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Hoops Media Day Wrap: Calvin, Defensive Boards, And Ben McCauley's Feathered And Lethal Cameo

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-- With practice set to start at the end of this week, Mark Gottfried and the players met with the media this afternoon to talk about the upcoming season. Gottfried did his best to stay on message:

"There are a lot of questions, a lot of unknowns about this team," Gottfried said on Wednesday during the team’s media day at Dail Basketball Center. "You look at some other teams in this league maybe roles are a little more defined. Where they sit with their program is more defined. To me ours is a mystery."

He followed up that statement by shrugging and saying, "We got the full allotment of arms and legs, I know this. Hey, I just walked into this building for the first time. Can someone point me to the restrooms?"

-- Gottfried introduced his solution to the Two CJs problem--he refers to CJ Leslie as Calvin:

"It’s time for a new start with him," Gottfried said of Leslie. "(Senior swingman) C.J. Williams is C.J., Calvin is Calvin."

When asked how Leslie likes the change, the new State coach smiled a wry smile and said simply, "That’s his name."


"Only coach calls me Calvin," Leslie said. "I guess it's part of the clean slate. It doesn't matter. But right now, Coach Gottfried is the only one to call me Calvin. I don't really care if others [say it]. It doesn't faze me. It's my name, so it's my name."

Right, so nobody else call him Calvin or he's gonna hurt you in the face.

-- Mark Gottfried said during his introductory press conference that he wanted his team to push the ball, and today he spoke more specifically about what it takes to create transition opportunities:

Gottfried said expectations are clear for players: Defense and rebounding equate to transition offense.

"Where we want to be is a team that absolutely puts pressure on teams to get back quickly and we want to score in the open floor and in the break," Gottfried said. "Now we have to teach a team how to do that."


Gottfried said at NCSU's media day Wednesday that coaches talking about running more is similar to a politician talking about cutting taxes.

Gottfried pointed out the effort the players have put forth under new strength and conditioning coach Bob Alejo, and that with solid defense and rebounding, he expects the Wolfpack to get out and run more. He half-joked that it's hard to run if you have to keep waiting for the ball to go through the net.

"It's fun to say we're going to run and score 100," Gottfried said. "Can we do it? We'll see about that."
I'm excited to have a coach who acknowledges that these things are step one. If I summarized every post I've written on the subject, it basically would read like the excerpt above. Now for the execution part.

Richard Howell remembers times last year when he had to decide whether he could get off the floor quickly enough to dunk or if he'd have to go for a layup. Now 20 pounds lighter, the North Carolina State junior feels differently.

"This year, when I need to dunk, I do dunk it," he said.


"I love bacon and fried chicken," he said with a chuckle. "Apparently that's not the best thing for you when you're an athlete."

His teammates are noticing the changes, too, with senior C.J. Williams saying he's observed Howell eating better while looking "quicker" and "stronger" in pickup games.

I'm trying to keep my own expectations under control, but man, this could be a huge year for Richard Howell. He's in great shape and the beard looks strong. He was an efficient, valuable contributor even when he was overweight and struggled to dunk. I don't think he's going to be a well-kept secret for much longer.

-- There are black jerseys; Lorenzo Brown is excited about them:

When asked about the new jerseys, here's what Brown had to say: "I didn't really think they were too different from the ones last year, except for the NC part being gone. I like them but I can't wait to wear the black jerseys. I like wearing black jerseys, you look more aggressive in them. It's more of a 'mean' color so I like that. The football team looked good [in them] and they won, too."

The emotional baggage (Maryland game in 2000) aside, I'm excited too.

-- Scott Wood says we can expect more teamwork this season:

State junior Scott Wood said the team’s general style of play will be different from the past.

"Last year a lot of people saw a lot of selfish play or a lot of individualized play," State junior Scott Wood said. "This year there’s going to be a lot of team stuff. More of the extra passing."

They're playing by the Gene Hackman rules now: three passes before a shot or you have to go outside and run three laps around the corn field.

Freshman power forward Thomas De Thaey has created positive buzz during fall workouts. Gottfried likes his maturity, work ethic and zest to be in the practice facility.

"For a freshman, we're really excited about where he is," Gottfried said.
I know it's just Twitter, so take this with the grain of salt it deserves, but I've seen several of the guys tweet about heading to the gym late at night on a bunch of occasions, and it seems like they're in there all the time. Maybe it's just that there weren't a lot of guys on Twitter last year, but it feels different this time around. (Famous preseason words right there.)  I can at least confirm that I am a Twitter stalker. (Big V is a funny dude. Give him a follow.)

-- CJ Williams is so impressed with the Dail Center that he has committed to NC State no less than sixty-seven times:
I love what they have done with the Dail Center," Williams said. "I'm in here all the time, even if it's just to hang out

"We got a pool table in there and some flat screen TVs. Guys spend a lot of time in there now."

Williams also heard there might be some minor changes to the locker rooms at the RBC Center for the players. Williams knows the Dail Center will make a strong impression on visiting recruits.

"I would commit right away," Williams said. "Everybody should commit right away."

-- Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner were back on campus this week. McCauley's hair is magnificent.