NC STATE BASKETBALL
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Wolfpack’s Gottfried saw ACC top spot coming
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried saw this coming.
For the first time in 37 years, the media picked the Wolfpack to win the ACC on Wednesday at Operation Basketball. Junior forward C.J. Leslie was picked as the preseason ACC player of the year and freshman guard Rodney Purvis the preseason rookie of the year.
Gottfried knew what would happen because it was the same result as the coaches’ vote earlier in the week.
“I think it was a set-up,” Gottfried said of the vote by his fellow ACC coaches, which was the first in league history. “They set me up. It was a conspiracy theory.”
Gottfried, who returns four starters from his first team, which won 24 games and reached the Sweet 16, wasn’t particularly affected by the media’s selection.
“We’ve never accused you guys of being real smart,” Gottfried said.
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Wolfpack wary of expectations
The preseason attention is nice, N.C. State junior C.J. Leslie admits, but it doesn’t mean much.
The ACC coaches picked the Wolfpack to win the league earlier this week and the media will vote today in Charlotte. The coaches also picked Leslie, who led the Wolfpack with 14.7 points and added 7.3 rebounds per game, as the preseason player of the year.
“It’s all great, getting picked this and that but when the games start, it doesn’t help us whatsoever,” Leslie said Wednesday.
Senior forward Richard Howell said getting picked by the coaches to win is better than being picked to finish last but it’s still not that important.
“It’s just something that somebody picked off of what we did last year,” Howell said. “We haven’t proved anything this year.”
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Swofford: N.C. State’s hoop resurgence is good for the ACC
ACC commissioner John Swofford touched on a number of subjects during his semi-annual forum with the media Wednesday, among them the importance of N.C. State being nationally relevant and the future of the league’s men’s basketball tournament.
Although Swofford didn’t mention the Wolfpack by name, he left little doubt as to how much it means to the league to have teams other than North Carolina and Duke at or near the top of the conference standings and in the NCAA tournament.
“What I see in the league right now is that depth coming back with some programs that historically have added tremendously to our reputation,” Swofford said. “You know who those programs are as well as I do.”
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Preseason vote another step in the right direction for N.C. State
Now all State has to do is go out and live up to the hype, if that’s possible given the fact that anything less than a league title can now be considered a disappointment.
“It’s flattering,” Gottfried said in an attempt to embrace the reality of his team’s new frontrunner status. “I think our players should feel good about it. … But at the same time, our guys understand that we’ve got four guys who have played a lot of minutes. They get it. They understand that’s not worth a hill of beans now.
“It’s how we finish, not where we’re picked at the beginning. We’re going to play games in January and February, and at that time none of us will care about who was picked where in October.”
Regardless of how those meaningful games turn out, the mere fact that the Wolfpack was picked to finish so high is a major step forward for a program that has spent the past two decades in a perpetual state of rebuilding.
“I think we’re taking steps along the way,” Gottfried said. “Our finish was good last year. We recruited some good players, that’s been a great step forward for us.
“But we haven’t beaten North Carolina and Duke yet. That needs to be a step along the way and they’re not rolling over for us. I think we’re taking the right steps and moving in a good direction, but the process, for me, is still real young.”
“Just the idea of going to N.C. State is a lot different than when I had my idea of going to N.C. State,” senior center Richard Howell said.
It’s an idea enhanced by the promise of great things to come rather than the memory of greatness from the distant past.
“Since I got here, I’ve probably seen the video of the dude tipping the ball in and them winning the championship about a million times,” Howell said of Lorenzo Charles’ iconic dunk in the 1983 national championship game. “That’s something we’re tired of talking about. Every year, it’s like ‘the ’83 championship, the ’83 championship.’ We’re trying to put up a new banner.”
“It’s new territory for our team,” second-year head coach Mark Gottfried said. “These are unchartered waters. We have to learn how to accept that responsibility. It’s something that I think our guys are in the process of doing right now.
“And when you start playing games, you have to understand that you’re viewed differently than maybe you were a year ago, so we’ve got to be ready for that.”
