"I thought it was a very good effort on our guys part, especially the first time out. We really did a lot of things well: we pushed the ball well, we had spurts where we were really good defensively, and we moved the ball around. I think we had 26 assists on 33 baskets—that's pretty good."
How is Farnold Degand's recovery coming, there was obviously a little rust?
"It's coming along. I thought he did a nice job up until a point where he was trying to do a little too much. I think that he was ready for that, he turned it over a couple of times instead of making the easy play. But he's definitely on pace, and he's going to be ready to go."
Talk about the decision to start C.J. Williams.
"He's worked extremely hard in the preseason and in the summer time. He's just a solid basketball player. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes and he's very poised as a freshman. I say that knowing that there are some times that he's going to makes some mistakes and turnovers. But he just knows how to play…His basketball IQ is very high and he's been coached extremely well in high school and he's taken everything we've been teaching him here."
Who will get the rebounds, especially defensive rebounds that J.J. Hickson got last year?
"We have to do it by committee. That's the one area that I wasn't pleased with tonight, was rebounding. A couple of times we blocked out, but we didn't go get the rebound. We've go to do both. You've got to block out, then you go get it…We just have to concentrate and get better. But it's going to have to be by committee because we don't have that dominant rebounder."
Brandon [Costner] was limping, does he have an injury holding him back from being the player he was as a freshman?
"I think he'll get back there. He's had an ankle injury that's been bothering him. But he'll be back."
Could Simon Harris move up in the rotation after his performance tonight?
"It's possible. The nice thing about right now is we have enough guys that if some one is not doing it, we can put the other guy in. They know that there are opportunities here. There's no set in stone positions. We really don't care about that. We care about winning."
What is the status of Johnny Thomas?
It was his ankle. That's a plus and minus. It wasn't his knee, it was his ankle. I can't even tell you when he'll be back, because he could be back tomorrow. That's just how he is. He's such a tough, tough young man and he's endured a lot over the last year. Hopefully, he's going to be okay."
Is this a better team than you did this time last year?
"That's a tough question. I think we're probably deeper. I don't know about better. We can play nine guys, maybe ten, but I wouldn't necessarily say we're better. It's too early. At the end of the year, if we have a better season and we go somewhere, then we're better. I not, then we're not better."
You obviously made a good impression in your time here to be in the starting lineup.
"I've been working hard. That's what I came here to do. I came here to play basketball, work hard, and get my education…I stay focused."
When did coach tell you that you would be starting?
"I didn't know early, but when he called my number I was ready to play."
Do you feel you can fill that role and be a starter on this team?
"I do. I do think I can be a starter on this team. I know I may not be the first option, but I'm an option, so you've just got to be ready when your number is called."
What's the best part of your game right now?
"I would probably say my ability to catch and shoot is the best thing I can do. I've always worked so hard on shooting that when it's my turn to shoot, I'm ready. As long as I'm ready it's going in—at least that's what I think every time."
Were there any nerves starting your first game for N.C. State against an opponent?
"I'm always nervous before every game…My middle school coach taught me if you're not nervous, you're not ready. So, I'm always nervous, and I just go out and play hard. Once the ball is tipped, you've just got to play…I've come to the realization that it's just basketball, and I came here to play basketball and I'm just going to play."
It looked like you really wanted the ball out there. How much of a difference is this for you from last year?
"I was ready to come out and play this game. Last year, I was a freshman, just kind of learning, but this year I've been working hard in practice and everything payed off."
Talk about your effort tonight in so few minutes.
"I was just happy I got the opportunity tonight, I was very blessed to get in there and help my team."
What was the highlight of the night for you?
"The highlight of the night was winning. I mean, we expected to win, but we got a big win. And we've been waiting since we lost to Miami last year to get back out on that court and compete. You don't understand—it was rough last year…Now we're just excited that we get to beat up on other people. Day after day, beating up on your friends gets kind of tough."
What do you see as your role on this team?
"Just to be an energy guy. Whenever I get the opportunity to play, I'm just going to go out there and play my game."