The X-Factor

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State freshman wing Cody Martin has become a major contributor off the bench for the Wolfpack.

NC State freshman wing Cody Martin's contributions early in the season were minimal. In fact, he didn't even play in eight of the team's first 15 games.

"It's hard to sit on the sideline and watch people play," said Martin. "But, at the same time I'm still on the team, and I want my team to do well.

"I had a lot of support from my teammates, coaches, and my family to keep working and my time would come. When it does come, I just need to take advantage of it."

After a 16-point home loss to Cincinnati, Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried hinted that he was going to take another look at his rotation.

"I'm going to find guys that have great passion and energy," said Gottfried. "We need to play better."

The next game was against Pittsburgh, and Martin came off the bench to play nine minutes after not playing in four of the previous five games. His impact was noticeable, as he totaled four points, two steals, a block, and two assists in the Pack's 68-50 victory.

"I told our team in practice that everything is on the table," said Gottfried. "I'm going to play the guys that play the hardest. The way [Cody Martin] played the last two days, he let his play say to me, 'Coach, you better play me. I'm good enough. Play me coach.' He dove on the floor, he blocked shots, he ran the floor, and he earned the right.

"He needs to play and he needs to continue to have chances."

Martin played 14 minutes in the loss at Virginia, and he followed that up with his best performance of the season in State's huge win over No. 2 Duke. Martin six points, five assists, three rebounds, and two steals in just 16 minutes.

How big was Martin's impact off the bench? He had a +/- of +24, meaning NC State outscored Duke by 24 points when Martin was on the court.

"Cody was fearless, and that’s the one word I would have to describe him," said Gottfried. "He has no fear whether it’s taking the ball to the basket, blocking a shot, getting the rebound, or running the floor. I thought he did a great job.

"He’s an example of a guy that’s hung in there, kept working every day in practice and gets himself noticed every day, and he responded really well. I thought he was kind of that X-factor for us."

At 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, Martin has the skillset to play on the wing and is big enough (and physical enough) to slide down and play in the frontcourt, depending on the matchups. That versatility has been crucial since he's entered the rotation.

"Cody gives us a dimension that maybe we haven't had," said Gottfried. "I like the fact that he's responded really well. He's had an opportunity to play, and he's taken advantage of it.

"He affects the game in a lot of different ways, whether it's a blocked shot, he's made nice passes, he's scored the ball, and he's been pretty good defensively. The nice thing about Cody is I think he can have an impact in a lot of different areas of the game."

"I think I'm versatile," added Martin. "I can kind of do both [positions]. I can bring the ball up the court but also stay in the back if we need help. I really enjoy being able to be versatile enough to play both spots. I think that also helps me in a way get minutes to.

"I don't really try to be flashy or score the most points. I just feel like I need to do what I need to do to get us a win. If that's passing, I'll do that. Playing defense, I'll do that... even if it's taking charges. Sitting on the bench and letting them play, who is in the game doing well. I try to contribute in any way possible, even if it's cheering."

Next up for Martin and the Wolfpack is another rivalry game... North Carolina. Hailing from Mocksville, North Carolina, Cody and his brother, Caleb, always planned on attending the same college. Were they recruited by the Tar Heels or Blue Devils?

"I think [North Carolina was] looking at us," said Cody. "But, I don't think it was anything major. Duke didn't recruit us at all."

While he says he didn't grow up a fan of a certain school, Cody added that he's really looking forward to Wednesday night's matchup.

"I really wasn't a fan of anybody," he stated. "I just grew up around a lot of Carolina fans. Just being around them, they love them.

"Now that we get to play them this week I really want to beat them."

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