Gottfried has been preparing his team for playing with a bull’s eye on its back, with daily messages and reminders for the players as they arrive for practice at the Dail Center.
Senior forward Richard Howell, leaner and meaner-looking than ever before with his ragged goatee, remembers one such message.
“He told us that we don’t just wake up one morning and become ACC champions,” Howell said. “People might be predicting big things for us, but we still have to come to practice and work hard every day. We can’t take drills off or not go hard every play. Just because we have some high expectations, doesn’t mean the other teams in the league are going to roll over.
“We have to go out and earn what people are predicting for us.”
Leslie added: “The expectations are something we are not going to shy away from, but that’s not what’s going to win us games. We have to go do that ourselves.”
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
With Duke, UNC having to share spotlight, ACC media day takes on different feel
Sure, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina coach Roy Williams attracted the largest clusters of media during their sessions and their teams were picked to finish in the top quarter of the conference.
But it was hard to miss the fact that something was different.
After years of being the only heavyweights in the room at the league’s annual preseason gathering, on Wednesday, they were neither the reigning champs nor the favorite.
N.C. State was voted the preseason favorite by the media. The Wolfpack also had the preseason Player of the Year in forward C.J. Leslie and Rookie of the Year in guard Rodney Purvis.
It marked the first time either Duke or North Carolina hasn’t been voted the preseason favorite since Wake Forest was picked first in 2003. The two powerhouses have occupied the top two spots in the poll in five of the last seven seasons.
The pressure those expectations create is something the Wolfpack said it welcomes.
“That’s what we want, that’s what any team wants,” Leslie said. “You can’t be scared. . We know guys are going to come out and they’re going to go at us because of that.”
While the crowd around Gottfried’s table thinned only slightly during his 90-minute availability, Hamilton’s eventually dwindled to just a few. By that point, he could easily look across the ballroom and see that Krzyzewski’s table still had a standing-room-only crowd.
Things had changed. But only slightly.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
It’s official … N.C. State is the team to beat in the ACC
N.C. State made some history Wednesday by being selected as the ACC’s preseason basketball favorite for the first time since 1975. Now it’s up to coach Mark Gottfried and his team to follow up on the high expectations to make some history that really matters.
The Wolfpack, which hasn’t actually won an ACC regular-season title since 1989, received 26 of the 53 first-place ballots cast by members of the media at the league’s Operation Basketball event in Charlotte.
The preseason All-ACC team features State teammates C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown, UNC’s James Michael McAdoo, Duke’s Mason Plumlee and FSU’s Michael Snaer.
Leslie was the choice for preseason Player of the Year while fellow Wolfpacker Rodney Purvis is the preseason Rookie of the Year.
Jim Young (accsports.com)
How My Preseason ACC Hoops Ballot Stacked Up
Order Of Finish
My prediction, 1st
Gentlemen, start your hype engines! The ACC media – and I’m in this group – is betting that we’ll see the N.C. State team that won six of its last eight – including two in the NCAA tournament – and not the one that was 7-7 in the ACC before going on its stretch run.
My prediction, 2nd
A lot of folks are predicting a Duke downturn, but the folks who are around the program more – i.e. the ACC media – clearly aren’t. The Blue Devils received 21 first-place votes, just behind N.C. State’s 26. Duke finished just 12 points behind State overall, 601 to 589.
My prediction, 3rd If Marcus Paige can play up to my expectations (more on that below), then the Tar Heels will be dangerous. If he struggles, there are several teams that could leapfrog UNC. Another key: getting production from the center position.
4) Florida State
My prediction, 5th
Leonard Hamilton spent quite a bit of time today telling the media that we were largely ignorant about his program and that this ignorance was understandable. He might be surprised then, to find out that six of us voted the Noles first. I’m not ready to get that excited, given that FSU did lose six seniors off last year’s squad.
My prediction, 4th
The Hurricanes return a TON of production from last season and Reggie Johnson is coming into this year healthy, slimmed down and stronger. I like Miami’s prospects a lot. I might like them even more if I felt like they enjoyed a real home court advantage.
