In the middle of the ACC season, coach Lowe made some changes to his personnel. He went with a bigger lineup against Boston College, started Javi Gonzalez at point for the Virginia Tech game, and whittled his bench down to a eight-man rotation.
"Obviously I felt we needed to make some changes, and looking at our team, just trying to find the right combination of guys that you can get something going with and count on every night, so to speak, and go out there," Lowe said.
Lowe on how less is more...
Most of the press conference questions dealt with Lowe's shortened bench. After playing 10-11 guys a night for much of the season, the last three games have been much different.
Starting with the Virginia Tech loss, the largest number of players that have seen more than a minute of playing time in any one game is eight.
Lowe said practice determined which members of the bench would be a part of that rotation the following game.
"Watching practice everyday and watching them compete and seeing who is most consistent in practice, and seeing if that guy can translate that into a ball game," Lowe said. "I knew we had to narrow down the rotations and keep certain guys on the floor. There are times where when we have to have Ben, Brandon or Courtney on the floor — preferably two of them on the floor at the same time.
"[We are] just looking at our team, being fair, giving everyone an opportunity and trying to narrow that thing down to eight players."
Lowe said he was taking measures to ensure everybody had fresh legs as the season wore on, but also added that no one player is logging excessive minutes.
"We're playing eight guys but if you look at the minutes, the most anybody played last game was 35."
Lowe on how bigger is better...
Lowe first used the starting frontcourt of McCauley-Smith-Costner in the Miami game — one game removed from being dominated on the glass by Boston College.
"One thing we looked at was going to a bigger lineup," he stated. "There was a time once we got into league play we were concerned about the boards and thought maybe that would help us there."
Not only has the rebounding improved with the bigger lineup, but so have the point production. Starting with that Miami game, the Pack has scored 80-or-more points in five of its last six. Lowe gave some reasons as to why those two coincide.
"I think it's just a combination. You've got two post guys in there and Brandon's at three so you don't really lose anything as far as shooting. He can score there, Courtney can score," Lowe said.
"And the tempo as well, the ability to get the ball down the floor and getting into things quicker."
When asked if he was surprised that the bigger lineup was actually speeding the game up Lowe said, "To be honest with you yes."
"I think the attention that we put on our point guards to push the ball, the work that we've done in practice about running and getting out, that's helped too ... We've turned a couple of people over too, so that helps."
He also added that some teams, like Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, have forced the Pack to play faster.
The trio of Julius Mays, Javi Gonzalez and Farnold Degand have continued to make an Indian run out of the starting point guard position. Lowe said picking just one is "easier said than done."
"I think it's easier said than done for me to pick a point guard and stick with him or a player and stick with him," Lowe said. "I know people would like to see that, but you've got to have someone who steps forward and takes control on a consistent basis."
For now, the job is Gonzalez's and he'll have to work hard to avoid going to the back of the line while being pushed by Degand and Mays.
"We've gone with Javi and Farnold lately and it's working for us, especially with how we want to play with the up-tempo, and they've got to keep doing that." Lowe said. "I explained to [Javi] it's easy easy to get a job, but it's harder to keep it because now everyone knows what the target is and those guys behind you, they want to play. So you've got to keep getting better, better and better."
A No. 1-No.2 match-up on Wednesday
Sidney Lowe is the ACC's career leader in assist-to-turnover ratio. North Carolina's Ty Lawson sits at second right now and is leading the ACC in that category this season.
"It's something that I took pride in and it's something that if you want to be successful, the guy who handles the ball most for you, he can't turn it over," Lowe said. "And I took pride in that ... It's an honor that when they talk about that particular part of the game, my name will be mentioned."
Lowe has talked glowingly of Lawson in the past, calling him "the glue" on the UNC team.
"I think Ty may be a little faster than I was," Lowe said jokingly. "Maybe a lot.
"You admire any point guard that plays it the right way, runs the show. He happens to have some unbelievable talent too."
Despite Lawson's success, he won't be eclipsing Lowe's career mark anytime soon. Lawson would need to have more than 50 consecutive assists without a turnover to truly threaten Lowe's mark.
"If it can hold of Ty Lawson, I don't know, [the record] might be OK. Someone will break it, obviously. I'm just proud to have been in that situation and it's gone this long," Lowe said. "Maybe Ty will do me a favor and turn a few over for me — I may talk to him before the game and ask him to turn a few over for me."
Lowe on UNC
Florida State and Miami have held Tyler Hansbrough to under 10 points. But when Hansbrough isn't playing in the Sunshine State, he's been pretty good and scored 31 on State last time the two met.
"We'd like to hold him under 10. Absolutely," said Lowe. "It's going to come down to our team defense and how active we are, how smart we are in terms of defense and rotations and things of that nature."
After some troubles in the Dean Dome in recent years, Lowe spoke about how he was approaching the game.
"You know me, how I feel about these two teams playing. It's a great game, it's history, it's a rivalry," Lowe said. "Anytime you can go over there and get a win that's big. So hopefully we'll go over there and play well."
Identity crisis solved?
How many times have you heard in the past year that State was a team "looking for an identity?" If the 2-3 weeks are any indication, the Pack might finally have one.
Lowe sounded more sure than he had at any press conference over the past two seasons that the way his team is playing now is who his team is.
"This is probably who we are right here, and these are the guys. Having said that, you never know what could happen so guys have to be ready to step in and play," Lowe said. "But right now I think this is where we're going to go. We're going to stick with this lineup and the rotations and guys are going to have to be ready to play and play with some consistency — which they've been doing."
In addition to the personnel changes, Lowe's team has a defensive identity. After beginning the year playing exclusively man-to-man, the Pack has thrown multiple defensive looks at teams in recent games.
"A lot of that we worked on but weren't ready to do it yet because it wasn't as sharp as it needed to be," Lowe said. "It's so hard to play some of these teams man-to-man all the time ... sometimes it gets us going defensively, gets us active and moving. Gets us into the game and puts us on the aggressive side."
Farnold still nursing the knee
Lowe dispelled the rumor that Degand hurt his knee running in gym class, but did acknowledge that the knee is sore — still suffering from spot cases of post-surgery tendonitis. Lowe said the team has been taking precautions, like holding Degand out of yesterday's practice.
"He was just having some issues. Actually he is right now, he didn't practice yesterday. It's just the knee, it had nothing to do with that class."
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