11/25/03: Coaches Corner Recap with Kenya Hunter

This week's "Coaches Corner" at Playmaker's featured Director of Basketball Operations Kenya Hunter.

Here are some of the key notes that Coach Hunter discussed with the Wolfpack fans in attendance at Playmakers today.

- Coach Hunter expects a strong effort tonight after last weekend's solid performance against UNC-Asheville. They want the guys to maintain their intensity for a full 40 minutes. The staff was pleased with the defense in the first half against the Bulldogs but realize the players need to finish opponents when they get the chance.

- Hunter pointed out that what he likes most about this year's team is the chemistry they share. The younger players are learning from the veterans and everyone seems to embrace their roles. The older guys are being leaders and all the players get along with each other.

- Cameron Bennerman will continue to play with his hand bandaged for the next few weeks. No time table has really been set for its removal, but Cameron is able to go full strength, and Coach Hunter feels he can provide a spark off the bench.

- Tony Bethel's been sidelined the past few days with a groin injury. In his place, Engin Atsur has been running point guard for the "white" squad and has been doing well. He's deceptively quick, anticipates well, and just makes plays. As he continues to learn the offense, look for Engin's role to expand.

- When recruiting, NC State looks for versatile players who can knock down the open shot, according to Coach Hunter. All three signees for this year fit those requirements and are expected to be solid players at NC State.

- Expect Engin Atsur to return against Michigan in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge and Jordan Collins should play his first game against South Carolina on December 20th.

- Ilian Evtimov is recovering nicely from his injury, but those ACL tears generally take a full year to return to normal. Levi Watkins is completely recovered from his ACL surgery and should have a breakout season according to Coach Hunter. "Angry Lee" is a very hard worker who is always striving to get better.

- When asked what's surprised him the most thus far, Coach Hunter mentioned the play of true freshman Mike O'Donnell. O'Donnell brings a competitiveness to the table that other players feed off of. He's scrappy and doesn't make mistakes, and Hunter honestly didn't think he would be ready to play so quickly. He's been impressed with Mike's progress and feel he's important to this year's team.

- On official visits the current players do a great job of "recruiting" and that's important. It is the staff's job to get recruits to visit and when they get here it is the players who help land them. They do a good job of selling the program and university on visits and are a key reason for the success that NC State has had on the recruiting trail.

- Coach Hunter briefly discussed tonight's opponent, Howard University. Howard features a 6'9 center in "Mac" Wilkinson who's very talented. A Louisville transfer, he will be the focal point of what they try to do. Howard also has some athleticism on the wings and will play up tempo, something UNC-Asheville didn't try to do. NC State's transition defense will have to be good tonight and if so they Pack should be OK. Coach Hunter also joked that tonight could be the first time fans will see Mike O'Donnell's post-up game (in reference to Howard's 5'4 Point Guard Louis Ford).

Those were some of the key notes from Coach Kenya Hunter's luncheon at Playmakers. Next week, Wolfpack Club Director Bobby Purcell will be the featured guest at the "Coaches Corner."


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