NC STATE BASKETBALL
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
N.C. State has opportunity to accomplish something special. But will it?
Coach Mark Gottfried offered up some words of wisdom to his N.C. State basketball team last March as it prepared to play Kansas in the NCAA tournamentâ€™s Sweet 16 in St. Louis.
The advice has become even more profound today, as his Wolfpack stands at the unanticipated crossroads of expectation and reality.
â€œYou always think, â€˜Well, Iâ€™ll be back here again,â€ Gottfried said. â€œHopefully you are. Hopefully your program is one where youâ€™re in the Sweet 16 regularly. But itâ€™s also very difficult. And so you donâ€™t want to lose the opportunity.â€
Itâ€™s an opportunity that seemed limitless for Gottfried and his veteran team this season.
Within moments of losing that hard-fought battle to the Jayhawks, State was established as the ACCâ€™s team to beat in 2012-13. And that was even before star forward C.J. Leslie announced his decision to return for his junior year.
The prospects became even more promising after rival North Carolina lost its three best underclassmen to the NBA and perennial ACC favorite Duke â€“ which was ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time â€“ lost key senior Ryan Kelly to a long-term injury.
As Ray Kinsella said in the movie Field of Dreams, â€œThere comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place and the universe opens itself up for a few seconds to show you what is possible.â€
This is that time for the Wolfpack.
The combination of four returning starters, three incoming McDonaldâ€™s All-Americas and the misfortunes of its two most feared rivals has created a once-in-a-generation set of circumstances that is almost too good to be true.
And State is in the process of letting it slip away.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Wolfpack preparing to face Miami without Brown
Lorenzo Brown still hasnâ€™t been ruled out of N.C. Stateâ€™s key ACC matchup with league-leading Miami on Saturday. But that doesnâ€™t mean coach Mark Gottfried is optimistic about his injured point guardâ€™s availability for the important game.
â€œLorenzo obvious wants to play,â€ Gottfried said at a press conference Friday. â€œIâ€™m certainly not going to endanger him by playing him if he canâ€™t go. I wouldnâ€™t do that to him or our team. We have to be smart about it.â€
Brown injured his left ankle while driving to the basket 10 minutes into Tuesdayâ€™s loss at Virginia. He didnâ€™t return to the game.
The good news for the Wolfpack is that x-rays taken Thursday were negative. On the down side, the ACCâ€™s assists leader has yet to practice again and his foot remains in a protective boot.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Five questions to ponder before tipoff
1. Can N.C. State beat Miami without Lorenzo Brown?
Itâ€™s possible, but it wonâ€™t be easy. Remember, Tyler Lewis was a McDonaldâ€™s All-America. Heâ€™s got the talent to run the Wolfpackâ€™s offense â€“ though in a different manner than the bigger, more experienced Brown. Rodney Purvis also has the ability to get the job done, even though heâ€™s a natural shooting guard. Although someone else is going to have to pick up the slack in the scoring column since Brown is tied for second on the team in scoring â€“ defense may be more of a concern against Miamiâ€™s quick and dynamic playmaker Shane Larkin. Even if everything goes right with its backup point guards, State is going to need Richard Howell to stay out of foul trouble, something that wonâ€™t be easy against the Hurricanesâ€™ tall, deep frontcourt. It also needs Calvin Leslie to show up, not C.J. and it needs Scott Wood to have at least a decent shooting performance from the perimeter. Thatâ€™s a lot of ifs, but itâ€™s not that much of a longshot. Needless to say, though, coach Mark Gottfriedâ€™s team will be better with an effective Brown in the lineup.
2. Is Miami really this good?
Maybe not going 18-0 in the ACC good, but yes, the Hurricanes are certainly good enough to win the leagueâ€™s regular season title. Theyâ€™re deep, theyâ€™re versatile and theyâ€™re experienced â€¦ with no fewer than five seniors among their top eight players, including a pair of fifth-year guys. Six-foot-11 Kenny Kadji is one of the most underrated players in the league, an inside-outside big man with in the mold of Dukeâ€™s Ryan Kelly. Only with more athleticism. A healthy Reggie Johnson and fellow senior Julian Gamble give Miami a pair of relentless bangers inside. On the perimeter, Durand Scott is a talented slasher and the top active career scorer in the ACC while Trey McKinney-Jones and Rion Brown present a threat from the perimeter. Sophomore point guard Larkin brings it all together, averaging 12 points and four assists per game. And then thereâ€™s coach Jim Larranaga, who got George Mason to a Final Four and has helped turn the perennially underachieving Hurricanes into one of the ACCâ€™s best. If not the best. Just ask Duke.
