McCauley: 'We Focus on Each Other'

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Just days before NC State was set to travel to Toronto for the Wolfpack's two-game exhibition tour, senior Ben McCauley met with the media to discuss the trip.

Just days before NC State was set to travel to Toronto for the Wolfpack's two-game exhibition tour, senior Ben McCauley met with the media to discuss the trip.

Joining McCauley was redshirt junior guard Trevor Ferguson, and the duo fielded questions concerning the trip, the returning players, and much more. At that time, McCauley didn't even know he would be in Raleigh while the rest of the team played in Canada.

It was announced that McCauley didn't travel because of a coach's decision. At the Wolfpack's Media Day, McCauley was questioned about the situation, and although he declined to go into specifics, he took responsibility for his actions.

"It was just a miscommunication in practice," said McCauley. "That's just what it was. I did something that I really regret, and coach decided that the punishment was for me to stay home.

"I take full responsibility with that. I apologized to everyone. I apologized to the coaches, and that's something that happened in the past. I don't really even think about that anymore."

Like with last season, McCauley decided to focus on what lies ahead and not what is in the past.

"That's something in the past now," he said. "I'm really looking forward to this year. I think we all are really. I'm in really good shape and I'm looking forward to what's going to come."

The senior center has good reason to want to move on from last year, as he and the rest of his team struggled in 2007-08.

After a breakout sophomore season where he averaged 14.4 points and 6.9 rebounds and was named honorable mention All-ACC, McCauley, Brandon Costner, and freshmen J.J. Hickson and Tracy Smith were expected to comprise arguably the top frontcourt in the ACC. It never materialized, as Hickson came in and outperformed everybody while McCauley and Costner struggled finding their roles alongside the talented freshman.

McCauley, who played 34.5 minutes a game at the center position in 2006-07, averaged 21.8 as a junior, losing playing time to Hickson. Most believe the Wolfpack's struggled largely due to chemistry issues. Was team chemistry a problem?

"It was a little bit of an issue," said McCauley. "Obviously bringing in some high-profile players can stir up some things and unfortunately it did. That's the way sometimes things go.

"The best thing about last year, I keep saying, is that it's over. We've learned from it, we went through it, and we realize that we don't want to go through it again so we're going to play even harder this year."

McCauley seems to speak for the team when he says he's moved on.

"Anything that has been said in the past, if it's negative, we really don't pay attention to it," he stated. "That's one great thing about all of us... we focus on each other.

"We focus on what we can do this year. I think if we stick together, play as one team... if one person goes off on a tangent, kind of goes offline, everyone needs to bring him back. That's one great thing we've done already this preseason. Guys are staying on the same page, staying as one team... one unit."

Hickson is now playing in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers. McCauley, Costner, Smith, and Dennis Horner will share minutes in the frontcourt.

McCauley says that all of the players have made it a priority to spend more time with each other away from the court in hopes that it will develop the team chemistry they lacked last year.

"We hang out on the weekends," he said. "We go to football games. We've tailgated right outside the RBC Center a couple of times.

"Guys have just been hanging out on the weekends away from the court. it's good to be together away from the court and focus on not just basketball... watch NFL games, watch other college football games. That's some of the things we've been doing."

A closer team, even if it is less talented, could produce more wins for the Wolfpack. Only time will tell if the chemistry is really there and if more wins will come.


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