Locker Room Report: NC State Players

Pack players Andrew Brackman, Ilian Evtimov, Engin Atsur and Julius Hodge discuss NC State's 71-45 dismantling of Elon at the RBC Center tonight.

(It seemed like the offense didn't run as smoothly as last night)
"Everybody is putting as much effort they have into the game, but we just have to work a little bit more on phasing, running our offense and keeping turnovers down."

(Is there a fatigue factor in playing back-to-back games?)
"Growing up playing basketball, you have to learn to play back-to-back games. The college game is a lot different than playing in the past, but I don't think we're getting tired; I just think it's just a new thing to us."

(It looks like you're feeling more comfortable)
"I'm working on it … Yesterday, I kind of stumbled coming out. I was a little nervous, but today, the coaches just talked to me and told me to play my game and try to get in the flow of the game. And I went out there and I tried to do what I was used to doing in high school and before that … I learned a lot. I took a big step forward."

(Did you feel you would take a big step forward tonight?)
"I didn't know I was going to take a step forward until I stepped on the court … I just felt a lot better and I was a little less nervous."

(The offense didn't seem to run as smoothly tonight)

"Last night, we played basketball much more as a team than we did tonight, even though tonight, we really didn't have a bad game. We just didn't perform as well as last night, because we were not looking for each other the same way as yesterday and we didn't cut as hard on offense. We didn't get the same open shots as we did yesterday. Obviously, yesterday the team played a zone the whole game, and today the team played us man-to-man. The style is a different ballgame, and we have to make a transition."

(The defense looked strong, though)
"We did a good job of scouting them. The plays they run, we already knew about it before the game. They made some threes, though; they came out and they countered what we did. They still scored and we've got to do a better job on defense, even though the numbers are showing that they didn't score too much."

(It's early on, but is there a fatigue factor in playing games in succession?)
"I think this is going to be a great test for us, three games in three days. Tomorrow is going to be a great opportunity to see which team is the best-conditioned team."

(It looked like you guys locked down more on defense and didn't allow as many open looks as last night)
"We knew that Elon was a great-shooting team; they could have five guys on the same time on the court that could shoot the three ball. They have a bunch of shooters at the power forward position, so when they set a ballscreen to get open, we've got to be real diligent with that. So that was the big difference tonight."

(There was a stretch late in the first half when they committed six turnovers in seven possessions …)
"That's absolutely unacceptable for us, especially because we are a veteran team … Oh, they had that stretch? I just got out of the game, I'm sorry [laughing] … That's what we're looking for. We want to get a little run before halftime, a little momentum so that we can go into halftime and have a larger lead than we had with four or minutes before the halftime. We've got to get our spurt."

(There's one more game left to win tomorrow)

"We still have one more step. Both teams [Oregon State and East Carolina] are great, and we're just going to try our best and just try to win and play our offense and defense. We just have to play hard and try to win the first tournament."

(The defense looked strong tonight)
"We did a great job on defense. We kind of struggled on offense, but it's our second game, so everything will be all right."

(The fans will want an East Carolina-NC State matchup. What would you think about that?)
"We don't care who we play, we just go out there and do our best and try to win every game. It doesn't matter who we play … We've got to be fully informed about the team tomorrow."

(Today was Julius Hodge's 21st birthday. Did you guys do anything for him?)
"Yes, we just tried to win the game [laughing]. It worked out well; it's a good birthday present, I think."

(The team didn't look as smooth and it was not as good a performance as last night. What was the problem?)
"We did a good job on defense, but we kind of struggled on offense. But we know the reasons and I think we won't repeat that same thing tomorrow night … We just have to execute the offense better and go along with our plays better. But there's nothing to worry about."

(All three freshmen are getting quality minutes. How quickly are those guys coming along?)
"I think they're doing a great job. This offense is not easy to learn, but the more they play and the more they practice … I think they did a terrific job until now, and they're ready for the season, I think."

(You guys brought a lot of defensive intensity tonight)
"We had real good defensive pressure. Holding them to 45 points, I think that's real good this early in the season. We know we're playing in the ACC and teams can really put it up, so if we can continue to play defense this well, that would just help us be that much more successful."

(It didn't seem like the offense was as crisp. Is that a fair thing to say?)
"I think, when compared to last night, our offense wasn't at the same level. But we turned up the defensive pressure, and when a team can do that -- when you're not making shots as you usually do, and you can turn up the defensive pressure and stop them, and get the rebound and go in transition, I think that just makes you that much better of a team. But we're not really looking too much onto tonight's offensive output because we got the win and we played great defense."

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