Akula Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
Miami Vs. NC State Preview: Pray For Mojo
Miami’s winning streak in league play is going to have to end Saturday for NC State to stay in the hunt for the ACC regular season title, and it looks like the Pack is going to have to win without Lorenzo Brown. This presents a number of challenges at both ends of the floor, obviously. Miami rarely turns the ball over, NC State is bad at forcing turnovers even with Brown, and Brown has State’s best steal rate by far.
Tyler Lewis will be on the floor a lot more, and there is no Jontel Evans to hide him behind, so to speak, this time. If his task is Shane Larkin, then that is a huge mismatch in the Hurricanes’ favor. I mean, Lewis has had problems staying in front of guards on the mid-majors we’ve played this season. We’ll just have to grit our teeth through those possessions.
The Hurricanes have been very 3FGA-inclined in league play, and they boast the top effective field goal percentage in conference games as well as the third-lowest turnover rate. On the plus side, they aren’t rebounding well offensively and this is an aspect of the game that NC State must win.
Some other good news–Miami is just seven deep. So this ain’t gonna be some Johnny Dawkins parade of humanity situation, which would be about the worst thing imaginable for a thin team down its point guard. Larkin went the full 40 against Virginia Tech on Wednesday, and Scott logged 37 minutes. I wouldn’t expect them to leave the court often on Saturday either.
N.C. State likely will face first-place Miami today without injured guard Lorenzo Brown.
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said his team must be able to respond without one of its best players.
A Wolfpack legend who knows all about key injuries called it an opportunity for the current team to get better.
“They havenâ€™t gone through any adversity yet,” said former guard Dereck Whittenburg, one of the leaders on N.C. Stateâ€™s 1983 national championship team. “Thatâ€™s when you find out about a team and whether it will come together or fall apart.”
Whittenburg broke his right foot in January of the Wolfpackâ€™s championship season, in a home game against Virginia. He missed 14 games but returned to help the Wolfpack make one of the most memorable runs in NCAA history.
“Itâ€™s part of basketball,” said Whittenburg, now an analyst for ESPN. “Every great team has to be able to handle adversity.”
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
Wolfpack getting used to handling adversity
Standing in front of a red backdrop with bright television lights and microphones aimed his way, N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried was fiddling with a pair of sunglasses.
During Friday’s news conference he was asked about today’s game against sudden ACC behemoth Miami and the ankle injury suffered by junior point guard and team lynchpin Lorenzo Brown. Despite the ominous subject matter, he gave off a vibe of breezy calm.
His hair was perfectly in place. He looked well rested.
That’s probably because, for Gottfried and his Wolfpack, this stuff is nothing new. A little bit of turmoil has been standard operating procedure all season.
“I just think things happen in life and you have to respond to it,” Gottfried said. “Our team has to respond right now.”
Those who follow N.C. State probably had a hunch that this season was never going to be a tranquil one. Lofty preseason rankings put the spotlight – and its accompanying pressure – squarely on the Wolfpack. A few losses in marquee early season games threw some doubt into the equation before a run of 10-straight wins – including a win over top-ranked Duke on Jan. 12 – restarted the frenzy.
Since then, it’s been three weeks of curveballs.
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
ACC Layup Lines: Tricky week for Wolfpack
From the “Everything’s coming up Milhouse” category, N.C. State senior Scott Wood had a pretty memorable week, the loss at Virginia notwithstanding. Last weekend, he finally beat North Carolina for the first time, shedding some frustration and experiencing a feeling comparable to hooking up with Heidi Klum. Thursday, a video of a Scott Wood trick shot started making the YouTube rounds. Wood’s dunking skills are still debatable, but nobody in the league is better at off-the-wall scoring than him:
Let’s take a look at the slate of weekend games:
Crank up â€œGangnam Style” for: Miami (16-3, 7-0) at N.C. State (16-5, 5-3)
If the Wolfpack had won at Virginia, Saturday’s game at PNC Arena would be a showdown between first-place Miami and second-place N.C. State, but coach Mark Gottfried’s offense sputtered late without injured point guard Lorenzo Brown in the lineup. Brown, who has a sprained left ankle, could miss Saturday’s game, meaning the ball-handling responsibilities would fall to freshmen Rodney Purvis (a combo guard) and Tyler Lewis (a true point guard). Purvis would be a better defensive option against Miami point guard Shane Larkin, who is playing at an all-ACC level.
