Monday Musings

January 9, 2012

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Bret Strelow (
Wood and Wolfpack get in the last word

Of the teams in the muddled middle, N.C. State made the biggest statement by beating the fast-improving Terrapins. The Wolfpack committed enough errors in the closing minutes to give the Terps hope, but it eventually regained the fight needed to survive those mistakes.
During one late break, all five N.C. State players walked to the huddle for a timeout with their heads down.

“That’s a process for our guys, hanging in there and believing,” Gottfried said, “but they’re much, much farther along than I think they were in November.”

Wood played the role of closer against Maryland, drilling a jumper with 1:31 remaining to end a lengthy drought and hitting six consecutive free throws in the final minute.

A shot to the funny bone left Wood wincing in pain and flexing a numb left hand as he headed to the line for the first time, and Stoglin interjected with some ill-advised trash talk. The normally subdued Wood, who hasn’t missed a free throw all season, fired back with some chatter of his own before converting both attempts.

That exchange explained why Wood, after his block on Howard, made a beeline for Stoglin.

“I just heard them chirping,” Wood said, “so I figured I’d get my two cents in.”

On this night, N.C. State stood up for itself and proved it can have a say in how the fight for a spot in the upper third of the league shakes out.

Brett Friedlander (
It’s only one win, but for State, this was a big one

By holding on down the stretch, winning its ACC opener and beating the Terrapins for the first time in 10 games – a streak that dates all the way back to 2006 – State made yet another bold statement that the underachieving days of the Sidney Lowe era really are a thing of the past.

Of course, it wasn’t as bold a statement as the one Gottfried made on Friday, when he publicly stated that his team needed those 11 ACC wins to ensure a spot in the field of 68.

The message, which the first-year coach reiterated Sunday, was clear. When you’re trying to change the culture of a program, you can’t be timid. And if you’re going to set your goals high, you shouldn’t be afraid to embrace them.

“That’s our goal. I’m not afraid of it. I’m not afraid to say it,” Gottfried said after a balanced performance in which four players scored in double figures, led by C.J. Leslie’s 20. “I’ve also said it’s a tall order for our team. Let’s be real honest. We all know where this program has been.

“(But) I didn’t come here to play in anything other than the NCAA tournament. Whether we can get there or not is whole another story. We do probably have a long, long way to go.”

And yet, given the current state of the ACC, the improving veteran lineup Gottfried has inherited and the unbelievably favorable schedule the Wolfpack has been dealt, the destination isn’t as far off as the former ESPN analyst would like us to believe.

All State has to do is not lose its focus and keep taking care of business the way it did against Maryland on Sunday – especially in this critical opening stretch of the ACC season.

Denny Kuiper (
Kuiper’s 3-Pointer: N.C. State-Maryland

What did this game prove? I think that N.C. State has a chance to be a pretty good team. There were a lot of things that showed the Pack is a long way from a powerful team, but on the other hand, you can see State has the talent and what appears to be better team chemistry and toughness than last year. The question is, are they going to continue to improve?

C.J. Leslie
Generally speaking, the Wolfpack goes as C.J. goes. It is hard to imagine State being a factor in the ACC without Leslie playing well. In tonight’s game he was not perfect, but he was a solid producer – 20 points and 11 rebounds, but also 5 turnovers.

Leslie is a very talented athlete who doesn’t always play to his strengths – his quickness and offensive rebounding. I don’t think C.J. is a really good low-post player. He is not physical enough for it. He is much more effective facing the basket and taking the ball to the rim. He can also do that out of the low post – just turn and face. Once he learns to slow down and not get impatient, he will be even more difficult to guard.

Pressuring The Point Guard
As a coach you want everything on your squad – shooters, ball handlers, rebounders, etc. But if you could give me a choice of three things, I would take a solid point guard who can run the offense, low post scoring and a guard who can tenaciously defend the opposing point.

Lorenzo Brown has proven to be than a capable point guard for the Pack. N.C State also has good low post scoring in Leslie and Richard Howell. What they don’t have is good defensive guard pressure.

The Wolfpack is playing good solid defense, but Mark Gottfried’s guards don’t have the ability to really put pressure on the opposing ball handler. When you cannot that sort of pressure on the other team it is hard to get the opponents out of their offense and force turnovers which lead to fast breaks.

