NC STATE BASKETBALL
Joe Giglio (N&O)
This season’s Wolfpack cooler, calmer, still hungry
Just like last year, the tournament starts in the state of Ohio. Not that Gottfried was particularly interested in a trip down memory lane on Tuesday.
“This isn’t last year,” said Gottfried, who has a 7-8 record in eight NCAA tournament trips. “Everybody likes to talk about last year. This is a different year, it’s a different team.
“I think this team is hungry. I think that we’ve won eight of our last 11 shows that this team has played well down the stretch. They want to win.”
One similarity to last year’s tournament Gottfried wouldn’t mind is a healthy Howell. The senior forward hobbled through the last three halves of the ACC tournament with an injured right leg.
He was kneed twice by Virginia forward Akil Mitchell in Friday’s quarterfinals and wasn’t at full strength for the loss to Miami. Howell scored 22 points in the opening-round win against San Diego State last year.
Gottfried said Howell was better but also said that Brown had tweaked his left ankle, which was first injured on Jan. 29 and caused him to miss two games in February.
“I think we’ll be healthy and ready to go,” Gottfried said.
News and Observer
Temple fan: NC State fans, I feel your pain
As a fanatic follower of the Temple University men’s basketball team, which plays the Wolfpack on Friday in the NCAA tournament, I know what it’s like to root for a group of hoopsters who can’t decide if they’re good, mediocre or truly terrible.
Sure, the Owls have won 23 games, knocked off top-tier teams like Syracuse, VCU and St. Louis, and boast one of the premier point guards in the country in A-10 player of the year Khalif Wyatt.
But they’ve also stunk up the joint by losing to teams like Duquesne and – Gulp! – Canisius. I mean, really. Canisius?
You guys understand, right? You were picked in preseason to be one of the elite programs in the country, what with that Sweet 16 finish last year, the return of key players like C.J. Leslie and a killer recruiting class. But somewhere between dreams and reality, the Pack slowly slid into mediocrity. Yes, you won 24 games, but some of those victories came against real dogs like Norfolk State and Western Michigan. There was, of course, that glorious victory over the hated Dukies, but 10 days later you went to Winston-Salem and lost to Wake Forest. I mean, really. Wake Forest?
Ryan Tice and Jacey Zembal (TheWolfpacker.com)
Temple guard Khalif Wyatt to test Pack defense
NC State coach Mark Gottfried doesn’t expect one of his players to shut down Temple star guard Khalif Wyatt on Friday in the Wolfpack’s first game of the NCAA Tournament in Dayton, Ohio.
Gottfried said Tuesday that a collective effort will be need to slow down Wyatt, who won the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year award. A similar approach was used against Virginia Tech point guard Erick Green and Virginia small forward Joe Harris during last week’s ACC Tournament.
NC State junior point guard Lorenzo Brown will likely be the first line of defense against Wyatt, who averaged 19.8 points and 4.1 assists per game this season.
“With Wyatt, Lorenzo has a tough order, but it has to be our team,” Gottfried said. “We have to help Lorenzo a lot.
“We have to do a good job on him as a team. That’s what we did a lot today and worked on today.”
Wyatt is just the latest in a long line of distinguished point guards that goes beyond Green, Larkin and Cook. Michigan sophomore Trey Burke, Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart, Penn State senior Tim Frazier before he got hurt and UConn sophomore Ryan Boatright, all are accomplished point guards.
“With Wyatt, what is different from probably anybody we’ve played this year, is just how big and strong he is,” Gottfried said. “He creates contact and gets to the foul line when he drives. He’s a crafty one-on-one player.”
Brown has battled a nagging ankle injury since injuring it against Virginia on Jan. 29. He earned one vote from an ACC coach for league defensive player of the year, and did a superb job in holding Green to 5 of 19 last Thursday in the ACC Tournament.
“Lorenzo is still struggling with his ankle at times,” Gottfried said. “Even today, he re-tweaked it again, which is one of those things for him. It’s just not very strong.”
Wyatt shot a team-high 218 three-point field-goal attempts – making 71 – for a 32.6 percentage. Fifth-year seniors Scootie Randle, a small forward, and post player Jake O’Brien have also launched well over 100 three-point field-goal attempts.