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
Miami at N.C. State: Three to know
No. 14 Miami (16-3, 7-0) heads to PNC Arena to face No. 19 N.C. State (16-5, 5-3) on Saturday. The game can be seen at 4 p.m. on CBS.
1. Keep an eye on Tyler Lewis
While shooting guard Rodney Purvis and small forward T.J. Warren have made significant impacts for N.C. State this season, Tyler Lewis, the other member of the Wolfpackâ€™s trio of high-profile recruits, has yet to do so. The 5-foot-11, 157-pounder has seen his playing time drop as the Wolfpack has leaned more on junior point guard Lorenzo Brown in ACC play.
But with Brownâ€™s availability for todayâ€™s game doubtful thanks to an injured left ankle, Lewis will likely get a prime opportunity.
On Friday, Gottfried said Lewis and Purvis will handle the point guard spot if Brown canâ€™t go. It should be an especially tough assignment as Miami point guard Shane Larkin has established himself as one of the leagueâ€™s most dangerous players. Heâ€™s averaging 12.9 points per game, scoring 18 points in the Hurricanesâ€™ blowout of Duke and dropping 25 against Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.
â€œI think itâ€™s hard, especially when youâ€™re in a situation like Tyler has been in with Lorenzo here,â€ Gottfried said. â€œLorenzo is going to play a lot of minutes. Itâ€™s hard to get into the flow, all those things. I understand it. I played. I coached a long time. So, weâ€™ll see tomorrow. Weâ€™ll see what happens with Lorenzo, if he can or canâ€™t play. And these two guys need to be ready, which I think they will be.â€
Lauren Brownlow (accsports.com)
ACC Weekend Preview, Feb. 1
No. 14 Miami (16-3, 7-0) at No. 19 N.C. State (16-5, 5-3 ACC)
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Announcers: Spero Dedes (play by play), Bill Raftery (color)
Key for Miami
Miami plays good first-shot defense, and N.C. Stateâ€™s offense certainly hasnâ€™t been as crisp as itâ€™s normally been in recent games. But the Wolfpack has a real knack for getting timely offensive rebounds, and it is especially good at turning those into points most of the time. The teams that have been able to beat N.C. State have not let the offensive rebounds hurt them as much, and Miami has been good at doing that to opponents, too. Only two teams have double-digit second-chance points against the Hurricanes in ACC play. Miami canâ€™t let N.C. Stateâ€™s already-potent offense get second looks.
Key for N.C. State
Controlling the paint.
Miami hits the highest percentage of its two-point attempts of any league team in ACC games only, and N.C. State has struggled in defending two-point attempts, especially lately: the Wolfpackâ€™s last three opponents have made 50% of their two-pointers (and N.C. State is 1-2 in that stretch). As much as Miami has improved, there are still times when the Hurricanesâ€™ offense gets bogged down and starts taking three-pointers and bad, off-balance twos. N.C. State has to play good enough defense for that to happen.
Remember The Name
Miami doesnâ€™t need him to score a ton, but boy did he ever in the win at Virginia Tech, with 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting (5-of-10 from three). Larkin hadnâ€™t played all that well on the road yet in ACC play and in a game that was tight throughout, he took over on offense. Itâ€™s too bad N.C. State point guard Lorenzo Brown is hurt – Larkin would be perfect matchup for Brown, another point guard who scores when he has to, plays good defense and rebounds well. But at best, Brown will be hobbled on a bad ankle and so in theory – which we all know is how games are played, of course – Larkin should dominate.
Remember The Name
If Lorenzo Brown canâ€™t go, the freshman will likely be the one running the Wolfpack offense. Things looked shaky at times against Virginia with Purvis at the helm, but heâ€™s plenty talented and certainly capable of doing it. Heâ€™s shooting just 4-of-16 in the last two games (1-of-9 from inside the arc) and averaging 6.5 points, and he has just one assist in that span (but just two turnovers). His three-point shooting has been a nice asset for the Wolfpack all season (41% on the year and 42.3% in ACC play). It will be interesting to see how much scoring Purvis will try to do if Brown canâ€™t go and heâ€™s at the point, or if Purvis will concentrate more on running the offense against a tough Miami defense. Either way, heâ€™ll need to play well for the Wolfpack to stay in this one.
