Wolfpack Ready For Challenging Upcoming Stretch

Brett Friedlander

Selection Sunday is still a long way away. But over the next three weeks, the NC State basketball team will face a five-game stretch of games that -- depending on the circumstances -- could very well determine its NCAA tournament fate three months from now.

It's a gauntlet that starts on Thursday in Brooklyn against Memphis, an opponent that is still very formidable even without its suspended star freshman James Wiseman. Then comes an ACC/Big Ten Challenge date with Wisconsin before heading on the road to play ACC rival Wake Forest, Big South Conference favorite UNC Greensboro and last year's Final Four participant Auburn.

Here's what some of State's players and coach Kevin Keatts had to say following their final tuneup against Little Rock on Saturday about the upcoming challenge and how well they think the Wolfpack is prepared to face it:

D.J. Funderburk

"I don't really have too much to say about the other teams. They're some great teams -- Wisconsin, Memphis, UNC Greensboro, I heard they're pretty good this year. We're going to play some good basketball teams. But we've been playing some good basketball teams and we're just going to continue doing what we do inside our circle and hopefully we'll come out with wins.

"We're where we need to be going into this stretch. (But) I don't feel like we're where we need to be long-term at the end of the season."

Jericole Hellems

"There's always things we can improve on, but I love where the team is going and the direction we're heading. I believe that we can handle a lot of teams that people don't think we can handle. I think it's going to be a great season." 

C.J. Bryce

"I feel like this team is in a really good groove right now. We're getting our guys back going and comfortable playing with each other. I think that Memphis will be a great test for us. I'm looking forward to playing against them."

Coach Kevin Keatts

"I feel like we have gotten better. When we played Georgia Tech in the opening game we were without Markell Johnson and D.J. Funderburk, two of our really good players. Each game we have gotten a little better in a lot of different areas. We have been able to get out in transition better. We are sharing the ball more. Defensively, we have become a more sound team."

"I am happy with where we are. I'm a big winning streak guy and I told our guys to try and build on that. And we have built on it every game that we have played."