Host Don Shea: Coach, how you doing?
Herb Sendek: I'm doing fine, Don, I hope you are, as well as everybody listening tonight.
DS: The ACC Tournament is history. Has everybody flushed out that tough loss to Maryland?
Coach Sendek: Well, certainly we've moved forward. We've focused our time and energy on our next game. We haven't forgotten, but all of our focus right now is on Louisiana-Lafayette.
DS: Let's talk a moment or two about Florida State, down 51-40 in that ballgame. You gutted it out and came back and won that game 78-71. Eleven threes, strong at the line once again.
Coach Sendek: It just really was a real gut-check for our team. Our guys just kept battling. I thought they showed a lot of grit and determination down the homestretch. We've had a capacity to back this year. If you look at a number of our games, even though we've been against the ropes we've been able to somehow pull together and make some nice comebacks. Certainly our first-round game in the ACC Tournament against Florida State was one of those.
DS: So we move on from the quarterfinals into the semifinals against a Maryland team that has been playing exceptionally well the latter part of the season. They're a good ballclub, a young ballclub. Coach Gary Williams seems to have gotten them in a niche where they're playing very well. You get a pretty good cushion in the first half playing, what you said, pretty much flawless basketball. Then they kind of turn it up—it is a 40 minute game, as we've said so many times on your show—they put the press on, then there's a mysterious call in the second half that kind of changes the flow of the game. Is that fairly much what the storyline is in that game?
Coach Sendek: Well, I think what I'm most pleased about, in retrospect in having a chance to digest everything over the weekend, is after Maryland had made the comeback and regained the lead, our guys were able to stay right there and actually take the lead again ourselves. I thought that showed just tremendous character by our basketball team. It would've been very easy for us to stay down at that point, having relinquished such a big lead. Obviously we didn't go on to finish the job and win the game, but I thought on a day where things didn't turn out the way that we would've hoped or wanted, that that was the silver lining for us. Having gotten off to a nice lead in the first half where we played very well, had things unravel for us, we were able to still regroup and have a chance to win the game down the homestretch. So there was some silver lining on an otherwise a difficult day for us.
Out of the first break, Don mentions that five of State's non-conference opponents are in the NCAA Tournament—South Carolina, Boston College, Florida A&M, Washington and BYU—and another, Michigan, will be participating in the NIT. A grinning Herb says, "Well, maybe our non-conference schedule wasn't so bad after all?"
First caller, Brian from SC: Coach, you're definitely the coach of the year, without a doubt, I'm waiting for that announcement any minute now. If you don't get it, there better be a Federal investigation.
Coach Sendek: Thank you.
Brian: Coach, I also agree with you, I think the team showed a lot heart after Maryland caught up with us. They played with great intensity, they never gave up as they have done all season long. My question is looking to the future, this team has been able to get up to about the 8th or 9th man, as far as depth. It looks like if we could get up to about 10th or 11th man in the future, when we do have some injuries we'll be able to sustain a bit better. Is that something we're looking to maybe work toward?
Coach Sendek: Well, you know it's a fine line. It's a catch 22 because if you have too many players on your roster, you don't have enough minutes for everybody to be happy. So guys leave and transfer, and you say to me ‘Why is so-and-so leaving?' Because they don't play enough minutes. On the other hand you want to have enough depth so that when things happen you've still got a cushion, so it's a difficult dilemma in college basketball to have. Obviously this weekend we lost two of our key guys in Scooter and Jordan, but at the same time it's difficult to have 15 guys because most of the time you can't play that many people.
Brian: What's the latest on Scooter and Mr. Collins?
Coach Sendek: Both guys are making progress. We're hopeful, but I think the best we could say if we were going to put a label on both of them at this point would be ‘questionable.' Jordan Collins has a second-degree sprain of his MCL, and Scooter Sherrill has had the muscles torn away from his ankle. If we'd been back in October they probably would've put a cast on Scooter for at least a couple of weeks. We're trying to push that along as quickly as we can, hoping that it heals as fast as possible. With Jordan, we got a brace for his knee today and once again were just going to see how he's able to respond in a time period that isn't in our favor, even with a Friday draw as opposed to a Thursday game. So let's hope for the best, realizing at this point that both men are questionable and be determined to find a way regardless of what situation we find ourselves in. The good news is, unlike this past week when we had to play games less that 24 hours apart, if we're fortunate enough to be able to advance we at least have a day in between to give those that are playing a little bit more recovery time than you get in a conference tournament.
Another break. Coach answers a call regarding postseason practice, and how it is similar to regular season practice. Don touches on the Pack's 15th AP ranking.
Don from Raleigh: Just one question. Lousiana-Lafayette, just comment on how do we match up with them and their starters, their strengths and weaknesses.
