Previewing N.C. State

The Tar Heels head over to battle NC State on Super Bowl Sunday for a 2 p.m. tipoff on FoxSportsNet. <br><center> (<a target=new href="">INTERNET BROADCAST</a>) - (<a href="'','GameTrackermbaskbl','toolbar=no,resizeable=no,scrollbars=no,width=780,height=540'); void('');">LIVE STATS</a>)</center>

North Carolina (11-6, 2-2) vs. N.C. State (10-4, 3-1)
RBC Center, Raleigh
2:00 p.m., FoxSportsNet


We're preparing for a confident N.C. State team playing on its home court. It's a heck of a challenge for our young guys. An interesting team to prepare for because their offense is so much different than anyone else we play. That'll be a new experience for our team, but hopefully we'll be up for the challenge.

On playing N.C. State after their big win over Duke -

With a young team, emotional consistency – you can't get too high after a win and you can't get too low after a loss. When you lose a game, it can't be the end of the world. You have to maintain consistency emotionally. That's something we'll talk about in terms of Herb's teams. I was just very impressed that after a couple of tough losses to Boston College and Georgia Tech, to come back and perform the way they performed shows a lot of character.

On the difficulty of road games -

Playing at Illinois was a tough game for us and Miami was a tough game for us. But there's nothing like the ACC – nothing like playing in venues in the ACC or the interest in the ACC.

Talk about Julius Hodge …

He's the marquee guy on that team – the star player. He likes that role, relishes that role, and has performed well, had a great game against Duke, really stepped up and made big plays.

What separates the teams in this league?

Experience – that's the big thing. Like I don't think we took great shots [down the stretch against Maryland]. And watching other teams in the league, we're not the only team that has done that. You look how Maryland handled our run against them. That's experience. And obviously talent, you need a player who can control the situation, like a Steve Blake.

Is there anything different you prepare the team for being that this game is at State?

Not X and O wise, I don't think. Not this game. But mentally you try to prepare the guys and talk to them about the crowd and maintaining poise. We've had some tough road games. Physically, X and O wise, you don't prepare it differently when you're playing State at State or here.

What makes N.C. State's offense so difficult to prepare for?

One, it is different. Two, that it's basically five perimeter players who are all interchangable and do a great job of passing and cutting. Their ability to pass the ball is fun to see from a basketball purist standpoint and it makes it tough in terms of matchups.

If you're a weak perimeter defender, you're going to get exposed here – you'll get driven, back cut or sucked into the lane and they're going to hit threes on you. Every pass with them becomes crucial, because you can get exposed because the court is so open. If you turn your head, it's a layup. If you turn your back, your man's got a three. It's a tough offense to guard. [Coach Sendek] does a good job with it and he's got good personnel because his guys can pass, handle and shoot the basketball.

On the ACC's parity this year -

Every game is a big game for us. For the fans, maybe they'd trade a win at State over another win, but at the end of the year every game is a big game. I've only been in the league three years, but it's more so than any other year because anybody truly can beat anybody. It's exciting.


It seems like [the Tar Heels] had really good chemistry from day one. The guys on the team have really seemed to jell and enjoy playing together. I think they have really good team athleticism and team quickness. They've had some awfully impressive wins when you look at some of the teams they've been able to beat.

On Rashad McCants -

He's really special and he scores in every way. He can put the ball on the floor and hurt you in transition. He's a really good three-point shooter and he's big and strong and can post you up. There's not really one part of offensive basketball that isn't part of his package. To be a freshman in this league and to be scoring almost 20 points per game is a heck of a number.

On the defensive matchup problems that UNC creates -

We're going to play with those kind of things for the next couple of days. I don't know that any one player is always matched-up against the same player anyway with substitutions and transition and all the other things that happen in the game of basketball. It's usually not as neat and clean as a certain player always guarding another player.

On playing after the big win over Duke -

I think that's one of the great challenges of conference play. The games in basketball come two and three a week. It's a real test of fortitude to be able to come back in a couple of days after any one game because they require so much, emotionally, mentally and physically. It's not unique just to this week when you have Duke and North Carolina, but it's that way through the season. Any one of the games you play, it takes a total commitment, and you've just got to re-energize for the next one because they come so quickly.

N.C. State Scouting Report
by Brett Ayers

Offensive Schemes - N.C. State runs a version of the old Princeton offense that has been their bread and butter for the last few years. This year's N.C. State team, though, does not really have the players needed to run such an offense. Will dump the ball down low, but really are looking to shoot the jump shot. Hodge, Watkins, Melvin, and Sherrill all want to shoot the jump shot. Watkins is still a bit tenative on that reconstructed knee of his but has the potential, when he wants to, to get on a hot streek. Crawford is another wild card who just killed Duke because Duke gave him all day to line it up and shoot it. In the Princeton offense there are a lot of cuts down with an entry into the high post and all kinds of dribble rubs. It is best for UNC to play a good sagging, even switching man-to-man on this and to not dive down to the post and leave the shooters open. Especially at State.

Defensive Schemes - State will most likely press with the 2-2-1 full court press as well as some man-to-man full court pressure. They usually fall back into man-to-man in the half court but I would not be surprised to see them in some 2-3 or even some floater zone. There is also the chance UNC could see some 3-2 zone with what is percieved by most to be little or no inside game. When State presses they are very sloppy in executing their traps and will reach, slap and when you beat them in their press. Very, very susceptable to giving up offensive boards.

Players to Watch:

Julius Hodge - A very smooth, streaky shooter who shoots a modified set shot. Very right handed in all he does. Not very strong and someone who can be taken advantage of on the offensive end. Also, a guy who can be bumped off his game when he comes off of picks and dribble hand offs. Not nearly as good shooting off the dribble as he is off the set. Better block him out at all times.

Marcus Melvin - A very unorthodox lefty who will shoot the three, take the fifteen foot pull-up and in general just try to get shots off. Very left handed in most things he does. Not a real good post player at all, more of a guy who wants to shoot the perimeter jumper.

Josh Powell- As close to a low post player as the Pack has. Another guy who will happily shoot jumpers if you give them to him. He, like many on the N.C. State team, does not have a very good notion of shot selection.

Scooter Sherrill- Once he crosses half court, he is in range. You better not let him get off. He is really State's best long distance shooter. He shoots about 40% from the three point line. Has no qualms about pulling up from 25 feet with someone right on him.

Probable Starting Lineup:
   Clifford Crawford (6-3, G, Sr.) – 9.4 ppg, 4.3 apg
   Scooter Sherrill (6-3, G, Jr.) – 10.4 ppg, 39% 3pt
   Julius Hodge (6-6, G, So.) – 18.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.6 apg
   Marcus Melvin (6-8, F, Jr.) – 13.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg
   Josh Powell (6-9, F, So.) – 11.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.9 bpg
Key Reserves: 
   Levi Watkins (6-7, F, So.) – 6.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg
   Jordan Collins  (6-10, C, So.) – 3.1 ppg, 1.3 rpg
   Cameron Bennerman  (6-4, G, Fr.) – 1.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg

NC State Info

Photo Gallery

Marcus Melvin ... Julius Hodge

Scooter Sherrill ... Herb Sendek

(Photos courtesy the AP.)

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