Forty eight hours after the N.C. State defeat, Stoudmire returned a state of confidence that his team can still rise up the league table.
“Even in defeat on Saturday I feel like we’re really close,” Stoudamire said Monday. “The last couple games I’ve seen the guys actually holding themselves accountable and with teams that are eventually really good, that’s what they do. I think that these guys, whether it’s been in the huddle, whether it’s been locker room, I just hear a lot of chirping. The right chirping. I feel, I really do, record-wise it might not show but I think we’re getting better and I think that we can still turn a corner.”
Saturday’s loss followed a similar script to most this season for Tech. The Jackets, at times, showed a competitive spirit, poise in the face of adversity in a hostile environment and the ability to move the ball and knock down shots. But in the gaps between those moments there were defensive lapses, turnovers, missed free throws and a disregard for the attention to detail that has plagued Stoudamire’s squad all year.
Saturday’s result was also the team’s eighth defeat of the season by 10 points or less.
Tech now has nine games remaining before the ACC tournament begins March 12. Two of those nine games will be against Wake Forest, which comes to town at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Stoudamire said Monday he hasn’t wavered in his belief that his unit can start a winning streak, especially because of what he has perceived behind the scenes.
“Up until last week I haven’t heard consistent talking,” he said. “And I haven’t heard consistent talking where people were listening. It was always coming from the coach. And for me, all the good teams I played on it was the players holding each other accountable.
“This group collectively has held each other accountable for the last week and I think we’ll get some payback and result on that.”
Wake Forest (14-7, 6-4 ACC) is fresh off one of its more complete performances of the season, a 99-70 beatdown of Syracuse on Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C. That victory moved the Demon Deacons to 12-0 at home - but they haven’t been as fortunate on the road.
Wake’s lone road victory came Jan. 2 at Boston College. It has last four straight away from WFU since then.
Coach Steve Forbes’ side is the best 3-point and free throw shooting team in the ACC. Junior guard Hunter Sallis (18 ppg) leads four Deacons who are averaging double figures.
“I think we have a really good team. I’ve said that all year long. That hasn’t changed.,” Forbes said Monday. “We lost a couple close one on the road we had a great opportunity to win, just didn’t bring it home. I think moving forward we gotta stay on the path that we’re on as far as playing one at a time and not putting too much pressure on every game, getting better every day when we’re at practice.”