Lowe: ACC Tournament is Wide Open

NC State head coach Sidney Lowe fielded questions from the media during his weekly teleconference. Lowe talked about his team's upcoming game against Clemson, the ACC Tournament, and much more.

Opening Statement:
We're just getting prepared to play Clemson. We had a good win against Boston College [on Sunday]. Now hopefully we can go into the tournament and play well.

How much different is the tournament now, in terms of the experience of the personnel, than when you were a player? Just about everybody stayed for as much time as they could when you were a player. Looking at your team now you might still have J.J. Hickson and Brandon Costner... how much different is it now? Is it better because there are younger guys passing through or not necessarily?
I don't think it's necessarily better. Anytime that you have players to leave early, it certainly takes away from the amount of talent pool that you could have had on your team or in your conference. Being able to still have a guy like J.J. Hickson or Brandon Costner, guys who have played well, and would have had some experience in this conference... it definitely helps a great deal.

I think it's a great experience for the young guys, but it's hard to replace experience when you're playing in a conference like this.

When you look back at the 2007 ACC Tournament, is there anything strategically when you look back and see how fresh/unfresh that you could have done differently... anything that might help a team that could have to play four games in four days?
I think you try to get the pulse of your team. You are who you are. I think if there are certain things you've done well or certain things you've done to get to that point, even though it is four games in four days, I don't know if you change. You're still trying to win that one game, and you've got to play to your strengths.

I think you see teams that play zone all year long, they get in the tournament and they are going to play zone. Even if you score on them, they aren't going to say we need to change up and go man-to-man. Syracuse, they are going to play zone.

We try to do things in practice, we'll say we're not going to go too hard today... maybe give them a little time off. During those four days obviously there wasn't a lot of time for practice, and if you recall, that year, substituting more wasn't an option. We only had six guys on scholarship.

You're absolutely right though, something you could do is substitute a little more... you're absolutely right. I was just talking about that team. We really didn't have a lot of options.

You got all the minutes you could out of Brian Neiman that year.
Brian started for us as as a walk-on a couple of times... we stretched that one out as far as we could.

Definitely substituting more would be something we could do, and we've been doing that pretty much the last five games or so... trying to keep guys fresh.

You talked about the wide open tournament. Can you expand on that? You're the #11 seed and you manhandled the #1 seed, you beat the #3 seed on the road, you actually had the #2 seed in trouble at your place, and lost a close game to Clemson, the team you're playing in the first round. Is that a pretty good example of how wide open the tournament might be?
I think so. You look all year at our conference at some of the wins the lower seed teams have had this year. Certainly any team is capable of beating the other in our conference.

You mentioned the wins and close games we've had, it can happen... it can really happen. It's just that one night. You just need to be better than that team that one night. Regardless of whatever else was done during the regular season, if I can be better than you that night, which I think every team in our conference has proved they can do that, then there are going to be some upsets. Absolutely.

So with all your success against Duke, Florida State, and near success against Maryland, are you happy to be in the bracket opposite of Virginia and North Carolina, two teams you didn't have success against?
You know, I can't say. Someone else asked me that question yesterday, and I can't say I'm happy to be in any bracket, happy meaning I think something is going to be easy.

This is our conference and this is the way the matchups go. We just have to go out and play. The main thing is we play our game, take care of the basketball #1, and be patient offensively. Do the things we're capable of doing and, like always, try to prevent the other team from dictating the tempo and what we do.

One of the interesting matchups within your game against Clemson is Trevor Booker against Tracy Smith. They pretty much battled to a stand-off in the first game you played. How crucial is it if one player is to get a significant advantage in that matchup?
It would have a major impact on our game. Both of those guys are excellent players and capable of scoring the basketball, making the team better. I think both ballclubs go through those guys, and I think if one of them gains a big advantage it will certainly help his team.

Booker does so much for that ballclub. Not just the scoring, but he does a great job of finding the open man if teams double down on him he passes the ball. He rebounds, he defends... he does a great job for them.

Of course, we go through Tracy. Certainly whichever team gets an advantage out of that matchup it will help because we go through those guys.

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