NC STATE BASKETBALL
Joe Giglio (N&O)
N.C. State wants great season, not just great finish
With four starters back from last season’s team, optimism and expectations for this season, Gottfried’s second, are in rarefied air. When the conference media meets next Wednesday in Charlotte, there’s a chance – as Sports Illustrated and ESPN already have – the Wolfpack will be named the favorite to win the ACC for the first time since 1974.
Not that Gottfried is putting much stock into what he calls preseason “jibber jabber.”
“It’s fun, I mean I read the paper, you know I don’t live under a rock,” Gottfried said. “I think all that’s fun but I’ve also been around long enough to realize outside of that kind of being some fun jibber jabber, after that, you’ve got to go play and we’ve got to work.”
Practice priorities: The starters are set at forward but the rotation off the bench needs to be sorted out. Veterans Jordan Vandenberg, Thomas de Thaey are the returning options while Warren also has the size to defend the post, although his preference is to play on the wing.
The leadership void, left by Williams and Johnson, will also have to be filled, which Gottfried said Monday will be a collective effort but it will start with Brown.
What they’re saying: “Is North Carolina State really the ACC favorite? Why not. North Carolina and Duke are taking on serious losses, and the Wolfpack overachieved under Mark Gottfried to get to the Sweet 16. It took a little while, but C.J. Leslie announced he’s returning, which basically means the entire team returns. In addition, Gottfried has one of the top recruiting classes in the country coming in with Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis. This program has a lot to look forward to.”
– ESPN’s Andy Katz, who has N.C. State No. 6 in his preseason top 25.
Luke Decock (N&O)
Gottfried goes from selling vision of Wolfpack’s program to living it
When the first AP poll comes out on Oct. 26, it’s likely N.C. State will be solidly in the top 10. When the ACC media gathers in Charlotte next week, there’s a chance the Wolfpack will be predicted to win the ACC.
This is the state of the N.C. State program on Oct. 8, 2012.
“I was really confident with coach Gottfried, and I can see it paid off with the tournament and what he’s done for the university,” Purvis said Monday. “I was super excited. I had all my friends excited, even people who were Carolina fans, Duke fans, I turned them into State fans. Anytime they won, I felt like I was winning too.”
A year ago at media day, N.C. State’s players talked about uncertainty, about hopes for the season that were little more than that – hope. Monday, Scott Wood assessed the welcome burden of expectations. Richard Howell complained, good-naturedly, about being unable to go unnoticed in public. Leslie, once in desperate need of mentorship, talked solemnly about his duty to mentor the freshmen. And Brown reminisced about how Gottfried told the team before last season it would take a while for things to click, a warning that seems so dated now.
“I’d love to stand up in front of every group and say we’re going to be a top-10 team,” Gottfried said on Sept. 28, 2011, after giving his speech to the sports club. “We’re not there yet.”
Fifty-three weeks later, they’re there now. It’s not a question of whether they have the talent, or whether they can do it. It’s only a question of whether they will.
“It’s no different than last year,” Gottfried said. “We were picked near the bottom, and that’s not something we paid attention to last year, and it’s not something we’re going to pay attention to this year. Regardless of where you’re picked, the only thing that counts is how hard you work each day and how well you do your job each day.
“Now, can our players truly grasp that? We’ll find out.”
Jack Daly (N&O)
Pack’s Purvis happily puts eligibility saga behind him
The Wolfpack hopes the 6-foot-2 Purvis will mesh with Brown and senior small forward Scott Wood to provide a multi-dimensional threat on the perimeter. Recruiting analysts praise Purvis’ ability to score, both in transition and in the half-court, where his first step figures to be an asset.
Purvis will likely be N.C. State’s only new starter this season, replacing senior C.J. Williams. While Williams wasn’t a dynamic offensive presence, he made a lot subtle contributions to the Wolfpack’s cause.
“I think it’s going to be tough not only defensively, but we’ve got to fill his leadership role,” Wood said about the challenges of replacing Williams. “I don’t think a lot of fans and a lot of media realize how big he was as a leader. I think the leadership aspect is going to fall back on me, Zo (Brown), Richard and C.J. a little bit.
“But at the same time, I think Rodney has all the components to be a great defensive player. I think if he just puts it in his mind that he’s going to stop the best player every night, he could definitely do it.”
