NC State coach Sidney Lowe held his initial teleconference of the season Monday, and discussed the progress of the Wolfpack freshmen players, the return of senior center Tracy Smith from knee injury and the RPI ranking.
"We just came off a good showing. We played well, actually the last two ball games. We finally got off to a good start the last two ball games. Last ball game, we obviously had Tracy Smith back, so were excited about that. I'm just trying to continue to improve and get better."
How have your three freshmen performed up to this point?
"I think all three of those young men have done a good job. It's a difficult deal for freshman as you know. I think they've handled the situation well. They've been put in a tough situation because a lot of pressure has been put on them and expectations from the outside. I think they've handled it well. I think they are going to continue to get better. They still have a lot to learn. I've been very pleased with their progress."
Do you have to allow the freshmen to play through mistakes?
"You do. You know they are going to make mistakes, you know they are. You have to deal with some of it. The more difficult ones are the mistakes if they continuously make the same mistake. Those are the ones where, it's not frustrated, but you have to say something to them to get them to understand. You can't make the same mistake. You can't come down the floor and do something one time and that it is wrong and then come down and do it again. I know they are going to make mistakes. They key is learning from those mistakes and not committing to those same mistakes over and over. I think that is the biggest thing right now, to get that and understand that."
How have you been able to not let any of the off the court distractions not bother you so successfully?
"I think it's part of the [job], unfortunately, it's part of the job. I just try and keep my focus. I keep my focus on these young men and try to do the best I can with them, on and off the court. Hopefully, they graduate and when I leave here, they are better young men than when they came here. I try to teach them what I know as far as basketball and going out and trying to be a team and winning, and all those things. I just try and keep my focus there. People are going to have their opinions and that is just the way life is. I picked, I chose a profession where other people can voice their opinions publicly, unlike some other jobs. We can't go in their job and put that in the paper what we think about their jobs. I just kind of let it go and don't worry about it. I work with our staff and work with our administration, and that is what is important to me. [Also], the fans that are there, the fans that support, good, bad and indifferent. The ones that are always there and show up to all the games and support us. That is what is important."
How did Richard Howell's performance against San Diego get impacted by Smith's return?
"Obviously, Tracy is going to get some of those minutes that Richard is getting at the five. We still have DeShawn Painter, who is doing a good job for us there [at center]. I think Richard might not feel freer, but just knowing that he has Tracy in there, he's going to be different with the way he plays because he is now concentrating at four. He has Tracy in there working with him. He knows he can make certain passes to Tracy, as we saw in that last ball game. He made some great passes to Tracy and he was able to finish it. Those guys were together last year. I think he feels very comfortable with him. I think as far as his minutes and position, I think he is going to get most of his minutes at four now. He still could play some five. I think having Tracy in there, he's comfortable with it."
How much have you been paying attention to the RPI?
"We have to concentrate on what we are doing. Concentrate on trying to win as many games as we can, and let the chips fall where they may. I know earlier, our RPI was pretty good when we played Georgetown, Syracuse, Wisconsin and Arizona, it was great. Now, it has gone down. In the end, if we do what we are capable of doing, that will take care of itself because I think those games are still important. Not only that, those games, we played without Tracy Smith. We come back now with Tracy back and have a great year, then that will take care of itself. Our conference is still tough. I think it will show that."
What is it like for Tracy Smith to play through an injury for the first time?
"That's a difficult thing for him, and being a senior and just being sure that he's ready to go, and he's never had an injury like this before. He was a little hesitant to go out there and give it a try even with a little, slight discomfort. He wasn't comfortable with it, and that's what I was saying. It was just a matter of him going out and doing it and understanding it might be a little discomfort, but the injury is gone and you just got to get used to playing with that. He said he felt great in the ballgame. He played more minutes than I anticipated, but he asked if he could stay in. He said he felt good, so we did that.
"And now we just have to, we go today and see how he feels today, see if there is any discomfort, and we'll go from here. The game was great, and now like I said now we'll see how he feels now."