March 16, 2012
Today’s Daily Webrun for Wolfpackers
Folks it’s been a long 6 years since we’ve experienced this but we’re finally back in the Big Dance. Here’s to a long run.
NC STATE BASKETBALL
LUKE DECOCK (N&O)
N.C. State players experience first NCAA tournament
â€œWeâ€™ve just wanted them to enjoy it and not worry about it,â€ Lutz said. â€œRather than making it a big issue, how different it is, weâ€™re still going to end up playing a 40 minute game. Thatâ€™s what our focus is. You try to prepare them: Enjoy it, but donâ€™t get caught up in it.â€
Not that the NCAAâ€™s manuals are infallible, either. On Wednesday, N.C. State senior associate athletic director Chris Kingston was still scrambling to finalize his rooming list hours before the teamâ€™s charter flight left Raleigh on Wednesday, after the teamâ€™s assigned hotel failed to reserve rooms for the Wolfpack.
These are minor inconveniences, given the rewards on offer.
â€œThis is my senior season, so this was my last chance to get to the NCAA tournament,â€ N.C. State guard C.J. Williams said. â€œNow that Iâ€™m here, Iâ€™m just glad â€“ and Iâ€™m focused on what we have to do to win the game.â€
JP GIGLIO (N&O)
Pack bandwagon picks up a believer in President Obama
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried has embraced all the extra attention that has come with the Wolfpack’s first NCAA tournament appearance in six years.
Well, almost all of it. After President Barack Obama put the Wolfpack in the round of 16 in his bracket picks for ESPN, Gottfried sent a text to his former ESPN colleague, Andy Katz.
“The President’s trying to win votes, I’m trying to get wins,” Gottfried said he wrote in the text message to Katz. “It’s a little different.”
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Wolfpack ready to make a deep run â€¦ provided it doesnâ€™t get distracted
In the manner of just a few days, the N.C. State basketball team has gone from the last team announced into the NCAA tournament bracket into the â€œcoolâ€ pick to pull off a first-round upset.
And perhaps even more.
Even President Barack Obama has coach Mark Gottfriedâ€™s 11th-seeded team penciled in to win two games and advance to the Sweet 16 in the Midwest Region, telling ESPN that he likes teams that get hot late and â€œthe Wolfpack looked good at the end there.â€
Thereâ€™s certainly logic in that statement.
State came on strong to win its last two regular season games and two more at the ACC tournament in Atlanta last week before losing to top-seeded North Carolina in a controversial finish. Its 22-12 record is its best in six years, and the Wolfpack certainly figures to be hungry after being on the outside of the tournament looking in since 2006.
But as gratifying as the long-overdue attention might be, it could also have its disadvantages as State prepares to play sixth-seeded San Diego State on Friday in Columbus, Ohio.
Unlike most first-time NCAA teams that run the risk of â€œjust being happy to be here,â€ the Wolfpack must try not to believe everything it hears and become overconfident from all the praises that are suddenly being tossed its way.
Adam Gold (WRALSportsfan.com)
Measuring success more than about numbers
Mark Gottfried might not have been Athletic Director Debbie Yowâ€™s first choice to succeed Lowe, but his fiery personality, recruiting acumen and the ability to build a talented, experienced coaching staff have lent an air of instant credibility to the process. In truth, in spite of the fact that Gottfriedâ€™s basketball roots lie in Tulsa, Tuscaloosa and Westwood, he really does seem to be a natural fit with the Red and White of N.C. State. Anyone else, even those candidates that might have been higher on Yowâ€™s initial wish list would not have felt like one of the family, at least itâ€™s hard to imagine it that way. To me, Gottfried feels like one of the family.
If you think about it, State probably fell a bit short of where it should have been, in terms of an overall record, on the court this year. They really should have won at least three, and maybe as many as five or six, more games. Non-conference games against Indiana and at Stanford, and conference games against Georgia Tech, Clemson and Duke either could have or, in some cases, should have been wins. In previous years, including those prior to the lost Lowe seasons, Wolfpack fans would have been howling their displeasure. However, even allowing for the newness of a head coach taking over after an extreme drought, this just feels different. Gottfried has given Wolfpack fans everywhere hope for a bright future. He’s given them reason to dream that what used to be — ACC championships, NCAA tournament success and wins against the local bullies — can be once again.
Akula Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
Previewing The San Diego State Aztecs
I’m not sure how much of that is good new for NC State. Obviously it helps the Pack’s frontcourt guys, and especially Richard Howell, who seems to struggle more than most against guys bigger than him. We don’t really have to worry about shot-blockers or a huge physical interior presence.
