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December 5, 2008

Curry presents unique challenge for Pack

North Carolina State coach Sidney Lowe didn't want to compare Davidson star guard Stephen Curry to an NBA player, but appreciates the skill-set the junior possesses.

Lowe, who held his weekly press conference Friday, said the Wolfpack will use a variety of players to guard Curry for Saturday's noon game in Charlotte.

One player who will be back for the Wolfpack, is redshirt junior point guard Farnold Degand, who has battled tendinitis near his surgically repaired knee.

Click below to listen to Lowe's press conference and a transcript will be completed later today.

Sidney Lowe audio press conference (21:48)



What is the latest with injured point guard Farnold Degand?

"Farnold has practiced the last couple of days. He looked pretty good, looked OK. He still obviously is not 100 percent yet, not even close to that. He doesn't have any pain and that is a good thing. Now it is just a matter of him getting back his timing again, and just being patient and allowing things to come to him, as opposed to forcing it and trying to do the things he can do when he's really healthy. He has to be really careful about that."

Do you expect him to play against Davidson?

"I do, I do. I'm not sure how many minutes, but I expect him to play."

Will Gonzalez start?

[Yes], and then we'll see from there. Obvious, Julius [Mays] is still there, and he did a nice job for us. We'll workout today and see how Farnold is today as well."

Is Gonzalez more ready to step in this year than last year at this time?

"I think he's obviously better prepared because he's aware of what to expect, having gone through it last year as a freshman. I think he's also more comfortable running our stuff. He knows his teammates a little better. I think he's playing with a lot more confidence. I think that is still not where it is going to be by the time he leaves here. Javi is a talented young man and I think right now he's concentrating on playing the point guard position and getting people involved. As you've seen in some of our games, we have to tell him, 'Hey shoot it because he is wide open.' He's thinking about setting other guys up. He has made great strides from last year to this year. He'll continue to get better."

Will Gonzalez and Degand play together in the future?

"Yes, absolutely. That gives us a great advantage I think in terms of quickness, having two guys in there that can handle the basketball and put it on the floor, and run ball screens. We are trying to push it up the floor anyway, so that gives us that speed as well."

Is it the same knee that kept Farnold out all last year?

"It is the same leg, but it is not really the knee, up front. It's something that is actually on the side and in the back, is what it is. It is a result of some of the tissue, the cartilage that they took out back there to use for his surgery. It is very tender back there. I think it got bumped, and that is what caused the injury. It's the same leg, but it isn't actually the same ACL that is bothering him."

Are you being cautious with Degand?

"That is the best thing, time, to give him time. We could have played him a few minutes our last ball game to give him some action, but I didn't think it was worth it. It was basically another week of real action was good for him [to rest]. These few practices were good to see where he is. I think we have to continue to monitor it and see how he feels, to make sure there is no pain. As long as there is no pain, then we can move forward."

Do you have to change your defense game plan for Davidson star guard Stephen Curry?

"I don't think you change your defense. You just have to be more aware. You have to be solid, and you have to be mentally, you can't have a break down. He can burn you. You have to try and stay fresh. He's constantly moving to get open. No shot is a bad shot. When you are playing against a guy like that, you can't afford to relax. At the same time, we can't pay so much attention to Curry that we forget about the other guys. Barr can shoot the basketball. They have guys that can score the ball. They played against a team that doubled Curry the entire ball game, and they still won by almost 30 points. We just have to be solid. We have to make every shot tough. I think our basic game plan, our defense, we have to be solid. There is always times where we have to make adjustments and do some things to try and slow them down, but that isn't something we'll talk about now."

Your goal is to win, not just shut Curry down?

"Absolutely. It's a very good ball club, and very well coached and they play hard. What makes them so tough is that they play smart. They play hard and they play smart. We have to come out and be ready to play. We have to play smart and play hard, but go out to win the game. Not just go out to stop Curry."

Do you plan on multiple players guarding him or start off with Courtney Fells and go from there?