Coach Sendek: They're a very talented basketball team and I think if you listen to any of the commentary from around the country, that point is really confirmed. They've had an outstanding season and they really finished strong. Even when they didn't have their complete team for various reasons, they were able to go on the road and lose by three to Arizona. They just have had a great season. They have tremendous depth, they really shoot the basketball. Four guys that can shoot the ball from NBA-type range and they are also one of the most athletic teams that we'll see. I don't really see them as anything but a great challenge for our team on Friday afternoon. I think if you listen to any of the commentary, you don't have to rely on my coachspeak for that kind of analysis of the game. I think everybody I've heard has said the same thing, that they're a very dangerous opponent.
The next caller asked Herb for his tournament picks, to which Herb replied that he leaves predicting up to Dick Vitale and Digger Phelps and the like. The next caller congratulates the Pack for not stooping to the level of some team or some players for doing some action in some game, which, in her vagueness, leaves everyone in the audience—Herb included—somewhat confused. Herb mentions the technical foul on the bench briefly, stating that there was "no warning" from official Larry Rose.
Following the next break Don Shea interviews UL-Lafayette assistant coach Paul Johnson.
DS: Coach, thanks for joining us, how are you?
Coach Johnson: Thank you, how're you doing?
DS: How ‘bout giving our listening audience an overall assessment of your team, and are you playing your best basketball right now?
Coach Johnson: I think we played very well in the Sunbelt Conference Tournament. Our team is made up of a variety of different types of players and different backgrounds that have come to Louisiana. We've got several transfers that have come in and done an outstanding job for us, and three of the four seniors we've got with us have been with us from day one. They've done a very good job stepping up, especially early in the season when we had several players out, either to academic problems or fulfilling their transfer one-year residency. Once we got to conference we had a couple of players become eligible—a guard from the University of Florida in Orien Greene who did a very good job for Florida for two years and we also had another guard from Auburn that transferred that have done a very good job for us. We're a fairly athletic team. We like to get up and down the floor, and we have to use that to our advantage. We're not the biggest team in the country, by far, but we can go bigger is we want to but that's not what our strength is. Our strength is pushing the ball up the floor and pressing teams and getting them into more of an up-and-down game than a half-court game.
DS: On the flip side, what's your assessment of the Wolfpack?
Coach Johnson: I think the Wolfpack's very strong. Obviously if you finish second in the ACC you've done your job. I was looking over their schedule and in the games that they lost, especially since the new year, I think they've lost by an average of about two points per loss. They've been in every game, even the ones they did lose. The thing that's going to give us difficulty is that they've got good size. They're similar to us in that they are perimeter oriented and that they're posts can step out and shoot the three and they can take you off the dribble. They've been in great atmospheres and different environments in the ACC, and we're going to have to step up to that level if we're able to compete.
DS: Coach, it's been written in the local newspapers and on television that your win over Valparaiso was the Cajuns' best of the season. Do you agree with that statement?
Coach Johnson: I thought we played well against Valparaiso but I don't know if that was our best win of the year. Obviously we didn't beat Arizona, but I thought we played better against Arizona, in front of 15,000 and the score tied with nine seconds to go. We were right there. We still weren't full strength as far as our team goes, but we played very well. We had some strong showings, beating some teams on the road, going into Western Kentucky and winning on the road there.
DS: Well, this is the first time the two schools have met on the basketball court, but it's my understanding that you've been on the NC State campus before.
Coach Johnson: I have, I used to work with Les Robinson and his staff during the summers with his camps. I've followed NC State, and I've always been a fan of NC State, but obviously come Friday afternoon I'm not going to be a fan for a couple of hours hoping that we can do our job better than they do.
The midway point of the show. Some more tidbits on the tournament, on the number of certain mascots in the tournament. A regular of the show, Jason from Creedmore, calls in after the next break.
Caller, Jason in Creedmore: Hey coach. Basically, I'm looking at the NCAA Tournament and we've got a tough ballgame ahead of us.
Coach Sendek: We sure do, Jason. But you know what, as soon as you called, Donna's face lit up. Frank [Weedon] didn't react the same way, however. I think he's still thinking about the officiating. [crowd laughs]
J: I was thinking about the officiating, too.
DS: You were Jason, little disappointed with it, maybe?
J: I thought it was quite terrible. [crowd laughs]
DS: Alright, buddy. You take care.
Rick from Winston Salem calls in, thanking Herb for sweeping Wake Forest. Asks about Scooter and Jordan, and Herb mentions it's a matter of fighting time. Rick also asks about potential opponents, and Herb re-emphasizes the importance of not looking ahead.