With the missed opportunity of working out some kinks with his teammates in Spain and the mental energy he spent on his eligibility ordeal, observers might wonder if the saga will have a lasting effect on Purvis’ freshman season.
Perhaps cognizant of this fact, Purvis said he made a quick pivot to concentrating on what he needs to do to succeed on the court this season.
“Once I got cleared, I put everything in my past, and I’ve just been looking forward ever since,” Purvis said.
“I think over those 44 days I was ineligible, I got as mentally strong as I could get.”
Joedy McCreary (AP)
NC State’s Brown has repaired knee, clear mind
Lorenzo Brown’s right knee is doing just fine – and so is his mind.
The North Carolina State point guard says he’s fully healed after offseason knee surgery and insists the Wolfpack are keeping level heads despite the program’s highest preseason expectations in years.
They’ve heard enough of the chatter about possibly being the preseason favorites in the Atlantic Coast Conference to know they’re best served by tuning it out.
“That could really mess up my head sometimes,” Brown said Monday during the team’s media day. “I don’t want that to happen. I feel like we have the same chip on our shoulder that we did last year.”
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Notes from N.C. State’s media day
C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell will start at forward but how the minutes will be divided up behind the two veterans will be determined in practice, which starts Friday, and in the first few months of the season.
Gottfried said Jordan Vandenberg and Thomas de Thaey will get the opportunity to replace the minutes lost with DeShawn Painter’s transfer to Old Dominion.
Freshman T.J. Warren will also get some minutes in the post, Gottfried said, although Warren figures to get most of his playing time on the wing.
Gottfried said his preference would be to have Painter’s experience back.
“I think that loss is bigger than most people are anticipating,” Gottfried said.
Painter averaged 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20 minutes per game last season. He was the only forward Gottfried used regularly off the bench.
Vandenberg redshirted and de Thaey never got into the rotation after missing the first four games while being cleared the NCAA.
One of the biggest talking points on Monday was the foul trouble Howell, and to a lesser extent, Leslie couldn’t avoid last season.
Howell fouled out of five games last season and had four fouls in 14 other games.
“The first step is acknowledging the problem,” Leslie said. “Then not reaching so much.”
Fans at “Primetime with the Pack” on Friday at PNC Arena will see a noticeably leaner Howell, who’s down to 251 pounds. Howell, a senior, is only down about five pounds from last season but he was 280 pounds when he got to campus.
“Yeah, the fat man has slimmed down,” Leslie joked.
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
N.C. State Wolfpack expecting a big year in basketball
Richard Howell is arguably the most important member of the Wolfpack. The 6-foot-8 senior is not just an effective post presence, he’s also the team’s lone experienced forward. But Monday, his appearance is what got some attention.
After dropping nearly 25 pounds prior to last season, Howell looked as if he’d trimmed up even more this summer. He also had a beard that reached nearly three inches below his chin and some long hair he said he doesn’t plan on cutting. He said he’s debating growing some dreadlocks.
“Richard changes every year, I think,” guard Lorenzo Brown said. “He has a new hairstyle, new weight, it’s crazy to me. . As long as he keeps playing hard, I don’t care. It’s all right.”
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
Rodney Purvis glad NCAA ordeal is behind him
Rodney Purvis walks into N.C. State’s practice gym, and you immediately notice how strong he looks, especially for an 18-year-old freshman. Wearing a sweatshirt and Boston Red Sox toboggan on this cold, rainy Monday afternoon, he could pass for a college wrestler.
The Wolfpack’s basketball media day is the first time Purvis will speak publicly about his well-documented eligibility ordeal. If there’s any bitterness or anger about how long it took to receive full NCAA clearance, he shows no signs of it.
Instead, from the first question to the last one roughly 17 minutes later, Purvis smiles and completes almost every answer with disarming laughter. As important as he may be to N.C. State’s hopes of building off a strong finish to last season, that’s secondary.
The kid is just thrilled and thankful for a chance to play, period.
“Getting cleared was the best news I’ve probably heard in my life,” Purvis says.
If Sept. 17 was the highlight, Aug. 5 was certainly a low point. That’s the day N.C. State’s team departed for Spain.
The Wolfpack practiced that Sunday morning before gathering outside its practice facility and loading up a few buses, without Purvis aboard any of them. Head coach Mark Gottfried described a scene that sounded similar to the ending of “E.T.”
“We literally pulled away right out here, and he sat down and kind of waved as the buses rode off,” Gottfried said. “It was sad.”
