Coming off a surprising trip to the Sweet Sixteen a year ago and returning a promising young nucleus, there was a lot of optimism surrounding NC State as it tipped off its 2015-16 campaign in Raleigh last evening. So positive were the feelings around how head coach Mark Gottfried had reinvigorated the program during his four-year tenure, the school rewarded him with a lucrative contract extension on season’s eve. And that is exactly where all the good news came to an end. The Wolfpack proceeded to get blitzed by William & Mary, allowing 51 first-half points before falling by a score of 85-68 in a very disappointing performance. The Tribe shot 52 percent from the floor while holding the Pack to a 38 percent clip, racing out to a big early lead that eventually extended to 23 and controlling the game from tip to buzzer. It was an awful start to the season for a team that has made the NCAA Tournament in all four of Gottfried’s years at the helm, and the news has since worsened.
Terry Henderson, the presumptive replacement for Trevor Lacey on the perimeter, suffered torn ligaments in his right ankle during the loss and is now expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks. The 6’5” junior guard, who was seeing his first official Wolfpack action last night after transferring from West Virginia, was held scoreless in seven minutes. In his two years in Morgantown, Henderson proved to be a fearless and capable sniper, connecting on 89 three-point field goals despite never being a focal point of the offense. As a sophomore, he averaged 11.7 points per game as the third wheel in a dynamic backcourt alongside Juwan Staten and Eron Harris. Gottfried, who is looking to replace Lacey as well as Ralston Turner from last year’s club, was counting on Henderson to replace a significant portion of their departed production. The Raleigh native seemed to be the perfect fit to complement a point guard in Cat Barber who excels at beating the defense off of the bounce.