GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Sidney Lowe, Ben McCauley, Gavin Grant, and ACC Commissioner John Swofford all met with the media on Sunday afternoon as part of the ACC's Operation Basketball event in Greensboro.
Notes from Sidney Lowe media session
As Lowe evaluates his three point guard options this season, the biggest point of emphasis has been avoiding turnovers, "I've explained it to them over and over again that the most important thing is that basketball."
The media asked Lowe about heralded freshman J.J. Hickson, and the coach said he's most impressed with his work ethic, "He's constantly at it – he comes to practice ready to work. It's not fun and games for him its work for him. He comes and he puts it in."
With the additions of Hickson and Tracy Smith, Lowe is liking his depth in the front court. "In practice we have four guys that are going at each other every day and making each other better. There are days when Tracy and J.J. might beat Brandon and Ben."
With the front court depth, Dennis Horner will move over to the three spot this season, which is where the sophomore wanted to play last year but was forced to bang down low. "He's much more comfortable, so now we have a Dennis and Gavin at the three – that's pretty good."
Lowe emphasized that being a part of the NC State basketball programs is all about representing the fans. "All the fans that wake up in the morning and their neighbors might be a Duke fan or a Carolina fan or a Wake fan. We are representing them. The fact that they can go outside and get their newspaper with a smile on their faces – that's what its all about to me."
Lowe said he's still getting used to being the head coach of NC State. But he added that he doesn't mind going to dinner and being interrupted by fans – he's even invited a few to bring their plate over and join him, but no one has ever taken him up on the offer. "Had they sat down it would have been fine, I would have just asked them to buy dinner."
The Pack sets a goal of trying keep opponents shooting percentage under 40 percentage, coach Lowe said. He said the team achieved that goal sometimes last year, but a lot of times they didn't. He also said that keeping an opponent in the low 40s is acceptable, but that he like to keep the goal in the 30s.
Skip Prosser's untimely death and Lowe's own incident at Carolina last year caused him to take stock in his own habits in the offseason. Lowe has lost some weight thanks to a better diet and plenty of time on the treadmill, but he's also working on ways to reduce stress, "It's really that mental part of it – getting your mind off of it. It's funny how it works, but you are so stressed and that stress is mental stress but it affects you physically. It's mental but it affects your body, just wears you down. Trying to get your mind off of it helps."
Notes from Gavin Grant and Ben McCauley media session
McCauley said he would like to see one of the point guard candidates separate themselves from the group, "If you really want it, you are going to separate yourself. It's good to have one guy there so we can get used to playing basketball with him." He also called it the key component to the team's success. According to Grant, if any of the point guards plays 'half as well' as Engin Atsur played last season, then the Pack will be in good shape.
The championship ring that Sidney Lowe has been sporting hasn't gone unnoticed by the players - "You shake his right hand you see a ring on his finger," McCauley said. "Last year he really didn't have that out." The first time he saw it he asked coach if he could see "what I'm gonna win this year."
Grant was asked again about his prediction that the Pack wouldn't lose more than four games this year, and the senior responded by saying he wasn't trying to be cocky even if that's the way it was interpreted. He said that the Pack could lose a lot more games if they don't play right this season, "I just think with what we went through last year and the players we added we are more than capable of having a very successful season."
McCauley said he would consider it a 'huge disappointment' if this team did not make the NCAA Tournament. Grant, who went to two tournaments in his first two years at NC State, said that's every team's No. 1 goal before the season starts.
McCauley said he expects the team to rebound a lot better this season because they'll be able to crash the offensive boards more often. "Last year maybe we didn't go for offense rebounds because we had to get back on defense. But this year with amount of bodies that we have we should be able to go after every single offensive rebound."
Grant's favorite part of his game is his slashing ability, "I don't feel like anyone should be able to stop me from getting to the basket one-on-one.". For McCauley, its his passing, "To score is one thing – but to move and get your teammate your a spectacular dunk or a 3-point shot is another thing. To be a big man and have the passing ability like I have is something I pride myself on."
Grant recounted a trip to the fair last week between himself, J.J. Hickson, and Tracey Smith. Apparently Hickson and Smith tried out one of the shooting games at the fair, while Grant sat out because he called it 'a waste of money'. Hickson came up empty in his try, but Smith sank a shot and took home a stuffed teddy-bear, which Grant said he kept.
Notes from John Swofford press conference
Commissioner John Swofford held a brief forum with the media this morning, highlighting the league's accomplishments last season and announcing the creation of the Prosser Award. The award, named in honor of former Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, will be given to the conference's top student-athlete amount the league's men's basketball players. Nominees must be in their third of fourth year and have maintained a 3.0 GPA for their career and a 3.0 GPA over the last two semesters.
John Clougherty, Coordinator Of Men's Basketball Officials for the ACC, discussed the new point of emphasis with bench conduct for the season. He said that officials will give a warning to coaches that leave the coaching box for a first offense but may assess a technical on any second offense. He also said that officials will be penalized for abusing language to officials or even his own players on the court. Assistant coaches, team managers, and players on the bench may also be penalized. Clougherty stressed that none of these provision are new rules but simply more scrutinized enforcement of current rules.