It is no secret that Coach Lowe has been dealt quite a tough hand in his first year of collegiate coaching. The Wolfpack is thin. Very thin. A YOUNG starting five of Engin Atsur (Sr); Courtney Fells (So); Gavin Grant (Jr); Brandon Costner (Fr); and Ben McCauley (So) are going to have to carry the Wolfpack’s load almost exclusively this season. Even the Wolfpack’s potential back-ups have no experience.
Here’s a newsflash for all of you outsiders– nobody cares!
NC State’s fan base is SO EXCITED about the future of the program that nobody cares that we are picked last in the ACC . Nobody really cares how bad this year could be because we now have a fresh begininng and genuine optimistic excitement about the future. I don’t care that some jock sniffing writer in B.F.E ‘doesn’t understand.’ That is their fault, because in addition to 95% of real Wolfpack fans that get it, even the local media ultimately ‘got it’ and admitted so much in print.
I can’t count how many times I have read comments from idiots in the uneducated national media and even heard NC State’s own administration make comments resembling “I hope that the fan base will just give him time”…and “I hope that expectations are not too high”. These folks are going to be quite surprised that to learn that most Wolfpackers don’t have much of any expectations this season and still couldn’t be more excited about basketball and the future. Stick that in your critical pen and smoke it.
With this said, it is time for our readership to go “On the Record” with your expectations and/or predictions for this basketball season. (Please refrain from any future predictions as we will run another “On the Record” related to your expectations for the future of NC State Basketball)
I will begin.
I’m expecting nothing this season. Nothing. Period. As long as you see effort, hustle and potential from this year’s squad then you will get little complaint from me.
I’m watching every game for the sheer enjoyment of getting to know players that have the potential to grow and develop and contribute to the re-birth of NC State Basketball in the coming years. Courtney Fells, Gavin Grant, Brandon Costner, Ben McCauley, Dennis Horner, Trever Ferguson and Big Lew. That’s it.
I’m watching every game to build a bond with these kids and watch them grow and develop. I’m watching to learn how Coach Lowe deals with situations so I know what to expect in the future as our program grows. I’m watching every game to see when Coach Lowe goes to a zone to rest his “5 Pack” of players; to see a box and one tailored for a one-game situation; to see a squad of boys not be scared to take good shots that they have created without progressing through a set of limiting rules.
For this season’s 29 game regular season schedule – I am looking for the Wolfpack to finish the season 12-17 overall with a 3-13 record in the ACC. I expect a first-game exit from the ACC Tournament. Anything above this is gravy to me this year.
A “stretch goal/expectation” would be a 15-14 regular season record; I don’t care how the wins are distributed. Finishing the regular season 15-14 (and potentially 15-15 after an ACC Tournament loss) would qualify the Wolfpack for an NIT Tournament appearance that would be unbelievable this season. This is the goal.
The reason that 15-14 is a ‘stretch goal’ and not an expectation lies in the details of the Wolfpack’s ACC schedule.
* The Pack plays 10 of 16 games against teams that Dick Vitale projects to be NCAA Tournament participants.
* Additionally, State plays two more games against a Virginia squad that many gurus project as an NCAA Tournament team.
* State plays AT Miami and AT Florida State and doesn’t get a return trip to Raleigh from either school. Smilarly, the Pack only has one game against Clemson this season.
* Of a potential six games that could have been scheduled against teams predicted to join the Pack in the bottom of third of the conference, NC State only plays four games.
* We all know that the middle of the ACC is always the strongest of any conference in America. Every team projected to finish #5-#8 in the ACC is included in mulitple NCAA Tournament projections. Of a potential eight games that could have been scheduled against these teams, the Wolfpack plays seven.
I expect 12-17.
I put 15-14 as a realistic ‘stretch goal’ that would excite the hell out of me.
In other preview/preseason notes:
* The N&O provided a small pre-season preview article that is available by clicking here.
“It’s definitely going to be a tough year,” senior guard Engin Atsur said. “We’re not too deep, not too experienced. We have a new coach, and it’s a transition period for us.
“But I’m not happy we’re predicted for the bottom of the ACC. I think we’re much better than that. Once we get adjusted to our new system, I think we can have a good year.”
* Gavin Grant is one happy camper in Coach Lowe’s new environment. (Link) If Grant’s two preseason performances are any indication of what is to follow this year, then the junior is going to have a monster season.
Grant, a 6-foot-7 junior who plays guard and forward, is expected to thrive in the up-tempo offense of new coach Sidney Lowe. Grant flashed signs of his wider impact in the season’s two exhibition games, averaging 25 points and 7.5 rebounds. Last season, he started nine of 32 games and averaged 8.3 points and 4.7 rebounds.
State scored 87 points on 73 possessions, which is an Offensive Efficiency of 119 and a big improvement over the NSU game. It’s good to see that low TO%.
Unfortunately, I can’t speak as highly of the defense; we didn’t force many turnovers and St. Aug’s shot a good percentage. Both Northern State and St. Aug’s had eFGs above 50, and that is alarming.
So if our field goal defense has abandoned us, and we still can’t force turnovers, and we still can’t rebound at the defensive end…yikes! Will this year’s Wolfpack have anything to hang its hat on? Take a look at Wake’s in-conference OFF EFF/DEF EFF from 2006. Their offense was actually above league average, but their defense was so terrible (here’s some perspective), they couldn’t keep up with their opponents. I could see the Wolfpack having a similar profile in 2007.
* S6’s statistical information in the preseason supports some of the observations about weak defense that fans have expressed from watching the games. I don’t think that this young team will be as strong defensively as we have become accustomed to in recent years. But, I want to point out that defense start’s at the point guard position and people seem to forget that Engin Atsur hasn’t been playing due to injury. I expect Atsur’s presence to improve the Pack’s defense.
* Dick Vitale projects seven ACC teams will be selected to the 2007 NCAA Tournament. (Link). The world’s best superconference – also known as the Big East – also is projected to land seven bids. Except, the Big East has sixteen teams compared to the ACC’s twelve.
North Carolina, Duke, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Maryland, Virginia Tech
* Fox Sports is previewing the entire country in “groups of five”. Pretty neat idea. (Link)
These teams will have down seasons
1. N.C. State â€” New coach Sidney Lowe doesn’t have enough depth after losing Andrew Brackman to baseball and Cedric Simmons to the NBA.
2. West Virginia â€” John Beilein’s team is young after watching nearly all of last season’s team depart.
3. Michigan State â€” Tom Izzo has plenty of talent, but it’s primarily in the freshman class.
4. Oklahoma â€” Jeff Capel wasn’t left much in Norman.
5. Iowa State â€” New Cyclones’ coach Greg McDermott will have to re-build after losing Will Blalock and Curtis Stinson prematurely.
* That^ same article cites former NC State assistant and SFN favorite, John Groce, as an assistant coach that may become a head coach in the future. Congratulations to ‘Johnny Grasace’
3. John Groce, Ohio State â€” He helped haul in arguably the best recruiting class in America â€” to Columbus, Ohio.