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January 19, 2009

Starters unknown for Duke game

NC State coach Sidney Lowe has had to coach his backcourt by feel more than known expectations.

For the second-straight game, Lowe didn't want to declare his starting guards for Tuesday's game at Duke.

NC State started freshmen guards Julius Mays and C.J. Williams at point guard and shooting guard respectively last Saturday against Georgia Tech. However, redshirt junior point guard Farnold Degand and redshirt junior shooting guard Trevor Ferguson played the majority of the minutes in the second half and overtime in the 76-71 win over the Yellow Jackets.

Click below to listen to Lowe's Monday press conference:

Sidney Lowe audio press conference (12:07)



How big was that win Saturday for your team?

"It was definitely one that we needed, Ken. I think the way we did probably even helped a little more, the fact that we were down and fought back and got in the ballgame and took it into overtime, and just being real solid in that overtime. Allowing one basket in the overtime I think was psychologically good. We talked about that after the ballgame, we talked about it yesterday. Now let's take from that and remember exactly what we did and try to duplicate that every time we play.

"I think the thing that we're talking about is just how hard we played, how aggressive we were. We matched our opponent on that day. They were aggressive. They were letting them play, which was great, and I just told our guys, 'Just go out and play hard, just play as hard as we can,' and that's what we did. I think that's the thing we really have to take from it just how hard we played, and also the fact that we never gave up, even when we're down, we felt that we could come back."

How big was Ben McCauley in that game?

"I've said it before, and that's not to put pressure, but every team you have two guys or one or two guys that you have to have play well to win, and Ben is one of our guys, and he did it. He was unbelievable. It is what it is, you got to count on those guys, and he came through big in that ballgame, and not just from his play but I think his leadership, talking to C.J., talking to Julius when the game was on the line, just keeping them going, pumping them up. He was really good, Ben was really good."

Talk about Duke's pressure defense:

It's just something you have to deal with. I think it's a challenge for anybody that they play. It's not what they do, it's how they do it. It's how hard they do it. There are other teams that try to do it, these guys just play hard. That's what it comes down to.

"Just like our last ballgame, we're going to have to be tougher, we're going to have to be aggressive, more physical, and play harder. I think it's a ballgame again where you come out and establish yourselves and let everyone know, everyone, that it's a ballgame, and I think if you establish than I think it's going to be a good game, but you're going to have to match their aggressiveness and their toughness."

Talk about Gerald Henderson and his improvement of late:

"He's much more, I can't say, I'm not going to say he's just a better player, I think he's added some things to his game. He's knocking down his jumper. He's shooting it anyway and making it more. I think he has taken over that role of putting the team kind of on his shoulders, follow me. We know Paulus is the energy guy or whatever, but I think Henderson is the guy that really sets the tone because he's flying to the basket, he's dunking, he's going up getting blocked shots. I think he's taken on that leadership role and those guys, I think they follow him. I really do because he is aggressive and he's a heck of a player. He's a heck of a player. His mental toughness is really what I admire about him, just the way he goes about the game."

Talk about Kyle Singler:

"Obviously he has the ability to shoot the ball from the three at his size, and also he can put it on the floor. He's a good passer, so you got to play him tough. You can't give him anything. You have to be on him. He's a very good basketball player, and he can hurt you inside, outside. I think we have a guy similar to that, just hopefully we can play better. We know he is going to be on the boards, making passes. He does a good job of setting his man up, real nice job of setting his guy up to get shots. He stretches a defense."

Does Brandon Costner relish such a high-profile matchup like going against Kyle Singler?

"I think Brandon gets excited to play against good players. I think so, especially a guy that is capable of doing what Singler is capable of doing. I think he does. Any player would. I'm not going to say relish, but you look forward to that challenge. You challenge yourself against that guy. I'm sure in Brandon's mind, and we haven't talked about it, he's thinking about that, as Singler is thinking about playing Costner. I think it's a great matchup."

What impact did Trevor Ferguson have on Saturday against Georgia Tech? Do you wish you still don't have to use him so his finger heals up?

"I felt that we had to use him. Doc told me that he was going to change the padding on his hand to make it a little easier for Trevor. The one that he had before, he really couldn't hold the ball and couldn't get it set. We had a situation where we had to use him. I wasn't sure if he was going to knock down shots. We were looking at it more from a standpoint of at least running the offense, and he knows exactly what we are doing. He sets good screens, so from an execution standpoint [he helps]. I didn't know he was going to knock down the shots, but he came up big for us. The fact that he kept himself ready too. He came into the ball game firing and ready to go. So now, I guess we can use him."

How was it playing two seniors and three redshirt juniors down the stretch against Georgia Tech?

"It gives us a great lift. It's that situation we had not long ago. We had some guys come in off the bench, some young guys, and they got us back in the ball game. We went to close it out with the veteran guys. That is what you expect. I certainly admire guys when they are ready to play. You congratulate them and everything, like Dennis Horner came in and did a great job. At the same time, as I've said before, that is what I expect. It shouldn't be a surprise. That is what you should expect form yourself every game. You go out there and do your job. Definitely makes you feel good for your veteran guys can pull you through, or set the tone for you for the rest of the ball game. For me, those are the expectations you have to have. You got to do it. It's the only way for us to win."

With so many injuries, you've had to wait a while for those five to play together I would guess?

"I have [waited a long time], unfortunately. Hopefully, we have gotten over that hurdle from her on out and have some type of consistency in rotations with guys knowing who is playing and when they are playing."

Who will start against Duke?

"You know I'm going to tell you that I'm not sure, right? OK. I do know, but I'm not going to tell you."

Would you hire a prospects high school or traveling team coach in order to get the player?

"That's a tough question. There are so many dynamics that can be in play. So many things that can happen from that, positively or negatively. It's a tough thing because you don't want to discriminate against a guy or coach, for example, who has the experience, and if the young man wasn't involved, you'd still might look at if he's a good guy.

"At the same time, you have to be careful, because you don't want to get involved in anything that isn't right. It's a tough question. I wouldn't say that I wouldn't look at it. I think the guy could help us. A player is one year, two years, three, four. You hire someone and he's on your staff as long as you are there. The question is can I work with this guy without the kid being here. If the answer is no, then I wouldn't do it. If I can, then you never know. I don't think you can discriminate against a guy because he has that kid. You have to be careful that you aren't saying that I am going to take you because you got that kid. It has to be someone that you have to work with without that young man coming. If I can't do that, then no I wouldn't."


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