Wyatt has also gone 188 of 226 at the free-throw line for 83.2 percent. Temple’s next two players who reached the foul line the most each had 99 free-throw attempts apiece.
“I think they shoot the three-pointer, and shoot the three well,” Gottfried said. “They get to the line a lot. Wyatt gets to the line a lot. They are typical tough-minded Philadelphia type team. They’ll take you some off the dribble.”
Gottfried recalled watching Temple play at Kansas on television Jan. 6. The Jayhawks won 69-62, but the game was close throughout. Wyatt had 26 points in 31 minutes in the contest.
“They had a chance to win and were right to the wire,” Gottfried said. “I realized real quick that we had to play a heck of a tough team.”
Senior wing Scott Wood helped slow down Joe Harris last Friday in the win over the Cavaliers, and expects a good game plan against the Temple perimeter players.
“We just have had really good energy,” Wood said. “We are reading our scout really well and know what to do, and how to execute it. Any time we have that great energy and are helping each other, we are a tough team.”
NC State is ready for NCAA run
The strong finish has been keyed by some improved play on the defensive end, according to Gottfried.
“Against Virginia and Virginia Tech, I thought we were really good defensively,” the coach noted. “At time, in the Miami game at the tournament, we were; our problem in the Miami game was we were, offensively, abysmal. We were bad, which hasn’t happened to our team a lot this year. I think we’re a lot better defensively than we were earlier in the year.”
NC State has accomplished its goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament, and now it is anybody’s championship to win. A major talking point on Selection Sunday was about how there is no clear-cut favorite, but Gottfried noted that it is always possible for any team in the field to battle through the bracket.
“I think that’s the case a lot of years,” he said. “Some years there are dominant teams in the tournament, but this year, I think it’s a little more wide open. Also, if you go back through the history of the tournament and you go back to teams who have advanced to the Final Four, anybody can get there. We feel like we’re a team that can. I think that’s what makes the tournament the greatest show on Earth, anybody can find their way there.”
Keith Pompey (philly.com)
Temple will have hands full with N.C. State’s big men
Fran Dunphy wants to make sure the Temple Owls are locked in.
Nowhere is that more evident than in Temple’s practice facility, where the coach has made sure that North Carolina State’s presence is felt.
The ninth-seeded Owls (23-9) could grow weary of the eighth-seeded Wolfpack (24-10) before the teams meet Friday afternoon in an NCAA East Regional matchup in Dayton, Ohio.
A North Carolina State logo appears on a television monitor inside the front door of the facility. The monitor lists the statistics for N.C. State’s victories and losses.
Another monitor shows footage from the Wolfpack’s lopsided regular-season victory over Georgia Tech. And the starting lineup from the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinal rout of Virginia is visible on another.
And Wolfpack logos, statistics, and videos could show up elsewhere. Temple wants its players to realize the importance of this game.
MIKE KERN (philly.com)
Temple’s Scootie Randall saves best for last
THIS ISN’T THE WAY the script was supposed to play out for Temple’s Scootie Randall.
The 6-6 fifth-year forward, who missed last season with lingering knee issues, was a third-team all-Atlantic 10 preseason pick. Which made sense, since he’d been the conference’s Most Improved Player in 2010-11, when he was limited to 7 minutes in the final nine games with a foot injury.
The way most folks figured, he and fellow senior Khalif Wyatt were going to be some kind of one-two punch. And when the Communications Tech product scored a career-high 31 in the opener at Kent State, followed by games of 16 and 18, well, it looked like most folks were right. So who would have predicted that he’d get more than 13 points only two times in the next 20 games? There were many times when he mostly looked lost.
“I’ve been playing so long, and when I was younger I used to play against guys who were bigger than me,” said Randall, who received his bachelor’s degree in sociology after the fall semester. “So things never went my way. Like my dad always used to tell me, no matter what, life isn’t going to go as planned. So every time a roadblock comes up, you’ve just got to fight through it.
“You don’t take anything for granted.”
“He’s been around, he’s mature, so he understands you’re going to have ups and downs,” Dunphy said. “He’s handled it very, very well, to be honest. It hasn’t been easy for him. Nobody wants to make shots and score points and be a good teammate and be valuable more than Scootie. He’s had some interesting games. But I think right now he’s in a good place.”