Joedy McCreary (AP)
N.C. State opens ACC play with 79-74 win against Maryland

After picking up his first Atlantic Coast Conference victory, coach Mark Gottfried didn’t shy away from his N.C. State team’s goal of 10 more.

C.J. Leslie had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the Wolfpack held on to beat Maryland 79-74 on Sunday night in their league opener.

Scott Wood scored 19 points and Lorenzo Brown added 11 for the Wolfpack (12-4, 1-0), who hit 47.5 percent of their shots – 28 of 59 – and were 21 of 24 from the free-throw line to win their sixth straight and snap the Terrapins’ seven-game winning streak.

Gottfried became just the second N.C. State coach – and first since Les Robinson in 1991 – to win his first ACC game, and the surging Wolfpack have won seven of eight with the lone loss in that stretch coming to No. 1 Syracuse.

“It’s big, especially just to get a little bit of momentum and kind of get your feet wet for some people,” Wood said.
Pack Flattens Terps in ACC Opener, 79-74

Behind a 20-point, 11-rebound performance from C.J. Leslie, and some clutch free throw shooting by Scott Wood down the stretch, NC State opened ACC play with a gritty 79-74 win over Maryland at the RBC Center Sunday.

“It was exciting tonight and our fans were amazing, a good team effort,” said NC State head coach Mark Gottfried. “A lot of guys did different things at key times. I thought that was the one key thing for us was defensively we were really solid at the right times. We gave up too many threes that’s something we talked about. They scored nine baskets from behind the line; they had five at the half. For the bulk of the second half, we took away the three point shot.”

Leslie led the Wolfpack in both rebounds and points for his second double-double of the season, and represented one of four State players in double figures. Wood followed with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting and a perfect 6-of-6 showing from the line to surpass Rodney Monroe’s record of 43-consecutive made free throws.

Lorenzo Brown scored 11 points on an efficient 4-of-7 night, and filled up the stat sheet with seven boards and a team-leading nine assists. Richard Howell’s 10 points rounded out the Pack players with 10 or more.

Jacey Zembal (
NC State snaps Terrapins hex

NC State finally found a way to defeat Maryland.

NCSU sophomore power forward C.J. Leslie had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and junior small forward Scott Wood added 19, including several big free throws to clinch a 79-74 win in front of 18,057 at the RBC Center.

The Terrapins had won the previous nine games, but with both programs going through coaching changes in the offseason, the Wolfpack figured this would be the year to snap the streak. Maryland had lost star sophomore center Jordan Williams to the pros, and played for most of the non-conference schedule without two starters, but still entered Sunday’s game on a seven-game winning streak.

The NC State players had been locked in during practice the last several days and were glad to get the Maryland streak off their backs.

“It’s nice, that is for sure,” said Wood about snapping the Terrapins’ streak. “I know I haven’t beat them. They are definitely a lot different and don’t run that flex offense anymore, but at the same, they have really good players still and are well-coached. They’ll be a good team.

Turgeon said transition defense was one area of concern.

“I was really proud of our group,” Turgeon said. “I thought they had a great crowd. They took a lot of shots, [and] they made a lot of tough shots. They made scoring look easy. We kept competing.”

Gottfried expects the win over the Terrapins to look even better in the future, especially as Len continues to progress inside.

“When we get to February, we are going to see Maryland as a really good basketball team,” Gottfried said. “I love [Len], he’s going to be really good. He’s going to be a great player, and to get a guy like that in the midst of a coaching change [with] Mark, that’s a heck of a get. This was just his fourth game, wow.”

Turgeon said some of the players are still learning to be mentally tougher.

“It’s all between the ears, but we are getting there,” Turgeon said. “We made some big mistakes defensively. We don’t practice hard every day. I’m on them.”

Austin Johnson (
Locker Room Report: Mark Gottfried

Wolfpack dodges Terrapins’ comeback

Howell sparks NCSU


Wolfpack lets leads slip away


Inside Wolfpack Sports

In today’s episode, junior forward Scott Wood teaches Don Shea the art of free throw shooting.
Gottfried: “We’re excited”
Brown says the team has more heart
Wood leads NCSU to first ACC win

About 1.21 Jigawatts

Class of '98, Mechanical Engineer, State fan since arriving on campus and it's been a painful ride ever since. I live by the Law of NC State Fandom, "For every Elation there is an equal and opposite Frustration."