"You have to try and keep fresh bodies on him. That means if Courtney starts out on him and Courtney is fresh, he can take him the entire game and that is what we'll do. I think he's constantly moving. If you are fortunate to slow him down early, the last thing you want to do is give him one open look that will get him going. He is that type of player in that he can get going at any time. I think just keeping fresh bodies on him is the key. Again, just playing solid defense. It's going to be a team effort, not just on one guy."

Do you look to exploit your height against Davison?

"We've been trying to establish ourselves as inside-out pretty much throughout the year. That is how we like to play, inside-out. I don't tell our guys not to take outside shots, but it is not my ideal world to take the first five, six shots as threes. That is not my ideal world. If we are inside-out and it is open, then that is different, but not to just to come down and jack it. We know they are going to do some things defensively against us, against our bigs. They trap the post against our bigs before, and I expect that they might do that again. So, we have to be ready to make that pass. We have to make the right play. If that means to pass it out to the open guy, then that is what we have to do."

Are you waiting for Brandon Costner to have that bust-out game?

"I'm not waiting for it. The only thing that I'm looking from Brandon right now is to continue to play hard. He's done that. He has had a frustrating game or two, but he's played hard. That is it. Just stay on those boards and defend, and there is more than one way to help the team win. He is going to come out of it. As long as he continues to do what he's doing, that is to play hard. That means his mind is still in the right place in terms of doing whatever he has to do to help the team. It will happen for him, I think so."

How much more comfortable are you that you have experienced point guards this year?

"I feel much more comfortable … having guys who have gone through it before. That is still the most important position on the floor, the point guard position. You have someone there that can run the show, someone to assess the tone. They are the first line of defense. When they are on the offensive end, they are the quarterback. They have to be in the game, fair or not, point guards can't afford to make mistakes. They just can't. That is the nature of the position. I feel much more comfortable with those two guys now, having that experience and knowing what we want, and knowing their teammates a little better. I definitely feel better about it."

What does the Davidson game do for you guys big picture?

"I think it definitely at this point, it won't tell us our destiny or the outcome of our year. I think this is a good game for us to see where we are. We are playing against a nationally ranked team with a great player. A team that plays hard and a team that executes. You have to play well to beat this team because they don't seem to have bad games. We have to play well. Yeah, it will tell us a little something about where we are, how far we have to go to get to where we have to be. This is a great test."

How will it help to play in that kind of pro arena?

""I think it's a good. I think it's a good thing that we are playing in that type of environment, that type of arena because it will give us that atmosphere. It's not an on-campus type of atmosphere, it's a tournament type of deal even though they're going to have a lot of fans there. It's still an arena which hopefully we'll be playing in later on down the road, and hopefully having that experience of going in there will help. I like the fact that we are getting it early, too."

How will it help to play in front of a loud hostile crowd on the road?

"I'm not sure if it's good to do it early or late because you put yourselves in situation, but it's certainly something that we have to deal with anyway. We got these games coming up. We're going to get into conference play soon, as you said hostile environments. I think definitely as I just said, I think it is good, it is good that we get this game. It is early, so hopefully it will work out for us, hopefully it does give us some experience of going on the road. We went on the road the first game at New Orleans. Now we're in a different environment, different type of team. This would be a great opportunity for us to do something good."

What kind of impact has Ben McCauley had so far?

"Ben's played well. Ben's played very well. Ben's played hard. He's played hard. It's just been going well for him. The thing I have been most pleased with is his rebounding, because that's an area that he and I have talked about and he wanted to improve on, and he's doing it. He's doing it. Again, it's all about playing hard. I say the same thing about Brandon. He's playing hard, and that's what we continue to want to do, and good things happen. Good things happen when you play hard, but Ben obviously you see his numbers rebounding, scoring and everything else, and at this point he's really playing well."

What advantage on the boards will NC State have against a shorter Davidson team?

