RALEIGH — NC State men's basketball coach Sidney Lowe is hopeful that senior small forward Courtney Fells will be ready to go Saturday for Winston-Salem State at Reynolds Coliseum, but said Friday at his weekly press conference that it will be a game-time decision.
Fells and sophomore forward Tracy Smith have both missed some practices this week because of injuries sustained against Davidson last Saturday in Charlotte.
Fells has a bruise by his ankle, while Smith hurt the area behind his knee Lowe said. Smith is expected to play against Winston-Salem State.
Lowe also addressed the Wolfpack's defensive rebounding, which players did well against Davidson star Stephen Curry on defense and what kind of style Winston-Salem State likes to play.
Click on the link to listen to the audio from the press conference:
How is the health of Courtney Fells and Tracy Smith?
"Tracy is OK. He could have practiced actually yesterday [Thursday], but the doctor wanted him to sit out one more day. He'll go today. Courtney is going to be a game-time decision I think. He didn't practice yesterday and we'll see what he can do today. That will probably determine if he will play tomorrow or not."
What is the extent of their injuries?
"Tracy actually pulled something in the back of his knee, the back of his leg behind the knee. His was just going in there for an offensive rebound. Courtney has a bruise. It is not a sprained ankle, it's a bruise. You watch the film, it wasn't that he twisted anything. He got hit from behind. It's just a bruise on his ankle. It's a little more severe than we anticipated it."
Who would start for Fells if he can't play?
"I'm not sure yet. We aren't sure yet. We were actually just talking about that. We are just trying to make sure that we keep good combinations together. It could also be based on the team that we are playing and what they might do against us, whether they play man or zone, it could dictate who we start. We want to make sure we still keep a balance of the guys coming off the bench. That we still have players that can complement one another in that aspect."
Is it a pain or limited ability thing for Fells?
"I think it is more of a pain thing, more of a pain thing. There is still a lot of swelling, and he tried to do a little bit yesterday. Not practice, but some therapy things but it was still a little bit sore."
How important is it that some of the freshman are getting the chance to play early?
"It's always important to get them experience, but you'd like for it to be done in the right way. This is an opportunity. This is an opportunity for some guys to get more playing time, for some young guys to step in and help carry the load a little. I don't mean just coming and scoring, but just being apart and playing defense the way we need to and execute the way we need to. There is definitely an opportunity there. Hopefully, I think someone will take advantage of it."
After reviewing the film, what positives and negatives did you see?
"I thought we did a lot of things, a lot of positive things in that ball game. Our energy when we came out at the start was excellent. We executed and got shots that we wanted. I thought our attitude…I thought we played well. I thought we played a good ball game. We were up one with 2:38 left to go against the No. 22-ranked team in the country, with a three-point shot to go up four. We missed that shot. I thought we put ourselves in a position [to win].
"The things that I didn't like obviously was the [defensive] rebounding. That I didn't like. We gave them too many opportunities. I thought we allowed a couple of players to hurt us with their strengths, and that was an area we didn't count on. We didn't want that to happen. We didn't want Lovedale and those guys to get the offensive rebounds the way they did. That is what they do. They are a good ball club. They play their roles, but for the most part, I was very, very happy with our effort, first of all. And then putting ourselves in position [to win]. We were in position to win that game."
What did you think of the end of game scenario?
"It's a basketball players decision. If a guy is not comfortable shooting it, you know it is hard for me to say, 'Take that shot. You should have taken that shot.' At the same time, you tell guys if they are not comfortable and are not ready, don't shoot it. In that situation, you have to do it. You take the shot. One of two things will happen, you are going to make it or miss it, you know, and that is it. No one is going to look at you and say, 'You missed a big-time shot' or anything like that. That is their decision. I thought everything we did, we played well in that ball game. It is just a tough game and we played a very good team. I was very, very happy with our guys effort."
Do you expect Fells back for the East Carolina game?
"I do, I do, yes. It will basically tomorrow, a week pretty much that he has been out. I'm hoping that bruise can soften up a little bit and he'll be ready to go. Hopefully, he'll be ready to go tomorrow, but if not, I think for sure by Wednesday."
How is Farnold Degand doing?
"Farnold is getting better, he's getting better. His thing has been all about timing, and I think confidence. Not just in his ability but playing with that brace on. Confidence in doing certain things. Again, he still has to take his time. It's not all going to come back. That is the frustrating thing for him is to try to tone down a little his aggressiveness and things he is trying to do. Things he can do normally when he is healthy, he can't do right now, but he is still quick enough and can handle the ball well enough, that if he just takes his time and be patient, it will come."
How does an aggressive Brandon Costner help the team?
