Has this season been a disappointment?

This basketball season has had a lot of peaks and valleys. We started out the year with a preseason top ten ranking, were predicted to win the ACC and Leslie was the leading candidate for ACC player of the year. All of this hype was generated by the Pack’s amazing Sweet Sixteen run along with the addition of three McDonald’s All Americans. We lost badly to Oklahoma State in the Puerto Rican tournament and then did well in a loss to highly ranked Michigan. We beat both Duke and UNC but lost to Wake. Brown gets hurt and we lose three straight but the injury gives Lewis an opportunity and he performs better than even the most optimistic of us thought he would. Brown returns and we have won 6 of our last 7 games with a chance to finish 4th in the ACC.

So the question becomes were the initial expectations realistic? I thought coming into the season we could be a top ten team but were not there yet. There were a lot of things our team needed to improve on, one of the key being leadership. Johnson and Williams were great leaders and none of the current players seem to have that ability. Howell does a great job of leading by example but none of the other upperclassmen are vocal leaders. Another thing the team lacked was defense. Whether they did not know how or did not think they needed to, they did not play good defense at the beginning of the year. The same can be said for rebounding and playing with constant intensity. Let’s talk about the individual players.

Is there a player who has improved more than Howell? He reshaped his body, learned how to play defense without fouling and has thrived in the high post offense. Not only does he sport the best beard in college basketball, he also out hustles everyone. He worked his way unto the All ACC first team. He is the best player on the team. He has exceeded my expectations this year.

Wood is an elite shooter. When he has an open shot he rarely misses (at least at home). The problem is he rarely gets open and he has never developed a pump fake. As an aside, how can you not develop a pump fake? My 8 year old can do a pump fake. Which highlights my biggest problem with Wood, he is essentially the same player now as he was a freshman. He is a great shooter but is lacking in most other areas. I am very glad he is on our team but he has not improved like I thought he would.

He had a rough start to the year. His shot was not working and he was getting beat on defense. Since his injury he has been very good. His speed on the break and passing ability allow us to get a lot of easy buckets. But he also scores well in the half-court offense and has really picked up his defense. He is now playing how I expected him to play.

The question every game is “Will it be Calvin or CJ?” He is so athletically gifted but so lacking in fundamentals it is frustrating. It is not a case of effort. I have rarely seen a lack of effort from him. I think he is actually trying TOO hard. There was an early game in which he was getting double teamed but was able to still score and after the game Leslie said something to the effect of “coach wants me play through the double team”. And since that time he has tried to do that. The thing is, if he would kick the ball back out, it would both ease the double team as well give the guards open shots. He is willing to pass but he only passes to players near the basket. He never looks back out. His footwork is pretty bad as well which leads to way too many travelling calls. I love Calvin and am glad he is a Pack player but he has definitely not lived up to expectations.

Rodney has struggled this year. He has hit the three point shot with regularity but has not been able to finish his drives. I cannot figure out why as he is strong and athletic enough to do so and his free throws, well, let’s not talk about his free throws. Rodney has not been as good as I had hoped he would be but I think he is the future leader of this team. He has an infectious smile and has shown the propensity to be the vocal leader we will need.

“Buckets” has been the most pleasant surprise of this year. I watched him play 5 games in high school and every time I would look at that ugly shot and shake my head, but he would keep scoring and scoring and scoring. Surprisingly that ability continued right into college. He has an innate ability to get to the open spot and score. His has excellent body control which allows him to finish tough shots while rarely getting called for a charge. He has been more than I could have ever hoped.

Tyler came into the program with a lot of fanfare but struggled early on adjusting to the size and speed of the college game. When Zo was injured and he took over the team he came alive. He has that heady, “old man” game that drives other players and fans nuts. One play sums it up for me, in the Miami game Reggie Johnson hedged out on a pick at the top of the key. As Johnson turned around to run back to his man, Lewis noticed this and actually used Johnson as a pick to start driving the lane. He will be hated by the rest of the ACC by the time he leaves and that is a huge compliment. His emergence gives us a solid seven man rotation. His current play is about what I expected from him.

I do not like to beat someone when they are down so I will simply say he has not played as well as I expected. I hope he can improve enough to make some impact his senior year.

This team is now capable of making good runs in both the ACC and the NCAA tournaments. They have made constant improvement throughout the year.Their rebounding and defense, while not earth shattering is good enough and given the potent offense that is all it has to be. Whether they will or not is up to one person, Leslie. This team needs him to play hard and smart in order to win against great teams.