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26 Responses to Monday Musings

  1. Alpha Wolf 01/09/2012 at 9:16 AM #

    Gottfried is right, they are truly further along than where they were in November. I never sensed any panic or confusion, and honestly, it looked like the guys were poised through the last critical minutes.

    In teams past, the Pack would have repeatedly taken rushed shots, missed them, and then gone and done something stupid on the defensive end that would only serve to extend the game and help the opposition. While not perfect by any means, that pattern did not show its ugly head last night.

    This team is visibly improving, and while 1-0 in the ACC is no golden ticket to the Sweet 16, it’s a nice feeling to see State’s hoops team showing some hope. In years past many of us would already be thinking about the Spring Game.

  2. bill.onthebeach 01/09/2012 at 9:22 AM #

    RE:stating the obvious … (no pun intended).

    We played a ‘good’, not great, game against turtle-twerps….

    As we continue to work to improve, it might be worth mentioning:

    1. We are up 12 with 5:02 to go and we let twerps go on a 9-2 run over next 3.5 minutes to get back into game…. This was the only significant period during the game where we did not control the game flow and momentum.

    2. We had 13 turnovers…. not too bad, but one player had 5 turnovers and the rest of our team had 8. A+ for ‘rest of team’, “C-minus” for the guy with five.

    Fix this coach and I believe everything else will take care of itself.

  3. Wulfpack 01/09/2012 at 10:03 AM #

    We are most certainly moving in the right direction. And for that, I am thankful. A few improvements and we will be a very good team.

  4. WolfBlood 01/09/2012 at 10:38 AM #

    Good win for the Pack, definitely a confidence booster. Though I hate when teams give up double digit leads, but I think with more experience they will get better at closing opponents out.

  5. Bowlpack 01/09/2012 at 11:19 AM #

    I witnessed an awesome effort from this team last night and they displayed some the “killer instinct” that has been missing from Wolfpack teams for the last couple of decades.

    Despite giving up 25 to Stoglin last night, I felt that AJ and CJ Williams did a nice job of containing him and forcing their hand a little bit. It appeared that the coaches instructed whoever would be defending him to do whatever it takes to keep the ball out of his hands. That guy (Stoglin) might be the best player in the league at this point.

    Turnovers are always a problem that need to be corrected no matter what, but more important is when you turn the ball over. Having the ball stripped on an inbounds play in the last minute is inexcusable and I’m sure that Coach Gott is going to be talking about securing the lead late in ball games and maintaining the focus required to win.

    My biggest offensive concern with this team is our long range shooting. Wood just doesn’t get the open looks although he did get open on a beautiful play with around 5 minutes left and just wasn’t able to get the shot to go down. Somebody else needs to develop their shot or we’re consistently getting out shot from behind the arc.

    Defensively, we have got to start boxing out. Other than Richard Howell, we have a bunch of guys standing around waiting to see where the ball is going to carom. You’ve got to find a man and back them out of position. I’ll gladly give up the long rebound to see five State Jersey’s in a position to get the ball off a missed shot.

    Other than those things, I think we’re a good team with potential to do some real damage in league play. We have an opportunity to take advantage of a league that is very heavy in the middle and honestly, could steal one from the blues on the right night.

  6. DC_wolf 01/09/2012 at 11:37 AM #

    I think Stelow’s article touched on something that was bugging me during the game last night: mental toughness. I agree that Wood & CJW held their own against obvious trash talk; but as bill pointed out above – we need to get NASTIER… & finish the game.

    However, having said that, I though the turning point came early in the game: @ 6 – 6 State was bring the ball down the court & made a stoopid turnover (I let out an audble expletive; I think the culprit was AJ) but then I saw something different – the guys hustled back on D, forced a turnover on UMD’s end & finished with a fastbreak outlet to Calvin for a lay in; that began a 10-3 run that made me realize they KNEW they could win.

