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Chris Mack, Ryan McMahon preview Wake Forest

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But they mostly talk about other stuff.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at N.C. State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Mack

Highlights:

—We’re scoring the ball better, but we’ve had a couple of games in a row now where we’ve turned the ball over too much. It’s been a major focus of ours in practice. The frustrating thing is it was one of the things we talked about the most heading into NC State.

—Don’t think there’s been a “clicking” moment after Florida State. This team’s been pretty locked in all year, Florida State is just really good. Do think that the couple of road wins that happened immediately after provided a shot of confidence.

—I think we’re a really good passing team, and a team that plays the right way. You can do everything you can to make that happen as a coach, but you’ve got to have a lot of maturity in the locker room, and we’ve got a lot of selfless guys on this team.

—Loved my time (as an assistant) at Wake Forest. A big part of that were the guys I got to work with. The area’s beautiful. The school is a terrific school. My first year of marriage was my last year at Wake, and we really enjoyed it.

—Wake has played everybody close outside of Duke. They’ve got some guys who are really improved from last year. Olivier Sarr and Brandon Childress are terrific players. We’ve got to make sure that we’re ready to go tomorrow night.

—Thinks there should be a shot clock in high school basketball everywhere.

—We don’t worry about seeding. We look at the conference standings, but as far as the seeding for the big tournament, we don’t care about that.

Ryan McMahon

Highlights:

—Defense is the focal point of our team. It’s what Coach Mack wants to be our identity. We have a goal to be a top 20 defensive team and I think right now we’re No. 13. The thing about defense is you can always control it. Some nights the ball just won’t go in the hole, but if you stay true to your defensive principles and game plan and you’re locked in and playing hard, you should be able to stay in the game.

—Playing zone against NC State was a little bit of a challenge just because we haven’t practiced it much. Coach Pitino utilized zone so I had a little bit more experience playing it than some other guys, and I think that’s why Coach Mack wanted me out there. He was trusting our basketball IQ.

—I think I’m an above average defender. There’s times where I can struggle against quicker, more athletic guards, but there’s so much more to defense than just on-ball defense, and a lot of people don’t realize that. Sometimes because of my lack of size guys can shoot over me, but I take pride in my defensive rating that’s charted every game. I’m more concerned with my defensive rating after every game than I am with how many points I scored or how I played offensively. I know that defense is how you stay on the floor in this system. I think I’ve definitely improved since I first got here, and I think Coach Mack’s defensive system is a better fit for me.

—I think we might be sharing the ball a little bit better now than we were earlier in the season. We had some struggles offensively in the middle part of the season, but we’re getting back in our groove now.

—The turnovers can be attributed to a lot of different things. Turnovers can be contagious and I think that’s been our problem a few times. We’re not trying to turn it over. We’ve been working on it a lot in practice.

—We use Ken Pom to track our defensive numbers. It’s pretty reliable, I think.

—I was more excited about Josh Nickelberry’s three than I was any of mine. I don’t think people realize how hard it is to sit an entire game then come in at the end and have to try and make one shot. Second, I was happy because I know how hard he works. Third, I knew he was playing in front of family back in his home state. So I was really excited to see him make that shot.

—The Florida State game woke us up a little bit. Getting punched in the mouth like that will definitely wake you up. It makes you realize that if you’re not fully engaged you’re gonna get knocked on your ass. When you’re not ready for that, it definitely shocks you and wakes you up.

—Our coaching staff does a great job of game planning. They do some much filmwork and put us in the best possible situation to win games. Then it’s on us to go out there and get it done.

—(On Bracketology) You try not to look too far ahead, but we all have social media, we all have family and friends, so we’re all going to see stuff. You want to be a top three seed, so we’re definitely continuing to fight for that.

—We don’t have a set number of threes that we want to make or take on any given night. We want to take what the defense gives us. We do like to get the ball in the paint at least once before taking a three. We don’t want to be just passing the ball along the perimeter.

—The first shot I took on Saturday was after a whistle and it went in and out. I felt like “ok good, I got the bad luck out of the way.” Then once that first one goes in, it’s just a matter of getting open after that.