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
Upper Room, the alma mater of Rodney Purvis, becomes K-5 school, according to report
At N.C. State’s media day Monday afternoon, before the news about Upper Room broke, Purvis said he felt like he “got lucky” to get full NCAA clearance after Maryland signee Sam Cassell Jr. was ruled ineligible and Providence signee Ricky Ledo was declared a partial qualifier. Cassell graduated from Notre Dame Prep, and Ledo attended four high schools in five years.
Asked during the same interview how he feels about Upper Room, Purvis said, “I definitely still have great memories of everyone. When we’re free here, I get all my Upper Room guys, we get all together and hang out. We’re always going to have fun regardless, no matter what the situation was. People have went to different schools, left Upper Room, but we’re still close. It’s still the brotherhood we developed that’s probably unbreakable.”
For Gottfried, this is the kickoff to the follow-up of his successful inaugural year, which included 24 overall wins, a winning record in the ACC and trips to the ACC semifinals and the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. This season, he wants more sustained success.
“Everybody says what a great season we had last year, but the reality is that’s not true,” Gottfried said Monday afternoon. “We had a good end to the season last year. We did some really nice things down the stretch and made it to the Sweet Sixteen. But earlier in the year we were not great.
“There were games last year where we could have done better, against Syracuse, against Stanford. If we want to be really good this year, we have to play well the entire year.”
And, truth be told, Gottfried likes the attention his team has earned leading into the season, but he’s not completely buying into the hype. It’s similar to his 2002-03 team at Alabama, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation early that season.
“We were ranked No. 1 in December,” Gottfried said. “Were we really the best team in the nation? I don’t know.
“Sometimes, the teams ahead of you lose and you really haven’t earned the right to be there. That’s similar to us this year. We will be ranked high, but I am not sure we have earned that yet.”
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
Mark Gottfried looking for improvements this year
Everybody remembers the end of last season for NC State.
The Wolfpack enjoyed a dramatic bid announcement to the NCAA Tournament, and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005 under first-year coach Mark Gottfried. However, when talking about this year’s team at the school’s annual media day, Gottfried looks back at last year as a whole, remembering both the ups and the downs.
“We just have to be better in a lot of areas,” he said. “I go around town and people say to me a lot, ‘Coach, what a great year last year.’ The truth of the matter is that it really wasn’t a great year, it was a great finish. It was a really fun finish and it was exceptional for our group, but our year wasn’t great. We were just OK.
“We have to be a lot better than we were last year, from start to finish. We had opportunities last year in November and December — Syracuse and Indiana, we just didn’t get it done. We have to be better than that this year. In general, our program has to take another step.”
Last season’s dramatic postseason run and returning crop of players has fueled a lot of top 10 prognostications for the Pack from media outlets around the country, but the coach is cautioning his team to handle preseason predictions the same way as last season, when they were picked to finish eighth in the ACC, but finished tied for fourth.
“They have to be able to understand that to be a great team, and they want to be a great team, the price is high,” he said. “One thing we talk a lot about with our team is that regardless of where anybody else thinks you’re going to finish — it’s no different than last year, when we were picked near the bottom — that’s not something we paid much attention to last year, so it’s not something we’re going to pay attention to this year.
“The only thing that counts is how hard you work each day, and how well you do your job each day. Now, can our players truly grasp that? We’ll find out.”
NC STATE FOOTBALL
Teal Named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week
Redshirt defensive tackle Thomas Teal was named the ACC’s Defensive Lineman of the Week after helping the Wolfpack upset No. 3 Florida State, 17-16, Saturday night at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Teal notched six tackles in the win, including two tackles for loss as the Wolfpack held the Seminoles scoreless in the second half. Teal helped the defense hold Florida State to 3-for-15 on third down conversions. NC State also recorded four sacks against the Seminoles, a team that had yielded only six sacks in its previous five games.
Matt Carter (TheWolfpacker.com)
Monday morning quarterbacking
Three things that worked:
1. Controlling the line of scrimmage in the second half
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said repeatedly in his postgame press conference that they lost control at the line of scrimmage in the second half. NCSU shut down the Noles’ offense, especially running back Chris Thompson. Offensively, NCSU protected Glennon long enough so that he could complete multiple underneath crossing routes.
