The time is now for NC State
Posted March 13, 2013
Greensboro, N.C. — NC State hit the practice floor in Greensboro Wednesday with a lot to prove this week in the 60th edition of the ACC Tournament.
"I think we're kind of fed up just hearing what everybody is saying and things like that, so I feel like we're definitely going to come out make a hard defensive effort," said NC State guard Rodney Purvis.
After being picked to win the ACC, the Pack finished fifth, missing out on an opening round bye and setting up a Thursday game against 12th-seeded Virginia Tech.
"I think we lost a couple of games we weren't supposed to lose and that kind of made us more hungry now at this point in the season. So I mean we're just ready to play," guard Lorenzo Brown said.
"We didn't perform to what we expected of ourselves, so now's the time more than ever to play well," said forward Scott Wood.
"We know we're capable of doing more than what we have done in that past, which really doesn't matter now, but we know we can play better. We know we haven't yet played forty minutes of great basketball," said forward C.J. Leslie.
"This team has to create their own mark, their own identity, their own history and that's something we've talked about," said NC State head coach Mark Gottfried. "This is their team this year and now is the time for them to step up and play."
Focus is on C.J. Leslie
So much was expected from C.J. Leslie this year, but the player picked to be conference Player of the Year in preseason polls heads into the postseason fresh off being selected Third Team All-Conference. This was supposed to be his season, but now Leslie is trying to block out the critics.
"That doesn't matter to me, it serves no purpose. All that, I'm not worried about it at all," said Leslie.
Still, for the Pack to be their best, they'll need their best player at his best. When Leslie is on, so is State and the Pack needs that production now when the stakes are high.
"He needs to play well and I think he will," said Gottfried. "He's had a good couple days of practice, I think we're a much better team when he plays at a high level."
"Very important, he's our star player and once he gets going it fires up the rest of our team and makes us a lot better," said Brown.
"Once he's playing and he's 'Calvin Leslie' he's unstoppable," said Purvis. "There's nothing really anyone can do with him. I feel like once we get him going we'll definitely be hard to stop."
"There's no pressure, I just think that I got to get back to doing what I do best. That's been motivating the team, scoring, blocking, whatever it is, wherever my team needs me at that particular time is where I need to step up," said Leslie.
"I think the one way you silence a critic if there is any is you play," said Gottfried. "You gotta play well and your play has to do your talking. [Leslie] and I have talked about that this week, he needs to step his game up, he needs to do it on a consistent basis."
Stopping Virginia Tech's Erick Green
Lorenzo Brown isn't one to back down from a challenge, even if that challenge is stopping the player that leads the nation in scoring.
"I mean we are basketball players so if you can't guard a man one way you aren't supposed to be out there," said Brown.
Brown will be guarding Virginia Tech star Erick Green, the conference Player of the Year and the first ACC Player to lead the nation in scoring in 56 years.
"I don't know I'm not too much worried about it," said Brown. "I've guarded a lot of guys, I mean he's probably the best guy I've played against this year. He's crafty, he can shoot. So I just have to prepared."
"Me and Zo are really good friends. He's a great defender, great point guard, great player overall so it's going to be a great match-up. You konw he's tall, he's athletic. Zo is going to give me a little problems, he's going to stay in front of me."
And if State needs a reminder of what Erick Green can do to a team, the Pack only needs to look at their last meeting against Virginia Tech, when Green dropped 29 points on the Wolfpack in Raleigh.
"Well I learned that he's a great player and a hard player to guard one-on-one. The team has to do a good job having an awareness of where he is, helping on ball screens, helping his penetration making every shot difficult," said Gottfried.
"I mean we all feel like he's going to score that's just what he does. We definitely got a new scheme to shake him up a little bit, throw a few different guys on him," said Purvis.
"Make him take tough ones," said Wood. "He's a good player he's going to knock down some contested shots. We just have to make sure that when we can we have a hand in his face and play good solid sound defense."