Is Pack Basketball Ready for its Closeup?

This is a question that I, and I’m sure many of you, have been wondering about.  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?  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.  Whether they’re ready as a program to be included among the nation’s elite is a different question entirely, however.  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.

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The SFN Forums have really been hopping lately with interesting and diverse conversations.

About Wufpacker

A 2nd generation alumnus and raised since birth to be irrationally dedicated to all things NC State. Class of '88 and '92.

12-13 Basketball

45 Responses to Is Pack Basketball Ready for its Closeup?

  1. SMD 10/14/2012 at 12:31 PM #

    For me, the question comes down to capability. I think that by any objective measure, we have the most capability we’ve had in some time, and can play with just about anyone in the country.

    Whether we live up to that capability, is the $25,000 question.

    What I expect, is a slightly, but not significantly better record than last year, a couple of losses we don’t expect, at least one win over Duke or UNC-CH, a top four finish in the conference, and anywhere from a 3 to 6 seed in the NCAA tourney.

    Anything else is gravy.

  2. old13 10/14/2012 at 12:31 PM #

    “My own feeling is that this team has the pieces to be very successful relative to recent results, including last season.”

    Agreed, if only because Gott doesn’t have to spend half the season getting everybody to “buy in,” building chemistry and learning the new offense, which I think the freshmen already have – although they still have to learn the offense in more detail I think and work on D! But overall there is also more talent and experience this year.

    “Whether they’re ready as a program to be included among the nation’s elite is a different question entirely, however. And I honestly don’t know the answer to that.”

    Same here. I think a lot has to do with how effective the rotation, whatever it is, works – and it will be some positive level of effective, I think. If JV and TDT can provide some consistent quality minutes, especially against teams with big front lines, elite status might materialize. I’d rather see an 8-9 man rotation to keep players fresher. I think that fatigue became a factor in some games last season which a larger rotation would help remedy.

    I just hope they don’t start drinking the Kool Aide and stay hungry from day one!

  3. burnbarn 10/14/2012 at 12:32 PM #

    Rarely in our history have we played well as the favorite.. 1950s and ’73,’74 is all I can remember and it seems to go that way in all sports for us.
    Anytime we are ranked, we tank; everytime we win a big game we chump the next.
    I look forward to seeing if we change too. History says we will not sustain it. History can be changed.

  4. 61Packer 10/14/2012 at 12:45 PM #

    The early-season schedule will probably prevent a fat record early, like the Sendek and Lowe teams often had because they feasted on cupcakes. But I do expect that we’ll be better, and I don’t anticipate a mid-season swoon like we had in ’12. We should be a battle-tested team by then, not a battered one.

    All I want is for us this season is to make it to Sunday in Greensboro (without a Thursday game), and then to win 3 more after Greensboro.

    Until last season, I don’t think any logical Wolfpack fan since the Valvano days expected anything near our current expectations. But things have changed, they’ve really changed. It’s a long time from mid-November to mid-March, and there may be a few bumps along the way, but the ride should be an enjoyable one.

  5. tuckerdorm1983 10/14/2012 at 1:00 PM #

    Here is all I truly expect: BE COMPETITIVE in Orange County and Durham County. Mind you I did not say win. Both of these teams have talent and will continue to have talent I just want to push them to the buzzer. I want to make them sweat at home. If you beat them at home then so much the better. The only antidote to them is to have talent ourselves. Sure you play them 10 times you are likely to beat them once or even twice. You are hot and they are not. I want it to be that when we play them 10 times and win 5. I don’t want to see the odds makers spotting us double digits. From the recruiting and coaching and playing we are going to achieve this goal this year and probably many years in the future. It has been a generation since that really was the case.

  6. Virginia Wolf 10/14/2012 at 1:18 PM #

    I agree with what has been said so far. I believe we are ready to take the next step but I also think we are missing one important player that could keep us from taking that next step. I think we need a taller but strong post player. We are in good shape but to take the next step, I think this is where we will fall short. Praying for a great season but expect about the same as last year with a strong finish and good showing in the playoffs but not making it past the Sweet 16. Pray I’m wrong but this is the way I see it.

  7. UrbanWolf 10/14/2012 at 1:20 PM #

    As a fan, I tend to look at these kins of questions bottom up and not top down. In otherwords, what is the bare minimum this team should achieve? If I set my expectation there it helps me minimize disappointment.

    This year, I expect us to win at least a game with one of our next door neighbors. Secretly, I hope we can win the majority, but I’m not setting that as an expectation. An ACC championship is certainly possible but not an expectation. Even if that is the media’s expectation, it’s a hard thing to do. I think a minimum expectation is to be back in the tournament. It would be absolutely unacceptable if this team didnt make it back into the tournament. Once there, upsets can happen … But if we don’t make it back with this team … wow.