Everyone on N.C. Stateâ€™s roster who plays has an ORtg of 100 or better except for freshman Tyler Lewis (94.7). â€¦ N.C. Stateâ€™s Lorenzo Brown is still 36th in assist rate nationally but has a shockingly high turnover rate (22.0%). â€¦ Miami big man Julian Gamble is improved in many areas, but one of his more impressive stats is that heâ€™s 270th nationally in turnover percentage (13.9%). â€¦ Reggie Johnson, in his limited playing time, is turning it over 20% of the time for Miami. The big man also ends 27.1% of Miamiâ€™s possessions when heâ€™s on the floor.
Miami Win: Florida State winning the ACC Tournament last year, Miami taking a stranglehold on first place in the regular season this yearâ€¦itâ€™s official. The I-95/I-10 Highway is replacing Tobacco Road.
Miami Loss: The ACC is about to topple over with all of this top-heaviness! ACC back?
N.C. State Win: Typical Showtime State – play well in marquee games at home, lose to mediocre teams on the road. Yawn.
N.C. State Loss: THIS IS WHY WE DONâ€™T TRUST THE WOLFPACK! No Lorenzo Brown? Doesnâ€™t matter. Any other extenuating circumstances? No one cares.
N.C. State, 73-72.
Miamiâ€™s got to lose one at some point, right?
Unbeaten so far this season at home, N.C. State’s No. 19 men’s basketball team will face yet another big challenge on Saturday when it hosts No. 14 Miami at a sold-out PNC Arena.
The Wolfpack (16-5 overall, 5-3 ACC) has won all 12 of its home games this season, the most without a loss since the 2003-04 team won 14 straight at home to open the season.
The Hurricanes (16-3, 7-0) are the only ACC team remaining without a conference loss. That record includes four road wins against league opponents.
“I’ve said this for a long time, I think Miami has somewhat flown under the radar nationally, as one of the best teams in the country,” said NC State coach Mark Gottfried. “I think what stands out is their age and experience and the fact that they don’t rely on any young players or inexperienced players.
“I think it is a veteran team that seems to be playing this year with a tremendous amount of purpose and maybe a little chip on their shoulders from not making the NCAA Tournament last year.”
The Wolfpack is heading into the nationally televised 4 p.m. contest with some uncertainty with junior point guard Lorenzo Brown recovering from an injury he suffered in the team’s 58-55 loss at Virginia Tuesday night. Brown played only 10 minutes in the game, with freshmen Rodney Purvis and Tyler Lewis filling in at the point.
Brown has been receiving treatment since the team returned from Charlottesville, Va. Gottfried said Brown, the ACC’s leader in assists and second in steals, missed practiced on Thursday, but X-rays taken Thursday morning were negative.
“We’ll see how he feels [Saturday],” Gottfried said. “The probability in my mind for him to be able to cut and move and spring and jump is pretty slim. We have to prepare as if he is not going to play and then we will see.”
Gottfried wants to make sure there is no risk of further injury before Brown returns to action.
Inside Wolfpack Sports TV Show
On today’s episode of Inside Wolfpack Sports hosts Tony Haynes and Mark Thomas prepare State fans for the men’s basketball game against Miami. Also on the show, meet football offensive line coach Mike Uremovich and go behind the scenes with head strength and conditioning coach Jason Veltkamp.
MIAMI FACES TWO-STRAIGHT ROAD GAMES
In back-to-back ACC road games (not necessarily staying on the road between games), Miami is currently 6-13 in the first game and 5-13 in the second game. Three times Miami has gone 2-0 in twostraight road games, twice the Canes have won the first, lost the second, and 11 times UM has gone 0-2.
This year, Miami started ACC play with a 2-0 record on the road after defeating Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Last season, Miami started the year 0-2 on a swing trip to Virginia and UNC, but defeated Georgia Tech and Boston College back-to-back on the road later in the season.
MIAMI HURRICANES ON CBS
The Hurricanes have not played on CBS since March 23, 2008 when Miami lost, 75-72, to Texas in the NCAA Tournament. Miamiâ€™s last regular season game on CBS was Jan. 26, 2003 when Miami lost, 54-49, to Syracuse. UM is 6-10 overall on CBS.
