Andrew Tie, Brian Geisinger and Jim Young were at the ACC's recent Operation Basketball media event, talking to tons of players and coaches. During the course of the preseason, we'll be posting the Q&As they gathered.
In yesterday's Q&A, we caught up with Virginia Tech's freshman wing Ben Emelogu.
Today, we have N.C. State's point guard Tyler Lewis.
T.J. Warren and you were chosen to come here and represent the Wolfpack. As someone who's only a sophomore, what's that like?
Just knowing that T.J. and I are the new faces of the program is a dream come true. Because it's always something you've dreamed about since you were a kid - to be the face of the franchise for an ACC basketball team.
You're in your second year in the ACC, but you've already become a leader at N.C. State. Was that something you expected coming into college, that as an underclassman you would have to lead?
Yes, I just knew when I came in with Coach Gottfried that last year was going to be a learning experience playing behind Lorenzo (Brown) all year. But now this year, I'll be the one stepping up. Coach Gottfried told me I would have to step up my leadership ability, by leading by example.
How do you do that?
Well, at every level I've been at throughout my whole playing career, I've always been a pretty good leader. I've always been the person that talked throughout the game, and throughout practice. I've just got to hold people accountable. I know sometimes I'm not always going to like being a leader, because I'm going to say some stuff that some people may not like, but I'm going to have to say it because it's got to help the team, and it's got to be said. I've just got to learn how to be comfortable in some uncomfortable situations.
I know I've got to do it for this team to be successful - T.J. as well. If somebody is slacking...we can't let somebody slack in practice. If they're slacking in practice then it's not helping the person they're going against, it's not helping the team.
What was it like - as a freshman - playing in the ACC Tournament last season?
Well, I know I grew a lot, because I got to play three games in the ACC Tournament. You realize how big of an atmosphere it is with all of the fans in there, and the different teams. I remember skipping school sometime, when I was a kid, and going and watching the ACC Tournament.
We've covered the leadership aspect of this season. However, you'll be required to carry a bigger load this season, with regards to playing time, ball-handling and play-making. What's adjusting to that new role like?
It's totally different from last year, because I knew I was going to have this role. But this year, coming in, I knew I was going to have this role and I know I wanted this role - that's why I picked NC State. Because I wanted a year to develop under Lorenzo, playing behind Lorenzo, because I knew it wouldn't be easy stepping in as a freshman. But I feel like it's going to be a lot easier this year since I already have a year of maturity, and played on the ACC-level.
What's something you learned last season from Lorenzo that you'll take with you in 2013-14?
I mean, everyday in practice he just told me the little things. Our games are kind of different, because he's like 6-5 and I'm not that tall. I would say just going out there and trying to lead the team like he did last year, and try to get everybody involved. But he taught me some things during practice that helped me get through last year during the hard times. I think part of the reason I played so well when he got hurt was because all of the stuff he taught me.
You brought up the fact that when Lorenzo went down with that injury, you were able to step up. You had a reserve role for most of the season, but during that game against Miami in Raleigh, the team's going to you down the stretch: 16 points, 8-9 FTs, five assists. What was your mindset going in to that game, going up against a top-ten team with an All-ACC caliber point guard in Shane Larkin?
Yeah, that game I definitely had to have a different mindset, because I knew I was going to be playing a lot more than I would if Zo were playing. I know I had to step up, and I just wanted to be the person that could lead the team to victory. I know we didn't get the win, but I thought I did all I could to - or I tried to do all I could - to get the victory. But overall, I thought during that game I gained a lot of confidence, and it let me know that I could produce at a high level.
Heading into this year, what was one thing you focused on adding to your game during the offseason?
Throughout the summer, I just tried to get in the weight room a lot. I gained around 15 pounds. I'm up to 172 from 157. So just knowing that I've put on those extra 15 pounds, I'm able to take contact better, be able to body my guy up on defense, which, I think, will help me out tremendously. I feel like I'm in the position sometimes, but I just got out-bodied last year. This year, I'll be able to take the contact and stay in front of my guy.