Wednesday, November 3, 2010

O'Brien says 'me first' attitude hurt State his first 3 years

N.C. State is 6-2 this season, and a critical reason for the Wolfpack’s success is a change in the mentality of the players, coach Tom O’Brien said Wednesday.

In his most in-depth comments on the issue yet, O’Brien said his first three teams lacked enough players with the leadership and team spirit needed to win. O’Brien said “there weren’t enough guys” who were putting the team’s success first.

“It was all about me. It wasn’t about team,” said O’Brien, now in his fourth season. “Nothing was going to change in their minds. That’s who they were. Thirty-one, 32 guys aren’t here because they didn’t want to conform to the team concept.

“We had great kids when we got here – the Evans twins, I can go go down the list. But there weren’t enough of them. They couldn’t overcome the ‘me’ and the ego problems we had when we got here. If you have an ego, you have no chance to be a teammate.”

In particular, O’Brien raved about the leadership qualities of junior quarterback Russell Wilson. “He has a tremendous amount of confidence in his own ability,” O’Brien said. “That’s where it starts. That confidence oozes to the football team. Not only his confidence, but his ability to make plays. He’s a leader by example and with his words.

“You have to have all the characteristics people want to follow as far as integrity, honesty, commitment to the goal. He has all those qualities."

But O’Brien went on at length to say one player, or even a handful of players, is not enough to set a tone for a team. He said assistant coach Dana Bible pointed that out when they were together on the staff at Boston College, that a winning team had to have enough players with what Bible called “the want-to factor.”

“They want to do the right things. They want to do what it takes to win within the rules and regulations of the game,” O’Brien said. “There has to be that want-to feeling from the majority of guys. It can’t be three or four or five guys.”

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