March 28, 2012
Good Morning fellow Wolfpackers. Todayâ€™s web runâ€¦enjoy.
NC STATE BASKETBALL
JP GIGLIO (N&O)
ACC hoops in 2013? Think Red and FSU
TIM STEVENS (N&O)
N.C. State recruits ready for McDonaldâ€™s Game
Any reference to the North Carolina contingent at the McDonaldâ€™s All-American Game in Chicago tonight means N.C. State recruits, not future University of North Carolina players.
The Wolfpack has three Tar Heels in the game, but the designation applies not to their college decision, but to their residence.
T. J. Warren, who grew up in Durham, and Tyler Lewis, from Lewisville, played their senior seasons at out-of-state high schools, but they join Raleighâ€™s Rodney Purvis in giving the state, and State, three players in the game. It is a record for the state and for the university.
â€œCoach (Mark) Gottfriend has turned the program around. We know weâ€™re going to have a lot of pressure on us. Thatâ€™s even more exciting,â€ he said. Purvis said N.C. State was a great fit for him.
â€œIt was probably one of the best decisions that Iâ€™ve made in a long time,â€ he said. â€œJust being able to play with guys that I grew up with, Tyler Lewis and T.J. Warren. N.C. State made a great run in the tournament. Iâ€™m really happy with my decision.â€
â€œWe just want to get there and work hard and try to be one of the top teams in the country next year,â€ he said. â€œWe just want to bring NC State back to where it needs to be.
â€œWe know what we have to do and weâ€™re going to do it. Weâ€™re going to come in and work hard. Weâ€™re going to take it as far as we can.
CAULTON TUDOR (N&O)
Three things to watch in the ACC
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
For all Gottfriedâ€™s Wolfpack accomplished, its best may still be yet to come
The future is so bright for the suddenly resurgent Wolfpack that even C.J. Williams â€“ a player whose career officially ended with Fridayâ€™s heartbreaking 60-57 loss to Kansas â€“ was too excited to be down.
â€œAt a time like this you look back on what youâ€™ve accomplished, not what happened in the end,â€ Williams said. â€œWe played very good basketball. We fought for everything we got. Iâ€™m just proud to say Iâ€™m an N.C. State basketball alumnus.â€
Though itâ€™s still too early to officially declare the Wolfpack â€œback,â€ its improvement, its strong finish and the positive national exposure Gottfried and his program have gotten over the past two weeks have helped build an encouraging foundation on which to build. With three McDonaldâ€™s All-Americas coming in to augment a returning nucleus that will be among the ACCâ€™s best regardless of what Leslie decides regarding the NBA draft, Fridayâ€™s loss sure felt like more of a beginning than an end.
â€œIâ€™m not sure I could be more proud than I am of our team,â€ Gottfried said. â€œThis team learned how to compete, they learned how to keep fighting and they did it again (against Kansas). We just came up a little short. We grew a lot. We improved a lot.â€
That improvement was evident in virtually every player on the roster.
Leslie, a slender 6-foot-8 forward, went from being a cocky, under-motivated enigma as a freshman to a legitimate star and leader capable of taking over games on both ends of the floor as a sophomore.
Associated Press (accsports.com)
Gottfriedâ€™s 1st Year Offers Hope For Wolfpack
The question now is what Gottfriedâ€™s second step will be after earlier-than-expected success.
Of the regular rotation players, only Williams and graduate transfer Alex Johnson are sure not to return. Gottfriedâ€™s coaching staff has secured one of the nationâ€™s best recruiting classes with point guard Tyler Lewis, wing guard Rodney Purvis and small forward T.J. Warren.
And if Leslie returns along with the rest of the regulars instead of entering the NBA draft, N.C. State could enter next year as a favorite to win the ACC race.
â€œWe just brought it night in and night out,â€ junior Scott Wood said. â€œWhether it was off a four-game losing streak or riding a winning streak, every practice we came with the mindset that we were going to get better. And I feel like we knew we could be a really dangerous team.