Adam Gold (WRALSportsfan.com)
Everyone’s got a preseason poll; and they all stink. Here’s mine.
Here’s my pre-season ACC predictions. Use as directed, please take with a grain of salt, some restrictions apply…
1-Duke…I flipped a coin and it came up looking like a former Army Captain from Chicago.
2-N.C. State…I think they’ve got the best player in the league in PG Lorenzo Brown.
3-North Carolina…Yes, they’ve got a lot of new faces, but they’ve got a lot of really good players as well.
4-Miami…Barry Larkin was elected to the Hall of Fame. His son Shane is going to have a big year in Miami.
5-Maryland…I think they’re over the sabotage of the previous regime.
6-Florida State…At some point, the Seminoles are going to lose Jimbo Fisher to a football school.
Pre-season all-conference teams (and unlike the league, I’ll give you the full three-team treatment).
Lorenzo Brown, NC State; Calvin Leslie, NC State; Reggie Bullock, UNC; James Michael McAdoo, UNC: Michael Snaer, FSU
Player of the Year: Lorenzo Brown, NC State
Rookie of the Year: Rasheed Suliamon, Duke
NC STATE FOOTBALL
Joe Giglio (N&O)
N.C. State wants to bottle defensive effort against FSU
After giving up nine plays of 20 yards or more — and seven of 40 or more — in a 44-37 loss to Miami on Sept. 29, the Pack gave up five plays longer than 20 yards, including one when it went to a “prevent” defense on the final drive.
“That’s the defense we can be,” said Lucas, who had a sack and six tackles against FSU. “When we play like that, the sky’s the limit.”
With a new set of linebackers, pressuring the quarterback had been one of N.C. State’s biggest problems through the first five games.
Take out a seven-sack effort against South Alabama and the Pack had five sacks in four games. Few teams had been better at getting to the quarterback than State in 2010 and ’11, ranking in the top 10 nationally both seasons.
With the loss of linebackers Audie Cole and Terrell Manning to the NFL — Cole and Manning combined for 12 sacks and 28 tackles for loss in ’11 — the Pack had struggled to create pressure from the linebacker spots.
Against FSU, three of N.C. State’s four sacks came from the linebackers and the fourth came from defensive back Dontae Johnson, who was lined up in a linebacker spot on a key third-down sack in the fourth quarter.
N.C. State defensive coordinator Mike Archer pointed out before the FSU win, the Wolfpack’s new linebackers (Rickey Dowdy, Rodman Noel, Brandon Pittman) were getting to the quarterback, even in the Miami game, but they weren’t finishing blitzes.
Matt Carter (TheWolfpacker.com)
Special teams solid in first half of the season
There has not been a whole lot of noise surrounding NC State’s special teams with the exception of a punt block by redshirt freshman defensive end Mike Rose to spark the game-winning drive in the 17-16 win over No. 3 Florida State.
And that’s probably how special teams coordinator Jerry Petercuskie wants it. In fact, there is just one area that he would like to see some measurable improvement for the second half of the season.
“I’d like to see our kickoff returns step up a little bit,” Petercuskie noted.
Fifth-year senior receiver Tobais Palmer is averaging 19.5 yards a runback, but Petercuskie also noted that State in its last two games has played against two of the best kick coverage teams in the country in Miami and Florida State.
“Even so we busted one for 50 against Miami which was a nice return,” Petercuskie pointed out. “[FSU is] daring you to return the ball. [FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins] hanging it up there high, they got four guys that are inside the 25-yard line by the time the ball is caught. They’re fast, and they are not little guys.”
On punt returns, redshirt junior receiver Rashard Smith is averaging 11.1 yards a runback and has a 73-yard touchdown against The Citadel.
ACC media relations
Tom O’Brien on ACC coaches’ teleconference
Q. Even though your quarterback is a fifth-year senior, on Saturday he’ll be making just his 20th career start. Talk about what you’ve seen in his play this year.
Certainly he’s gotten better each and every game. Last year was his first year starting. We had some growing pains about midway through the year. A lot kicked in.