    Unsung hero: I bet you didn’t even notice him. Lorenzo Brown. That’s exactly what you want from your point guard; if he’s not making mistakes you don’t even notice him. & how ’bout a guy forced into that position? He’s leading the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio & had NINE more assists last nite. Lo, I hope you aren’t reading this, don’t let it go to your head, bro!

  7. primacyone 01/09/2012 at 11:59 AM #

    #1) Our Center ran, Ran, RAN down the court and beat his man/other team in two straight positions for a dunk, and an and 1 layup.

    #2) Our point guard only had 1 turnover.

  8. bill.onthebeach 01/09/2012 at 12:21 PM #

    ^P1 — not to take any thing away from R.Howell, but that was our “Second String” center — D.Painter….who beat Len down the floor twice late in the game.

    As I posted elsewhere… I believe Painter can be / is an emotional leader for this team… the more Painter plays, the better we are especially against opponents with big front lines.

    Painter’s 15 minutes last night probably kept Howell and Leslie out of foul trouble.

    And personally, I am intrigued with a starting lineup of Brown, Williams, Painter, Howell and CALVIN…

  9. wufpup76 01/09/2012 at 12:54 PM #

    Just watched the game on DVR … Some thoughts:

    – We beat Maryland. HALLELUJAH. We beat Maryland. Repeat ad nauseum because it has been too long.

    – I thought the effort level was great … Consistent intensity and we didn’t fold (we kinda tried, but we didn’t). We can play better though. A lot better – but we still won. That’s very encouraging.

    – We still need to develop a “winner’s mentality”, as has been alluded to in above comments. I knew the result before I watched, so fortunately for me I wasn’t going in hysterics down the stretch when the lead was evaporating.

    – An unsung hero to me was Alex Johnson. Regardless of the tough foul calls on those 3-pointers, I thought he did as well as could be expected on Stoglin and also did a great job spelling Brown at the 1 and running the team.

    – Maryland is going to continue to improve throughout the season. Len makes a tremendous difference for their team … (I was so glad to see Painter make him look bad though on those two straight trips down the floor when he just ran right past Len). I slotted Maryland 9th on our official prediction thread, but I think clearly that is wrong with this particular edition of the ACC.
    Don’t get me wrong, I think Maryland is most likely an NIT team this season – but that’s likely good for 5-7 in this conference.

    – We put away a game where the opponent would not go away and I’m sure unleashed all kinds of psychological warfare in letting our guys know about ‘nine straight’ and how we’ve not really won in a while. We could’ve finished stronger – but we did finish … with a win.

    – I really like Coach Gottfried’s sideline demeanor and his media savvy. He’s just a great fit for our program – perfect timing for our program and his personality to come together.

    – This team has potential. Tighten the screws mentally and we could make some noise. I’m not saying we’re great, but I do firmly believe that we could make the dance if things come together right.

    Go Pack … Gotta beat GT on Wednesday.

  10. eas 01/09/2012 at 1:14 PM #

    It’s strange how Maryland always has one player who always rubs fans/players the wrong way and appears to be an arrogant a-hole…..

    This year it is Stoglin. The cycle continues.

  11. MP 01/09/2012 at 1:36 PM #

    Totally agree wufpup regarding Gottfried’s demeanor. He is confident and in control of himself, the team, and communicating to/with the officials. No matter what flaws may be demonstrated over time, I am so pleased with how he handles coaching NCSU. I think we have a very qualified coach who is not a complete DB.

    (e.g. Roy Williams for those who don’t recall my opinion)

  12. PackerInRussia 01/09/2012 at 1:47 PM #

    It was tough watching them lose games by losing leads late in games several times earlier this season, but you gotta think that playing tougher games like that helped them handle it better this time around. Don’t know for sure of course, but it couldn’t have hurt.

  13. wufpup76 01/09/2012 at 1:57 PM #

    “but you gotta think that playing tougher games like that helped them handle it better this time around. Don’t know for sure of course, but it couldn’t have hurt.”

    ^All part of the process, we hope.

    Was out the other night and some guy was hating on Gottfried (yes, already) talking about the blown leads and how the team hadn’t shown him anything. Couldn’t have disagreed more. Gotta learn to walk, and all that.

    It’s fair to be critical of the losses, but if you can’t see marked improvement you’re just not looking and you love to hate.

