From your perspective, where are Farnold [Degand] and Johnny [Thomas]?
In watching Farnold yesterday—we took one of the hours that we could work two hours a week—he looked very good. He's actually better than I expected. We didn't allow him to go the entire hour, but he showed some of that quickness that he's capable of having and I anticipate that he's going to be ready to go.
Johnny did well. I think Johnny might be a little bit behind in comparison to Farnold. With Johnny, that doesn't stop him. He was going all out.
Point guard was such an issue last year. Going into this year, where do you stand?
Well we have three to start off, which we haven't had since I've been here in my three years. [Farnold Degand], obviously, is coming off an injury, but he's going to be ready to go.
Javi [Gonzalez], who I thought got tremendous experience last year playing a lot of minutes and getting thrown into a tough situation, I thought he grew as the season went on.
And then Julius Mays is just a real steady point guard—high basketball IQ, doesn't make a lot of mistakes. So I feel comfortable if we can stay healthy, but we need all three. It would be tough to do it with just two. I think we need all three.
You mentioned you would like to run a little more this year. What will allow you to do that?
Moving Courtney [Fells] over to the three certainly gives us some quickness there and the ability to get down the floor. Maybe the ability to play Farnold and Javi together in the backcourt would give us an opportunity there.
Dennis Horner is really running well. Maybe that's not something he's been known to do, but he's in such great shape that he's playing as well as anyone well.
But I think the first thing is we have a point guard in Farnold, his game is his speed, his quickness. So we certainly want to try to take advantage of his speed and maybe get some easy baskets.
Brandon Costner was not the same player last season after injuries. What do you see in him going into this year?
I think I see a committed individual. I think I see someone who certainly took last year and he learned from it—not just the basketball side of it, but the physical side of it, the mental side of it. As you said, he was hurt, and as a result gained some weight and tried to continue to do the things he felt he was capable of doing and he wasn't the same player.
I saw a young man come back this summer ready to go, in great shape, but more than anything his mind was right. He knew that he had to get back into the shape he once was and then to provide the leadership not just physically but mentally for this team.
There's an obvious attitude change among your team from last year. Did that start with you as coach?
I think it was just a matter of guys understanding, again, who I am and what this is all about for me. It's about N.C. State. It's about winning. It's about the team; it's not about the individual... I think they just understood there is only one voice — and that's my voice.
Who is the wildcard player who isn't being talked about much but we'll see a lot from this year?
I talked about him a little bit last year, and that's Trevor [Ferguson]. He's not talked about a lot but we're going to count on him. I think he's capable of providing that outside shooting for us, he doesn't turn the ball over, he makes simple plays. He's going to be big for us. He could find himself in the starting lineup and that's big.
I think Dennis Horner, the way he's playing right now, is going to have a big year. He's just playing excellent basketball. He can take advantage at the four position because of his ability to step out and shoot and maybe pull some of those bigs out there who aren't as comfortable.
J.J. Hickson seemed to become a focal point of the offense last season. Could him leaving for the NBA actually make the team less one dimensional and open things up for McCauley and Costner?
It's very difficult to find a negative when you're going through your best player. You've got to call it the way it is—he was the best player. Now, you've got to play around that and guys have to play their roles…When you bring in the top player, roles can change.
Next year, we can bring in the top player in the country... roles are going to change. Now, can it benefit other guys because J.J. is gone? Certainly. Absolutely. But that shouldn't be the case. It just should be you play the game the right way, you play for the team. You play to win.
Ben McCauley said the best thing about last year is that it's over. Do you agree with that?
I don't know if that's the best thing about it because as a coach it's always there. And I think that as a player it should always be there. It's not something that consumes you to where you can't play your game, but it should be a motivating factor. You never want to get back there…Ben said he's glad it's over with and is ready to move on, which is great.
But I won't forget it. Because every time we step on the floor, I want to remind myself that we don't want to go through that again. It's over, but it's always there.