CANES NUMBERS AGAINST RANKED TEAMS
In three games against ranked teams, Miami is 2-1 with wins over No. 13/14 Michigan State and No. 1 Duke and a loss to No. 4/5 Arizona. See the complete stat sheet on page 9 of the notes.
In those three games, Durand Scott is averaging 18.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 54.3 percent from the floor and 55.6 percent from distance. Kenny Kadji is right behind with 15.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while shooting 62.5 percent from the field. Shane Larkin is averaging 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 3.7 steals while shooting 51.5 percent from the field and 43.8 from distance.
MIAMI DURING THE CURRENT 8-GAME WINNING STREAK
â€¢ UM is currently riding an eight-game winning streak. See the complete stat sheet on page 9 of the notes.
â€¢ Miamiâ€™s last eight-game winning streak was in 2009-10, when the Canes started the season 8-0, before losing to Boston College. UM went on to a 15-1 record before dropping four-straight ACC games and finishing the year 20-13 with a 4-12 league mark.
â€¢ In 2007-08, Miami started the season 12-0.
â€¢ The Canes have won four road games, all against ACC opponents.
â€¢ Miami has outrebounded six of eight opponents, posting a +4.8 margin. UM posted +12 against FSU and + 8 against Duke.
â€¢ UM has trailed at the half in four games, including being down by six points vs. La Salle, three at VT and by two points at UNC and BC.
â€¢ Miami has outshot its opponents 44.9 percent to 36.0 percent from the field.
â€¢ UM has made 2.0 more 3-pointers (7.8-5.8) per game.
â€¢ The Canes have posted 6.5 steals and 6.3 blocks per game, compared to 5.4 spg and 3.0 bpg by the opponents.
â€¢ Miami has outscored its opponents 308-235 in the second half.
â€¢ Four players are averaging at least 10 points and four Canes have at least 5.5 rebounds per night.
â€¢ Kenny Kadji leads the way with 15.3 points. Reggie Johnson has 7.3 rebounds in his three of eight outings during the streak.
Rece Davis (ESPN.com)
Supersized Regular-Season Bout In Bloomington
This weekend’s ACC headliner matches the team picked to win the conference against the team that might actually do it. There’s no greater juxtaposition between North Carolina State and Miami than how each dealt with its midweek trip to Virginia.
The Wolfpack couldn’t make enough winning plays down the stretch to beat UVa. The Hurricanes’ veteran squad had enough to hold off Virginia Tech and remain perfect in conference play. Shane Larkin, who dropped 25 on the Hokies, said of his dagger 3 late: “It’s always fun to shush a home crowd.”
Shushing NC State’s home crowd is much different. It seems the Pack’s transition game hits a higher gear in Raleigh. Both Jay Bilas and Seth Greenberg love the way NC State outlets the ball when running the break. Keep an eye out to see if the Canes can take away those passes and keep the Wolfpack from running.
Rush The Court
Top Recruit Julius Randle Praises Wolfpack
Right off the bat, Randle went and saw a nearly life-sized wall mural a Wolfpack fan had painted for him. He got a chance to hang with students Friday night and then absorbed the PNC Arena atmosphere for the big game. He used the word â€œloudâ€ (or â€œloudestâ€) five times describing the fans. But then comes the part Wolfpack fans will love:
“I think the biggest thing I learned over the weekend was that if I came there they wouldnâ€™t have to change anything about their system for me. It just fits me. Other coaches talk about what theyâ€™ll change for me, but with State they donâ€™t have to do that. Thatâ€™s big. All in all, Iâ€™d have to say that this was my best visit so far. I had a ball at Kentucky, and yeah they had Drake and everything, but this visit just had a lot more going on.”
When you go toe-to-toe with John Calipari in recruiting and come out with an advantage, youâ€™ve done something right. NC Stateâ€™s visit reduced Randleâ€™s Kentucky visit to â€œyeah they had Drake and everything.â€ It definitely helped that there was a real game to attend and a rivalry one at that, but thatâ€™s still impressive. Now you definitely have to take blogs like these with a grain of salt: What high school kid wouldnâ€™t love an official visit with the VIP treatment? That said, it sounds like Randle really bought into Gottfriedâ€™s system and the environment in Raleigh.