He started off this year, had a couple of miscues early there in the Tennessee game. But he’s come back and played well the last three games he played.
He set a record throwing the ball against Miami. Came back in the second half against Florida State. I think threw for over 200 yards actually when we needed him there mostly in the fourth quarter. Converted three straight fourth-down conversions.
He’s very confident right now in what he’s doing. Our team has a lot of confidence in him. He’s performing at a high level.
Q. Tom, could you talk about the effect of an open date after the big win against Florida State. Would you have liked have gone back into action after that momentum or do you think people would have been talking about that game all week and not concentrating on Maryland?
I think we’ve had more success here after adversity than we’ve had success. I think it’s better for us to have taken that time off and to let them enjoy themselves a little bit. It was such an emotional victory, especially coming off the heels of a game in Miami that we certainly could have, should have, would have, whatever, against the University of Miami. That helped.
Plus certainly midway through the year we have guys with bumps and bruises, banged up. We’re trying to get as healthy as we can as we go back into the second half of the season, six straight ACC games. I think it comes at a pretty good time for us.
QUOTABLES: Edsall High on Glennon
On looking at last year’s game vs. NC State:
“We look at it as a coaching staff, but there is not that much you can get from a year ago. This team is a different team, so we focus on what this team can do. You can go back and you can see how things were a year ago, but my focus is what NC State is doing this year. It’s not always good to look in the past. We need to focus on moving forward and hopefully getting a win this weekend.”
On what makes NC State quarterback Mike Glennon special:
“He’s your true, pro-style pocket passer. He’s tall, so he can see over the line of scrimmage. He has a good arm and can make all of the throws. They’re going to stretch you vertically and horizontally. And he has a pretty good release. He’s a very well rounded player with experience.
“I think that when you look at him from a pro-prospect, he’s probably the best guy that we face all year long, no disrespect to Geno Smith.”
On what he saw from NC State in its victory over Florida State:
“I saw them come back and beat Florida State. They played very hard and shut Florida State out. They made some plays, and blocked a punt and played very physically.
“I have known Tom O’Brien for years and Tom is a good football coach. His teams are always teams who are very hard-nosed and physical and they will be very fundamentally sound. You are in for a street fight and a physical game for 60 minutes. That is what you are going to get and that is what Florida State got. They never backed down, they gave themselves a shot to win at the end, and they capitalized.”
On whether NC State’s victory over Florida State got the attention of Maryland players:
“We didn’t start focusing on NC State until Sunday. Our players are just kids, so they do focus on what is going on, so they got a chance to watch those things. I am sure they have our attention. However, if we want to be the kind of team that we want to be, it should not take someone beating somebody else to get us motivated.
“That is not what I am looking for with this program. I am looking for us to be excited and motivated to play football regardless of who the opponent is. Our goal is play to the best of our abilities, play hard, and execute our game plan.”
On how to attack NC State defensive back David Amerson:
“Hopefully he will get hurt and won’t play. I’m just kidding, but all jokes aside, he is a good football player. He is a very good corner. It comes down to our coaches and receivers to look at all of his tendencies. But we are not trying to beat one guy, we are trying to beat 11 guys. He is a very good football player and we have a lot of respect and admiration for how he plays and he will be one of the best we will face all year, but we do have to worry about everyone, and not just him.”
DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer
True freshmen make their mark in the ACC
Talent trumps experience in the Atlantic Coast Conference, where several true freshmen are gaining on-the-job training during their first year out of high school.
ACC coaches have opted to throw young players into the fray rather than stick them with a redshirt — and the results have been profound.
The phenomenon is especially prevalent at Maryland, where quarterback Perry Hills and wide receiver Stefon Diggs have made significant contributions to the team’s radical turnaround in coach Randy Edsall’s second season at the school.
Inserted into the starting lineup after veteran C.J. Brown tore a knee ligament in August, Hills has completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns. Diggs, a top-tier recruit out of Good Counsel (Md.) High School, leads the Terps with 21 catches for 453 yards and three scores. He also took a kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown in last week’s 27-20 win over Virginia.