But we know how shaky the perimeter defense can be, and there’s really no good matchup for Alex Johnson at the defensive end, at least from a size perspective. The Aztecs don’t run anybody shorter than 6-2.
Interior defense has been San Diego State’s cornerstone at this end of the last three years, which also happens to coincide with a three-year stretch of NCAA tournament bids. The Aztecs also have done a very good job cleaning up the glass, though Fisher’s track record in this department is spotty. It’s the interior D, defensive rebounding, and foul-dodging aspects that make this an efficient unit, because they aren’t generating a lot of turnovers, and their size this year limits their shot-blocking ability.
The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by one.
Jim Young (accsports.com)
Ask A Blogger: N.C. State In The NCAAs
Now we turn to James Curle, who runs the N.C. State blog Riddick and Reynolds and also hosts a mean podcast, takes a look at the Wolfpackâ€™s NCAA hopes. You can follow him on Twitter at @RnR_NCSU.
Whoâ€™s the N.C. State player who needs to step his game up if the Wolfpack is going to get out of this weekend? Whoâ€™s the player youâ€™re most concerned about pulling a no-show? (Maybe the same guy?)
I think those two players are one and the same: CJ Williams. Heâ€™s not had a good final few weeks of his career, and since weâ€™ve dubbed him as our glue guy on the podcast on several occasions, itâ€™s important for him to regain that adhesive quality he had midway through the season.
Why heâ€™s struggled is unclear. Perhaps itâ€™s self-imposed pressure, knowing his team was so close to securing the only NCAA bid he would ever play in. He also knows his teammates look to him for leadership on the court and in the box score, so perhaps he was pressing things.
You hope thatâ€™s the root of the issue, because theoretically that should mean the albatross around his neck should be lifted, freeing him up to return to the form we saw in January and early February. Without â€œold CJ,â€ it could be a short stay in Ohio for State.
You mixed it up on Twitter with a few national writers during Stateâ€™s coaching search. If the Wolfpack does make it to to the Sweet 16, how many of them will you send taunting tweets to?
None. They know who they are, those national media members who mocked State when Herb left, all during the Sidney era, and during both coaching searches. Iâ€™ll let them stew in their own juices as theyâ€™re forced to write pregame analysis of that second weekend matchup.
Ok, I liedâ€¦Iâ€™ll drop a couple of folks a friendly â€œhello.â€ You know, just a little reminder to the usual suspects that State didnâ€™t wind up looking like the ugly sister after all. 🙂
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
NCAA tournament preview: Gottfried has N.C. State Wolfpack on track
“Our effort level, that’s there. Sometimes you get a play or two short and you want to reevaluate your whole life, and we don’t need to do that. We just need to keep battling.”
– Gottfried after the overtime loss at Clemson
It was easy to write off the Wolfpack entering the last week of the regular season. The losing streak had grown to four, and it faced must-win games at home against Miami and on the road against Virginia Tech. N.C. State kept battling and now finds itself in the NCAA tournament, favored to beat the higher-seeded Aztecs on Friday.
Many people believe the Wolfpack could upset Georgetown in the round of 32 and advance all the way to Elite Eight, opposite North Carolina.
Slow down a little.
If N.C. State relaxes and plays like it’s just happy to be in the tournament, it will be a brief cameo. But it has the talent to win at least a game, maybe several more, if the effort level is as high as it’s been in the last two weeks.
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
San Diego State’s Franklin has no fear of Wolfpack’s Leslie
Say what you will about San Diego State forward Jamaal Franklin, he doesnâ€™t scare easily.
When asked Thursday about the challenge posed by N.C. State forward C.J. Leslie, Franklin made it clear that he wasnâ€™t intimidated.
â€œHeâ€™s a great player, heâ€™s a good player, but I donâ€™t see him fearing,â€ Franklin said. â€œI donâ€™t have fear in him. Heâ€™s just a regular player Iâ€™m ready to play against. But talented and athletic. So looking forward to a good matchup, because he has to worry about guarding me too.â€
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
NCAA tournament: N.C. State Game Day
Swinging the matchup in their favor
Jamaal Franklin, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward who often plays the ‘4’ for San Diego State, presents a matchup problem. N.C. State could defend him with either its power forward, C.J. Leslie, with 6-foot-5 defensive stopper C.J. Williams or with point guard Lorenzo Brown, who did a commendable job on North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes in the ACC tournament semifinals. The Wolfpack would like to avoid putting Leslie at risk for foul trouble, and it could flip the matchup issue by pounding the ball inside to him and Richard Howell against a small frontline. That’d require San Diego State to go bigger and have 6-11 LSU transfer Garrett Green play a more pivotal role.