2. Limiting mistakes
NC State has played well this year when they stay out of their own way. Saturday against an opponent like Florida State, NC State stayed out of its own way. Outside of a Glennon interception that came on third and 16 at midfield, there were few of the mistakes that have plagued State like turnovers, penalties, dropped passes, etc., in its two losses. The Pack played a clean game, and even the Glennon interception did not hurt since FSU went three and out after the pick.
3. Making winning plays
The main reason NC State won this game? They made winning plays and FSU did not. Here is a sample:
- The defense forced a three and out on the first possession of the second half and then the offense responded with a 6-plus minute drive that set up a field goal and started to gas FSU’s defense.
- Redshirt freshman cornerback Juston Burris picked off FSU quarterback EJ Manuel in the final moments of the third quarter when the Noles were driving and potentially in field goal range to preserve a 16-3 score.
- Glennon hit freshman running back Shadrach Thornton on a crossing route out of the backfield that Thornton turned into a 24-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 16-10.
- Junior cornerback Dontae Johnson sacked Manuel for a huge 15-yard loss when the Noles had it third and two at the NCSU 19. A field goal there would have put the FSU lead at 19-10, but instead the Noles were forced to punt.
- The Pack defense holds for a three-and-out and were able to use all three of its timeouts when FSU had it first and 10 at their own 31 with 2:47 left. That forced FSU to punt on fourth and nine with 2:32 to go.
- Rose comes up with a blocked punt, and State’s offense converts three fourth downs on the game-winning drive.
AUSTIN JOHNSON (PACKPRIDE.COM)
RIDING THE ROLLER COASTER
NC State rocketed from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs by upsetting No. 3 Florida State on Saturday night.
There’s nothing like the emotional swings of rooting for NC State football.
One week, it’s an indescribable disaster. A combination of penalties, missed assignments, players giving up on plays and turnovers leading to an embarrassing road loss to an unremarkable opponent. Players are getting called out, coaches are coming under fire and to top it all off the team has to turn around and play a top 5 opponent a week later. The whole thing looks like a sinking ship.
And then the next, this happens. The Wolfpack looks lifeless for a half, especially on offense, trailing 16-0 and appearing well on its way to a 2nd straight shutout at the hands of the Seminoles. But the Pack came out of halftime looking like a different team, shutting out the Seminoles over the final 30 minutes and scoring just enough – converting three fourth downs on a nerve-wracking final touchdown drive – to upset the No. 3 Seminoles
“I’m not a big team meeting guy, but I think [the seniors] did a great job in a team-meeting only on Sunday,” Tom O’Brien said. “I think we got rid of the Miami thing and got focused on Florida State.”
Fisher Defends Questionable Calls In FSU’s Loss
Fisher blamed his team’s failures on poor execution.
“A technique issue,” Fisher said. “Offense and defense. There’s no one guy. They’re costly.”
This one may have cost Florida State a shot at the national championship. The Seminoles dropped nine spots in the poll to 12th.
“All losses, truthfully, they hurt,” Manuel said. “This hurt especially.”
It’s the second straight year that Florida State’s hopes for a possible run to a national title seemingly have disappeared by midseason- this time after the Seminoles blew a 16-point halftime lead. Fisher’s 13-7 record against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents includes five losses in games Florida State was favored by double-digits.
Apparently no one recalled Graham Gano’s heroics at North Carolina State just four years ago when Fisher was in his second season as Bobby Bowden’s offensive coordinator.
Gano’s 53-yard field goal, his fourth in that game, sealed the outcome with 1:53 left, giving Florida State – that’s right – a nine point lead.
Jim Young (accsports.com)
ACC Football Power Rankings, Oct. 8
Man, why can’t the rest of the ACC take football as seriously as they do in the Triangle?
I kid … sort of.
Duke, N.C. State and UNC all registered huge wins on Saturday. The Blue Devils thumped Virginia to move within one win of their first bowl game since 1994. North Carolina got a monster game from Gio Bernard (more on him later) to roll over Virginia Tech. And N.C. State capped things off with an improbable comeback win over then-No. 3 Florida State.
1. Florida State (5-1, 2-1 ACC)
Yes, yes, I’m aware the Seminoles lost on Saturday. When I’m ranking teams I take into account a) what they’ve done so far b) what they’ve done lately c) what I expect them to do from here on out and d) how I think they’d fare on a neutral field with the other schools around them. Put all that together and I still think the Noles are the best of the ACC. Also in their favor: they’ve already beaten the only other team I’d consider for this spot, Clemson.