    So that’s where I am. On the other hand I expect that when setting goals for this team, Gott and co. should absolutely work top down and set goals that are high but reasonable. With this team, playing Monday night is reasonable, if not expected. He’s doing / saying exactly what he should do / say.

  8. JeremyH 10/14/2012 at 1:26 PM #

    I think our teams have had a history of slow starts, in games and in seasons. I hope that having a group of elitely talented players within practices, like we have, instead of the usual 1-2, will prepare them better for elite competition in-season.

    I read an article on Leslie that says he’s certainly elite talent, but this is the season of opportunity for him to demonstrate that consistently throughout the season. So in that regard, I think that he’s a microcosm of the full team. Can they, night in and night out, have the focus and generate the intensity as they had against SD State, Georgetown, and Kansas?

    These are nice questions to ponder over, instead of “Will the Pack make it into the NCAA tournament this year?”

  9. bill.onthebeach 10/14/2012 at 1:29 PM #

    …. I have been thinking and asking the same question for a couple of weeks….

    Has MBB come to far … too fast ?

    IMO, We GOTT what it takes to meet all expectations on the court this year…. our “success” this year will be determined by what happens off the court.

    The bigger question is…

    Can our coaches & players ‘manage’ the off-the-court stuff positively until the program has established a tradition/history of managing the ‘off-the-court’ stuff under the microscope that accompanies all those playing at the highest levels of success ??

    No choice but to wait and see on that….

  10. Wufpacker 10/14/2012 at 1:33 PM #

    Agreed bill. Between the ears is my biggest concern at this point.

  11. mak4dpak 10/14/2012 at 2:14 PM #

    Hopefully Gott can keep the team focused on the task at hand, and the chemistry of the team comes together early. If that happens, I don’t put any limits on what we can do this season. Go Wolfpack!

  12. Gowolves 10/14/2012 at 3:18 PM #

    I have been a fan long enough to see expectations fall short in both basketball and football and also see the success in basketball. When I say succeed I mean winning the regular season and or the tournament.

    Maybe I am drinking the kool aid too much but with this talent I expect them to win the regular season and or the tourney this year. This team has too much talent to not be there at the end. The pieces are there. You can say that we don’t have height to match up with some teams but we have weapons and role players at every positions. They have all the pieces. I expected TDT to be a very good smart player. We have shooter in Wooods. We have a point guard that can get anywhere on the floor he wants. He can also play the two position as well. A dynamic all American in Leslie. A grinder in Howell. A serviceable shot blocker. A freshman 3 position who has the knack of scoring in bunches.

    Like others have said it comes down to hard work. I faith n the coaches. I have high expectations and I’m not ashamed or worried about it. Does that mean I will be disappointed if we lose in the great eight? Sure but others have said and I agreee you have to get there a few times before knocking the door down!

    But if win it all this year I wont’t mind😃

  13. Tau837 10/14/2012 at 3:58 PM #

    Had a long post typed and lost it when the site went down. Here is an abbreviated version of my expectations:

    - Only 1 regular season OOC loss (@Michigan)
    - No more than 5 regular season ACC losses
    - Top 2 regular season ACC finish
    - Advance to at least the Final Four in the ACC tournament
    - Advance to at least the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament
    - 28+ wins overall
    - Final top 15 ranking

  14. graywolf 10/14/2012 at 4:06 PM #

    As a wolfpack alum and fan I take the hype with caution. How many times have we seen the hype and limelight turn on us and the fall from limelight is usually a hard fall.
    I am hopefully optimistic but know that chemistry is a big part of basketball. Here’s hoping Gott & Co. can put together the winning record we all so desperately want.

  15. Wulfpack 10/14/2012 at 4:19 PM #

    I think we have as good or better a shot at winning the ACC. What happens nationally is a little harder to figure. I expect at least another return to the Sweet 16. I would be very happy with a Final Four appearance.

  16. RedReid 10/14/2012 at 4:53 PM #

    Duke, Unc, and the rest of the ACC won’t lay down for us. This year will be a big challenge. The two extra ACC games may make a huge difference. We have been scheduled twice with the toughest teams in the ACC according to the preseason guessing game. As far as the future of the program is concerned, Coach just needs to keep doing what he is doing. We can still win a lot of statement games even if we dont when the league. As long as the excitement continues,Coach will keep getting good players. Then its just a matter of time before we start hanging banners!

  17. Gene 10/14/2012 at 4:54 PM #

    The bench is still a BIG IF for this team. How much of a drop-off will their be, if say Howell gets in foul trouble and De Thaey or Vandenberg have to step in?

