Basketball Potpourri (Updated 10am)

Practice for the 2008-09 basketball season is just around the corner, and stories about the upcoming edition of the Wolfpack are starting to make their way into the papers and onto TV after yesterday’s media day.  We’ve got a few links and comments to get the ball rolling. First, has a story online focusing on Brandon Costner, who says that he plans to be the Costner of old, not the largely ineffective player that struggled last year:
costner.jpgCostner Eager To Resurrect Career

“It wasn’t the Brandon Costner you’re used to seeing. It wasn’t the Brandon Costner I’m used to displaying,” Costner said Tuesday. “I wasn’t healthy but I don’t like making excuses.”

Costner had ongoing knee problems last year. He injured it before the season and twice more during the year.

This year, Costner said, he is healthy again.

Last year’s team entered the season with a Top 25 ranking in many polls and high expectations of an NCAA Tournament berth. To say that last year was a disaster would be putting it mildly. This season expectations are pretty low as the Wolfpack is picked to finish somewhere near the bottom of the ACC with no post-season projections. If a strong Brandon Costner returns to the form he showed in February and March of 2007 then those low prognostications for the season could be bested.

Make no mistake about it, in addition to a resurgent Costner, Coach Lowe needs to have far more effective play in the backcourt than we experienced last year after Farnold Degand injured his knee in the 10th game of the season. Over on, Tim Peeler reports that Degand is ready to Turn On The Jets Again. after major knee surgery.

[A]fter eight months of recovery and rehabilitation, Degand has been cleared to play as the Wolfpack begins its preseason drills for the upcoming 2008-09 men’s basketball season. The first full team practice is on Friday. Saturday, the team will conduct an open practice at Reynolds Coliseum from noon until 2 p.m.

“I feel fine,” Degand said Tuesday afternoon at NC State’s annual basketball media day. “We ran all the tests and it looks good. Supposedly my left knee is as strong as my right knee. I just have to get my heart rate going and get back into playing shape.”

Although the Wolfpack has added some support in the backcourt, specifically at point guard with Julius Mays, Degand was undoubtedly a couple of notches above back-up Javier Gonzalez last year. A healthy and effective Degand would go far to elevating the Wolfpack’s backcourt on both sides of the floor. Coach Lowe has indicated to some that he plans running a more uptempo and free flowing offense this season while scaling back the halfcourt sets. Degand’s speed and ball handling are KEY to supporting those efforts. Degand was obviously gaining comfort and confidence quarterbacking the Wolfpack while the benefits of his efficient outside shooting and height on defense were overlooked by some before his injury.

Additionally – before the injury – State had achieved a Top 40 RPI by winning the Old Spice Classic over eventual Sweet 16 participant, Villanova; had defeated Elite Eight participant, Davidson; and had also defeated two other Big East teams – Cincinnati in Raleigh and Seton Hall on the road. There is no doubt in my mind that last year would have turned out a lot better with a healthy Degand.

I thought Coach Lowe’s comments with reporters were very encouraging – it seems that ‘Its all about the team’ here are a lot of good quotes in that one.

The N&O’s article highlighted the team focus as well as the up-tempo comments to which we previously alluded. It also included this following piece of information from the ‘ya don’t say’ file.

Quentin Jackson, who served as director of operations for Lowe’s first two seasons, no longer is with the program, Lowe confirmed. Justin Gainey, like Jackson a former Wolfpack point guard, is serving as administrative coordinator in Jackson’s place.

Lowe said Jackson is going back into private business, which is what he was doing before Lowe hired him. Gainey is on his third year on the staff and will assist with day-to-day projects and scheduling.

We obviously chose to let Quentin ride into the sunset without making a big deal of it here on the blog, so we ask that you guys do the same.

08-09 Basketball

39 Responses to Basketball Potpourri (Updated 10am)

  1. Sw0rdf1sh 10/15/2008 at 6:16 AM #

    Man, I wish I could stick around Raleigh to watch that practice on Saturday. Just being to see the boys play and show Favors some love would be great.

    Alas, I’ve only got the pass for the Thursday night game and a few hours at the State Fair friday with the Fam.

    Hope you guys have fun and we play well. I’m super stoked to hear Degand is back up to speed!

  2. SEAT.5.F.2 10/15/2008 at 7:00 AM #

    Rooting for the team as usual, they seem to be coming into this season with the right attitude.

