This is a question that I, and I’m sure many of you, have been wondering about.Â The foundation of the NC State basketball program is no doubt in better shape than it’s been in quite a while, and it seems the Pack is poised to take that next step.
But are some of the preseason prognostications for the ’12-’13 campaign, not to mention the levels of recent national hype, too high too soon?Â What about the expectations of the fans?
Si.com’s Seth Davis asks this question in his recent column 10 burning questions as Midnight Madness rings in hoops season….
1. Is N.C. State ready for its closeup?
Since this marks the 30-year anniversary of Jim Valvano’s miraculous dash to the 1983 NCAA championship, I figured this would be an appropriate place to start. The three decades that have passed since then have not been kind to Wolfpack fans. Not only has N.C. State not been back to the Final Four, it has only reached the Sweet Sixteen three times in the last 25 years. Meanwhile, those evil twins down Interstate 40, Duke and North Carolina, have reigned supreme not just over Tobacco Road but all of college basketball.
So you can understand why so many Wolfpack fans are salivating at the prospect of unseating Duke and North Carolina atop the ACC standings — for a season, anyway. N.C. State is the hot pick to win the league this season, and for good reason. Though it was the very last team revealed on the CBS Selection Show last March, N.C. State beat San Diego State and Georgetown to reach the Sweet Sixteen, where it nearly knocked off Kansas before losing by three. When the team’s best player, 6-foot-9 forward C.J. Leslie, announced he would forego the NBA draft to return for his junior season, it set off a wave of excitement. Leslie is one of four returning starters, and the team is also adding one of the most dynamic freshmen in the country in 6-4 Raleigh native Rodney Purvis.
However, a word of warning: Much of this anticipation is predicated on the assumption that Duke and Carolina will have down seasons. The problem is that even though both teams lost significant players (especially North Carolina), they won’t be that far down. That makes you wonder whether expectations have already gotten ahead of reality. So it will be up to Mark Gottfried, N.C. State’s second-year coach, to make sure his guys tune out the noise. “Last year, we were picked ninth [in the ACC] and we really didn’t pay attention to it,” he said. “This year, we’re gonna be picked higher, and we shouldn’t pay attention to that, either. Our guys should enjoy the excitement but not get caught up and drink the Kool Aid.”
Ah, but that Kool Aid is refreshing. And Wolfpack fans are mighty thirsty after their long, hot walk through the desert.
My own feeling is that this team has the pieces to be very successful relative to recent results, including last season.Â Whether they’re ready as a program to be included among the nation’s elite is a different question entirely, however.Â And I honestly don’t know the answer to that.
I think it would be very interesting to gauge the “barometer” of how fans feel about this, so please do comment below with your impressions and opinions on the matter.
The SFN Forums have really been hopping lately with interesting and diverse conversations.