Avoid getting a big head
N.C. State became a feel-good story nationally for its raucous selection show celebration, and some experts believe the Wolfpack has the potential to make a run to the Elite Eight, possibly squaring off with North Carolina in St. Louis. It seems like everyone has jumped on N.C. State’s bandwagon. Wood, as well as anyone, knows how tenuous that can be, especially on social media sites like Twitter. “When you play well, all the 12- to 15-year-old girls are, ‘Oh, Scott, Retweet! Retweet!,’ ” Wood said with a laugh. “When you have a bad game and get on there, you’re like, ‘Oh, no retweets today.’ ” Wood’s point: Win and they love you; lose and you’re nothing. The Wolfpack players can’t let all the recent praise inflate their egos.
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
N.C. State guard C.J. Williams’ NCAA tournament dream fulfilled
When CBS studio host Greg Gumbel opened with, “And the fifth team from the ACC,” Williams sprung to his feet with his arms raised. He didn’t need to hear Gumbel finish his sentence to know that the Wolfpack was, finally, in the field.
Once Williams landed back on his feet, the cap removed from his head, he spun right and hugged Lorenzo Brown, who was seated next to C.J. Leslie. A dogpile formed around them, the force great enough to move the loveseat with Brown and Leslie still on it. Williams’ phone buzzed with calls from his parents and sister.
He was too busy celebrating to answer it.
In a season marked by bitter losses, this was N.C. State’s most dramatic victory. And for the Wolfpack, particularly Williams, the road to this moment was rough.
“My first reaction, I just cried because I couldn’t really put into words what I was feeling,” he said. “There were so many different emotions. That moment right there had to be probably the worse moment of my life, just not knowing exactly what was going to happen, who was that last team that was announced, but I’m glad it was us.”
This afternoon in Columbus, Ohio, against sixth-seeded San Diego State, Williams will play his 125th career game, the 13th-highest total in N.C. State history. Only Dennis Horner and Justin Gainey, at 128 apiece, appeared in more without reaching the NCAA tournament.
Jacey Zembal (TheWolfpacker.com)
NC State enjoying new-found attention
“We have had a lot of good things, and Sunday night was big for our program,” NC State coach Mark Gottfried said. “Our players enjoyed that night. They earned their way in and I really believe that. After a couple of days, it’s exciting, and now you have to get your mind back where we go back to work and get ourselves ready to play.”
The Wolfpack had the video of their reaction to earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament make the rounds this week. The players were all hugging and jumping up and down, while fifth-year senior point guard Alex Johnson broke out his dance moves.
College basketball experts and media talking heads took note of how well NC State played in nearly beating North Carolina in the ACC Tournament semifinals last Saturday.
The newfound attention has been a stark contrast to what the program has received in past years. NC State junior small forward Scott Wood half-joked that the Wolfpack fan base has increased this week.
“I’m sure a couple of people have jumped on the bandwagon,” Wood said. “I guarantee once we lose, they’ll be off because that is the way fans work. When you are winning, they love you. When you play well, they love you. When you aren’t making shots and you are losing, [fans say] ‘He sucks,’ and that is the way it works.”
Wood usually can tell the mood of Wolfpack Nation when he checks his Twitter account. He’s been a little busier this week than normal.
“When you play well, all the 12-to-15-year-old girls go, ‘Oh, Scott, retweet, retweet,'” Wood said. “When you have a bad game and get on there, there are no retweets. That is the way it works.”
Jacey Zembal (TheWolfpacker.com)
Maturation of NC State’s sophomores spurs tourney bid
One of the old adages in college athletics is that you make your biggest improvements from your freshman to your sophomore season.
NC State sophomores C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown are starting to deliver on the potential that made them top 40 prospects coming out of high school. The Wolfpack basketball program has greatly benefitted by improvements and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.
NCSU (22-12) earned the No. 11 seed and square off against No. 6-seeded San Diego State (26-7) at 12:40 p.m. Friday in Columbus, Ohio, in the Midwest Regional.
Leslie and Brown both went through the usual ups and downs during their freshmen years. Some players are standouts right away in college basketball, but they are the exceptions rather than the rule.