Now back to the original question “Has this season been a disappointment?” I think that answer depends on your expectations for this year. If you bought into the preseason hype you are probably upset. I am not. I have seen consistent and constant team improvement. I have seen a fun team who is a blast to watch. I have seen a team who can still do something special and I think that is about all you can ask for. If two years ago someone told you NCSU would be ranked most of the year, beat both Duke and UNC, get into the NCAA tournament without being on the bubble, have three top ranked recruiting classes including at least four McD’s AAs and have one of the top offenses in the NCAA what would you have said? I know I would be giddy with excitement. I do not believe this is a “peak year”. Miami is having a good year but they are having a once in a lifetime experience. With the talent we have in the pipeline I expect many more years of this type of enjoyment.

About Rick

1992 and 2002 graduate from NCSU. Born and raised an NCSU fan. I remember the good ol' days and they weren't in the last 20 years.

12-13 Basketball Editor's Picks General Mark Gottfried

73 Responses to Has this season been a disappointment?

  1. lush 03/07/2013 at 10:08 AM #

    Compared to the preseason expectations, yes clearly a disappointment.

    The Bad losses at wake, md, and the 1 point loss to miami, kept us from the ACC regular season championship.

    However, with a UVA loss and a tarhole loss to Duke, we can still finish 3rd in the league. Hard to be dissapointed with that.

    Win the ACC tourney and its the best season in 25 years.

  2. Thinkpack17 03/07/2013 at 10:08 AM #

    We all said we were ready for the WTF losses and the growing pains of freshmen…but I don’t think we were actually emotional prepared to go through them. I think we are trending upward and I think we are a top ten on paper so I won’t know if I’m disappointed until the season wraps.

    On player development we have to remember these guys had their growth stunted. You deny a kid the things he needs as a baby that stays with him through his life. I think that’s definitely the case with Scooter. With that said I’m a younger Pack fan and basically only started rooting for them after I got my acceptance letter. But Scott Wood will go down as one of my all time favorite players. Love the kid.

  3. WolfVetPhd 03/07/2013 at 10:18 AM #

    Agree with lush, if Dook takes care of the holes and FSU or MD helps us with UVA, plus we don’t crap the bed at FSU we still end up as the 3 seed due to tiebreakers with the holes. However, a 4 seed with Miami #1 would be better to get us to Sunday. Right now if Miami loses, Dook wins, and we end up the #3 then we most likely will have to go through Dook on Sat, and the holes on Sun to win it all. Although if we pull that off it would make it that much sweeter.

  4. Alpha Wolf 03/07/2013 at 10:29 AM #

    I think it is too soon to label the season a disappointment. A first or second round loss in the NCAAT, yes. A Sweet 16 Berth, maybe. Elite 8, or better, not at all.

  5. VaWolf82 03/07/2013 at 10:31 AM #

    So the question becomes were the initial expectations realistic?

    When was the last time that the delusionally optimistic expectations proved to be realistic?

    My preseason best-case scenario was 12-6 in conference. So not a disappointment for me.

  6. wilmwolf80 03/07/2013 at 10:34 AM #

    The season is not yet over, so the answer is “no”.

    I don’t care about preseason rankings, as we all know that other than generating hype, they serve no real purpose.

    I have spent many, many years reminding fans of our fellow tobacco road schools that there is no such thing as a “Regular Season Championship”, and that the league champ is determined at the tourney. So it would be hypocritical to now start caring about winning that particular mythical accomplishment.

    The ACC tournament and NCAA tournament are where my own personal expectations lie. I have seen nothing that tells me that this team is not capable of winning either. They posses all of the necessary tools. No, we don’t always bring all those tools night in and night out, but surveying college basketball, name me a team that does?

    There is no purpose to examining the what ifs of the regular season. This team needs to build on its own momentum, and do what it is capable of doing on the biggest stages.

    Also, least we forget, this team has won more games in consecutive seasons than any team we have had since 89. That’s almost a quarter of a century. That is a very big deal in terms of having actual, sustained success. Rebuilding a culture of winning is the ultimate goal, and this years team has gone a long way towards doing that. So, no, this season has not been a disappointment.

  7. JVM4PACK 03/07/2013 at 10:37 AM #

    If you were put into a hypnotic daze of the preseason hype, sure enough…but all things considering

    – Surpassed 20+ wins before the ACC Tournament began
    – Kept a top 25 ranking for multiple weeks throughout part of the season
    – Got a win against both blues during regular season
    – Only 1 loss at home by 1 point
    – We were in most of the games we lost right til the end, with only a few exceptions
    – More exciting team to watch
    – More plays on ESPN top 10 this year…if I remember correctly

    So in a sense sure seems like a lot of improvement considering the past 20+ years…but there is more to be had by the PACK…

  8. charger17 03/07/2013 at 11:08 AM #

    I think college basketball has been divided between two types of measurements: the overall progress of a full season in the context of the few years around it and the tournament “season”. Unfortunately, the tournament “season” is the one everyone weighs as a true measure of success.

