Practice for the 2008-09 basketball season is just around the corner, and stories about the upcoming edition of the Wolfpack are starting to make their way into the papers and onto TV after yesterday’s media day. We’ve got a few links and comments to get the ball rolling. First, WRALSportsfan.com has a story online focusing on Brandon Costner, who says that he plans to be the Costner of old, not the largely ineffective player that struggled last year:
Costner Eager To Resurrect Career
“It wasn’t the Brandon Costner you’re used to seeing. It wasn’t the Brandon Costner I’m used to displaying,” Costner said Tuesday. “I wasn’t healthy but I don’t like making excuses.”
Costner had ongoing knee problems last year. He injured it before the season and twice more during the year.
This year, Costner said, he is healthy again.
Last year’s team entered the season with a Top 25 ranking in many polls and high expectations of an NCAA Tournament berth. To say that last year was a disaster would be putting it mildly. This season expectations are pretty low as the Wolfpack is picked to finish somewhere near the bottom of the ACC with no post-season projections. If a strong Brandon Costner returns to the form he showed in February and March of 2007 then those low prognostications for the season could be bested.
Make no mistake about it, in addition to a resurgent Costner, Coach Lowe needs to have far more effective play in the backcourt than we experienced last year after Farnold Degand injured his knee in the 10th game of the season. Over on Gopack.com, Tim Peeler reports that Degand is ready to “Turn On The Jets Again. after major knee surgery.
[A]fter eight months of recovery and rehabilitation, Degand has been cleared to play as the Wolfpack begins its preseason drills for the upcoming 2008-09 men’s basketball season. The first full team practice is on Friday. Saturday, the team will conduct an open practice at Reynolds Coliseum from noon until 2 p.m.
“I feel fine,” Degand said Tuesday afternoon at NC State’s annual basketball media day. “We ran all the tests and it looks good. Supposedly my left knee is as strong as my right knee. I just have to get my heart rate going and get back into playing shape.”
Although the Wolfpack has added some support in the backcourt, specifically at point guard with Julius Mays, Degand was undoubtedly a couple of notches above back-up Javier Gonzalez last year. A healthy and effective Degand would go far to elevating the Wolfpack’s backcourt on both sides of the floor. Coach Lowe has indicated to some that he plans running a more uptempo and free flowing offense this season while scaling back the halfcourt sets. Degand’s speed and ball handling are KEY to supporting those efforts. Degand was obviously gaining comfort and confidence quarterbacking the Wolfpack while the benefits of his efficient outside shooting and height on defense were overlooked by some before his injury.
Additionally – before the injury – State had achieved a Top 40 RPI by winning the Old Spice Classic over eventual Sweet 16 participant, Villanova; had defeated Elite Eight participant, Davidson; and had also defeated two other Big East teams – Cincinnati in Raleigh and Seton Hall on the road. There is no doubt in my mind that last year would have turned out a lot better with a healthy Degand.
I thought Coach Lowe’s comments with reporters were very encouraging – it seems that ‘Its all about the team’ here are a lot of good quotes in that one.
The N&O’s article highlighted the team focus as well as the up-tempo comments to which we previously alluded. It also included this following piece of information from the ‘ya don’t say’ file.
Quentin Jackson, who served as director of operations for Lowe’s first two seasons, no longer is with the program, Lowe confirmed. Justin Gainey, like Jackson a former Wolfpack point guard, is serving as administrative coordinator in Jackson’s place.
Lowe said Jackson is going back into private business, which is what he was doing before Lowe hired him. Gainey is on his third year on the staff and will assist with day-to-day projects and scheduling.
We obviously chose to let Quentin ride into the sunset without making a big deal of it here on the blog, so we ask that you guys do the same.