Locker Room Report: NC State Players

Wolfpack players Ilian Evtimov, Andrew Brackman, Tony Bethel and Julius Hodge talk about State's 100-66 romp over East Carolina in the championship game of the BCA Invitational tonight at the RBC Center.

ILIAN EVTIMOV

(How do you explain some of the unorthodox shots that you get to go?)
"When you're undersized like I am, I have to be a little crafty down there. I have to use different moves than everybody else."

(What does it say about this team that Julius was hardly involved in the first half and you scored 51 points?)
"Even though the stats may not show it in the first half, Julius was a big presence penetrating and kicking it. That might not be the assist, but it might be the pass that preceded the assist. He kept everybody involved and created shots for other people."

(How different was this game than the one against ECU three years ago?)
"From a personal perspective, and I'm sure speaking for some of the guys, too, now we felt like we were the older guys, that we belong here, that's our court, that's our home, and we've got to take care of business. A couple of years ago, it was the first couple of games of the year, and we were a little shy, very unsure. This year, we played very good as a team, and everybody is kind of already taking a good responsibility into their roles."

(ECU felt they were a much better team this year than three years ago)
"They are. They definitely brought it today and they're a very good basketball team. I just think that we just got better, too. At this point, it's so early, but we've played tremendous basketball -- better than any year I've been here."

ANDREW BRACKMAN

(What do you envision your role being on this team?)
"If I can do what I did tonight, I think that would be a good amount of contribution to the team."

(Did you get all ball on that block in the first half that was called a foul?)
"Yeah, of course I did. It was all ball. The crowd saw it, too [laughing]."

(Have you always been that active on both ends of the court?)
"Yeah. I was short in high school, but I grew toward the end, and the motion just kept staying with me. I was about 6'1" my freshman year, and I was about 6'9-½" [when he graduated]."

TONY BETHEL

(What did winning this tournament mean?)
"This team just gets that much more confident, but also we know we have to work that much harder because teams are going to be coming at us as well as us coming at them. So we look to get back to it in practice this next week, and we've got a game on Friday."

(How important was it to get out to such a great start?)
"I think our defense got us in the game. We pretty much, in the first half, shut down their offense, got a lot of deflections and rebounded the ball well, and that caused their offense to get out of the ballgame."

(It seemed like you were forcing bad shots by them)
"That was our goal, yeah. We forced them to take some bad shots and make some turnovers, and when you get the rebound, you're going the other way and try to score."

(You also scored 22 points vs. Seton Hall your sophomore year at Georgetown. How does this compare?)
"It doesn't compare too much. I'm here and it feels good to get my career-high here in the RBC on our home floor."

(How much better are a shooter of you now?)
"I would say a lot better [laughing]. I could shoot it then, but now I think I am stronger, so my shot is there throughout most of the game. I've been working with the coaching staff, and they've taken my shot to another level."

(Do you like playing in an offense that emphasizes the three?)
"Yeah, I do. It makes the game that much more easier if you're shooter, because the defense has to commit, and it gives our big guys an opportunity to post up. [Cedric] Simmons had a couple of great moves down there in the post because of our shooters making the defense stay out a lot more."

(What was the difference between last night and tonight on offense?)
"We just came out and they were falling. There's not too much I can say about that, but they were falling tonight. I think everybody was focused in and locked in, and I believe it started with our defense tonight."

(You've already played three games early on, while some teams haven't played any. What have you learned about your team thus far?)
"We learned that we can be a good team, but we have a lot of work. We're going to learn mostly from our mistakes and not from the wins that we had. We'll look at our mistakes through watching film with the coaches. It was good to get the young fellas a good chance to get their first whiff of how the game is going to be."

(You guys had a 27-point lead early on before Julius Hodge made a shot. What does that say about your depth?)
"It says that other guys can score, and Julius won't have to do it all. Some people may think that we have other weapons that are fitting in, Engin, even the freshmen, Cedric and Gavin, and Jordan … So that speaks a lot for us."

(Were you trying to be more aggressive tonight?)
"Yes, I did, on the offensive end. I wasn't getting to the basket the prior two games, and that was my goal coming in tonight: to try to make the defense play me, so I could get other people shots. And it worked for us tonight."

JULIUS HODGE
(This team seems to be showing it can win in a lot of ways) "We could score low in the 70s and still win by defense. But tonight we were flowing, guys were rebounding well and we got it done."

(Can you talk about the added dimension of shot-blocking that Andrew Brackman and Cedric Simmons give you?)
"It really gives us a different dimension, as you've seen. We've never had big guys like that that can block shots, and now we have two Emeka Okafors. It's less stress on me, Engin [Atsur] and Tony [Bethel], because if we happen to have a lapse defensively, we know they're going to clean it up, and that's going to start transition that will end with a dunk or a layup. So that's definitely a big plus for us."


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