Not in FSU’s favor, at least against N.C. State: the offense. The Noles gained just 122 yards in the second half. Their six second-half possessions resulted in five punts and and an interception. The most troubling moment came late in the fourth quarter, with FSU clinging to a six-point lead and facing a third and nine. Rather than entrust EJ Manuel’s arm – i.e. the guy that Jimbo Fisher usually praises up one side and down the other – Fisher called an option run to the left that was predictably smothered. A blocked punt and a clutch drive later and FSU’s perfect season was toast.
There’s still plenty to play for and FSU’s schedule the rest of the way is hardly daunting until the annual Florida game. But if the Noles want to prove they are elite, they need the offense – and more specifically, Manuel – to help carry more of the load. That Clemson game is now looking more like a function of the Tigers’ woeful defense, instead of a FSU offensive revival.
Last Week’s Ranking: No. 1
Next Game: Boston College, 5:30
3. UNC (4-2, 1-1)
Time to pat self on back. You may recall that I was the only guy at the ACC Kickoff who voted Gio Bernard preseason ACC player of the year. He probably won’t win it, thanks to missing 2.5 games due to a bum knee, but Bernard still made me look pretty smart on Saturday, as he sliced and diced Virginia Tech to the tune of a school-record 262 yards rushing. Wow. Just … wow.
Hats off (Get it? … Get it? … Ahh, never mind) to Larry Fedora as well. I’ve written before that it usually Fedora’s second season at a new school before his high-speed spread offense takes off. If that’s the case, then look out ACC in 2013. Because Fedora’s offense has looked pretty darned good in year one (44.0 ppg, 486.7 ypg) at UNC.
Also, do you realize that UNC may be one goal line tackle (Wake Forest) and one false-start penalty inside the five-yard line (Louisville) away from being unbeaten?
Last Week’s Ranking: No. 5
Next Game: At Miami, 2:30
5. N.C. State (4-2, 1-1)
I just don’t get it. How can a guy as even-keeled as Tom O’Brien produce teams that are so bipolar? The running joke after the Miami debacle (six turnovers, 566 yards passing yielded, 14 penalties) was that the Wolfpack would then turn around and knock off FSU … which of course happened. All stereotypes have at least some of their foundation in truth, I guess.
So given what we know about State’s erratic ways, what do we make of its outlook from here on out? There are four clearly winnable games (Maryland, Wake, BC and Virginia) and only one (at Clemson) where State would likely be the clear underdog. The other? The rivalry game with UNC. Eight wins seems to be a reasonable expectation. Of course, this is State, where you should probably expect the unexpected.
Last Week’s Ranking: No. 6
Next Game: Bye
9. Maryland (3-2, 1-0)
It was not pretty. At all. But don’t hold your breath if you’re waiting for any apologies from the Terps. Not when its 19-14 win over Wake – a game in which neither team managed to crack 250 yards of total offense but did combine to fumble seven times – already gave Maryland more victories than last season. Not when the Terps have already matched their ACC win total from 2011.
We were all quick to bury Randy Edsall last season, so let’s give him some praise for taking what looked like a sure dumpster fire and somehow turning it into a feel-good story so far this fall. I still have no idea why he didn’t go for two when Maryland went up 19-14 with 5:37 remaining, but let’s not quibble over such things right now.
Also, keep an eye on true freshman wideout Stefon Diggs. He’s erratic at times – he muffed a punt to set up one of Wake’s scores – but he’s electric at others. He turned a short pass into a 63-yard gain that led to the Terps’ game-winning score.
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
Next Game: At Virginia, 3 p.m.
Weekly Tom O’Brien TV Show
In this week’s episode head football coach Tom O’Brien breaks down the Florida State game with host Tony Haynes. Mark Thomas visits with offensive lineman R.J. Mattes and previews what is up next for the Wolfpack.
Gottfried: You can’t dial up a trip to the Final 4
Mark Gottfried is happy about the expectations for his team but he said you can’t dial up a trip to the Final 4
Purvis: So excited to be cleared
Rodney Purvis said he was extremely excited to get a call from Mark Gottfried saying he was cleared to play this season.
Mitchell: Expectations for NC State high entering 2012-13
NC State has a blend of youth and experience on their roster and high expectations to go along as they enter the 2012-12 basketball season.