Edsall started 12 true freshmen in the opener against William & Mary, and seven are currently listed on the depth chart. That includes leading rusher Wes Brown, starting right tackle Mike Madaras and starting safety Anthony Nixon, who had a key interception against Virginia.
“My philosophy has always been you play the best guy regardless of them being a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior,” Edsall said. “When I coached in the NFL (as an assistant) with Jacksonville, I started rookies there. To me, the job of the coach is to determine who the best guys are and put those guys on the field.”
NC STATE ATHLETICS
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Wolfpack soccer players dismissed
After a fast start to the season, N.C. State’s men’s soccer team has been knocked back on the field and off.
Wolfpack coach Kelly Findley has dismissed four players from the team after their involvement in a fight outside a bar in downtown Raleigh earlier this month.
Forward Nader Jaibat, defender Michael Nelson, forward Monbo Bokar and midfielder Jonathan Ray were arrested after the team’s 1-0 home loss to Duke on Oct. 5, according to Wake County court documents.
All four former players were charged with resisting a public officer, a misdemeanor, according to Wake County court documents. Jaibat and Bokar received misdemeanor underage drinking charges. Ray was also charged with disorderly conduct and Nelson was charged with simple affray, both charges are misdemeanors.
Former Wolfpack tight end Mark Thomas visits with redshirt senior wide receiver Tobais Palmer to discuss how he gets open on the football field.
Yahoo! Sports Radio
Mike Glennon – NC State Back In The ACC Hunt
NC State quarterback Mike Glennon talks about the big win over Florida State, how the Wolfpack has put themselves back in good position, and about his old teammate Russell Wilson’s work in the NFL.
Sara Jane Harris (PackPride.com)
ACC Media Day Video: Richard Howell
Can you talk about what improvements we’ll see from you.
I’ve been working on my shooting and I think the main thing is my fouling. I reached a lot when I shouldn’t have and I feel like that’s a growing stage.
I feel like if I don’t reach a lot then we’ll be alright.
The players say you change every year and you’re maybe thinking about growing dreads this year.
Yeah, I just want to keep people on their feet. I definitely want dreadlocks. I don’t know how that’s going to go with coach Gottfried. I’ve got to talk to him about it, but hopefully I’ll be alright.
Sara Jane Harris (PackPride.com)
ACC Media Day Video: C.J. Leslie
What improvements will we see from you this season?
Better shot selection, pushing the ball a little better, less turnovers. There are a lot of little things I’m going to get better at.
You’ve practiced a few days, how has preseason gone for you?
Very well. We’ve been practicing hard and looking good in practice.
It’s just one of those things that everybody is excited for. Everyone is jittery with high energy. Everyone is just pumped up.
How far can this team go?
We can go as far as we want to go. I think the only problem that we are going to have is ourselves.
We just have to go out and do all those things that coach told us to do and do all those things right.
Andrew Carter (N&O)
UNC coach Roy Williams unaware of increased academic standards
Thorp during his interview with News & Observer reporters said, “Academics are going to have to come first. And it’s clear that they haven’t to the extent that they should.”
Williams, though, said he was unaware of any increased standards that could be coming for incoming athletes.
“I think North Carolina always has some high standards,” he said. “We’re going to always have [high standards]. And I’m not against those whatsoever. But I don’t see in my own mind, I don’t see us just jumping out of the window and doing something crazy now.
“We’ve had a problem. We’re trying to fix the problem. We’re making a lot of changes for the problem.”
As far as Williams knows, though, those changes don’t include increased admittance standards for athletes.
“The whole NCAA has got some new entrance requirements that are going into effect,” he said. “And I think that North Carolina will go along with those. If something is done earlier, I don’t have any idea. Nobody’s told me we’re going to do those things.”
He said he wasn’t focused on the potential of increased academic standards for athletes.
“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “Four [weeks] ago, guys, I was wondering if I was ever going to freaking coach again. You think I’m worried what the hell we’re doing in 2016?”