Well, for us we're obviously a lot different. The one thing with TJ that a lot of people don't realize is he led the nation in field goals made last year. He made more baskets than any player in the country, so when you take a guy like that out of your lineup and he's now in the NBA, you've got to figure out how are you going to find some of those points and baskets. So I think with our team, the question is going to be, can everybody collectively step their game up and do a little bit more? Ralston Turner averaged 11 points a game. Can you get 14, 15? Can a guy that averaged five points a game become a 10-or-11-point-a-game guy?
So our team is much different. We've relied heavily on TJ, but we needed to last year. Other guys weren't ready as young players to maybe do that every night. Now we're a little bit older. We've added in a couple new faces. But I think for us, especially offensively, is going to be how well we can find scoring from other guys that maybe haven't scored that much in the past.
TJ made it look so easy last year. You obviously, as you just said, don't have anything like that. In his absence who's the most efficient scorer in your mind that you have right now?
I'm not sure we have one guy that's the most efficient. A player like Trevor Lacey, who's played two years at Alabama, was a very good player there. He's going to give us a lot, I think, from an offensive perspective. But we've got four interior guys, BeeJay Anya, Lennard Freeman, Kyle Washington and then a freshman, Abdul-Malik Abu. All four of them are very different. How much scoring can we get out of that group? It'll be interesting to see. Really for me that's the question. Every day I think we can become really efficient offensive team.
But we're at that point where you've just got some guys that have to step up and be a lot different than they were in the past.
Ralston actually had a pretty good quote about Abu. He said, "He's not going to be LeBron James, but he'll be exciting to watch." You've been very complimentary and optimistic about him physically. Where is he along that road now?
Well, he's like a lot of freshmen. Some days looks really good, some days a little bit lost, and that's not uncommon. He's got all the physical tools. He's a terrific athlete. One thing I love about coaching him, even early on here, he's tremendously eager. Every day when he walks in, he's hunting for something. He's hunting for coaching every day, and that's exciting for me and our staff.
So he's got a chance to become special. Again, he's got three sophomore forwards ahead of him that are there, but he's going to come pretty quick.
I don't know for sure yet. We'll see. But he's got a chance to become real special.
How would you define this team moving forward? Kind of where NC State is, the talent keeps improving; Louisville is now part of the conference. Are they at where you need them to be? Are you going in the right direction even though you don't have Warren?
You know, when I took the job three years ago, now four years ago, we were at a place at NC State where they hadn't been in a tournament in a number of years, not a lot of momentum, and we've been fortunate to go to three straight NCAA Tournaments. Now the question for us is, can you get back in it, but how do you go to the next step? How do you become a team that can be a Sweet 16 or a Final Four team? We may be a year away. Our guys are still pretty young. We've got a young team.
But for us, that's the question for me. So when I ask myself every day, how can we get a little bit better? What can I do as a coach to help them get better? Some of it is recruiting good players, and some of it is what we do as coaches. So we feel good about what's happened, but it's not where we really want to be. We want to do something more special than that.
So that's what kind of drives me every day, drives our coaches every day is to figure out how can we take that next big step.
Do you sense an adaptability in your team without having to lean on one person, just manage and make adjustments?
Well, I think the sign we all like as coaches or the thing we like to see is when our teams get better from the beginning to the end. That's what as coaches we all take this group of guys, and every year is a little bit different, and I can go through the last three years at NC State, and they're all completely different. Our personnel and the ages of our guys and how many young guys, and so each year is different.
But for us, it's how do we keep getting better, how do we improve throughout the year to where we become the best team we can be? How is that going to happen for our team? So yeah, some of it's adaptability. You've got to figure out who can do what. They all think they can score 20 points a game, but they can't. They all think they can do certain things, but they really can't. Part of what we have to do and the guys who are really good in our profession, are really good at it, is trying to figure out their team and figure out how that team really needs to play for them to be successful.
So for us, it's a little bit of a challenge this year because we've got a number of guys that are unproven players. I think they can take that step and be an efficient player, still shooting a good percentage, still being a good defender, but we'll see. Some of that the jury is out, and so we've got to figure that out this year with our team.
Your student-athletes smiled this morning when asked about BeeJay Anya. They're happy with his progress. How do you feel?
You know, it's a good news, bad news. The bad news was he got up to 350 pounds, which is not good for a college athlete. The good news is he's dropped about 60 pounds, and I think what happens with a guy like that, with BeeJay, number one, he's a sophomore now, he's still young, but at least he's got a chance now to get better, where I thought last year with his weight where it was, it was really even hard for him to begin to really improve, and so now he's taken that big step.
Now he's got a chance, and now we've got to continue to help him develop and grow. But he's in a much better place, so we'll see how that works out.
You've got four freshmen, one with a really familiar last name this year, Martin.
Two of them.
Two of them, I'm sorry.
Well, we've got three freshmen guys we've brought into our team: Caleb and Cody Martin, twins. They shave the same, they look the same. I've told people many times, if one is really playing well and ends up in foul trouble, at halftime we'll change jerseys. But they're good players.
And then Abdul-Malik Abu has got a chance to be really special. We've talked about him. And then with the addition of Trevor Lacey, who sat out last year from Alabama, that gives us four new players for this year's team.
Kyle said earlier during his session that the team is so confident and cohesive and he thinks you recruit guys who want to step up and be leaders. Do you coach confidence to a certain level beyond Xs and Os trying to instill confidence in players?
Well, I think we all do that. We all try to do that. We're not always successful doing that. I've tried to recruit guys, and while we've recruited them, I've tried to find guys that want to accept the challenge of going to NC State. I live in a tough neighborhood, college basketball, and I've got neighbors down the road that have been pretty good. And we've tried to challenge guys in that if you choose to come here, you've got to accept the challenge, that to stand on the top in this league, it's tough. You'd better be willing to pay a price to do it.
So we'll see. I think Kyle is a guy that he mentioned to me being confident. He's very confident. I think our team is that way. As coaches we always try. Sometimes we're not as successful as we want to be in getting a team that become that way.
And success usually breeds confidence. When you have success, you get a little bit more confident, and so as your team gets better, you gain that confidence. So we've been able to do a little bit of that. Now we've got to do a little bit more.