Randall leads the team in minutes played, at nearly 35 per. He’s second in points, averaging 11.8, and is a real close third in rebounds at 6.3. In that stretch run he scored from 11 to 18 in every game and made at least three three-pointers six times. Not bad for someone who’s struggling.
“He’s the ultimate team guy,” said Wyatt, the A-10 Player of the Year. “He could care less about whose name gets in the paper. He never dropped his head or anything like that. He’s the one here after practice shooting. You hear a lot of people say negative stuff about him, but he never really let it affect him. He always leaves it all out there.
“He definitely handled it well, probably better than I would have. I would have been down, saying, ‘Oh, I let my teammates down’ or ‘I’m not living up to such and such.’ But he handled it like a man. He’s tough. At the end, we needed him to be the best team we can be. Not just his shots. It’s everything he brings. He helps take the pressure off me and everyone else. We didn’t give up on him. He wants to succeed just as bad as I do.”
If you know Wyatt, you realize what a mouthful that is. With five 30-point games, he’s certainly shown that he’s capable of carrying the load. Ask Syracuse or VCU. But if the Owls are going to do some damage in the Madness – and they’d probably get top seed Indiana in Sunday’s third round should they advance – they’re going to need all hands on deck. And that might mean Randall as much as anyone else.
Keith Pompey (philly.com)
Dunphy: ‘We disappointed a lot of folks’
With well-wishers on hand to celebrate Temple’s sixth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, coach Fran Dunphy took the opportunity to apologize for the Owls’ poor play in the Atlantic Ten tournament.
Following a first-round bye, Temple suffered a 79-74 quarterfinal loss to Massachusetts for the second consecutive season. It was a game where A-10 player of the year Khalif Wyatt shot 4 of 19 from the field.
“We feel like we disappointed a lot of folks on Friday night,” Dunphy said Sunday to the crowd in the Fox-Gittis room of the Liacouras Center. “We didn’t do our job. So we had a little meeting before this. We weren’t going to come in before we knew we were in.”
Keith Pompey (philly.com)
Temple’s Lee listed day-to-day
Temple post player Anthony Lee is still listed day-to-day for Friday’s NCAA tournament second-round game against North Carolina State in Dayton.
The 6-foot-9 redshirt sophomore is dealing with concussion-like symptoms.
Since Lee provides Temple’s only true post presence, the Owls would be at a huge disadvantage without him. N.C. State (24-10) boasts a talented front court in 6-foot-9 forward C.J. Leslie (14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds) and 6-8 forward Richard Howell (12.7 points and 10.7 rebounds).
MIKE KERN (Philadelphia Daily News)
Wyatt almost always at center of Temple’s success
Gottfried: Our guys are excited about playing
North Carolina State University head coach Mark Gottfried meets the media ahead of the Wolfpack’s NCAA Tournament showdown with the Temple Owls.
News and Observer
UNC, NC State, Duke face NCAA challenges and men of mystery
Week after week, game after game, college basketball teams during the past 2 1/2 months have encountered the familiar. That’s how conference play is.
Coaches have prepared strategies for facing some players they’ve seen for years. And players have often matched up against those they’ve shared a court with for parts of a season or two – maybe longer.
Entering the NCAA tournament, that sense of familiarity often disappears. In the early rounds, especially, coaches will prepare for teams they’ve never scouted before, and players will often match up against strangers.
For North Carolina, N.C. State and Duke, here’s a look at some of those strangers who will become more familiar. Villanova, Temple and Albany present various degrees of challenges for the Tar Heels, Wolfpack and Blue Devils, but in Duke’s case they may have a bigger concern: themselves.
No. 8 N.C. State vs. No. 9 Temple
Friday, 1:40 p.m.
Player of concern: Temple senior guard Khalif Wyatt
Wyatt, a 6-4 shooting guard, led the Owls – and the Atlantic 10 – in scoring with 19.8 points per game, eight points more per game than anyone else on the roster, but also led the team with 4.1 assists per game.
Wyatt has had 16 games of 20 or more points and five games in the 30s, including 30 in an 84-76 home win against Virginia Commonwealth’s swarming defense. Wyatt’s one of three seniors in the Owls’ veteran lineup, along with two graduate students.
Friday’s matchup with the Wolfpack offers a shot at tournament redemption for Wyatt and the Owls. They were blown out by South Florida, 58-44 last March. Wyatt finished with 19 points but was just 1 of 6 from 3-point range as the fifth-seeded Owls bowed out of the tournament without a win.
