While we all admit that it is ridiculously early to start talking 2008-2008 Basketball…but, this is Tobacco Road and that is what we do!
Caulton Tudor has provided his pre-summer prognostication for the entire conference and it can be seen here. The Wolfpack is picked 9th:
9. N.C. STATE (15-16, 4-12)
PROJECTED STARTERS: Brandon Costner, Jr., F; Ben McCauley, Sr., F; Courtney Fells, Sr., W; Julius Mays, Fr., G; Farnold Degand, Jr., G.
If J.J. Hickson pulls out of the draft, the entire offensive equation will change. But unless that happens, the Wolfpack has to hope Costner reverts to the productive scoring ways (16.8 ppg) of 2006-07. Either way, the addition of the 6-2 Mays should improve team quickness and provide more perimeter scoring punch. The bench could be a plus, if Dennis Horner, Tracy Smith and Trevor Ferguson just make average offseason improvements.
OVERVIEW: The pressure is beginning to mount on Sidney Lowe as he enters his third season, and there’s no question that a healthy Degand is the key to the Pack’s progress.
A few bytes for your pleasure:
* I think Tudor generally nails the Pack’s “starting five”, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tracy Smith take one of the starting positions in the post and force either McCauley or Costner to be first off the bench. The ‘loser’ of that battle will be the one whose head gets screwed on the straightest in the off-season.
* IF Brandon Costner ever figures out that he is a power forward with decent shooting range as opposed to a wing forward who just happens to be a little tall (and slow), then the Wolfpack has a chance to be as big of a surprise in 2008-2009 as we were a disappointment in 2009-2010. BUT, this will not happen unless the coaching staff and players exhibit significantly more discipline, organization and work ethic in the weight room and in summer workouts than was executed upon last year.
* Tudor hints to this previous point when he says that the bench could be a plus if the players “just make average offseason improvements.”
* I hate pinning any hopes of success on wild cards, but don’t ignore the chance that Javier Gonzalez could continue the solid improvement that he exhibited in Feburary of 2008 or that CJ Williams &/or a healthy Johnny Thomas could step into a supporting role and make a surprisingly significant impact.
* The likelihood of Williams or Thomas having a chance to contribute early was heightened by the disappearing act that Dennis Horner played last season after a solid freshman season. Again, another player that individually regressed last season compared to Lowe’s first season.
* State will have enough depth, athleticism and experience this season to play a faster pace and to have no excuses for our horrendous lack of defensive fundamentals and rebounding. There is also enough depth, athleticism and experience on the roster for the Wolfpack to extend defensive pressure with presses and more innovative trapping than we have seen in Coach Lowe’s first two years.
* Why doesn’t Marques Johnson go ahead and transfer to a non-Division One program now so that he has two full season of playing? Barring something that nobody saw this past year, he currently sits behind DeGand, Fells, Gonzalez, Ferguson and Mays on the current roster of guards before a potentially strong recruiting haul of backcourt players for next year’s roster.
Tudor forecasts the conference to shape up as follows:
(3) Wake Forest
(5) Virginia Tech
(7) Georgia Tech
(9) NC State
(10) Boston College
(11) Florida State
* The projection of three of the “Big Four” doesn’t bode well for the good folks at NC State. Especially when one considers that Wake’s program was clearly on a downward projection a few years ago with finishes at the bottom of the ACC. Then their coach died. And, their new coach looks to have them fighting at the top of the conference in his second year? Wow…that’s a far cry from Lee Fowler’s standard of “needing four to five years to build a program” every single time there is a coaching change. Could you imagine how much self-pity and excuse-mongering would be rationalized in Raleigh for at least five years after one of our coaches had unexpectedly passed away? I still hear that Tony Robinson’s suicide in the early 1990s is hurting our program today.
* If everything plays out true to Tudor’s projections then Dave Leaito and Leonard Hamilton will be long gone after this season. If you were to study Leito’s record and performance at UVa and apply it to the standards by which NC State (and Lee Fowler) has historically judged coaches then there is no way Leito would be fired. It’s just a difference in philosophy between NC State and the rest of the world.
* If Tudor’s projections come true then you can add Gary Williams’ name to the hot seat as well. I don’t think it will happen. I’ve seen Williams come up with too much improvement with his individual teams on an annual basis. But, one would be an idiot not to admit that Williams’ program has definitely entered an important period of potential stagnation. He needs a break to the upside.