    My impression is that this team doesn’t do squat unless they make it hard for teams to score. We got schooled by everyone except maybe the Nova and Davidson games. If Costner feels the same as before and Degand has afterburners then it just means we scored 70 pts in a losing effort instead of last years pathetic attempts to even reach 60 last year.

    I know last year is long gone but until it is seen that Lowe wants defense to be a priority then all this talk of offense, mis matches, and up tempo is just window dressing IMO.

  3. Sweet jumper 10/15/2008 at 7:01 AM #

    I hope Costner and Degand do return to form. Has anyone heard more about McCauley? I know he was not allowed to go with the team to Canada, but I have not heard much else about his status. I am ready for hoops. Go Pack!

  4. Par Shooter 10/15/2008 at 7:38 AM #

    5.F.2, you’re exactly right. Sid’s first 2 teams have been absolutely horrible on the defensive end of the court and have also disappointed on the boards. I’m sure these are major points of emphasis in practice but it is a little disheartening to hear about running and O and not any real open commitment to playing great D. I actually thought we missed Degand more on D last year than handling the ball.

  5. primacyone 10/15/2008 at 8:06 AM #

    I have no idea what to think of a potential W/L record, but this could be a fun year from a jumping up and down in your living room watching the game rooting for the underdog fan perspective.

  6. thebigwood 10/15/2008 at 8:07 AM #

    ^Not sure if y’all saw this quote in the gopack article…it might speak to your (legitimate) concerns about defense:

    “I take a lot of pride in my defense and not letting my opponent score,” Degand said. “Improving our defense is definitely one of the main focuses as a team and one of my main focuses as a player. I think we can definitely be disruptive on defense.”

  7. JBS 10/15/2008 at 8:11 AM #

    Has anyone heard any updates about Johnny Thomas?

  8. statered 10/15/2008 at 8:34 AM #

    We finally got confirmation that Q is gone in the NandO article. Not that he is gone can anyone give us the story?

  9. RBCRowdy 10/15/2008 at 8:45 AM #

    Thanks SFN, I am now honestly excited for Saturday’s open practice. I hope there is a good showing.

  10. choppack1 10/15/2008 at 8:52 AM #

    JBS – accoring to some info on another board from a pretty reliable source Johnny Thomas’ progress is mixed. Evidently, he still has some pretty good pain in his knee. It sounds like he’s playing again, but probably won’t be able to practice as much as necessary.

    Seat 5f2 – excellent comments on our D – or lack thereof – these first two years. I was actually thinking the same thing when I read the “It’s all about team” – comment.

    Sid has always said the right things, but I’m hoping that his first 2 seasons coaching at the college level have taught him how critical it is for his guys to play hard every night out. This team really won’t have the personnel to be a physical, tough group that dominates the boards and contests every pass – but w/ proper fundamentals, they should be able to hold their own on the boards and on D.

    I’m hoping this year, we’ll also finally see Lowe get a little more daring w/ his lineups. His first two years, guys have been really pigeon-holed to one position. His first year, he didn’t have much of a choice. Last year, he could have experimented a little more…but then again, w/ all the chemistry problems, who knows.

  11. Sweet jumper 10/15/2008 at 9:15 AM #

    Nice comments by Lowe. He now has to stick to those words and command the respect of his players to prevent another cluster like last year. Ben has asked for forgiveness, received it and put his incident behind him. Enough said.

  12. SaccoV 10/15/2008 at 9:17 AM #

    I just hope that Sid honestly is prepared to backup these quotes. If he does, and Degand stays healthy, we have a shot at a postseason birth. If not, we are no further along than when he arrived.

  13. grouchomarx 10/15/2008 at 9:23 AM #

    re: Lowe’s comments-I’ll believe it when I see it. Both Costner and Ben admitted in tv interview yesterday that they were part of the whole disfunction last year-nothing new. Still made me sick to hear it direectly from them.

  14. SMD 10/15/2008 at 10:38 AM #

    What sticks in my craw about Sid’s quote is the fact that he even had to say it. Isn’t it coaching 101 that the coach is the supreme boss?

    My jury is truly out on whether Sid is going to be a great coach, but hopefully he’s learned his lesson here. I am still shocked that he had to learn it to start with.

  15. SuperStuff 10/15/2008 at 10:39 AM #

    If we get back to running the offense I saw in the ACC tournament in Lowe’s first year that would be superb.

  16. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 10/15/2008 at 10:54 AM #

    ^^”What sticks in my craw about Sid’s quote is the fact that he even had to say it. Isn’t it coaching 101 that the coach is the supreme boss?”