The Owls are 1-4 under coach Fran Dunphy in the tournament. Wyatt helped Temple beat Penn State in 2011, with 10 points and three steals.
N.C. State was able to contain All-ACC guards Erick Green (Virginia Tech) and Joe Harris (Virginia) in the ACC tournament but allowed Miami guard Durand Scott to score 32 in Saturday’s loss in the semifinals.
Andrew Carter (N&O)
Roy ‘confused, stunned’ about UNC’s low seed in NCAA tournament
Two days later, North Carolina coach Roy Williams was still confused about how his team received a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament.
After a strong finish to the regular season and a run to the ACC tournament championship game, Williams and the Tar Heels believed they would earn a more favorable seed.
“It was a confusing show,” he said Tuesday of the NCAA tournament selection show, which he and his players watched at his house Sunday. “And I am still confused. And I’m a fairly intelligent person.”
They didn’t have to wait long to see the words “North Carolina” show up on the screen. But beside those words was the number eight, and it took a moment for it to register, Williams said.
“I don’t mind telling you,” he said. “I was stunned. I saw North Carolina and the number eight, I was stunned. And so then it took me a couple seconds, ‘Hey, that’s us. It’s not somebody else – that’s us.’ ”
Like Williams, UNC’s players reacted with disappointment during the show.
The Tar Heels will enter the NCAA tournament with an RPI of 17, though Williams acknowledged RPI might be less significant than it once was.
“I think the RPI at one point was probably – probably – more important than it is now,” Williams said. “But again, guys, our RPI was 17 … I’m good at math. Divide that by four, you don’t get that eight.”
A poor showing against top-50 teams in the RPI didn’t help UNC’s seeding. The Tar Heels were 2-8 and they beat no team more highly ranked than No. 23 Nevada-Las Vegas.
Even so, Williams and his players believe they deserved better.
“I was kind of disappointed,” senior guard Dexter Strickland said. “Of course, we wanted a higher seed. But I think it kind of helped us also, because it kind of put anger in everybody to go down there (to Kansas City) and to prove to everybody that we deserved a higher seed.”
NC STATE FOOTBALL
R. Cory Smith (N&O)
Doeren, new regime begin loudly for Wolfpack
Tuesday felt different. New coach. New sounds. New vibe.
“Very different from past seasons,” sophomore running back Tony Creecy said after N.C. State’s first spring football practice.
Instead of hearing the resounding sounds of pads pounding together and whistles blowing, music blared from N.C. State’s practice facility as first-year coach Dave Doeren switched his attention from position to position. It was his first of 15 practices before the Kay Yow spring game April 20.
Creecy was happy following the first practice with Doeren and the new coaching staff.
“I loved it,” he said about the atmosphere on the field. “There was a lot of enthusiasm and a lot players running around. … there was never a moment where it got quiet.
“The music gets our blood flowing and gets us excited to be out here. I don’t know if it was just because of the first day of practice, but I think that’s going to be a consistent thing here.”
While the mood on the field appeared to be light-hearted, there are several positions battles beginning – none bigger than at quarterback, where the Wolfpack must replace Mike Glennon.
Matt Carter (TheWolfpacker.com)
Dave Doeren talks first spring practice
“It was good to be back on the field. It’s a starting point for sure. We got a lot to of work to do, and I kind of expected that. There were definitely some high points, and a lot of things you obviously go out on day one, you watch the film and you look at the good, the bad and the ugly and you try to get it better the next time you come out.”
How long have you been looking forward to this day?
“I was excited about it. Obviously you sign up to be a coach to do that, to coach not sit behind a desk. There are a lot of things that go into the job but obviously this is your favorite part of the job. So it’s fun to be back on the field with the players today.”
On being involved in individual drills early in practice.
“I try to help out where I can, but at the same time I don’t want to be in the way. I’ll be very involved on special teams, and I’ll be an integral part of coaching those techniques. Offense, defense, where I can, I jump in and help out.”
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
Notebook: New energy at NC State’s first practice
Competition under center is already heating up
Stocker, last year’s backup quarterback, embraces the competition that will start this spring for starting duties under center. Former Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas, a rising-redshirt junior after sitting out last season, is expected to battle with Stocker for the job.
