Locker Room Report: Coach Herb Sendek

NC State coach Herb Sendek discusses the Wolfpack's convincing 71-45 win over Elon tonight at the RBC Center.

HERB SENDEK
(opening statement)

"I must be getting old like some of you guys. They provided me with a chair this year. I won't mention any names … We're all a year older.

"We had the absolute greatest respect for Elon coming in tonight. I told our team that they're the kind of team that you could easily face in the NCAA Tournament. They have great balance; they can score from all five starting positions. And with Matt Nowlin back tonight, together with [Scottie] Rice, we knew we really had to be alert with the three-point shot. I thought our defense, in the second half in particular, was good, and it was just a good, hard-fought battle for us tonight."

(Were you trying to limit the touches for Jackson Atoyebi? )
"He was a big point of focus. We made our guys aware of his numbers. He really is the epitome of a statsheet stuffer; if you look at the numbers he's posted through his career, he just gets the job done. His height is a little bit deceiving because of his strength and his presence. So sometimes those guys are as hard to guard as anybody in the low post. He has great hands and he really has a feel for the game. We were just really impressed with his leadership as well. I think he's really a nice player."

(It didn't seem like you were as good as last night)
"We weren't as good on offense tonight. I think you have to start by crediting Elon; they played really good, sound defense on us, and we didn't respond with the kind of discipline and patience that we needed to have. We were very quick, I thought, to break away from what we like to do. And I don't know that we were as sharp as we need to be with our cuts, our ball movement … I didn't feel like, at any point tonight, we were really humming on offense."

(If you play ECU tomorrow, can you talk about that matchup?)
"Well, to be honest with you, I haven't begun to do any homework on our next opponent. You're catching me quick here. I still kind of have this game in mind, and today we were totally focused on Elon. We know we're going to play a quality opponent tomorrow, and it should be a terrific game here."

(It seemed like various guys gave you a post presence tonight)
"Taking that question a step further, we've talked about the fact that really good teams can have different guys on any given night really step up and give you the boost that you need. It's good if you don't have to rely on winning the same way; it's good to be able to win different ways, and it's also good to be able to have different guys step up and provide that boost when you need it. I thought we got some of that maybe tonight off the bench from Andrew Brackman. I thought he came in and gave us some really nice minutes for a young guy."

(You still had 21 assists on 27 field goals)
"It's just hard to take 40 minutes and sometimes put them in these neat little piles so we can write it all up nice the next day. Although we weren't maybe as sharp as we'd like to be – and I think everybody has yesterday in mind as a barometer – we still had 21 assists to 14 turnovers and we shot 54 percent in the second half, 51 percent for the game, we were 50 percent from three … So it may be a step too far to say that we didn't do anything good on offense. It's just that we need to be sharper in some areas, and tonight probably our win was more a function of our defense than it was our offense, if you want to just generalize to talk about it."

(Julius Hodge is just the 18th player to have 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists for his career. Were you aware of that?)
"I wasn't; Tony [Haynes] mentioned it to me in the postgame. We have such a turnaround right now between games, guys are really focused on the preparation.

"But nobody here is surprised. He's had a stellar career, and he's been so versatile. He's done everything, and that's what that statline reflects that you just recited. He's just a guy who' been a complete player and added value in every way possible on the court for us."

(Was it awkward for assistant Larry Harris to coach against his son Simon tonight?)
"You'd have to ask him that; I don't want to speak for him. So many of us gathered here today are parents, and you're always going to root for your son or your daughter. I mean, there's nothing like that, right? But at the same time, I think if I had to guess, Coach Harris probably wanted Simon to play terrific and the Wolfpack to win. That's obviously a tough situation when you have to go against your son, or in other case, your daughter.

"Simon is just a wonderful young man, and it's great to see him providing a boost as a freshman for Elon. I think he's going to have a great career there as well."

(Is there any concern about mental stamina or physical stamina with three straight games?)
"Not really, because whoever we play tomorrow is in the same situation. The one difference has been that our guys are not staying in a motel and they're going about their ordinary life right now."

(Was there anything special planned for Julius' birthday today?)
"When is his birthday? Today is his birthday? Is that right? Nobody tells me anything. I'm the last to know. Because I missed it, I'm going to wait until next year to give him my present.

"Hey, we've got to fill this place up tomorrow night. I mean, everybody, if you want to help us out, get that out in your papers and on your broadcasts. Friday night is not a school night, 7:30, early tap, we've got to get this place humming tomorrow. Bring some of your friends; at least one of them."


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