    I think the overall season has definitely been a success in how it has allowed our program to take a step forward. I also think we have the potential to win the ACCT and get to Final Four, but putting the entire season on essentially on two games is ridiculous.

  9. GApack04 03/07/2013 at 11:10 AM #

    Although there was a ton of hype coming into the season I personally was not buying into it. I was still thinking a top-5 finish in the ACC would be where this team would finish.
    My biggest surprise was Tyler Lewis becoming a legitimate D-1 player at the end of his 1st year. I always thought he would be a solid leader and player by year 3 or 4, but I didn’t expect him to contribute this season. My biggest disappointment has to be MG and the coaching staff. Good coaches always find a way to get the most out of their players. There have been times this year where the lack of D and the substitution patterns have been head scratching. I think in both instances the staff has to take a hit for those issues. There is still plenty of time left in the year to finish with a flourish, but honestly with the way college basketball has been this year who knows what the ACCT and the NCAAT holds for the Pack.

  10. vtpackfan 03/07/2013 at 11:17 AM #

    Good breakdown. My thought concerning this is has anyone met lofty preseason expectations? Gonzales-yes, but there room for error during conference play is like a Kings Main Hall. Florida-sure, but when you’re talking SEC with a Kentucky dumpster fire then it is not too surprising.

    What up with the Indiana juggernaut that was practically guaranteed? Does Duke meet its preseason expectations with a blow out loss to Miami and a head scratcher at BC?

    We’ve progressed, although be it in a rollercoaster ride, but the ride never derailed and some lofty goals are there for the taking. Gott is a Wooden disciple and all Johns teams were expected to go undefeated. Look up most of his quotes and it will be hard to find him talking much about the winning, but the exuberance of be apart of the teaching process each season presented itself. Not the “wood chopping” process, but the one that inspires teams to get to the mountain top by seasons end.

  11. Fastback68 03/07/2013 at 11:20 AM #

    I am not disappointed in the least. We are unranked and flying under the radar. The fourth seed slot for the ACCT is very desirable. Beat Virginia, then Miami and then the winner of the track meet between Duke and UNX. That is the correct scenario, right? We may wind up having to take the long way by playing Virginia Tech first as the five seed.

    In any event, Thank You, Wood, Howell, Leslie, Brown, Lewis, Purvis, Warren, Gott, Lutz and all the other players and coaches not mentioned for coming to NC State. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!!

  12. packof81 03/07/2013 at 11:22 AM #

    It’s too early to assess disappointment with the season. Let’s see what happens in the tournaments.

  13. BloggerEsquire 03/07/2013 at 11:24 AM #


    Fifth in the ACC (after pre-season picked 1st?)
    Will Leslie even make 2nd team All-ACC?
    We lost one starter, and we will still finish in the regular season behind both Duke and UNC?

    Perhaps I’d be satisfied if we had one more win, and were assured of third (and finish ahead of at least UNC). Perhaps Painter’s transfer hurt the team more than folks seem to talk about. (I think his loss would be more apparent during tournament time though, when any team could use more bodies to provide quality minutes.)

    Another way of asking about whether the season has been a disappointment is asking whether the team has under-performed, over-performed, or simply met expectations. I can’t help but look at the talent on the team and see an under-achieving record.

    Maybe we would have beaten UVA or Miami had Brown not been hurt. Maybe we would have lost to Duke had Kelly not been hurt.

    I’m happy with Gottfried; I’d like to think he is not to blame for the team’s underachievement. And we are seemingly in a much better position than just about any year since what, 1989? Nonetheless I think its fair to look at the team and conclude they could have achieved more this year with their talent. I still have hope the team can hit on all cylinders next weekend and beyond- but at this point I wouldn’t say I expect it.

  14. StateMan 03/07/2013 at 11:33 AM #

    Hell no!

    No disappointment for this season ticket holder. Great home games, 16-1, lone lost was an awesome game, terrible way to lose. We have struggled at times on the road but EVERYONE does. We are peaking at the right time.

  15. PackFamily 03/07/2013 at 11:39 AM #

    I’ll let you know in three weeks.

    Not to start another thread here, but those of you in favor of a playoff in football, just look how little the regular season matters in basketball.