â€œBut by any means, especially for the people coming back, weâ€™re not satisfied.â€
Barry Jacobs (accsports.com)
Jacobs: Spring Games
Jim Young (accsports.com)
Looking Back On N.C. Stateâ€™s Finish
Needed: More Shooters
That second final-minute play â€“ the one with the low-percentage pass to Wood â€“ illustrated one of Stateâ€™s flaws that plagued it during the season and hurt it against Kansas: the Pack really needed one more 3-point shooter.
Lorenzo Brown just doesnâ€™t look for his shot much from behind the arc (he made only 27 3-pointers this season) to be considered a serious threat and C.J. Williams needs time and space to get his shot off â€“ his release just isnâ€™t quick enough.
Having a stretch four â€“ say, a T.J. Warren â€“ would have really come in handy, allowing State in that situation to put four 3-point threats on the floor. Having a power forward with a perimeter shot would have also helped pull one of KUâ€™s big men away from the basket, which would have given Leslie/Howell more room to operate. But credit Gottfried for figuring out ways around this deficiency for much of the season.
This One Should Sting For A While
Itâ€™s not just that N.C. State had several great chances to take the lead in the final minute and knock off Kansas. Itâ€™s not just that the Wolfpack missed out on a fourth shot at UNC. And itâ€™s not just that State would have been playing a wounded UNC team – without Kendall Marshall – and thus would have had a golden opportunity to make it to the Final Four for the first time since 1983.
Itâ€™s all that and thereâ€™s this â€¦
The understandable temptation after the game for Wolfpack fans was to say: â€œThat loss hurts but hey we should be even better next season!â€
Thatâ€™s certainly possible, but allow me to play the Debbie Downer role for a moment.
The temptation these days – thanks mostly to Kentucky and in part to Kyrie Irving – is to assume that highly-touted freshmen will immediately live up to the hype. But often it takes a while for top recruits to turn into stars – take Michael Snaer, for example. And there are still times when canâ€™t-miss recruits, well, miss.
Maybe none of that happens. Maybe T.J. Warren is a scoring machine next season and maybe Rodney Purvisâ€™ slashes to the basket complement Lorenzo Brownâ€™s floor game perfectly. Even then, there are no guarantees. Hit a hot team at the wrong team – Duke against Arizona in 2011 – or have a critical player get injured – UNC this year – and it may not matter how well your team is constructed.
You never know when youâ€™ll get your opportunities in March. N.C. State seized a few this year – letâ€™s not forget the Wolfpack reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005 – but it missed on its last one. And thatâ€™s a psychic wound that will take more time to heal.
(Wow, that did seem kind of negative.)
Fortunately the best medicine right for State fans is just to remember the great run that got the Wolfpack all the way to St. Louis, and just a basket or two away from the Elite Eight.
(There, thatâ€™s better.)
NC STATE FOOTBALL
JP GIGLIO (N&O)
N.C. State QB Glennon has less to worry about
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
Brandon Pittman taking advantage of opportunity
What a difference a year makes. One year ago, linebacker Brandon Pittman was still at Leesville Road High School. At NC State’s first spring practice last Friday, Pittman was lining up on the weakside with the first-team defense.
It wasn’t even a full 12 months ago that Pittman was a wide-eyed freshman just trying to find his place on the football team. The rising sophomore remembered back to the start of summer camp last year and how much has changed since then.
“It’s a lot different now,” he said. “I got more comfortable, I’m starting to pick up all of my stuff and I’m starting to learn my way around the defense. I remember my first practice, all the freshmen were about 20 minutes late because we had no idea what we were doing. Now, we get to kind of see who messed up the jumping jack [done at the end of every practice] and the drills. It’s definitely a lot better now.”
However, those are far from the only changes. While Pittman played behind experienced seniors Audie Cole and Dwayne Maddox, and redshirt junior Terrell Manning last year, all three players have moved on, and the other returning starter, sophomore D.J. Green, will miss the upcoming season due to a NCAA suspension. Pittman and some of the Pack’s other young linebackers will have the opportunity to fill those holes starting this spring.
“Coach told me I’ve got enough talent, so I just need to step up,” Pittman said. “I’ve got my head in the playbook and I got in the weight room a little bit more.”
