ACC Team Preview: North Carolina State Wolfpack

Posted by Lathan Wells on November 6th, 2013

North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried’s squad entered last season with the loftiest expectations the program had seen in some time. His Wolfpack was ranked as high as #6 in preseason national polls and was chosen as the odds-on favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference. Instead, immaturity and inconsistency from a team loaded with talent landed the team in a fourth-place tie after the conference regular season.  NC State finished 24-11 and bowed out of its first-round NCAA Tournament match-up with Temple.

NC State Preview 2013

This year, expectations are drastically lower for Gottfried’s squad. Significant departures decimated his roster and left him with a very young team entering his third season in Raleigh. Gone are starters Richard Howell  and Scott Wood to graduation and C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown to early entry. Add to that the transfer to Connecticut of highly-touted freshman Rodney Purvis, who had an up-and-down first season at NC State, and the Wolfpack find themselves down all five starters from a year ago. Gottfried has assembled an impressive recruiting class for 2013-14 (though it may pale in comparison to the one he’ll have next year), but replacing all of that scoring and experience will be a mighty task for this year’s team. Gottfried’s returnees this year have experience, but much of it was in reserve situations and in spare minutes giving the aforementioned starters a breather.

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ACC M5: 10.31.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 31st, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. ESPN: “Has the Carolina Way Disappeared?” CL Brown asks after a couple of rough years for the Tar Heels, between the academic scandal, football scandal and PJ Hairston’s lead foot. The short answer is no, if you buy into such things to begin with. But the truth of the matter is any time you try to make reality fit a myth, these stories will be written. Same thing with “The Patriot Way” and it goes for Coach K and his secondary violation a couple of years back.
  2. Baltimore Sun: There is big time bad news out of College Park, as Maryland announced that presumed starting point guard Seth Allen has broken his foot and will be sidelined for eight to 10 weeks. That’s essentially until conference play starts. With the Terrapin turnover issues last season, I’m sure Mark Turgeon was hoping to have a more experienced guard at the helm to start the season. Instead look for a hybrid of Dez Wells and frosh Roddy Peters to share point guard responsibilities in Allen’s absence.
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Obviously take all of these reports coming from coaches and teams with a grain of salt, but Mike Tobey sounds like he may have picked up some intensity while practicing with the USA U-19 team this summer. That’s excellent news for Virginia, as Tobey was a really valuable offensive cog last season when he was healthy. He has put on an extra 10-15 pounds (remember that number) in hopes that the added strength will make him more productive.
  4. Tomahawk Nation: Michael Rogner does a good job breaking down Florida State‘s defense and what the Seminoles need to do to get back to their elite status on that end of the court. Their youth on the front line really showed last season. Unlike Bernard James two and three years ago, freshmen Michael Ojo and Boris Bojanovsky felt like they were out of position as often as they were in it. But I trust Leonard Hamilton to turn them around. On paper this team should be very good defensively (an elite defensive coach and a roster stocked with length and athleticism), but the Seminoles may still be another year away depending on the development of the bigs.
  5. Greensboro News-Record: Remember that number? Tyler Lewis — like every other slightly undersized player in college basketball this offseason — gained 15 pounds. Lewis may be the most important part of NC State’s offense this year. Don’t get me wrong, TJ Warren will lead the team in scoring by a long margin. But Lewis is the one who has to get the less offensively inclined players involved. And in all seriousness, the added weight and confidence should help him become more effective at the rim and on the defensive end of the floor.
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Rushed Reactions: NC State 80, Virginia Tech 63

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from the NC State vs. Virginia Tech game this afternoon at the ACC Tournament. 

Three Key Takeaways:

Erick Green's career ended with a dud, as Lorenzo Brown locked him down. (Icon SMI)

Erick Green’s career ended with a dud, as Lorenzo Brown locked him down. (Icon SMI)

  1. NC State can’t D up, but Lorenzo Brown can: Brown locked down ACC Player of the Year Erick Green. He fought through every screen and didn’t give Green an inch once he crossed half-court. The aggressive defense clearly got to Green, who finished with 15 points on 19 shots (and just watching the game, it was surprising he even got to that many). The individual effort was exactly what NC State needed more of this season, though it may prove to be a double-edged sword. Brown looked exhausted down the stretch, and it’s likely Mark Gottfried will call on him again tomorrow to guard Joe Harris. Two first-team All-ACC players in as many days is a tough assignment. I expect Gottfried to spell Brown at least a little with Rodney Purvis or Scott Wood, but Purvis gives up at least two inches and Wood can’t stay in front of anyone. 
  2. Erick Green gassed: Green only had one conference performance where he finished with a below average offensive efficiency. Now he’s got two. The only other time he shot so poorly, he made up for it with an 11-of-13 performance at the charity stripe. But possibly the most impressive part of Brown’s harassing defense was that he didn’t send Green to the line at all (Tyler Lewis fouled Green for his only two free throw attempts). Green looked a step slow, which is reasonable considering the 1,128 minutes he’s put in for the Hokies this season. But don’t fall for the trap that this means that Green didn’t deserve ACC Player of the Year. There’s a good argument to be made for other players, but one bad performance doesn’t discount Green’s truly outstanding season (see: Mason Plumlee’s four points against Maryland or Shane Larkin’s seven points against Clemson).
  3. NC State has a lot to prove: A win against the league’s cellar-dweller is going to do little to quite NC State’s critics, but the team looked better — especially the way it closed the game — than it has since beating Boston College last month. The real tests for the Wolfpack lie ahead with Virginia looming tomorrow. Also before going overboard on the Wolfpack’s team defense against Virginia Tech, they only held the Hokies to 0.04 points per possession (around 2.5 points) worse than their conference average (hat tip to John Gasaway). That’s not dominant team defense. Also a win against the ACC’s worst team isn’t going to help your seed very much.

Star of the Game: Richard Howell did what he pleased against Virginia Tech, going 11-of-13 from the field for 22 points and 12 rebounds. He doesn’t have the most talent on the floor, but he’s got the perfect combination of strength, toughness and an elite motor to be dominant. The other big stat is that Howell played 38 minutes. That could have never happened in past years just because of his tendency to get in foul trouble. His improvement (and ability to scale up his rebounding with minutes) over the past four years is remarkable.

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College Basketball By The Tweets: Cameron Crazy Chants, Notre Dame, Nerlens Noel, and Nate Wolters

Posted by Nick Fasulo on February 13th, 2013

bythetweets

Nick Fasulo is an RTC correspondent who writes the column College Basketball By the Tweets, a look at the world of college hoops through the prism of everyone’s favorite social media platform. You can find him on Twitter @nickfasuloSBN.

When NC State beat Duke in Raleigh back in January, fans rushed the court, C.J Leslie was deemed a hero, and we were all supposed to think it was an ACC power-shifting victory for the Wolfpack. Then Mark Gottfried’s club took a return trip to Durham, and were beaten decisively, restoring reality and balance to the top of the league. Following the game, this was the scene at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Yes that’s right, just another day in the office for the Blue Devils

A Faux Chant About Tyler Lewis’s Grandmother

There’s nothing worse than a baseless rumor that lives and dies on Twitter… but when one occurs in the college basketball world, we have to at least trace its arc. Following said loss to Duke last week, NC State Wolfpack fans, or alumni, or beat writers, or maybe just Blue Devil haters, started something nasty declaring that the Cameron Crazies started a chant about Tyler Lewis’s grandmother, who passed away just days before. Totally awful, right? Absolutely, but ultimately something totally awful that likely never actually happened. The seeds were planted after it got in front of a former Wolfpack star with a bit of clout and a few thousand followers.

Within minutes many had immediately jumped at how horrible it sounded, while some took a second to think that it was probably not true.

Checking their timelines, and neither seem confident enough to deliver an earnest and clear response. So from there, all the Dookie fans got defensive, and rightfully so, and pretty quickly it was clear that this was a Twitter troll with a very short life span.

And finally.

Sigh. Oh and, by the way. Rodney Purvis checked Twitter, saw what was going on, posted his thoughts completely based on hearsay, looked like a clown, then deleted his tweet. All in the span of 45 seconds.

Let’s face it, NC State was just bitter. This did not happen or it would have had legs in the general media over the following days.  The Cameron Crazies have hurled some not-so-flattering chants at opponents over the years, but rarely have they leapt over the line like this.

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With Lorenzo Brown Out, Tyler Lewis is Seizing Opportunity to Shine

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on February 8th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsinDurham

There is no denying that Lorenzo Brown is N.C. State’s most important player. The key to their fast break, Brown was the catalyst for everything good that has happened for the Wolfpack in 2013. Since he picked up an ankle injury against Virginia, N.C. State is 0-3 and are in a bit of a tailspin as they look to discover an identity without their point guard. While the results haven’t been good, the play of freshman point guard Tyler Lewis has been encouraging and should give Wolfpack fans a reason to believe that if Brown should pick up another injury or end up in foul trouble, the team will still be in good hands.

Tyler Lewis (right) has proven a capable caretaker in the absence of Lorenzo Brown. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Tyler Lewis (right) has proven a capable caretaker in the absence of Lorenzo Brown. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

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ACC M5: 02.04.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 4th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Duke Basketball Report: This is a phenomenal article from Al Featherston, looking back at Duke winning number 1,000 nearly four decades ago. The article also includes two of the biggest ACC “What ifs?” ever:
    1. What if Lefty Driesell was given the Duke job?
    2. What if Adolph Rupp had taken over for Duke in the mid-1970’s?

    The first question is fascinating. Driesell built Maryland, but Duke already had a history of success (only five teams beat the Blue Devils to the 1,000 win mark). Could he have taken the Blue Devils to similar heights (and lows)? Just how different would Duke’s program be today if the (aptly described) “mercurial” Driesell ushered in the modern era instead of Coach K. Also, what would have happened to Mike Krzyzewski? Similar butterfly effects happen if Rupp takes over. The article also has historical anecdotes about the dominance of the Durham YMCA in the 1920’s. Seriously, give it a read.

  2. ESPN: Well, the inevitable has arrived. Despite not receiving bids from Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center in New York City, “because of the league’s changing membership,” those two arenas will still be in the running for the 2016-2021 ACC Tournaments. The move makes sense, but it has the potential to be a major flop too. The atmosphere at the ACC Tournament the past few years hasn’t been the same. The declining excitement is largely thanks to an increase in noncompetitive teams, the addition of Thursday and an expanding geographic footprint. Moving the tournament to New York could exacerbate the issues if the league continues to aim for a balanced allotment of tickets.
  3. ACC Sports Journal: The ACC is slowly rebuilding. Almost all programs appear to be moving in the right direction, though there are still plenty of questions surrounding almost all of the new coaches: Can Jim Larranaga and Steve Donahue recruit at the ACC level consistently? Can Brian Gregory and Brad Brownell break through to the next level? And can Jeff Bzdelik and Donahue pull their teams out of the cellar? The next couple of seasons are critical to the success of the ACC going forward because coaching stability is a huge factor in sustained success.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: NC State took a gut-punch against Miami without junior guard Lorenzo Brown. The Wolfpack controlled for most of the game, but a late Miami run and some costly errors from CJ Leslie (missed foul shots, turnovers, and dumb fouls) gave the Hurricanes the chance to win. But two stories more important than Reggie Johnson‘s buzzer-beating tip are starting to show through the game. For one, Miami is a solid two games ahead of Duke in the loss column (everyone else has three or more losses). That’s a very, very good place to be going into the second half of conference play. Second, Tyler Lewis finally started showing why he was a McDonald’s All-American. Lewis ran NC State’s offense very well against the best defense in the ACC, and he didn’t look nearly as lost on defense. He still needs some work, but developing Lewis is crucial in the long run.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech was a different team Sunday than the one that got smacked in Charlottesville (to be fair the home-road splits are looking fairly dramatic for Virginia too). The Yellow Jackets looked like they might be due for a repeat of their last game with the Cavaliers as they went into the half down by nine. Brian Gregory said after the loss that his team needed to learn how to finish. Well, the second time around they did just that. Georgia Tech held Virginia to six points in the final 9:40 of the game. The Yellow Jackets were the first ACC team to drop 60 on Virginia. Good luck ranking the middle and bottom of the ACC this season. It’s a train-wreck, though it’s a train-wreck played at a higher level than last year.
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Bad Loss Leads to Twitter Regret for NC State

Posted by mpatton on January 23rd, 2013

NC State took a really tough loss at Wake Forest last night. Fans are frustrated, players are frustrated and coaches are frustrated. Former third-string center Thomas DeThaey took to Twitter to vent his frustration: “That’s what happens when you’re a great recruiter but a terrible coach!” Now comes the juicy part. Current freshman TJ Warren retweeted DeThaey. Was it a slip of the thumb? Was he just passively retweeting the comment?

TJ Warren may want this retweet back.

TJ Warren may want this retweet back.

Regardless, this doesn’t look good. Just to add insult to injury, Rick Lewis — NC State frosh Tyler Lewis‘ father — favorited the tweet. My guess is there’s going to be a penalty — whether “internal” (i.e., suicide sprints), or even a one-game suspension. The latter would really hurt the Wolfpack and Mark Gottfried, as their rotation isn’t deep especially if CJ Leslie or Richard Howell get into foul trouble.

What remains to be seen is how the team will react to a bad loss. NC State flirted with disaster against Boston College and Clemson, tasting a little at Maryland and against Oklahoma State. But this is the team’s first bad loss. This is the first time it’s totally collapsed, losing a 16-point lead to a truly inferior opponent. It’s the rare team that can turn a bad loss into a wake-up call (see: Duke’s loss to Georgetown in 2010, or Florida State’s beatdown at Clemson last season) instead of reason to panic. Usually teams that live and learn from bad losses are well-coached and experienced. This NC State team has experience, but it also has a lot of youth.

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ACC Weekly Five: 08.14.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on August 14th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: NC State finished up its preseason trip to Spain with a 15-point win over CB Gran Canaria. The win means the Wolfpack head home undefeated. While Rodney Purvis couldn’t play as the NCAA reviews his eligibility, Lorenzo Brown was back from knee surgery sooner than expected and in time for all four games. CJ Leslie led all scorers with 19 in the final game and incoming freshman point guard Tyler Lewis finished with 14 points and eight assists. Probably more in response to the high expectations for this team, Mark Gottfried noted: “There were positive things even though we know we have a long way to go.”
  2. VirginiaSports.com: Speaking of preseason trips to Europe, Tony Bennett‘s squad is getting a head start too. The Cavaliers lost a heartbreaker with controversy to boot. Apparently, the scorekeeper gave AMW Team France an extra basket in the middle of a run that would eventually tie the game. To put things politely, Bennett wasn’t amused by the gaffe:

    “I understand when you come here, you’re going to get some questionable officiating — I can handle that — but what I don’t appreciate is when they take two points away from us. Two points in a game like that, that changes the whole game, and that’s frustrating, because we were there for the win, and that’s just not the way you do it. I don’t care if you’re international or in the States, you gotta keep the right score. But it’s a mistake, it was done, and I just want our guys to understand what the blueprint is for us to play competitive basketball.”

    Virginia went on to lose by four after a late run by AMW Team France.

  3. Associated Press: Important news out of Clemson this week. Tigers athletic director Terry Don Phillips announced he plans to retire next summer to enjoy more time with his wife. Phillips played an integral role in upgrading Clemson’s facilities and spearheaded the hiring of Brad Brownell (along with football coach Dabo Swinney). Keep an eye on names that pop up during the search process, as athletic directors are more important than most give them credit for — especially when it comes to rebuilding (or building in this case) programs like Brownell is trying to do.
  4. CBSSports.comCBS Sports drew some heat (along with plenty of page views) for its recent series “Critical Coaches” where they polled nearly 100 coaches on topics  like “Who is the most overrated coach in the country?” The answer? Roy Williams. Yep, the guy with two national titles in the last decade, to go with more conference championships than you can count with two hands between his time at Kansas and North Carolina. Jim Young of ACC Sports Journal has a thoughtful interpretation of the argument.
  5. ESPN.com: Surprising no one, Coach K added another gold medal to his resume as Team USA took down Spain and the Gasol brothers in the Olympics last week. Krzyzewski announced this would be his final Olympics, leaving his Team USA record an astounding 62-1. Unfortunately his dry humor didn’t translate as well to the international game as his coaching abilities, as a media member apparently thought Krzyzewski was serious when he stays out till 6 AM, “drunk as a skunk” because Team USA doesn’t really need much coaching.

EXTRA: In weirder news, North Carolina forgot to scrub former two-sport star Julius Peppers’ transcript and made it visible to the public. Needless to say NC State fans on PackPride.com found the transcript and went to work researching to confirm it was a real transcript. It’s hard to tell exactly what the repercussions of this will be, but suffice to say North Carolina’s academic issues may go back much further than previously thought.

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ACC Summer Recess: NC State Wolfpack

Posted 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

Mark Gottfried and Lorenzo Brown Have Big Expectations (AP Photo/E. Hyman)

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?

Who’s Leaving

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.

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ACC Weekly Five: 06.26.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on June 26th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Lorenzo Brown, arguably one of the top three point guards in the ACC last year, will be undergoing exploratory knee surgery Tuesday. Brown is one of the key cogs of a North Carolina State team that figures to be a major contender for the top spot in the conference next season. While coach Mark Gottfried’s worries are probably somewhat ameliorated by incoming freshman point guard, Tyler Lewis, losing an experienced point guard for even a few games can be fairly tough in the ACC.
  2. Durham Herald Sun: In news that is surprising no one, Mike Krzyzewski confirmed that Duke guardAndre Dawkins will be taking a redshirt in the coming season. Dawkins has been struggling with grief ever since his sister died in a tragic car accident in 2009.  I think that taking some time can only help Dawkins, and basketball can certainly wait.
  3. ZagsBlog: The Blue Devils in coming seasons certainly won’t be hurting for talent. Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood has winnowed his transfer decision to either Duke or Ohio State. Hood has great size at 6’7″ and talent in spades. In his one year as a Bulldog he made the Freshman All-SEC team. His great combination of size and skill would be very valuable to a Duke team that has been small on the wing for the past few seasons.
  4. Tetsudo Times: Listen, Maryland has a really cool flag. There’s no questioning that. It’s stylish, bold, and arresting whereas most state flags are really boring. I also understand that Under Armour wants to have the same relationship with the University of Maryland that Nike has with Oregon. I just don’t know about these uniforms though.
  5. CBS Sports: APR is going to be a hot topic in college basketball as long as postseason bans based on program academic performance are a potential punishment. If a rash of transfers and drop-outs can get a team banned from a shot at the NCAA Tournament in successive years, this odd number is one that’s worth following. The good news is that the ACC, as a conference, does really well in terms of APR.
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