Coach Lowe: I thought this was a big win for our team. We had a lot of people that stepped up for us. I think Dennis Horner came in and played a great game for us both offensively and defensively. Our energy was good coming out of the gate, starting with that first dunk we had. We had a lot of energy, and our guys played really well. Courtney Fells was solid – eight rebounds. Farnold and the other guys played really well. We certainly needed that lift coming off the bench for us.
I think this is a great win for our team, but I think we're still going. We're still looking for it. We took a step in the right direction to finish the game off like this against a team like this.
Talk about Brandon and the game that he had.
He was high energy tonight. He was communicating. He was a step ahead rather than a step behind. Right from the very beginning, he showed that. He made some big plays for us, some big shots for us. He played an excellent game for us and we need that.
Especially playing with four fouls…
Yeah, and that's hard to do, but he's smart enough and he knows how to play without gambling, and at the same time not allowing people to score on him.
Comment about J.J. and how they were able to take him out of the game. Was he tired?
I think he was rushing himself. He was excited to get in there and he was rushing early. But later on in that second half, he settled down. He's just not used to people double-teaming him and trapping him on this level. You saw him in high school, but these guys are quicker, they're stronger and he needs to make adjustments to reading those traps. But he was trying to a little too hard and playing a little too fast early, but once he settled down, and for a while there we tried to punch it in to him several times and he scored for us.
Talk about their guard play and how your were able to defend Downey.
Probably more than anything, other than taking care of the ball and making some shots, our defense was pretty good. Against a guy like that, I think Farnold and Javi did an unbelievable job of chasing him around and the rest of the team making things tough for him. He hit some tough shots, but we still made him work for it. We told them that early – you're not going to stop this guy, but you want to make it tough for him. I think Farnold and Javi did a great job, and Courtney as well.
You held them to 31% shooting and yet gave up 46 rebounds…
It's one of those things again, where we're coming in for blocked shots, and dealing with long shots and long rebounds, where we're running in – we have to be little more different in that area to step out and get those guys before they run in on us. This team is quick, and we told our players before the game they may not come over the back, but once they're beside you, it's like a jump ball, and they can go high so they gain an advantage there. Plus, at one point, they were sending four guys to the boards and just keeping that thing alive.
With Farnold's play today, how does that help the point guard situation?
It's a tremendous experience for him. There's nothing like playing at this level: three games in four days. It gives you a lot of experience, and playing against the type of players he's playing against… This guy (Downey) is one of the best guards in the country, and he played with him the entire game. This is big for him and his confidence. He was just as quick as (Downey) was sometimes, and I think this was a great game for him.
With four games down, can you assess your strengths and weaknesses?
I still don't know what our strength is. We're a different team from last year. If you asked me last year, I would say execution. We execute well. This team is different. With the additions of J.J. and Farnold to the lineup, it's just a little different from when we had Engin as an experienced guy and Brandon and Ben at the four and five who were all good at executing. So, I'm not sure what our strength is right now, but we're just trying to play as hard as we can. Then, we also have the ability to run and we also have the ability to set up and execute our stuff, as we did late in the game today. We executed and we pretty much got the shots we wanted to get and we were very patient with it. Our strength? I'm not really sure about it yet.
How has the bench been playing?
I think they've done a good job. Javi's been playing well, and with the minutes he's playing, very well. He gives us good energy, good defense, he's running the team, and he can make a shot. I thought Dennis played great today. He hadn't made any shots, but he's been doing some of the other things. And then, we've had J.J. coming off the bench or Ben coming off the bench, and both of those guys are high energy players. So, with that [player rotation of] eight right there, they've been doing a great job for us.
Coach, how do you plan to match up with either Villanova or George Mason, who traditionally play four guards at a time?
We'll have to take a look at that. Obviously, it's something to focus on. We've had a little experience in our first two exhibition games, where we played teams with smaller lineups and we saw opportunities where we could take advantage. I think we have to try to take advantage of our size inside and then be patient that, if they do trap down, we just have to settle down and make some shots. We'll have to see…
NC State Junior Forward Brandon Costner
When that three went in late in the game, what was going through your head?
Get back on defense and try to squeeze on Devan Downey.
How does it feel to get to the championship game of this tourney?
This is a big win for our team. After those first couple of games, we weren't really sure about ourselves, but now we're learning as we go along and everyday, we're getting better.
What was the mindset near when you got down by nine midway through the second half?
Just get it back with one play at a time. You can't win the game on one possession. So we just took it one play at a time.