Rivalry aside, NC State just wants the win
Posted January 25, 2013
Updated January 26, 2013
Although a rivalry game often provides a great chance to earn some bragging rights, there is more than that at stake for North Carolina State Saturday when they welcome North Carolina to PNC Arena.
Wolfpack players aren't focused on NC State's 13-game losing streak against North Carolina or the rivalry between the two Tobacco Road schools. Saturday is simply about getting a win.
"I'm not really focused on what they're best at or what they've done in the past," said NC State forward CJ Leslie. "I'm focused on the team they are right now."
"Especially after the loss to Wake Forest, it's a big game for us," said Wolfpack guard Lorenzo Brown. "It's all about guys wanting to win just as much as I do,"
After blowing a 16-point lead in a two-point loss to Wake Forest, the team hit practice hard, attacking their areas of weakness - winning on the boards and not allowing as many second chance points.
"I think the one thing we have to be consistent at is defensive. For us to become a very good team we can't have the lull's and the periods where we're not as good defensively," said NC State head coach Mark Gottfried. "We'll find ways to score the ball, now we have to find ways to keep other teams from scoring."
North Carolina is averaging 43.1 rebounds per game, 5.4 more than their opponents, and are averaging 10.6 more points than their opponent per game. NC State has focused their work this week on being more aggressive on the boards and limiting the Tar Heels' opportunities to take advantage of lose rebounds.
"The most important thing is they have to be mentally prepared to play every single night," said Gottfried. "I think we've had good practices… now we have to carry it into the game and be consistent there as well."
UNC will be without Leslie McDonald for the fifth straight game, but the Tar Heels have not seemed to miss him offensively with Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo stepping into their offensive roles.
"Last year I think with Zeller, Henson and Barnes they were so big across the front line. They're still big, but it's a different type of big," said Gottfried. "Bullock has really stepped up for them, McAdoo is matured. He is now the guy you go to inside. I think we like to go inside anyway, we just have to make sure we go to our strengths and do the things we think we can do well."
"We feel like we can beat everybody, that's just the mentality that you have to have as a basketball player,"Leslie said. "So we're just gonna come out and look forward to having a good game."