PC Quotables: Herb Sendek

<B>RALEIGH, NC --</B> NC State head coach Herb Sendek met the media to discuss Florida State and the ACC Tournament. Here's a sampler of what he had to say.

What do you think the mindset is of the team?
I think we're refocused and ready to move forward.

I've just been around our guys, and I've talked with them. I think we understand and recognize that's the better choice to make.

We know we face a tremendous challenge this week in Washington, and it's imperative that we have that mindset.

Who do you think will replace Jordan Collins in the lineup?
I think we're going to have to rely on a collective effort to replace Jordan, clearly one of our more experienced players.

I don't know if we can point to a single individual as we collectively try to make up for his absence. Certainly Cedric [Simmons], Andrew [Brackman], and Levi [Watkins] may most directly do that, but I think it's up to everybody to take part in making up for his absence.

Do you have an update on how long he may be out?
I really don't. He's doing better today than he was yesterday, but it's just really difficult to pinpoint with any accuracy right now.

How good is this team?
Our record is our reality. To add labels to that and try to define it is more difficult.

We've had some things happen to us that have affected our record that I believe are beyond our control, and we've had some things that are clearly within our control that if we would have done better we'd have a better mark at this point. I think both of those statements are true with this team this year, and it's probably true with most teams.

I think we have a very good team, and I think we showed that once again on Sunday. I really think our team has got better every step of the way, and we've been playing our best basketball here recently.

Maybe the most significant thing that has been within our control that had a chance to significantly change our record has been our free throw shooting.

In some of our close losses we tallied that we were 64-for-112, not including the front ends of 1-and-1's. Maybe that more than any one thing stares us down as we try to re-evaluate if we are better than our record.

What's your gut feeling on what you need to do to make the NCAA Tournament?
I really don't know. Like I said after the game, I could be a lawyer and advocate our side and go down a list of checkpoints that would be persuasive in our favor. But, it's much better to try to play your way in than try to talk your way in.

It's always better to do more, but last year at this point we were in no matter what happens. Hopefully at this point we'll play well in Washington.

Do you have a sense for how the committee weighs close losses to very good teams?
I think they do consider that among many other variables. I think we have some very knowledgeable members of the committee, people who work very hard to study those kinds of things. They are not faced with an easy task.

As much as we want to make it objective with RPIs, Sagarins, win/loss records, and weighted averages, at the end of the day those are just numbers and there is a significant part that is subjective.

Anything you've focused on from the Florida State game that stands out to you?
I've just been really impressed with Florida State. The quality of their team is, in my mind, among the best in our league. They've had some tough losses along the way, but in terms of the way they guard, the way they run their offense, their talent level and depth, I think they are just about as good as anybody. I think if you ask around the league you'll get that same answer pretty much across the board.

Talk about the free throw shooting situation.
It just seems like we missed them in certain stretches. There have been games where we shot them very well and in some of those instances it resulted in wins for us. The first one that pops in my mind is when we were 30-for-37 against Georgia Tech.

But, it just seems there have been a handful of games where we haven't shot very well, and it cost us. But, we have good shooters on our team. Despite our woes in that area, I can honestly tell you that I believe we're going to go to Washington and shoot them well. We'll continue to work on it. We have good shooters, and I want them to go to the line fully expecting to make the next shot.

What are your feelings on Julius Hodge's year?
Julius has had a great career. He returned to school as ACC Player of the Year, so unless he repeats that some are going to easily take the next leap and say he didn't have as good of a year.

But, he's had a great year. If you look at his numbers, most any player would be on the phone for hours with their girlfriend, mother, and everybody else bragging about those kind of exploits and numbers. Yet, because he was ACC Player of the Year last year there are such high expectations. It's easy to say, 'he wasn't as good as he was last year,' but that's the kind of chance you take when you compete.

Were you satisfied with Wake Forest's action yesterday?
I respect their decision, and I just think it's important that we move forward. I don't know what I could add to it that makes any sense at this point.

What has Tony Bethel showed you in the way he's handled all the adversity that he's faced this season?
Tony's a terrific young man, and I know he was really bothered by the fact that so much of his season was carved out for him. He really has been tremendously tough-minded in his comeback. It hasn't been an easy road to return for him. It's been a gradual climb, and he's shown a lot of character to be able to return to the level of play that he's now at.

Your guys can look at the bracket and see Wake Forest sitting there in the quarterfinals. How tough is it to keep your guys from that urge to look ahead at that rematch and stay focused on Florida State?
It's imperative that we stay focused on Florida State. We'll more than have our hands full on Thursday afternoon with Florida State. To look beyond them in anyway would be utter foolishness in our part.


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