November 9, 2011
NC STATE BASKETBALL
J.P. GIGLIO (N&O)
Wolfpack’s Gottfried becomes teacher, preacher
The same pejorative words and damning phrases kept coming up when Mark Gottfried asked about the N.C. State men’s basketball program he inherited.
“Selfish,” “didn’t play hard,” “didn’t play together,” – this is what the Wolfpack’s new coach heard about his team, which finished 15-16 last season, outside the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight time and a double-digit seed in the ACC tournament for the fifth straight year.
“I heard those comments about our team,” Gottfried said. “There’s nothing I can do to change the past, but what do we do from here?”
That’s the crossroads where Gottfried, 47, an accomplished college coach who was out of the game for two years, finds himself with a proud Wolfpack program, one of only 14 with two NCAA titles but almost 30 years removed from its most recent one.
For an anxious fan base, it’s difficult to reconcile N.C. State’s basketball past with its present. The program boasts national championships in 1974 and ’83, and 60 years further back, it was the main player in the creation of ACC basketball under Everett Case. In recent years, the Wolfpack has slumped to the bottom third of the conference, with sparse postseason success in the past 20 years.
KEN TYSIAC (N&O)
Pack, Deacs come up strong in hoops recruits
But first-year N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried and second-year Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik in particular have made a strong impression with this class. Gottfried secured a commitment from a player North Carolina had recruited in 6-foot-8 forward T.J. Warren. Gottfried also landed a potential McDonald’s All-America shooting guard in Rodney Purvis and held on to the commitment that crafty point guard Tyler Lewis had given Sidney Lowe, the previous N.C. State coach.
All three players are from North Carolina.
“I don’t know how it could have gone any better,” said ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep. “To me, Mark Gottfried ripped a page right out of (the late Wake Forest coach) Skip Prosser’s book and just started laying exceptional ground work within the state.”
CAULTON TUDOR (N&O)
Wolfpack in ACC jumble
But all of that preseason logic is based on the misguided assumptions that the ACC is still a strong league top to bottom and that the Wolfpack’s 16-32 conference record over the past three seasons is an accurate reflection of the program’s ceiling in view of its neighborhood.
In reality, the ACC is not a strong basketball league and hasn’t been for about a decade. It’s a two-piston engine – Duke and North Carolina – surrounded by an assortment of interchangeable minor parts.
Recently, no school among the league’s 12 has contributed more to ACC mediocrity than N.C. State. For reasons ranging from injuries to poor preparation to poor execution, the Wolfpack lost touch with its heritage but more importantly, its confidence.
My guess is that Gottfried will change that dynamic, particularly on the second point. The guy is not the next Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams or Dean Smith. But there’s enough of Jim Valvano’s spunky personality in Gottfried to think there will be a quick change in attitude, conditioning and commitment. Improvement in those areas alone will compute to three or four conference wins.
J.P. GIGLIO (N&O)
Gottfried: ‘They want to to win’
Bottom line: New coach Mark Gottfried is asking for patience, but the Wolfpack has the talent, especially in Brown and Leslie, to contend with Virginia, Miami or Clemson for fourth place in the conference. The first four games of the ACC schedule are especially inviting, giving Gottfried a chance to start the conference schedule fast.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
ACC HOOP PREVIEW: N.C. State
Outlook: Mark Gottfried wasn’t he the home run hire most State fans were hoping for when Sidney Lowe mercifully stepped down after five passionate, but unsuccessful years at his alma mater. But at the same time, he’s also not the doomsday scenario many feared a day earlier after VCU’s Shaka Smart and two other prominent candidates took their names out of consideration within hours of one another.
Though he left his last job under curious circumstances midway through the 2008-09 season hasn’t coached since, Gottfried brings a strong resume to Raleigh. He also inherits a solid roster that, even with the transfer of unhappy point guard Ryan Harrow, still has enough ACC caliber talent to end a streak of five straight seasons without an NCAA appearance.
So far, the new coach has said all the right things when it comes to Wolfpack’s potential, his concern for the returning players, his excitement about coaching at a basketball school in a basketball conference and his desire to compete on a national level. He’s even offered to jump out of a plane in support of his school’s football team.
But State’s long-suffering fans have seen and heard all that before.
While they are genuinely excited about the new energy and promise Gottfried has brought the Wolfpack program, they’re still waiting for the day when somebody can come along and turn those familiar words into results. Only then will they consider their program to truly be back in the game.
Ryan Davis (accsports.com)
Q&A With N.C. State PG Lorenzo Brown
What are some of the differences you’ve seen between Mark Gottfried and Sydney Lowe?
“Gottfried is a lot more energized that what coach Lowe was last year. He really wants to pick our brains and figure out what we think about what’s going on in practice.
“We see him a lot more than we saw coach Lowe last year. Coach Lowe was like a close friend to everybody but coach Gottfried is like a coach and a friend.”
