Sendek Speech Recap: Raleigh Sports Club

NC State basketball coach Herb Sendek spoke to the Raleigh Sports Club today at the Highland United Methodist Church in Raleigh. The weekly luncheon began at 12:15 and here are some of the highlights from his speech.

Coach Sendek began his speech by discussing the coaches he grew up around and the type of influence they had on him. He then proceeded to open the floor to those in attendance who had questions.

How is Ilian Evtimov?

Coach Sendek noted that Ilian's doing fine. He was recently cleared to start playing pick-up ball again. They think he's going to be a big part of this season and should fully recover from his injury. It was one of the toughest knee injuries you can have, as he not only tore his ACL but almost everything in the knee.

How do you feel about the new ACC Schedule?

Herb said he was happy with the new schedule and felt it was the best possible solution to the new ACC format. Having 11 teams is a sticky situation, but the schedule insures that over the next two seasons, teams are guaranteed to play every other team in the league at least three times. Worst case scenario the Wolfpack loses 1 possible game versus an ACC opponent and you can't ask for much more than that.

Coach can you tell us about your non-conference schedule this year?

Sendek felt good about the upcoming out-of-conference schedule, stating that going by last season's final RPI, our OOC schedule is the toughest among ACC teams. NC State will play road games @ Michigan in the Big 10 challenge, Boston College and South Carolina, with home games against BYU (return four starters) and the University of Washington. He also pointed out that other strong teams on the schedule are UW-Milwaukee (who lost to Notre Dame in the tourney at the buzzer) and UNC-W (took Maryland to the wire in NCAA's). It's going to be a real challenge and the ACC looks stronger as well, but the team has a positive outlook on the season.

Can you talk about the freshman coming in this year?

The Wolfpack welcomes three newcomers to the team this season, starting with a walk-on from Kentucky, Chris McCoy. McCoy's a special guy according to Sendek, a Parks scholar who is a welcomed-addition to the team. Mike O'Donnell is a point guard from Largo, Florida who is a good shooter, feisty, and makes the players around him better with his passing and leadership skills. They are excited about his future. The final newcomer is Engin Atsur from Istanbul, Turkey, and he was actually heavily recruited considering where he came from. Sendek mentioned that NC State competed against teams such as Texas, Georgia Tech, Clemson, and Kentucky for Atsur and were happy to land him in the end. He's the type of kid the Wolfpack want in the program and has a bright future as well.

Coach, can you talk about the loss of Josh Powell and what it will mean to the team?

Sendek began by saying Josh had a great season last year and really came on over the final third of the season. The one positive they have over his loss compared to Ilian's last year is NC State has a full off-season to prepare for it and that's a big difference. They can plan around the loss of Josh ahead of time and although he can't be replaced by one player NC State will attempt to do so with Ilian Evtimov, Adam Simons, and as a team. Both of those guys can help and need to step up next year. Sendek went on to say that NC State may not be as strong in certain areas as they were with Powell, but could improve upon areas as well.

Any exempt games this year for NC State?

NC State's not eligible to play in exempt tournaments this season because of the "2-in-4" rule. They actually felt they would be in a tournament up until the schedule was released and had hoped to bring Marquette into the RBC Center for a tournament (that was the plan). He did mention that NC State has tentatively scheduled an 8-team tournament for next season and in 2007 are scheduled to be in the Pre-Season NIT. There are questions being resolved right now about exempt tournaments and some legal issues as well. The tournament sponsors feel there shouldn't be limits on teams and that is a hold-up right now. Also, Sendek noted that there is an unfair advantage built in for those who do play and those who don't. He felt that either teams should be able to play in them each year and have a set total number of games or no be able to at all. Because at times on Selection Sunday teams are measured against each other, and they may have up to three extra games built into their schedule from these tournaments that could either help or hurt them.

Who will win… Tarheels or Pirates?

Sendek quickly fired back, "Pirates!"

Will the expansion of the ACC help in recruiting?

Coach Sendek believed that it would open new areas in the region to recruit because players could play closer to home and in the ACC, but overall the additions will make the conference even stronger and that will help in the long run. He mentioned that recruiting's far from an exact science and some of the best players he's had have been underrated on the recruiting scene. At Providence they landed Eric Murdock who had a successful college and NBA career and originally had hoped to land Wolfpack-great Rodney Monroe. Murdock's coach drove him up to Providence for a visit and he committed… Sendek believed they were the only Big East school to offer. Another guy was Wally Szczerbiak who played for Coach Sendek at Miami (OH)… the only place he officially visited.

Sendek concluded his answer to this question and is speech with one final point, noting that generally, the teams with the best players end up winning the majority of the time.

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