For every elite freshman such as Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky, there are top 12 recruits such as power forward Khem Birch, who quit the team at Pittsburgh and transferred to UNLV, or point guard Josiah Turner, who experienced multiple suspensions at Arizona, and didn’t play in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Rivals.com ranked Leslie the No. 14 overall player in the country in the class of 2010 out of Raleigh Word of God. Brown checked in at No. 37 in the class of 2009 at Roswell (Ga.) Centennial High, before having to do a one-year stint at Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy. The duo along with No. 19-ranked point guard Ryan Harrow were expected to be the saviors of the program under former coach Sidney Lowe, who is now an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz.
The expectations proved too swallow the freshmen trio, and Harrow eventually transferred to Kentucky. The learning experiences didn’t help turn-around NC State last year, but helped paved the way for what was to come this season.
Andy Reid (TheWolfpacker.com)
Mark Gottfried still excited about March Madness
“This is the greatest show on earth. I’ve always said that,” Gottfried said. “It’s a privilege to be a part of it. We’ve talked about [the NCAA Tournament] a lot throughout the year. This is the goal, to play in this tournament and obviously to advance. I want our team to stay hungry.
“Being here does a great deal for the credibility of our program. It’s a new staff. New system. We’re recruiting hopefully a high-level player. We understand we got a long way to go. This particular group has exceeded most everybody’s expectation. It’s certainly something we can build on for the future.”
Gottfried has talked about his experience in the tournament with his current players. When Gottfried was in college, he transferred from Oral Roberts to Alabama before his sophomore year and led the Crimson Tide to three-straight Sweet 16 appearances, and set a career school record for three-point field-goal percentage (.485).
“As a player, I just remember being so excited to be a part of it,” Gottfried said. “When I had a chance to play in the tournament, it was special for me. I remember it clearly. I remember the first two, our team probably didn’t believe we could go much farther [than the Sweet 16]. My senior year in ’87, when Rick Pitino’s Providence team beat us, we were a two seed. I thought we were a Final Four team. That one hurt. Those memories never leave you.”
Gottfried knows as well as anybody what it’s like to participate in this tournament. For a team that hasn’t been here since 2006, NC State can lean on his expertise.
Andy Reid (TheWolfpacker.com)
Wolfpack familiarizing themselves with SDSU
An entire continent and several time zones may separate North Carolina State and San Diego State, but Wolfpack senior C.J. Williams is at least a little familiar with the Aztecs’ basketball team.
Williams says he tries to watch as much college basketball as he can. He has seen some San Diego State games this season, including the wild Mountain West Conference Tournament quarterfinal, in which Aztec forward Jamaal Franklin hit a last-second three-pointer to beat Boise State, 65-62.
“I remember the shot that, when [Franklin] hit at the end of the game to win the game for them,” Williams said. “They were ranked during the season. So you see them on TV, watch their highlights.”
San Diego State likes to run four-guard offense, a style the Wolfpack doesn’t have a lot of experience with. Williams is confident in his team’s ability to adapt.
“I feel that we have four guys on the perimeter, including [sophomore forward] C.J. Leslie, that can guard any position one through four,” Williams said. “I think we match up pretty well with them. They’re a very talented team. They’ve got guys that can score the basketball, and we’ve got to go out on defense and kind of shut them down.”
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
Experts split on Pack predictions
National media members that also saw State reaching the Sweet 16 included ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel, Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn and U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Famer Frank Burlison.
Even more analysts thought the 11th seeded Pack would win against San Diego State, but would lose in the following round to the winner of Georgetown and Belmont. Those prognosticators included ESPN’s Jay Bilas, CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman, Gary Parrish, Jeff Borzello and Jerry Palm; and Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel.
Four pundits predicted that the Pack would fall in the first round of the NCAA Tournament – CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis, Andy Staples and Andy Glockner.
Johnson Cherishing Final Moments of Career
Alex Johnson’sfirst and only season on NC State men’s basketball team resulted in his only NCAA Tournament appearance in his career. The point guard graduated from Cal State Bakersfield after last season, and still had one more year of eligibility left. He wanted to go to a school that he could get into the NCAA Tournament, something he was able to accomplish in his last collegiate season while starting his master program in Family, Life, and Youth Development.
Johnson has been grateful for the opportunity to come to NC State to help lead the team to their first NCAA Tournament since 2006. The Toronto native has logged the second most minutes off the bench with 19.9 minutes, but is second on the team with 3.0 assists per game.
Johnson talks about the upcoming postseason and what it means to him to make the NCAA Tournament in his final season. The Wolfpack will play against San Diego State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio at 12:40 et on Friday.
