1/13/04: Coaches Corner Recap with Larry Hunter

This week's "Coaches Corner" at Playmaker's featured Hall of Fame Women's Head Basketball Coach Kay Yow.

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

- Coach Hunter began by discussing the outstanding practices that the team has been having recently. The players are really buying into what the staff wants and are giving great effort on both ends, particularly the defensive end. The guys love playing defense and that's a trait that coaches like in a team. The statistics are proving this, as NC State's near the top of all ACC defensive statistics.

- One difference in the team now is that the best players are becoming more consistent. Julius Hodge, Marcus Melvin, and Ilian Evtimov are playing much better on both ends of the floor and bringing it every game now.

- Ilian Evtimov is slowly returning from his knee injury but is a major force for the Wolfpack. His ability to play post defense has proved invaluable. He's clever, tough, and will do anything asked of him on the defensive end. As his knee gets stronger, his post defense will only improve with more leverage being applied from his legs.

- Scooter Sherrill has been in a funk lately but is putting extra hours in the gym to work on his shooting stroke. It could be a mental thing now according to Coach Hunter, but Coach Sendek and the team still has confidence that Sherrill can get the job done. He's just going to have to work through the slump.

- On the contrary, Levi and Marcus Melvin are very confident shooters, see Levi's willingness to take the big 3-pointer against FSU after shooting two airballs earlier in the game. Marcus is so concerned with other aspects of the game that he will continue shooting, even if he's cold during a certain stretch.

- Coach Hunter feels that Engin Atsur and Mike O'Donnell are both very skilled and poised for true freshmen. They don't get rattled very easily and from day one have done what's asked of them. O'Donnell is a natural leader that the older players respect and listen to. Atsur is really coming on and at some times will be assigned to the opposition's top offensive player. His all-around game is very good and he's a "heady" player.

- Adam Simons is progressing but is caught up in a numbers game. The players above him are simply playing too well right now for Simons to receive quality minutes.

- After Al Thornton hit the 3-pointer to give FSU the lead, Coach Hunter pointed out that the guys in the huddle still felt they would win the game, and it was a very positive moment. Hopefully the team will be able to look back on the FSU win as a spring board for a very good season.

- Coach Hunter believes the program is headed in the right direction and this recruiting class could be dynamite. It's a top-10 class right now and by the end of the year could be a top-5 class. Tony Bethel is a very good addition and if Julius Hodge returns next season the Wolfpack could have one of the top collection of guards in the country.

- The Wolfpack will continue to recruit top quality players, athletes, and most importantly, character kids. Character means a lot to the NC State coaches.

- When discussing Duke, Coach Hunter mentioned their great ball pressure and how good of a defensive team they are. They try to intimidate and be physically aggressive with teams in the first few minutes and final minutes of each half, to take them out of the game.

- The last point Coach Hunter gave is that he feels the players are ready for Duke. They are a great team that NC State respects and are very well-coached, but the Wolfpack should be ready to go. It's going to be a great game.

Those were some of the key notes from Assistant Head Basketball Coach Larry Hunter's luncheon at Playmakers. Next week, Men's Head Baseball Coach Elliott Avent will be the featured guest at the "Coaches Corner."

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