A Post Presence

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State hasn't received a lot of consistent production from their post players this season, a group that is made up of a senior and three true freshmen.

However, forward Kyle Washington has started to emerge recently.

The 6-9, 225-pounder averages just five points and four rebounds, but he is averaging 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds over his last four games.

"Most freshmen go through periods where consistency is probably the most difficult thing for them," said NC State head coach Mark Gottfried. "I think Kyle has definitely improved since the year started. He has a great work ethic... a great attitude. He's anxious everyday to get practice started.

"He's really done a nice job. He's becoming an offensive option for us that he wasn't earlier in the year. We're excited about him."

Washington's breakout game came on February 15th at Syracuse when he posted his first career double-double, a 14-point, 10-rebound effort against the Orange where he hit 7-of-11 shots from the field.

"My confidence really went up that game," said Washington. "I always knew I had ability like that I just have to show it on a consistent basis."

Washington is coming off a 13-point, five-rebound performance against Virginia Tech where he knocked down 6-of-11 shots from the field, including a huge jumpshot in the final couple of minutes when the Wolfpack offense was struggling.

"There are a few things I could change," he said. "Coach has been finding looks for me, and my teammates have been getting me open so I'm appreciative of that."

Next up for NC State and Washington is a home game tonight against rival North Carolina. The Tar Heels beat the Wolfpack 84-70 a few weeks ago in Chapel Hill, and Washington didn't have it that night, as he went 0-of-8 from the field with five rebounds and a turnover in 20 minutes.

"He's a guy that wants to do well, practices hard, and plays hard," Gottfried said of Washington after the loss at North Carolina. "He had a tough game, which every player that has ever played has.

"He didn't play poorly because he wanted to play poorly, it's just a part of the process of being a player and growing up. He's young."

North Carolina enters tonight's game on a nine-game winning streak, and Washington knows the Pack has to be prepared to face the Tar Heels size up front.

"We need to make sure we're always talking, boxing out, and hitting bodies," he said. "We have to come ready to play, ready to play defense, but I have confidence in myself and in my teammates."

From an individual standpoint, Washington plans on taking a simple approach.

"Just be ready to play right from the start. Don't try to be a hero," he said. "Just take care of the defensive end, rebound, and talk and everything else will take care of itself."


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