Ben McCauley reinforces much of what SFN has said about last season, in a surprisingly candid interview with GoPack.com. There are several notable passages, but we’ll start with:
I have been here in Raleigh all summer, getting my body right. I have lost 10 to 12 pounds. Last year, I started the season a little heavy. So now I feel good. I had an ankle problem from something that happened in the Clemson game, but it is 100 percent now. I am really looking forward to the season.
Obviously, that’s great news. It was overshadowed by Costner’s lethargy, but Big Ben was clearly a step slower last season. Next:
There are two things, besides the chemistry and the style of play, which was significantly different, that not a lot of people talked about. One was not having Engin Atsur back at the point and then losing Farnold Degand. We were doing well at the beginning of the year with Farnold. We won the Old Spice. We went on a little winning streak for a little bit. We beat Davidson at home, which turned out to be a really good win. When he went down, we had a freshman in Javi Gonzalez and essentially a freshman in Marques Johnson. That is one thing that was overlooked a lot, because everyone was concentrating on everyone not getting along or not playing the right way. That may have been the case sometimes, but we also had some bad luck with injuries and that had some impact on how we played.
Although the line for public consumption last year was that the chemistry was fine, McCauley finally confirms on the record that there were problems. As we said, problems 1A and 1B were PG play (after Farnold went down, went from a C-minus to an F) and the huge rift based on a personal situation. Ben does talk about “style of play” – which can only be a thinly-veiled reference to the “feed Hickson” strategy. But note that even though he was the player most affected by Hickson’s role in the lowpost, Ben paints it as clearly secondary to overall team chemistry and lousy PG play. On that note:
Farnold is lifting, doing a little bit of running, which is good. He’ll be ready come practice time. He is itching to get back and playing. We are itching to have him back.
Like Coach Lowe, Ben is seemingly putting all of his eggs in Farnold’s basket. My contention remains that the fans’ like for Javi’s scrappy style is clouding their judgment on his actual level of play – which was pretty awful. He’s a backup at best, and may not be capable of being a solid backup until his junior season. A good sign for the backcourt? Read on:
The younger guys that are now moving up to be older guys, specifically Trevor and Dennis, are doing really well. Trevor got a lot of confidence at the end of the year. That has given him a lot of confidence.
Confidence is key to Ferguson’s ability to provide passable play at SG. We think he’ll be the starter, and it’s good that his mind seems right going into the season. Here’s a warning flag:
Brandon is playing this summer the way he played in the ACC Tournament. He’s not completely there, but he is on his way. He has lost weight. He is in the gym, lifting, getting stronger. I can personally tell his attitude is different than last year. You can tell there is a little fire in his eyes. He wants to play well for his fellow teammates, specifically Courtney and me.
Maybe I’m seeing too much black cloud and not enough silver lining – but that sounds like evidence of continuing divisions on the team. Fells, Costner, and McCauley are really the last remaining “Sendek guys” – unless you count Dennis Horner. Still, Costner needs to play with fire to be good. But he also needs to be a good teammate, and not just to the guys that were on his side last year. I also interpret this as a veiled shot at Gavin Grant:
We have great guys on the team this year. They have a positive attitude.
Of course, your mileage may vary.