Bret Strelow (fayobserver.com)
New coach has N.C. State basketball fans excited
Mark Gottfried couldn’t have asked for better circumstances under which to unveil his first N.C. State basketball team.
The Wolfpack held a Red-White scrimmage at the RBC Center, a short walk from Carter-Finley Stadium, less than an hour after the school’s football team wrapped up a shutout win over rival North Carolina on Saturday afternoon. Celebrating fans rushed from one venue to the next, nearly filling up the lower bowl of the spacious arena.
With a spot- light shining down on the floor, mem- bers of Gottfried’s staff, then his players, were introduced to the crowd. Finally, the new coach had his name called.
He received a standing ovation.
“It makes for a great day,” Gottfried said. “Our fans come in here feeling good, which we’re all happy about.”
ACC basketball by the numbers
1.3: Free-throw tries per game last season by N.C. State’s Scott Wood, a 92-percent shooter.
26: Wins in 1946-47 by Everett Case, an N.C. State record for a coach in his first season. Other notables: Press Maravich (21), Sidney Lowe, Les Robinson (20), Herb Sendek (17), Jim Valvano (14) and Norm Sloan (seven).
ACC basketball projections
6. N.C. STATE
Power projection: NCAA tournament No. 11 seed
With strong play from point guard Lorenzo Brown, the Wolfpack can make the NCAA tournament in Mark Gottfried’s debut season. An early schedule filled with strong mid-majors is RPI friendly, and six of N.C. State’s first 10 league games are against either Georgia Tech, Wake Forest or Boston College.
ACC basketball superlatives
COOLEST NAME: STAATS BATTLE, N.C. STATE
The freshman walk-on’s name is pronounced “Stots.”
BEST ROAD LOCKER ROOM: COMCAST CENTER, MARYLAND
N.C. State’s Scott Wood likes the Comcast locker rooms because they’re newer than most in the ACC. “At least the seats have cushions on them there.”
NC STATE FOOTBALL
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Wolfpack must guard against post-UNC hangover
There’s a reason so many college football rivalries are played on the final week of the season.
It’s because the emotional investment in those games is so high that, win or lose, it’s difficult to bounce back and play another opponent so soon afterward.
N.C.State learned that lesson last year when it went to Maryland with the ACC Atlantic Division championship there for the taking and laid an egg the week after a mentally taxing win against North Carolina.
At least the Wolfpack still ended up with a trip to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando as a nice consolation prize.
Joedy McCreary (AP)
N.C. State football team suddenly thinking bowl game
What once seemed unthinkable for N.C. State now appears likely: The Wolfpack are on track to qualify for a bowl game.
A surprising shutout of rival North Carolina means they need only beat two of the ACC’s worst teams – Boston College and Maryland – to reach the postseason for the second straight year.
N.C. State (5-4, 2-3 ACC) appears to be in the middle of another late-season turnaround under coach Tom O’Brien. The Wolfpack, who visit struggling BC this week, have won three of four since a 2-3 start raised plenty of questions.
“I try to always believe that there is hope,” receiver Jay Smith said Monday. “You have to do that when you play football, because there’s times where it seems like nobody has your back and you have no hope of coming back.
“But a lot of games, a lot of teams, you’ve seen pro or (college) teams make their way back, and that’s just the belief that you have to have in order to be successful – even when it doesn’t look good.”
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
Q&A: Mike Archer moving on from last week
Akula Wolf (Backingthepack.com)
Week 10 By The Numbers
Statistically it was the best performance by State’s defense since it held Murray State to 36 total yards in 2009. Excluding I-AA opponents, it’s the best performance since at least 2006. As it relates to this season, it’s another indicator of progress in the second half of the season. Sandwiched around that Florida State game are two fantastic defensive efforts. If they can maintain that focus the rest of the way, 7-5 will seem more doable than it did a few weeks ago.
State’s offense, on the other hand, is sputtering pretty badly right now. The Pack’s been held under 300 total yards and 4.0 yards per play in two straight games and hasn’t cracked five yards per play since October 1st.
The Sports Xchange (PackPride.com)
Spark Provided For Pack
N.C. State was ready to provide a payout after defeating North Carolina. After a couple of days back and forth with verbal jabs between the coaches, N.C. State landed the haymaker when it counted.
“If I could, I would give Carolina’s coach some money or something,” linebacker Terrell Manning said. “Thanks to him. He really fired us up.”
KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Brian Slay — He had a sack against North Carolina, but more important perhaps is he represents the defensive line that’s finally starting to gain some traction this season. He could be one of the contributors to an enhanced defensive front.
LOOKING GOOD: WR Tobias Palmer appears capable of becoming the go-to receiver in the offense if he develops more consistency. He averaged close to 20 yards per reception on his five catches against North Carolina.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The Wolfpack could use a big-play element on offense. It has managed only one touchdown across the past two games. Part of that solution might be providing better protection for QB Mike Glennon, who has been forced to look for receivers on shorter routes as he’s hurried to make decisions.