ACC Summer Recess: NC State WolfpackPosted by mpatton on August 7th, 2012
Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: NC State.
Where They Stand Now
The Wolfpack are still riding a wave of momentum from a Sweet Sixteen performance in Mark Gottfried‘s inaugural year. After perennially underperforming with alumnus Sidney Lowe at the helm and hearing the media blast the school for running off Herb Sendek, NC State’s administration made the switch to the former Alabama coach who matched Sendek’s best postseason performance in his first season on the job. Gottfried added structure, and his talented roster improved throughout the year showing flashes of true greatness thanks in large part to the maturation of CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown. But 2012’s postseason success makes the bar much higher in Raleigh — Jay Bilas even put the Wolfpack on top of his preseason ACC power rankings. The questions now are: How will the new pieces fit with the current roster, and can Brown and Leslie make the leap to consistently dominant players?
Guards Alex Johnson and CJ Williams both graduated. Johnson played the role of sparkplug: He was good for at least one heat check three and a lot of hustle. He also appeared to be a vocal leader on the team, both from the court and the bench. Williams was a more significant offensive contributor, averaging 10.6 points per game on 50 percent shooting. His versatility on the wing will definitely be missed on the defensive end of the floor.
DeShawn Painter, Tyler Harris and Jaqawn Raymond all transferred. Harris and Richmond probably saw the recruiting class Gottfried landed and realized their services might be more valuable elsewhere. Painter is a different story. He’s transferring to Old Dominion to be closer to his sick mother and grandmother. The NCAA granted Painter a waiver to play immediately instead of having to sit out a year. While Richard Howell and Leslie will take most of the interior minutes next season, Painter’s size (and Howell’s foul-happy nature) will make his absence felt.
Gottfried returns his top four scorers from last year’s team. Leslie, Brown, Scott Wood, and Howell will remain the focal points of the team while Gottfried’s top-10 recruiting class will fill in the missing minutes with plenty of talent. Depending on their development and incomer TJ Warren‘s strength, Jordan Vanderberg or Thomas de Thaey could see increased roles in 2012-13. Look to see them play more at the beginning of the season with Warren earning more time as the season progresses.
Gottfried’s haul of Warren, Rodney Purvis and Tyler Lewis make up a consensus top-10 recruiting class (ranked 4th by Rivals, 5th by Scout and 10th by ESPN). Warren has the chance to make the biggest impact, if he’s able to play inside right away at the college level. Purvis’ natural athleticism and slashing should make for an excellent foil to Wood on the wing. He, Brown and Leslie should make the Wolfpack one of the best transition teams in the country. Lewis is a capable guy to give Brown a rest, though he’s probably a couple of years from really significant playing time.
The Wolfpack finished strong, but can they ride the momentum to their first conference regular season title since 1989? Consistency, staying out of foul trouble and the freshmen are three things to watch.