Photo Credit – Ethan Hyman, Newsobserver.com
After a tough season-ending loss to Kansas last night in the Sweet Sixteen, Wolfpack nation understandably seems a bit quiet and subdued today. I, for one, couldn’t come anywhere near the internet today until just a little while ago. The NCAA Tournament rolls on today without us, and I wasn’t emotionally ready to let go of the magical end-of-year run of this ’11-’12 season. Nor was I yet ready to look ahead.
When I finally did start to browse the sports news of the day, I wasn’t surprised at all to see the positive press the program is still receiving, but I was still pleased just the same. Reading the articles and watching the videos was a bit cathartic and helped me to feel better about last night’s defeat (though I’m still not over it completely).
If you’re feeling like me today, I hope these links help. The future is bright.
In addition: The Wolfpack Baseball team took game one of a three game weekend series against Carolina today in Chapel Hill, 3-1. Game two is tomorrow at 2pm (ESPN3/WKNC-FM), and game three is Monday evening at 7pm and is being televised nationally on ESPNU.
Also, the 2012 Wolfpack Football team kicked off spring practice on Friday.
Gregg Doyel (CBSSports.com)
Sad night for the Wolfpack? Sure, I guess. But what a future this program has, and what a long time this fan base has waited for this kind of optimism. N.C. State was good under Herb Sendek, good enough to reach the NCAA tournament five years in a row, but they never entered a season with the kind of optimism that should surround the Wolfpack in 2012-13.
How optimistic? Top 10 in the preseason. Something like that, depending on what the team’s two potential early-entrant candidates do about the 2012 NBA Draft.
Luke DeCock (Newsobserver.com)
“I’m not sure I could be more proud than I am of our team,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “This team learned how to compete, they learned how to keep fighting, and they did it again today. We just came up just a little bit short. We grew a lot. We improved a lot. But it’s just tough because we felt we certainly had a chance and could have won the game.”
But even Friday’s loss can’t derail the momentum N.C. State built during this run. It started out with the Wolfpack building a foundation for next year. Then it turned out next year was here, far sooner than anyone — the players, the coaches, even Debbie Yow, who took a chance on Gottfried in the first place — could have imagined.
JP Giglio (Newsobserver.com)
For a program that went 15-16 a year ago and hadn’t won more than six ACC games in a season in five years – Gottfried’s team won nine – it was not only progress but the first step toward returning a proud program to national relevance.
Still, there was a “what if?” quality to the ending of State’s remarkable season, and a larger question: What’s next?
Leslie, who led State with 18 points despite foul trouble Friday, has a decision to make about his NBA future. The team’s leading scorer, he blossomed into a potential first-round pick under Gottfried this season. Senior guard C.J. Williams, a starter, and Alex Johnson, the top guard off the bench, also will have to be replaced.
Adam Smith (ShelbyStar.com)
ST. LOUIS – The hour was after midnight here at the Edward Jones Dome, and past 1 a.m. back home in Raleigh, when C.J. Williams offered a telling comment with the finality of his North Carolina State career still painfully fresh.
“I’m just proud to say I’m an N.C. State basketball alum,” the senior swingman said.
N.C. State posted 24 victories – only one men’s basketball team in the school’s last 37 years, the 1983 national champion, has won more – and experienced an uplifting return to relevance under first-year coach Mark Gottfried.
Fifty-six head coaches were hired entering this college basketball season. Only one, Gottfried, delivered a berth to the Sweet 16.
Bret Strelow (Fayobserver.com)
Gottfried stood outside the locker room door waiting for the last of his players to arrive before he went in, and the door shut behind him. This first chapter has closed, but there could be more compelling ones ahead for Gottfried and the Wolfpack. Left for dead at the conclusion of a four-game losing streak in late February, N.C. State proved worthy of the big stage during its three-game stay in the NCAA tournament.
Jacey Zembal (TheWolfpacker.com)
Aaron Beard (WRALSportsfan.com/AP)
Leslie: We have something to be happy about (WRALSportsfan.com)
Wood: Hopefully we can learn from this experience (WRALSportsfan.com)
Howell: I feel like this is a game we could have had (WRALSportsfan.com)