Pack versus the Sixth Seed: NC State will be looking to capture its first win in the NCAA Tournament against the sixth seed, as the Pack is currently 0-3 in such contests.
The Pack previously fell to sixth-seed Florida in the 1987 tournament in the first round.
NC State also fell to Vanderbilt in the second round in 2004, 75-73, and to Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 in 2005, 65-56, when both teams were the sixth seeds.
Pack in First Round (Now Second Round) Action: Technically the Pack’s first game in the 2012 NCAA Tournament will be in the second round, but in the Pack’s previous trips to the Big Dance, NC State has found success in first round action. NC State enters 11-5 in what was formerly the first round, now the second round.
In fact, the Pack has failed to win a NCAA Tournament game only once in its last seven trips. During NC State’s recent school record of five consecutive trips (2002-06), the Pack failed to advance out of the first round only once, in 2003 in overtime to California.
First-Year Feat: NC State’s Mark Gottfried is just one of seven coaches in the 68-team NCAA field to take his squad to the tournament in his first season. Gottfried and Missouri’s Frank Haith are the only two to accomplish this feat at a BCS school.
Gottfried becomes only the third coach in school history to lead his first team to the NCAA Tournament. Only Press Maravich (1965) and Les Robinson (1991) have accomplished that feat before this season.
In Gottfried’s two previous coaching stops, he took Murray State to the NCAA Tournament in his second season and Alabama in his fourth year.
Williams Thankful For NCAA Opportunity
When the Pack first opened its campaign in mid-October, going all the way through 34 games this year, this was what the team worked so hard for.
Gumble then said those words every 2011-12 Wolfpack player will remember, â€œAnd the fifth team out of the ACC, the Wolfpack of North Carolina State!â€
Screams of joy, tears of happiness, overall jubilation filled the room, as seen in this video that has made the internet rounds.
The Wolfpack was going to the â€˜Big Danceâ€™ for the 23rd time in school history, and for the first time in six seasons.
â€œThe drama of just being the last pick is something I will never forget,â€ said Williams. â€œI actually had my head down and was praying to just get a shot of going to the tournament. I donâ€™t think I have ever jumped any higher in my life. I was so relieved.
â€œI couldnâ€™t help but cry with everything I have been through during my four years here. It was the greatest feeling in the world.â€
This season didnâ€™t begin how Williams thought his senior campaign was going to start. After the Pack finished last year 15-16, NC State athletics director Debbie Yow made a coaching change, and hired Mark Gottfried.
For all the returning NC State players this was a big change. They were no longer playing for the coaching staff that recruited them, but now had to forge new relationships and learn the system of a new staff.
For Williams, he would only have one season to adjust.
â€œThe first thing I told Coach Gottfried was that I only had one year left,â€ said Williams. â€œI asked that if he was trying to rebuild for the future let me know now, and Iâ€™ll go somewhere that is in position to try to win now.
â€œHe assured me that he was not coming in here to rebuild, he wanted to take this team to where we want to go, and that is the NCAA Tournament. That put confidence in me that I was making the right decision to stay. Looking back, Iâ€™m so glad I made the decision to stick with this program.â€
N.C. Stateâ€™s players gathered around the NCAA logo at midcourt after practice Thursday afternoon, like a bunch of college kids on spring break, and posed for an impromptu team photo.
No â€œtake the picture alreadyâ€ scowls here. There was a genuine sense of joy on their faces as they soaked in the programâ€™s first appearance in what Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried calls, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” in six years.
A four-game losing streak, which started a month ago at Duke, threatened to keep the Wolfpack (22-12) out of the NCAA tournament, but a 4-1 closing kick landed N.C. State an 11th seed in the Midwest regional, opposite of sixth-seeded San Diego State today in a second-round matchup (12:40 p.m., truTV).
The fear of failure can be a powerful motivator, and N.C. State had tasted enough of defeat, in previous seasons and during a four-game stretch against Duke, Florida State, North Carolina and Clemson.
