Some different faces, different looks this year. What has practice been like preseason?
Practice has been well going so far. We're excited to play a game, but with that being said, I think that with all the young guys coming along, I think we've been coming along pretty well.
Ralston, how do you define NC State basketball moving forward this season knowing that you lost a big piece but what you see from yourself and the rest of the team right now?
Well, last year we had T.J. Warren, and in my opinion, he was the best player in the country, the best player in the league. But with that being said, he's gone, and we all know that. So I think the main thing for our team moving forward this year is we've just got to step up and do a little bit more, but also by committee.
One of the guys a lot of us are intrigued about is Malik. In practice what are you seeing from this guy? Coach kind of raves about what he looks like physically. Is he a guy who can immediately impact your team and the league?
Malik is a physically gifted guy, very athletic, works hard. He has a motor. But with that being said, I think he'll be able to help us this year.
Obviously he's a young kid, so you can't really expect him to just be LeBron James or anything. But he'll definitely be exciting to watch.
You say that the points don't necessarily have to be replaced by any one person, but when you think about your game, do you need to step up the scoring a little bit? Is there something different in light of the new makeup that you need to do differently this year?
I think that's one of the things I will need to do is step up my scoring a little bit. But also, T.J., he did a lot of things well; he got rebounds, he was in a defensive spot. Not only score, but also be able to rebound more and do other things, as well.
The word is that BeeJay has gotten a little bit more fit for basketball. Can you talk about his transformation?
Yeah. Since the last time you guys have seen BeeJay, he looks a little bit different. He's probably 50 pounds lighter. He's moving a lot better right now. Hopefully what we're looking for this year is that he'll be able to stay on the court a longer period of time than he was able to last year.
How about your teammate Kyle Washington? Good preseason so far, what's the expectation?
I have some good expectations for Kyle this year. He's very energetic. Last year he had some good games for us, so I'm looking forward to playing with him this year, and I think he'll be better.
Who are the guys that are the leaders? I'm assuming you, I'm assuming Kyle takes some of that role, and then who are the guys on the team that keep you guys loose maybe in moments of stress, whether it's in practice, whether it's in a game? Who will put smiles on faces?
I don't think it's one or two guys. I think our group is like that. I've had fun being around our group this year. I like everybody on the team. Not saying I didn't last year; I've always liked everybody, but I think as a group we all do a good job of keeping each other loose and grounded. THE MODERATOR: Let's bring up Kyle now.
Kyle, tell us about Ralston.
What can I say about Ralston? Mr. Consistency. Humongous leader on and off the floor. An honor to be his teammate. He's a big brother to me in a lot of different ways. He was my roommate on the road last year. He just taught me all the ropes. He said coming to practice every day, and he said, "I expect you to be a leader in a lot of different ways, but I expect you to go hard and show energy." You can look at his stats, you can look at his tenures at LSU and NC State, he's just a huge leader and he leads by example. So I'm extremely proud to be his teammate.
Kyle, as far as your improvements in your game, what can you say you've done the best in the off-season practice going into the season that people can expect to see from you?
Just one thing is always respecting the game and always making sure that I'm focused on what I need to do for my team. Just focusing on over the summer and different things like that, just my right hand, just being able to turn over my left shoulder a lot, making sure that I'm always making the right plays because in our offense, if I don't ever the shot, then I can get someone else the shot, and that will just open up my team that much more.
But just my right hand, just working on my strength and my core, I think Bob Alejo did a great job this year just getting my core stronger, making sure I have a stronger base so I don't get pushed off the post, pushed off of rebounds and stuff like that. Last year I saw some success, but I think I can do just a better job on the mental aspect of the game and stuff like that, just being consistent for my team.
A common theme that guys are talking about in the preseason is how we're not sure what we're going to see from you guys this year. Do you feel like that in practice, or do you feel like you're an established team? Do you have any sense of how you're going to do in the league?
You know, people have their own opinion. The media has their own opinion and things like that. But we're very confident. We're a cohesive unit. We're in the locker room together, and we have no doubt about our potential. We have no doubt about what we're going to do this year because think about our team last year, we had a lot of different people that were in spots that needed to be there for our team. Cat Barber, Lennard did a great job last year as a freshman, BeeJay had his shining moments, myself, but we were still a young team last year. You had the Player of the Year in T.J. Warren.
Coach brings in guys that want to be leaders. Coach brings in guys that want to be in the spotlight and just want to prove their worth every night.
We have no doubt. Everybody is excited. Trevor is excited to get out there. Ralston is excited. Des is excited. Everybody is.
On the front line especially, you guys would kind of take turns popping your head up and making big plays throughout the season last year. Do you feel like the front line has matured and can be a consistent force this year and kind of impose your will?
Uh-huh. Three out of the four bigs last year were freshmen, and BeeJay was out of shape last year, and he still had his shining moments. BeeJay is extremely talented, extremely gifted in the physical aspect. But just his work over the summer, I was with him summer session one and two, and he put together great work. Just his all-around attitude towards everything just changed, and you're going to see a big difference in that.
Lennard expanded his offensive game. You know, he's going to be fundamentally sound on the defensive front. He's going to be there for rebounds and just doing his assignments on defense. But he's also expanded his offensive game.
And just myself, just being accountable and keep on working, stay in the gym every day, watching film, and just getting better. We really feed off each other, like Ralston said. Malik is going to be a good part to our offense and defense, and we're going to be excited to show what we can do, because everybody is questioning what we can do.
Has Coach Gottfried tried to install some kind of an identity in you or is that something you need to find over the season?
I think over the season our identity will form, but we have a pretty strong base already because we're together, we're a cohesive unit, and we really go off of each other. So if someone is hot, we're going to keep feeding it to them, if it's on the wing or in the post. But like I said, we're together, and we're just ready to play together because we're like a big huge family. We're all brothers, and we all stick together. We're all together off the floor, and we just love being together on the court.
We already have that identity, but during the games, the games are so much different. We'll probably form that identity over the season.