    How much of a drop off will their be at PG, when Lewis subs for Brown?

    I think we could be really good, but whether or not the bench can step up and deliver will make or break this season.

    My history with rooting for this team is that when there are “what ifs” going into the season, enough aren’t going to live up to the potential that the team falls short.

  18. tuckerdorm1983 10/14/2012 at 4:59 PM #

    My concerns
    1. No premier big man. Can Vanilla Thunder from Down Under J.Vberg suffice. We shall see. He may have just enough talent to see us through. Until we have a couple of monsters under the basket with good footwork and skills we are going to find ourselves struggling against teams that do have such players

    2.Can Tyler Lewis replace Alex Johnson? Well Maybe. Alex could hit a three pretty good and was very quick and had lots of experience. Lewis will have to spell Lo. He will have to grow up fast. Maybe even Purvis could play the point.

    3.Can Rodney Purvis replace CJ Williams. Yeah I think so, however I think teams will lay off of him and see if he can hit the three ball. That is his weakness.

    4.Can TJ Warren replace Painter. I think so may have more range on his shot.

    Look how far with got last with basically the same team. I expect them to lay a few eggs and lose games they should not. But come March I see them playing their best ball.

  19. Wufpacker 10/14/2012 at 5:02 PM #

    “Duke, Unc, and the rest of the ACC won’t lay down for us.”

    This is actually an excellent point, and very much worth mentioning. With all the hype we’ve been getting, we won’t be sneaking up on anyone this year, and might very well already have a target on our backs. That is a hugely different dynamic than we’ve been used to in the past, and only narrows our margin for error from game to game.

  20. Gowolves 10/14/2012 at 5:05 PM #

    This is college basketball so for people to think we need a big man to win at high level is crazy. Don’t forget they also have to match up with us on defense and offense. Yes Kansas was beat us with two big men but if we had the trio freshman this year and TDT in that game I can say for sure it would have been a different outcome.

  21. golf76 10/14/2012 at 5:43 PM #

    Talent up. Check.
    Recruiting up. Check
    Coaching up. Check.
    Enthusiasm up. Check.
    Confidence up. Check.

    Like James Brown – “I feel good!”

  22. tuckerdorm1983 10/14/2012 at 7:31 PM #

    To have a complete team you need the following
    1. a point guard that is quick as a cat, can shoot the three and has eyes in the back of his head
    CHECK (Lo)
    2.a shooting guard that can hit the three all day every day and drive to the basket
    CHECK (Wood) except the basket driver
    3.a small forward that can hit the three and jump out of the gym
    Maybe (TJ Warren or Purvis)
    4.a power forward that can almost play center but step outside
    CHECK (CJL)
    5.a 6-11 to 7-1 center that can score almost every time that he gets the ball within 3 ft of the basket and defend the rim from almost everyone. A shoot blocking/shot altering mad man.

    We have a lot of pieces but not all of them. By the time the ACC tourney starts every coach has seen every game and knows every weakness of every player of every team. What are our weakness? You gotta ask that every day if you plan on improving.

  23. Master 10/14/2012 at 9:13 PM #

    You can throw the last 25 years of history out the window this year. This is not a Les, Sendek or Lowe coached team. Forget the past past and embrace the future. There is no need to continue carrying around all the negative and pessimistic baggage that comes with being a Wolfpack fan.

    The Pack has as good or better pieces in place than any team in the country. Absent a dominating big man (and Big Rich aint a bad player by any means), every other starting player will be as good as any counterpart they play this season. And all 5 will be better than last year.

    Warren, Lewis, De They and Vandenberg all have the ability to deliver quality minutes in reserve. I believe TJ has a chance to start in certain games where we want to go big, but he will have some very nice scoring nights this year. TDT will show some good maturity this year and get some big points in the paint as well as the 3 point line. Lewis and Vandy will be difference makers at the 1 and 5 when they have a chance to spell the starters.

    The Pack is back and you should all be prepared to say so without showing your lack of confidence. We will beat Duke and UNC this year. Call me overly confident, but I really like the looks of this team and our coach has the look of greatness about him.

    Stay tunes for SportsCenter! We’re going to be highlight reel this year.

  24. chilly water 10/14/2012 at 9:20 PM #

    Who in the country is better than Zo Leslie Wood Warren Purvis? Not alot

  25. packalum44 10/14/2012 at 9:32 PM #

    We are only marginally better than UNC and Duke. Reasonable expectations include a top 3 finish in the ACC with at least a Sweet 16. Anything less would be disappointing, anything more should not be a surprise.

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