    Not in the NBA. I hope Sid has learned from his first two years as a head coach in college. In the NBA Sid pretty much worked on creating match-ups and plays that would benefit his team. In college I hope he has learned that he has to create a personality that is respected by the players, fan base, financial supporters, other coaches (HS, College, Pro) and the conference and it’s officials. One of the most difficult jobs in the country.

    Sid has always been a winner and if his heart is 100% behind being a great college coach I don’t doubt he can do it. My question is does Sid want to be a great college coach or be in the NBA, hanging with the guys, staying in nice hotels and the rest of those trappings.

    I get the impression Sid is ready to be a great leader and college coach. He doesn’t seem to be about show business basketball or the NBA at this point in his life. 2 years ago he may not of known but I’m sure he has matured being at home and the off the court family issues.

  17. wufpup76 10/15/2008 at 11:00 AM #

    “Improving our defense is definitely one of the main focuses as a team and one of my main focuses as a player. I think we can definitely be disruptive on defense.”

    Hopefully Smith, Costner, and McCauley are saying the same things about hitting the boards …

  18. newt 10/15/2008 at 11:12 AM #

    “he showed some of that quickness that he’s capable of having” – Big question if Degand returns to pre-injury speed. This quote is a good sign.

    “Maybe the ability to play Farnold and Javi together in the backcourt would give us an opportunity there.” – I was starting to think the new tempo was going to impact Trev’s playing time, but Lowe mentions him later as a potential starter.

    “Dennis Horner is really running well. Maybe that’s not something he’s been known to do, but he’s in such great shape that he’s playing as well as anyone well.” – Sounds like Dennis decided that he wasn’t going to be content to ride the bench and went out and got himself ready to run.

    “I think they just understood there is only one voice — and that’s my voice.” – Is this about some of the players’ comments to the media?

    “Next year, we can bring in the top player in the country… roles are going to change.” – Sounds like Lowe believes we have a decent chance of landing Favors, and that he’d get lots of shots, which is probably part of the recruiting message.

    Be interesting to see how uptempo we go.

  19. BJD95 10/15/2008 at 11:18 AM #

    Moving Fells to SF was a giant step in the right direction. Realizing Fells isn’t a guard gives me hope about better lineup management.

  20. haze 10/15/2008 at 11:28 AM #

    ^ Yup… but it opens, albeit necessarily, a huge hole at the 2G position.

    At 2G we’ll have…
    – Trevor: good shot, good hustle, below-avg speed/athleticism
    – Mays: true frosh, +/- unknown at this level.
    – Javy/Farnold: whoever isn’t at PG

    It’s not being negative to say that we’re not scaring anybody at the 2.

  21. BJD95 10/15/2008 at 1:00 PM #

    I would rather be bad at the 2 and good at the 3 than be bad at both. I don’t see anyone else that could start at 3, and Fells needs to be in aposition where he might succeed.

  22. Alpha Wolf 10/15/2008 at 1:14 PM #

    Me, I am looking forward to seeing C.J. Williams in action.

    That and how much Tracy Smith has improved. Smith really caught my eye last year with his hustle and heart, and I think he’s one of those guys who may vie for All-ACC over the long haul.

  23. Classof89 10/15/2008 at 1:21 PM #

    Regarding Q, as someone else who isn’t in the loop on what is apparently the next most closely guarded secret in America after the hydrogen bomb, I think a hint of the answer of what went wrong is in Sidney’s comment that he came from private business and that’s what he’s going back to. I’m guessing the guy just didn’t have the skill set you need for the position he was filling–now I don’t know what sort of on the court or other apparent results you would see, but I’m sure there are folks on here that know the real scoop…

  24. Trip 10/15/2008 at 1:58 PM #

    I was hoping to see some real classy people sitting behind the bench again this year… and now Q is gone. 🙁

    That was the most secretive thing i’ve seen done in a while, we all thought he was going to get fired, but nothing ever came out about it until Sidney just says “oh yeah, by the way… Q went back to business.”

  25. PackMan97 10/15/2008 at 4:11 PM #

    Re: Last Year

    It’s great to see McCauley, Costner and Lowe all stand up and say they were at fault for problems experienced last year and that it wasn’t gonna happen again.

    The first step to change is admitting there was a problem and vowing not to repeat it.

    Whether that happens or not will be seen, but at least their heads aren’t buried in the sand ignoring last season.

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