  14. PackInsider 01/09/2012 at 2:08 PM #

    So many times in the past, State teams would get down and would let the other team make the plays to win the game. That’s going to be the challenge for Gottfried (and he is already fully aware of it, having made it known publicly). State has to change their culture. To many of us, it sounds so unfathomable that out basketball program would have to do that, especially with numerous championship banners hanging up in the rafters (two in particular). But this program has to learn how to win again, plain and simple.

    For too long now, we’ve become accustomed to bad luck, losing and coming up short. Part of changing that is assembling the talent to be able to win (we’re well on our way there). But the other part is changing the culture of how these players think and play on the court. Do the little things to win. Play smart, play hard, play together, play with a purpose. View yourself and your teammates as capable and worthwhile of stepping on that court every night in the ACC and winning. I’m seeing much more of that this season than I have in the past 4 or 5 years combined. I am very hopeful with this new outlook and last night was a good step forward.

  15. MISTA WOLF 01/09/2012 at 2:36 PM #

    Hate to set the bar high but if were not 15-4 heading to Chapel Hill I will be thoroughly dissapointed.

  16. PackInsider 01/09/2012 at 2:58 PM #

    You’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Not saying it won’t happen or that we shouldn’t be, but this is the ACC. We’ve got tough games with GT at home, at Wake (who just beat VT in Winston) and at Miami (who is right there with us in that middle). Any of those games can be lost. One game at a time.

  17. wufpup76 01/09/2012 at 3:09 PM #

    ^Agree with PackInsider.

    This team still has a long way to go, as Coach Gottfried says.

  18. vtpackfan 01/09/2012 at 3:28 PM #

    I hate Md- more than “the blues” and black and gold-combined. I love this W and will savor it for a while. The Fayetville story just confirms that nothing ever changes, the Twerps are led by another POS on the court and they’ve replaced one massachistic coach for another.

  19. Packfan28 01/09/2012 at 4:14 PM #

    Packinsider, you left out BC at home. They are the 4th game, Miami is the 5th, so 4-0 is an achievable target. I don’t think GT will be a tough game at all, and BC is a joke. The only one of any real concern is WFU. I’m glad they beat VT. Our guys won’t go in with a false sense of confidence.

  20. Prowling Woofie 01/09/2012 at 4:18 PM #

    Love how our bench gets a technical for wiping up sweat on the court in the ACC tournament after a time out, but Turgeon is allowed to spend the second half strolling out on the court and not even draw a warning… in OUR building ???

  21. smfrank 01/09/2012 at 4:35 PM #

    Too many of you are overanalyzing the “run” that put Maryland back in it. I think because that is what you want to do, focus on the tragedy that could have been. That game was over when Scott Wood hit that FT jumper after the time out. Give it up to the boys, Wood went 6-6, Brown 1-2, CJL 1-2 and CJW 2-2 down the stretch. By my count is 10-12 which is some very clutch FT shooting! One more stop would have really sealed the deal. I was very impressed to see us be the team that made the run at the 7 minute mark to give us a nice cushion.

    And we played hard the whole game! Rebounding, chasing loose balls, challenging shots. We played a “toss-up” game and came out with a hard fought win, that is what we’re supposed to do. If we play this hard every game we should have a good season.

  22. VaWolf82 01/09/2012 at 4:52 PM #

    You’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

    At least he’ll have plenty of company.

  23. wufpup76 01/09/2012 at 5:00 PM #

    “Love how our bench gets a technical for wiping up sweat on the court in the ACC tournament after a time out, but Turgeon is allowed to spend the second half strolling out on the court and not even draw a warning… in OUR building ???”

    ^Larry Rose would’ve ensured that we lost the game last night. Tongue only slightly in cheek.

  24. Packfan28 01/09/2012 at 5:52 PM #

    Did anyone address and answer why there wasn’t a technical for too many on the court last night? I could have sworn Maryland started a play with 6 guys, and then the refs blew their whistle to stop play and let Maryland get the right number out there.

  25. mikeD 01/09/2012 at 7:44 PM #

    ^ I’ve been wondering the exact same thing! A similar situation had been on ESPN’s webpage the whole day. I was up off the sofa yelling at the refs!

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