"It's obvious that if Brandon plays well it really helps us obviously. He's certainly capable, and as you said he came out, he was focused and ready to play that ballgame from all aspects. Defensively he was helping, talking rebounding. He was inside, scoring inside.
"When we have that energy from him we are different. We're a different ballclub. Not to say that we don't need it from everybody else, but he's involved so much with what we're doing. Yeah, when he's going well, we're okay, and he did. He brought, he brought it that ballgame."
What can be done to help with the defensive rebounding issues that occurred against Davidson?
"It was just a matter of blocking out. It was the first ballgame really I think that we really got hurt as badly as we did. We'd had been doing a pretty good job at it. We just have to continue to concentrate on it. We work on it. We have a defensive rebounding drill everyday that we run.
"Again, it's one of those things that when you are playing against a player that that's his strength, that's his talent. You talk about a guy who is talented, Lovedale for example, his talent is No. 1 is that he plays hard. That's a talent. People think that's not, playing hard is a talent. If it wasn't everybody would do it, so that's one of his talents.
"The other is that he rebounds. So if you are playing against a guy that that's his talent, then you have to block him out every single time. I think we missed that and not understanding that you can't just turn and go in and get the rebound. We were going in, but we were going in without looking at those guys and blocking them out. We were going to get it and they would come around us or the long rebounds because of the three-point shots taken, and we know long shots mean long rebounds, but we were going in and getting pinned underneath.
"I think we just have to think a little more in terms of who we are playing against again, and again reading the shots. If it's a long shot it's probably going to be a long rebound so you got to block out even further. I'm hoping that we don't find a situation like that again. Certainly we are going to play against guys that rebounding is their strength, but I think we'll be better, better prepared for it."
Can you give a scouting report on Winston-Salem State?
"They're probably going to play, they might play three guards, what we've seen them do. They're going to run the ball up and down the floor. They have a pretty good player in Durham, Jamal Durham, about 6-5 or 6-4, 6-5, 6-6 in that area. Shoots the ball, shoots the three, can put it on the flooir. They run a lot of stuff through him.
"Fisher, guard, can score the ball as well, will shoot it from anywhere and also can penetrate, but I think you'll see them really trying to use their quickness. We anticipate maybe playing some zone. We saw them play quite a bit of zone. We have to be ready to play. We have to make sure that we focus in our strength and things we can take advantage of, but I think it's going to be a good test for us."
What did you learn about your players that guarded Stephen Curry?
"I thought a couple of guys, obviously Trevor for me stands out because of one, his knowledge of understanding the game plan and how to guard guys. I think he may have made one mistake guarding Curry and he allowed him to do something that we didn't want him to do, I won't say what it was.
"Other than that, Trevor chased him hard, he chased him hard, he tried to deny at times. I thought C.J. did a decent job on him. I thought C.J. did a very nice job on him.
"I thought our guys for the most part, it sounds crazy because he scored 44 points, but I thought our guys made him score in a different way. They made him score in a way, you know he made four threes I think. He is normally making a few more of those. He's normally getting a few more, but he shot 33 times. That's tough, you're guarding shooting 30 times, and a pretty good shooter, he's going to score the basketball.
"I thought C.J. first of all gained great experience guarding somebody like that. I thought he did a very nice job on him, and I thought Trevor did a nice job."
How has McCauley's play been this year?
"I think the fact that he's just playing, he's just playing hard. He's playing basketball, he's playing it the right way. He's listening, this year, everything that I've said to him this year he's hanging his hat on it, he's going with it. I think that's the difference, he's just playing. He's not worried about anything else, he's playing it as hard as he can, and in turn he's playing well.
"If he has to pass it out, he's passing it out. Defensively, he's always solid. He's always been solid. I think right now he's just playing so hard, and he understood last year that he didn't rebound the ball the way he should and this year he's concentrating on that, and you see the results.
"It's all about he's thinking about it, he's focused. Ben's just been really into it. If I had to sum it all up, he's really into winning and doing his part. He's not worried about anyone else, he's just trying to do his part, and that's what he's doing."
What do you think the team can hang its hat on?
"I would say our effort, just the way our energy, the way we are coming out playing. That's what we want. If you can get your team to play hard, I mean really hard every single second out there on the floor, you're always going to have a chance to win. Now you have to play smart, too, and that's what we talk about playing hard and playing smart, but I think first thing is you got to play hard, and I like that. I'm very happy with our effort. I'm very happy with our energy. That's what we are going to try to build on, just continue to play hard every single night, whoever comes in the game, doesn't how many minutes you play, and just play hard. I think that's what we have right now, we're playing hard."
Are you going to talk about the ECU game?
"We're not thinking about those guys right now. You already knew that though, didn't you Tim? We got to take them one at a time."