What are the differences you’ve seen in N.C. State as of late due to some lineup changes with Tyler Lewis?
“He’s a pass first point guard, not as athletic as Cat (Barber). I think three games in a row he hasn’t had a turnover so he takes good care of the ball. He gets the ball to T.J. Warren, which is something they should all think about doing. The guy is leading the league in not only scoring, but field goal percentage so he should get as many shots as he wants. He’s a very intelligent basketball player and I think offensive end he makes them so much better.”
What was the key in the first half of the first meeting to containing T.J. Warren to some extent?
“He had four baskets and two of them were pick ups. I think it was just fortunate. We tried to emphasize him, there’s no question but he’s really hard to guard. It’s not like he gets out there and they clear the floor and let him go one on one or anything. He gets all of it within the offense. He shoots a great percentage. To me, that’s the biggest key. A guy can average a lot but if you can hold his percentage down then you’re still okay. Everybody’s tried to hold his percentage down and nobody’s done it.
"In fact, he’s one of those guys who’s averaging more points in conference play than he is overall. He scores from the outside, he scores on offensive rebounds, he scores from the free throw line, he scores taking the ball to the basket. He really is a load to guard. We were fortunate here, they were out of sync. It was 15 or 14 or whatever it was at halftime and they were really so out of sync and the lead almost got unmanageable for them. They shoot 112 percent against us in the second half so we didn’t do a very good job against them then.”
At what point do you give your defense credit for teams struggling to make shots against you?
“I think it’s a little bit of both. I don’t make it up. You can watch, the other day we guarded (Tyler) Cavanaugh twice in a row and he drilled it. Then I’m yelling who’s got him and he’s wide open and he missed it. Sometimes giving a wide-open shot may be the best thing to do. I think that our defense is getting better and better but against State last time, they shot 65 percent against us in the second half so I wasn’t going to be bragging about our defense that day I guarantee you. This week, Wake if they don’t miss their last shot then they shoot 50 percent against us but our defense has gotten better. We’ve been fortunate too that teams have missed shots against us. We’ve really done a better job this year particularly protecting around the basket area.”
Do you start playing to enhance tournament stature at this time of the year?
“It’s not politically correct, it’s the frickin’ truth. I don’t think about junk like that. I’m thinking about North Carolina State.”
“The only thing I’ve said is that we were in a big hole and they dug themselves out and put us in a position and now some good things can happen. That’s the only thing I say.”
How advantageous is it to play close to home come tournament time?
“It is an advantage. There’s no question about that but it’s a not a guarantee. I still remember everybody at Kansas had tickets to the final four when we’re playing in Kansas City and Virginia came in and kicked our butts and we went back home. I’ve never forgotten that and if I coach 188 more years I’ll remember that to the bottom of my soul because they players started thinking about that kind of crap too. You’ve heard me say this, you start looking down the road that’s where you’re going, down the road back home.”
Comments on Kennedy Meeks’ injury:
“Well right now we’re worried about two or three of our guys. Kennedy did not practice yesterday and was in a boot. Leslie (McDonald), I don’t know if Leslie’s going to practice today. You saw Kennedy get hurt and they thought it was a sprained ankle and a sprained knee. I said did we hurt him or help him by playing him. Does that keep the swelling down as opposed to sitting over there and getting a fat knee and a fat ankle and they said yes but he was sort of limping around so I took him out. Sunday it was swollen and not comfortable. We didn’t do anything Sunday except for them to come and get treatment. Yesterday we did a little work and Kennedy didn’t do anything except for go swimming. I don’t know what we’re going to get out of Kennedy today which means I don’t know what we’re going to get out of Kennedy tomorrow so the first thing I’d say is that he’s got to be healthy.”
Comments on Leslie McDonald’s status:
“Leslie practiced yesterday but again it was very little. He was limping around and I just got a text from Doug that it’s more painful and sore today so I don’t know what we’re going to get out of him.”
Are you worried about your team maybe losing focus after regaining the ranking in the top 25?
“I worried that after we got to 4-4. After 5-4 and 6-4 and I worried about it like crazy after last Thursday night. I’m worried crazy about it now too.”
Comments on balance of scoring during the win streak:
“I think that has been good for us because people still load up on either Marcus (Paige) or James Michael (McAdoo) more than anybody else but the other guys have kept us in the game if things were going poorly. The other night, Marcus didn’t score in the first half but we were still in the game and he’s had some games where he didn’t score many and the other guys have kept us in the game. We talk all the time about when you come in the game give us something. Really, we talk about giving us something positive and I think those other guys have done that.”