collins who's a really good scorer. They make it hard to defense them."

Miami leads the ACC in three-point shooting?
"We better do a better job of contesting shots than we did last weekend. It's definitely going to be a challenge. We practiced this morning already and I could tell the players had a little extra hop in their step. As you get into February, if you're going to be a relevant team, you have to start playing well and consistent basketball. Today they were ready to practice. They know we have a good team and have a chance to do something pretty significant. We dodged one the other day and now we have to take advantage of that."

Did you continue to work on the in-bounds play?
"We worked on it. It was a refresher course. We didn't pass great; we didn't come to the ball and do some of the simpler things. The same thing happened to us up there last year. We had a ten point lead and they became very physical and aggressive and we didn't react properly. We fell into the same trap this time. We had four timeouts left. We had a guy foul out and we used that as a timeout. We called a timeout and we had a media timeout to go over the same things. The three guys that were involved in most of the plays knew exactly what they did wrong."

Where has Glen Rice improved the most?
For one, he's improved with the ball. He had a tendency to stand straight up with the ball over his head. They jammed up on him and forced turnovers. He's much better defensively in that he's ready to play defense. He's really being aggressive. He's a great passer. He's really good off the dribble and a good rebounder. Just simple things like being in the ready position to play both offensively and defensively; that's the area I've seen him improve the most."

Zach Peacock has been the most fundamentally sound player lately. Do you see his minutes increasing?
"I think you could see that. I just hope people don't overlook him for postseason honors. He's a guy that should be considered for all-league. I just hope that because he comes off the bench people don't overlook him. It's more important who finishes the game than the total minutes. In every one of our games down the stretch, he's out there."