Pack Springs Forward
The Wolfpack opened spring football practice on Friday evening and has now completed three of its 15 workouts. As always, head coach Tom O’Brien says that the spring is a time for his squad to get back to work on the fundamentals of football. This spring, it will also be vital for O’Brien and his staff to identify who will step up to fill vacated spots at linebacker and wide receiver.
The wideout position has several players who have gained solid experience as reserves. At the top of the spring organizational chart at the wideout spots are Tobais Palmer, who started seven games last year, Quintin Payton, a veteran of 23 games and Bryan Underwood, who had a solid rookie campaign in 2011. Rashard Smith is now a full-time receiver, after switching back and forth from the defensive secondary a year ago, while red-shirts Maurice Morgan and Hakeem Flowers are looking to gain a spot on the depth chart.
James Henderson (PackPride.com)
O’Brien: ‘The Key Is Staying Healthy’
“Everybody is around. The only person injury-wise out all spring is Jarvis Byrd. Everybody else should make it back at some point right now. The same thing as every spring, a little bumps or bruises… but no one is projected to miss.”
“I’m not practicing Carlos Gray. It’s nothing disciplinary wise. It’s an academic situation. He has to continue to do what he is doing. He is the only guy that will be out all spring.”
“[Mustafa Greene] is doing alright. We’re not going to do too much with him. He’s going to get some work here and there. The key with him is to make sure he can wake up and go the next day.”
“Sterling is getting more work than Mustafa. His wasn’t as serious in nature… Sterling is doing everything.”
“We only have six or seven scholarship [linebackers]. It is what it is. They have to, coach Tenuta said he has to find guys that can play. That’s what he is working on. Whatever combination that comes out of it.”
“We hope so, these guys have been four and five years in the making. They have to be able to step up and play. Getting Mattes back in a week or so will hopefully solidify that. There is more scholarship guys and more guys that have been in the program, more depth than we’ve ever had and that creates competition with guys competing for playing time.”
“[The expectation for Forrest West] is that he can come in and get in the rotation and help us. He played two years in whatever league they were in that time… having played in that level and started at that level he has some experience he can fall back on. Now he has to learn our defense, but he is a good football player. I think he is going to find his way on to the field.”
Ken Medlin (WRALSportsfan.com)
NC State opens spring practice with host of changes
Spring football practice has always been a time of change and that is no exception for North Carolina State in 2012. The Wolfpack opened their spring workouts Tuesday with position changes, players returning from injury and new faces in the huddle all together.
One of the biggest changes for NC State this spring has redshirt junior Rashard Smith moving from cornerback to wide receiver. The 5-foot-11 Georgia native said that the adjustment is something that he is looking forward to.
â€œIâ€™m a team player, Iâ€™m always wanting to put the team first,â€ Smith said. â€œIf the coaches tell me I have to play offense to help the team out, Iâ€™m going to go play offense. Being on the defensive side of the ball, I know the corner tendencies; know the defensive tendencies.â€
Tobais Palmer, who started seven games last year, Quintin Payton and Bryan Underwood are expected to fill out the wide receiver corps.
Akula Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
2012 NC State Basketball Highlights
Pack Perspective with Mark Thomas
Mark Thomas visits with North Carolina native and Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Bobby Lutz.
Riddick and Reynolds
R&R Podcast: Episode 44
Episode #44. The David Thompson of the bunch, and the only podcast episode weâ€™ve retired.
Thatâ€™s not true, of course, but it certainly was a good one. Cliff Crawford joined us at Amedeoâ€™s and Chris Corchiani Skyped in from parts unknown as we discussed the Kansas game and Stateâ€™s prospects for the future.
Good friend and former podcast mate Steven of BackingThePack sits in on segment two, and Derek Medlin Skypes in with us to field Q&As from the crowd and from the Twittersphere.
NC State spring practice marked with changes
Mike Glennon at quarterback is one of few constants from last year’s NC State football team as they get a starting running back healthy and are moving Rashard Smith to the other side of the ball.
Web Chat: Wrapping up the college hoops season
Mark Thomas and Mike Maniscalco wrap up the seasons for NC State and UNC as well as talk about the Saints bounty program.