  16. Jediwolf 03/07/2013 at 11:42 AM #

    No way has this team been a disappointment. We have played a ton of close games that will be a huge benefit for us in the tourneys. We have a lot of ball to be played yet and I have a feeling this is a very special team. GO PACK!!

  17. El Scrotcho 03/07/2013 at 11:42 AM #

    If we get the first round ACCT bye I would not be disappointed with the regular season performance.

    Finishing fifth in the regular season will definitely be a disappointment, as it all but kills our shot at an ACC title.

    I’ve enjoyed watching this team play more than any I’ve watched in the last 20 years, but it will be very bitter if we can’t claw our way above 5th. LOSE DAMN YOU UVA!

  18. waterwolf 03/07/2013 at 12:10 PM #

    I did somewhat buy into the pre-season hype, but I also knew it depended on a lot of factors like player improvement. Specifically, we needed Vandy to get close to Painter like performance and I really thought CJL would have improved his outside shot. It quickly became apparent the team has some flaws.

    Now – I am in no way dissapointed in this season so far. I think the team has improved on most of their defficient areas and the three freshman have been very good.

  19. state73 03/07/2013 at 12:28 PM #

    HELL NO! This is the best home season we have had in many, many years. Actually looked forward to the 2.5 hour drive to Raleigh. All great things take time to develop.

  20. GApack04 03/07/2013 at 12:31 PM #

    It’s funny how 3 games (2 wins and 1 loss) from last year’s NCAAT completely alters one’s view of last season and the preseason expectations coming into this year. SDSU and G’Town were good match ups for State so they really lucked out in the draw. If they got stuck in a different region and lost in Rd 1 there is no way they come into this season ranked in the top 10. Can this team advance further in the NCAAT this year? Sure they can with a fair draw, but they can just as easily flame out in their first game as well.

  21. newt 03/07/2013 at 12:37 PM #

    Nope. They are who we thought they were.

    11 or 12 ACC wins is great progress for this program.

    Scott Wood is virtually tied with Rodney Monroe in 3-pointers made, which is something nobody expected, and he’s made some memorable shots this year.

  22. Rick 03/07/2013 at 12:42 PM #

    ” Good coaches always find a way to get the most out of their players.”

    I disagree. Did K get the most out of Rivers?
    Did V get the most out of Washburn?
    Such blanket statements are rarely true.

  23. Rick 03/07/2013 at 12:43 PM #

    “Fifth in the ACC (after pre-season picked 1st?)”

    If you think those preseason predictions are in any way accurate you are not thinking very clearly.

  24. MP 03/07/2013 at 1:04 PM #

    This team has enough talent to be in the discussion as a Final Four threat. And if you can get that far, you’re in the discussion as a national title contender – particularly when there is no dominant team(s) in the nation, like this year.

    Early season someone (?) had a post documenting that an NCAA championship team should not have more than 6 losses based on past data. When considering ‘four factors’ criteria, there is no question we lost two games that we should have won (bad luck) and have not yet won any games that we should have lost. How would this record look?

    24-6 / 13-4 ACC

    Wise posters on SFN have stated: “You are what your record says you are”. But I stand by the statement that we are better than our record. And our ‘should’ record translates to a regular season 1 or 2 conference finish carrying with it a likely NCAAT 1/2/3 seed regardless of ACCT results.

    I am mildly disappointed in our luck, but far from disappointed in our team. We’ve got as good a shot as anyone at going very deep IMHO.

    And that is based completely on data and independent of preseason hype, for some of our more ‘sour’ friends on here.

  25. triadwolf 03/07/2013 at 1:46 PM #

    TBD. If we don’t finish in the top four I’ll say that the regular season was a mild disappointment. But when you consider we were handing over a lot of minutes to three freshman and really didn’t have any depth, thinking we were going to win the regular season was a bit aggressive. Throw on losing Lo Brown during a key stretch, and nobody saw Miami coming like they did (although we should’ve, a big athletic team full of seniors, built much like Fl St was last year), I’d say a top four finish will be pretty solid.

    My biggest disappointment so far has been the lack of growth/focus from Leslie. He’s very talented, but his decision making cost us at least a couple games this season and that’s something he shouldn’t be the cause of at this stage in his career.

    I’ll consider it disappointing if we don’t make the sweet sixteen, but that has so much to do with match-ups that it may not be a fair goal. A eight/nine seed could make for a short weekend; hopefully we get at least a six/seven draw.

    Fact of the matter is that we are solidly in the field and only worrying about seeding – that alone is pretty good progress.

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