Friday, February 6, 2009

Pack seeks consistency at point

Almost three months after the season opener, N.C. State’s point guard situation remains in flux.

“As somebody put it to me the other day, it’s a three-headed monster,” coach Sidney Lowe said during his news conference Friday as N.C. State prepares for Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. game at Virginia Tech.

Lowe would like junior Farnold Degand, freshman Julius Mays or sophomore Javi Gonzalez to step forward and dominate the position, but nobody has done that.
All three have had some good moments recently:

- Degand posted consecutive seven-assist games against Boston College on Jan. 24 and Miami on Jan. 27.

- Mays hit a game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds of overtime to defeat Miami after Degand fouled out.

- Gonzalez has been the best of the three in practice recently and handed out five assists in Tuesday’s defeat of N.C. Central.

But all three have had problems. Before Tuesday, Gonzalez had played just once in the previous five games as he’d been benched after committing two turnovers in three minutes against Florida State.

Degand continues to experience pain in his surgically repaired left knee. Lowe said Degand told him he had aggravated the injury running in class. Lowe said he thought it was a physical education class.

“After you’ve had knee surgery, I guess that (taking a phys ed class) is a bad idea,” Lowe said.
Lowe said he knows what he’s getting from Mays, which apparently means solid but unspectacular play. Lowe is looking for Gonzalez to continue the positive momentum from his recent practices and the N.C. Central game – but he still turned it over four times in 15 minutes Tuesday.

So Lowe still is trying to find an answer in February.

“They all three are capable of bringing something to the table on any given night, but we haven’t had that one that’s been consistent,” Lowe said.

Big lineup leaves Williams on bench. Freshman guard C.J. Williams has not played in the last three games, but Lowe said there’s nothing physically wrong with him.

“His time will come,” Lowe said. “The crazy thing about this game is, you never know when.”
Williams, who had started three straight games before his recent stint on the bench, has been the loser in terms of playing time since Lowe went to the big lineup that features Smith, Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner.

That lineup moved Courtney Fells from small forward to shooting guard, which is Williams’ position. Fells has averaged 20.3 points since the move, gobbling up 32.3 minutes per game.
Trevor Ferguson is backing up Fells, so there are no minutes available for Williams.

“He’s got a lot of time (left) here,” Lowe said of Williams. “He’s going to be instrumental in our future.”

Smith hurting. Forward Tracy Smith was held out of practice Thursday to rest his ailing right knee, but Lowe expects him to play at Virginia Tech. - Ken Tysiac