With the Red Rally set for Friday night, ESPN provided all Wolfpack fans a very good preview of this year’s team. It lists all of the members of the team with an individual assessment. It appears that the first five players discussed are the projected starters for this year, although I can forsee both Ryan Harrow and Javi Gonzalez starting at different times throughout the year.
The Blue Ribbon Yearbook has always been a fantastic resource for your college basketball fix. The NC State preview has some good analysis for everyone.
If ever there was a coach in a do-or-die situation, it’s NC State’s Sidney Lowe.
The former Wolfpack point guard enters his fifth season as the coach at his alma mater still looking for his first NCAA tournament bid after having taken over a program that made the field of 65 the five pre-vious seasons.
Adding to the pressure is the arrival of a no-nonsense new boss in athletic director Debbie Yow, who while at her previous job at Maryland, publicly locked horns with popular coach Gary Williams.
The good news for Lowe is that for the first time in his tenure, he’ll have more than just a red blazer to get State’s passionate fan base riled up.
Thanks to a stellar freshman class that includes one of the nation’s top recruits in C.J. Leslie and the first true point guard in Lowe’s coaching tenure, optimism is running rampant among the always hopeful Wolfpack Nation.
“I’m certainly excited about bringing in a few more players we feel can help us,” Lowe said. “Certainly the expectations are higher. “We still have to go out and approach it the same way. It’s not like we’re saying ‘We’re going to work harder now.’ We try to work hard all the time. But we definitely feel good about the possibilities.”
As special as Leslie, Harrow and Brown might be, they won’t have to carry the Wolfpack alone.
With second-team All-ACC big man Tracy Smith leading the way, State returns a solid core of talent that weathered some rough times, stayed together and made a late run into the NIT last season.
The Wolfpack should also benefit from an ACC in which many of the top teams other than Duke, North Carolina and Virginia Tech figure to take a step backward.
Now all Lowe and his team have to do is live up to all that potential, something that might not be as easy as it seems given all that’s being expected of it. “[We] will be young, some of those guys, and they are going to take some bumps, but I think they will do more good things than bad,” Lowe said. “They’re going to be great for this program for years to come.”
BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS
Lowe is a passionate, popular NC State alumnus who is as convinced as he was the day he took the job that he can return the Wolfpack to the glory it enjoyed when he helped it win its most recent national championship in 1983.
That kind of success won’t happen overnight, even with the arrival of a recruiting class ranked among the nation’s best.
But in order to get the opportunity, Lowe is going to have to win now. For the first time in his four-year tenure, he finally has the talent on his roster to compete with the ACC’s best. All he has to do now is find a way to mold those top incoming freshmen, all-league senior big man Tracy Smith and a solid nucleus of returning players into a cohesive unit that takes full advan-tage of its ability.
That’s not as easy as it sounds, as Lowe found out in 2007-08 with his first McDonald’s All-American, J.J. Hickson.
If he lets his players play and things finally fall into place as planned — something that doesn’t always happen with the Wolfpack — Lowe and his team has a legitimate shot at living up to their high expectations, getting into the field of 68 and keeping his red blazer on the bench for years to come.
As a point of reference, here is how the Yearbook rates the other Big 4 schools: