After NC State held their shoot-around Wednesday afternoon in preparations for the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., head coach Sidney Lowe met with a swarm of media amidst growing speculation about his job security. Lowe answered questions for almost 20 minutes, ranging from Thursday evening's showdown with Maryland in the first round of the ACC Tournament to the future of freshman forward C.J. Leslie
To listen to Lowe's press conference, click here
Here are some selected quotes from Lowe's meeting with the ACC media.
How are you holding up?
"I'm good. I'm fine. This is part of the business. I remember my old coach and the tough times for him. I'm a very fortunate man to be in these shoes. I'm a very fortunate man to coach at NC State. I'm fine."
On his future
"That's not in my hands. That's in other people's hands. We are going to see what we are going to do here. Right now the focus is to come into this tournament and try to win."
Is it difficult to keep your focus on the job?
"Not hard at all, not hard at all. This is my job. This is what I am supposed to do. If I can't keep my focus how can my players keep their focus? I don't worry about it. I got to coach these guys. Again it's a new opportunity."
Although the decision is not in your hands, do you expect to be the coach next year?
"I don't know. I don't expect not to be. If I didn't then I would be thinking negative. I've got to think about the future and this program and the team, the players that we have signed already. We had a very good recruiting class this year. We've got a nice class coming in next year. Still waiting to see if one other guy is going to commit, and if he is it's a very good class. I'm still prepared for the future."
How big of a concern is Tracy Smith's knee if you do make a run?
"It's a big concern. We all feel bad for Tracy not being able to be the player that he is capable of being. We've loss him for some significant ball games this year, and he came back and still wasn't the same. That's 16 and 8 we were counting on, or 18 and 8 this year hopefully, every night."
This season has been far short of what you expected, but at this point how do you feel about the chances of this team turning it around?
"I feel good about it. One thing is these guys has never done is gotten down. I mean down from losing a game, but the next day they have come back to practice. Our practice yesterday was as aggressive and physical as it's been I would say in the last five, six weeks. We really got after it pretty good. I think some of the guys are understanding what this is. They understand, when I presented to them that have you ever been in this situation, win a championship and four games, think about it, just to think about it, their eyes kind of lit up a little bit like, 'wow, okay.'
"I explained to them how big this tournament is, and to do that you just cover so many things. You win a championships, in the NCAA Tournament, and I told them about another team that did that, probably wouldn't have gone to the NCAA Tournament but we won."
Do you have anyone that can play the Engin Atsur role on this team like he did in 2006?
"I don't think we have that guy right now. I think next year there will be one. This year he is not comfortable yet."
What will you talk to C.J. Leslie about going pro?
"I'll talk to him about where I think he is as a player, physically, mentally, emotionally, where he is socially because all of those things are important if you are thinking about going there. We haven't even talked about that at all. He is focused on trying to win this game tomorrow, trying to win this tournament. We'll go from there."
With J.J. Hickson, you knew he was going to go, but that's not the case with C.J. Leslie?
"I knew J.J. was going to go. He was. Physically he was ready. Mentally, emotionally he was ready. He was there. His body was there. I knew he was going.