â€œNobody wanted to play in the NIT,â€ junior guard Scott Wood said.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Five questions to ponder before tipoff: NCAA tournament edition
1. Is N.C. State ready to make a statement or is it â€œjust happy to be here?â€
The Wolfpack worked hard to accomplish what seemed to be an impossible goal after its late-season four-game losing streak. Now that coach Mark Gottfriedâ€™s 11th-seeded team has broken that five-year NCAA tournament drought and is finally here, does it take a deep breath? Or does it get even hungrier and become the sleeper team everyone, including President Barack Obama, thinks it can be? The tempo against sixth-seeded San Diego State should play in the Wolfpackâ€™s favor. So should the fact that State has played a significantly more difficult schedule and is battle tested. If Richard Howell can stay out of foul trouble, Scott Wood can hit a few 3-pointers and C.J. Leslie can maintain his high level of intensity, youâ€™ve got to like the Wolfpackâ€™s chances.
Andrew Skwara (accsports.com)
ACC NCAA Tourney Preview, March 16
No. 11 N.C. State (22-12) vs No. 6 San Diego State (26-7)
Time: 12:40 p.m. EST
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Key Players – N.C. State
F C.J. Leslie (14.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.6 bpg), G Lorenzo Brown (12.7 ppg, 6.4 apg, 1.8 spg), G Scott Wood (12.5 ppg, 41.1% 3-pt, 91.9% FT), F Richard Howell (10.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg).
Key Players – San Diego State
F Jamaal Franklin (17.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg), G Chase Tapley (15.7 ppg, 43.3% 3-pt), G Xavier Thames (10.3 ppg, 4.2 apg).
Whatâ€™s at Stake?
N.C. State has little to lose after snagging its first NCAA tournament bid since 2005-06. An upset over a San Diego State program that reached the Sweet 16 last year would further validate the hiring of first-year coach Mark Gottfried and boost the ACCâ€™s stock as well. San Diego State can earn more respect for the Mountain West Conference, which put a record-tying four teams in the NCAA field, by winning another NCAA tournament game and knocking off a foe from a BCS conference.
Key for the Wolfpack
Getting Leslie plenty of touches. Not only has Leslie emerged as a go-to scorer over the last month, but San Diego State lacks a quality shot blocker. Get Leslie the ball consistently in the post and he can carry the Wolfpack to an upset.
Key for the Aztecs
Defensive chemistry. The Aztecs are the better defensive team. Slow down Leslie and keep Wood from taking open 3-pointers and Steve Fisherâ€™s club will come out on top.
Over his last seven games, N.C. Stateâ€™s C.J. Leslie is averaging 19.0 points and 10.6 rebounds â€¦ N.C. Stateâ€™s first-year coach Mark Gottfried holds a 5-7 record in the NCAA Tournament while at Alabama and Murray State â€¦ Gottfried is one of seven coaches in the 68-team field to take his team to the NCAA tournament in his first season with a program â€¦ This is the first meeting between these two programs â€¦ San Diego State was 5-5 against teams in the RPI top 50.
N.C. State 67, San Diego State 65 â€“ The Wolfpack are playing their best ball of the season and Leslie will cause a lot of trouble for an undersized Aztec team. If Mark Gottfriedâ€™s team plays solid defensively, expect an upset.
Andy Reid (TheWolfpacker.com)
Aztecs operating with size disadvantage
The Aztecs are focused on combating NC State’s size advantage. Finding ways to slow down sophomore forward C.J. Leslie, the Wolfpack’s leading scorer with 14.6 points a game, will be a big part of the game plan.
“I know C.J. Leslie is a terrific talent,” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. “From what I heard, He didn’t play up to what they thought he might, as a freshman. Now, he’s probably playing as well or better than anybody in the ACC, the last seven, eight, nine games. He’ll be a load for us, no matter whether we had a guy 6-10 trying to guard him.
“He’s a hard matchup, devil of a matchup. And I don’t know whether one guy can do it, how much we’ll double, whether we’ll double, where the double will come from. But we have to do a good job of not letting them just throw it inside and get angles to go on us.
“I think that might be fun to look at early, but we come quite often with the sub and the 16 minute mark with two big guys. So now four man center of the game, regardless, we might come with two big guys.”
WRAL.com (Player Video Interviews)
NC State Video Interviews
Several NC State players met with the media today as they are preparing for San Diego State.
Gottfried: Great thing about this tournament, anything can happen
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
Whitney Houston remix of the N.C. State celebration video, showing that Alex Johnson “wanna dance with somebody”
The solo dancing of N.C. State graduate student Alex Johnson, who transferred in from Cal State-Bakersfield with the hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament, helped inspire this Whitney Houston-style remix to the celebration video that went viral Sunday night.
NC State’s Open Practice
Coach Mark Gottfried and the Wolfpack stepped onto the court at Nationwide Arena for the first time Thursday afternoon. GoPack.com takes you inside the Pack’s open practice.