Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fells, McCauley can stretch careers

N.C. State seniors Courtney Fells and Ben McCauley have been through plenty of ups and downs in their college careers.

After playing in the NCAA Tournament as freshmen, they saw their coach, Herb Sendek, leave for Arizona State. They went to the ACC Tournament final as sophomores, but experienced N.C. State’s first losing season in seven years in 2007-08.

As they prepare for their home career finale at 7 p.m. on Wednesday against Boston College at the RBC Center, their program is at a crossroads. The Wolfpack has demonstrated some progress this season, but needs another win or two to have a good shot at an NIT bid.

Getting to the NIT would provide the young players on the team some needed experience and show that the program is headed in the right direction as Fells and McCauley leave.

“I just really hope that we can really finish on a good note,” said N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe, “and kind of stretch their careers, their collegiate careers, anyway, as long as we can by playing well and winning a few more ballgames and seeing what happens.”

McCauley stuck with the program even after being supplanted in 2007-08 by one-and-done freshman J.J. Hickson in the starting lineup. Fells has battled an ankle injury this season to serve as N.C. State’s backcourt defensive stopper.

Lowe once described McCauley as the type of player who would run through a wall for you. Earlier this season, before the ankle injury, Lowe praised Fells’ quiet leadership.

“They both have played hard,” Fells said. “Both have done a good job. They both work hard in practice, try to do what you ask them to do. And they both have had solid careers here. They’re quality young guys and I’ve enjoyed coaching them.” – Ken Tysiac