“I’m very excited,” Stocker said of his opportunity to compete for the No. 1 spot on the depth. “I just can’t wait for more practices. I’m already excited for Thursday’s practice, I can’t wait to get there.
“I’m excited for when we start scrimmaging and competing, really getting into it. I couldn’t sleep last night. This is a good opportunity.”
NC State has been set the past five years under center with Seattle Seahawks’ Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson and future NFL signal caller Mike Glennon, who was on hand to watch his former teammates before tomorrow’s Pro Day. The team hasn’t had a wide-open competition like they will this preseason since Wilson beat out the true freshman Glennon in 2008, but Stocker sees that as a positive.
“As a team, the competition is great,” he said. “It’s a great quarterback that I’m competing with. I’m glad that I get the chance to compete against him. If someone else came here and wasn’t as good, it wouldn’t be a competition, but I’m glad I get to compete. He makes me a better quarterback because it keeps me on my [toes]. Therefore, I think it will be great.”
After playing in Dana Bible’s pro-style offense last season, Stocker is looking forward to the challenge of mastering a different style of attack.
“If you throw something at me, I’m excited,” he said. “I think that [playing in the pro-style offense last year] will help me out a little bit. I definitely know what a pro-style offense is because I had to learn that, Coach Bible made sure I learned that. Then, I know what this offense is — hopefully I can get to know it, too. I’m getting better at it and I’m continuing to progress and learn as much as I can.
“I probably did everything in high school. I did mostly pro-style then I came and did some zone reads, so I’m comfortable with the zone reads because I’ve done it before. I’m comfortable with pro-style, too, so whatever fits.”
There was also a new face out on the practice fields wearing the green quarterback jersey with former Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett joining the fray. He will have to sit out this year, like Thomas did last season, but Stocker is happy to welcome the newcomer to the group.
“The more competition, the better the players will be,” he said. “I’m glad he came and joined us. It keeps us on our toes.”
Wolfpack begin first spring under Doeren
The N.C. State football team started fresh Tuesday under new head coach Dave Doeren and his staff.
Doeren: This is why you sign up to coach
North Carolina State head coach Dave Doeren couldn’t wait to get out from behind his desk and hit the gridiron for the first day of spring football practices.
Creecy: The atmosphere is a lot different
North Carolina State running back Tony Creecy says Dave Doeren brings a different, more hands-on approach to practice.
Thomas: You have to be best you can be
North Carolina State quarterback Pete Thomas says in a new system with open competition for spots, everyone needs to bring their A-game.
Stocker: Whoever wins the job will be a great QB for State
North Carolina State sophomore Manny Stocker says the true winners in the QB competition between himself and Pete Thomas will be Wolfpack fans.
Jane Stancill (N&O)
UNC hires new leader for its athlete tutoring program
UNC-Chapel Hill has hired a new leader for its troubled tutoring program for athletes.
Michelle Brown, who heads academic support for athletes at Florida Atlantic University, will become director of UNC-CH’s Academic Support Program for Student Athletes. She starts the job May 6 at a salary of $115,000, succeeding Harold Woodard, a dean who served as interim director since last year.
Brown will oversee academic support services for the university’s 800 student athletes, which has an annual budget of $1.3 million. The program has been removed from the College of Arts and Sciences, and it will have no reporting relationship to the athletics department. Brown will report directly to the provost, the university’s chief academic officer.
The hiring of Brown “marks a significant milestone” toward implementing the changes announced last year by Chancellor Holden Thorp to “strengthen the relationship between academics and athletics,” wrote Provost Bruce Carney and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Bobbi Owen.
Though UNC-CH’s academic support program for athletes had been housed in Arts and Sciences since the early 1980s, a secondary reporting relationship to the athletics department created confusion and the opportunity for undue influence from athletics.
By having the new director report to the provost, the university aims to achieve greater separation between academics and athletics. Brown will convene a Provost’s Roundtable, a group of representatives from across the university that will work toward academic success for athletes.
The university said the changes are consistent with ideas from the faculty and recommendations from a 2011 UNC system task force report on academics and athletics. That report led UNC system President Tom Ross to direct all UNC campuses to remove academic support programs for athletes from athletics departments.
Though the athletics department at UNC-CH won’t have oversight of the academic support program, it will continue to fully fund it.