Kenny from New Bern calls, again asking about the status of Scooter. Herb touches on the same points before, and mentions how tough it is for Scooter to be sitting on the bench.
Shane from Raleigh calls about the new shoes, wanting to know where he can buy a pair. Herb confesses that the shoes snuck up on him and took him by surprise. Herb says, "I know that they are not, um, ‘subtle,'" which garners a laugh from the crowd. Shane suggests they be sold at the bookstore.
Dewey calls from Fayetteville, wondering if Herb would rather have a big lead and come from behind, or lead the whole game. Herb states that in a perfect world he'd prefer to start ahead and stay ahead.
Next caller, Chris from Hope Mills: There's something I wanted to try and get clear about the Maryland game. It's a rules situation, but it doesn't involve anything about a manager being on the court—I know you're limited in what you can say about that. The question I have is when a player fouls out, how long do you have to put in a sub?
Coach Sendek: Thirty seconds.
C: I was wondering when Watkins fouled out late in the game, Maryland was up by two, Caner-Medley was at the line and it seemed like we didn't take any time and we just let the flow of the game continue instead of maybe trying to ice him.
Coach Sendek: You're right, in that particular instance we did not take the full 30 seconds.
C: Looking back on that, do you think that that was something we should've done?
Coach Sendek: Perhaps, I don't know that that necessarily would've made a difference or not. We had in place what we wanted to do and we moved right along.
C: After he made the shots they were up by four and it was a two-possession game with about with about 25-28 seconds left, and it seemed like it took us forever to get into our offense.
Coach Sendek: It certainly did, there's no question about it, it wasn't a good possession for our team.
C: Ok, thank you coach.
Next caller, Jason from Raleigh: Coach, congratulations on a great season. You got six more games to win and I think some of these guys will get off your back.
Coach Sendek: Only if we win the sixth game by enough points.
J: One quick question for you. During the Duke game when Duhon was out of the game he spent a lot of time on the floor, and I read in the paper today that Maryland had a manager do the exact same thing ours did and there was no call either way. I just wanted to know, without getting into specifics, what the course of action would be as far as a protest with the league office would if we felt like we were being singled out by a particular official if it continued to happen over a period of time.
Coach Sendek: We're always going to take whatever action we feel is necessary to protect our interests. In many cases they are done so very discreetly. I think we've been able to move forward from that situation; we can't change what happened in any way on Saturday, whether it be our press offense, our three-point field goal percentage defense or the way a certain call may have been made. I think the most important thing for NC State basketball right now is that we move forward quickly and hastily because we have a huge game on Friday and there's nothing we can do about Saturday. We just have to have complete and total focus on our next game, as hard as that may be.
The final break. Herb adds to the last call, out of the break, that the conference has the ability to oversee situations and that prevents institutions from having to take that kind of action in many instances. Don mentions filling out report cards on the officials, and Herb tells Don that that no longer takes place.
Don on UL-Lafayette: Coach V used to always say, watch out for those teams that have hyphenated names, they can be difficult. Coach, this is a good team.
Coach Sendek: It really is. Once you get to the field of 65, there are no bad teams. We happen to have a particularly challenging first-round draw, not that there wouldn't be other ones. Louisiana-Lafayette has had a tremendous season and when you look at it, it's gotten better and better because as coach Johnson referred to, they didn't have their full compliment of players the first semester. They've only come together here since January. Since they've been together with their full roster, they've been darn near unbeatable. They've gone on a heck of a run, and they're a good team.
DS: We heard [coach Johnson] talk about them offensively and I've heard they like to put the three up, and they've had one fellow on their team that throws up an awful lot of threes. How are they on the other end, coach?
Coach Sendek: Defensively, so far, they're primarily a man-to-man team, but they will mix in some zone defense, though.
DS: The ACC Tournament, has that helped you prepare, in any way, for the rigors of the NCAA Tournament as you survive and advance?
Coach Sendek: I think all those kinds of experiences help you. The one thing you have to guard against is just the cumulative effect of just so much emotion and mental and physical toll that competing at that level night-in and night-out exacts. I think from that standpoint, I think we're better of with a Friday game having advanced to the semifinals. If you recall last year, we played all the way through Sunday, then drew a Thursday morning game in Oklahoma City. That was a very difficult turnaround for our basketball team. This year, with the Friday giving us one more day on that end of the week, given our injury status, will be helpful. Any time you have those kinds of experiences against that level of competition is an opportunity to learn and grow.
DS: Thanks a lot, coach. Go get ‘em! That's our show for tonight…
The Herb Sendek Live show will continue as long as the Pack continues to play in the tournament, and takes place every Monday night at 8:00 at Bobby Murray Chevrolet off Capital Blvd. in Raleigh.