"I think we definitely we're hoping to control the boards. We have to, certainly with a team like that, especially our defensive boards. You can't give them second opportunities. Having said that, they have a few guys that really go after offensive rebounds. That's their game, that's what they do. Their role is to get second opportunities for Barr and Curry and those guys to get shots, and they accept that, and that's what makes them so tough.

"Controlling the boards and not giving up second opportunities is going to be huge for us from a defensive standpoint. Offensively, again, we have to try to establish ourselves inside."

Do you see any differences when Curry plays point guard as opposed to shooting guard?

"I guess some of the sets they run, but it's not a lot different other than the fact Jason would get the ball early and he would push it and find Steph in the corner or somewhere spotted up, and now it's just a dangerous Steph getting it and coming down and just pulling up from about 30. He's still getting his shot, it's just from a different position. He's running the point guard position but they run sets for him where he's coming off the screen. Once he gives it up, he's coming off the screens and looking to make plays. They've made some adjustments with him at that position, but again with him coming down with the basketball, that's a threat as well. Plus, he's a pretty good passer, so he's able to make plays for them."

Is there anyone in the NBA you would compare Curry to?

"Let me say it this way, there's no one yet that I want to compare Steph to. You start comparing him to NBA guys, those guys are pros. No disrespect to Stpeh because he can definitely shoot at any level. I don't know of any player that's quite like that because he's just different. He's constantly moving, he's constantly looking to get his shot, he's constantly going. He's in unbelievable shape. He's in unbelievable shape because he never stops moving. I'm not sure if there are any players in the NBA that I can compare him to, and that's probably a good thing because he's himself. He's himself, and he's a heck of a heck of a player."

How has Tracy Smith done in keeping his weight off?

"I don't think it's difficult. Tracy, he watches what he eats. He works in practice. I think he can see the result from him losing the weight, and that's a different type of player. He's bouncier, obviously lighter, but I don't think he has trouble keeping it off. We try to help him keep it off, too."

Was there a time in high school that Smith had a weight issue?

"Oh yeah, he lost a lot of weight from high school. He lost a lot of weight, but I think what it did was tell you about the young man himself, how dedicated he was to getting that weight down and how important it was to him to get into basketball shape and basketball condition. He worked his tail off to get to where he is, that's why I don't really worry about him going back because he had to work hard to get to where he is now."

Anyone in the ACC you would compare Curry to?

"He's just different He's different, he's different. He can shoot the basketball. He can shoot the ball. He's a player, he's a basketball player. He's a great shooter, but he's also a basketball player, handles, passes, smart, enthusiastic, it's just one of those guys you like to watch play. You don't like playing against them, but you like watch them play. But I don't know if there is anyone else in the ACC that's quite like that.

"Now there's different dynamics because there are different teams, teams have different personnel. What Steph has to do for his team, maybe another great shooter don't have to do as much for their team, so it's a little different."

What would a win over a program such as Davidson do for NC State?

"I think our mentality would be just that, we got that win, it's a great win, now let's keep moving on and take the next one. We get this win, we won't look down the road and say, 'Well we should do this now.' We got to get the next one. We are literally one game at a time in trying to continue to improve to get to where we want to be. We're still working to getting to a certain level as a team. We're not quite there yet, but we're definitely moving in that direction, and certainly if we go down there and get that win, that would be a big bump, a big bump for out team."

When did you first become aware of David Thompson?

"I was aware of David when I was in high school, it wasn't until I was in high school. We caught a lot of NC State games were on up in the D.C., area. For some reason, maybe because Maryland being the ACC. I just remember watching NC State. NC State, Notre Dame and Maryland, Georgetown, those were the four teams that I watched."

Do you have any memories of the 1973-74 season?

"No, I can't really remember, I can't really remember. I just knew of David Thompson. I knew of NC State, because the games were always on, and it wasn't until I was in high school did I start thinking about going there, after I saw Coach Sloan's jacket."


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