The Wolfpack started practice a little earlier than usual this year, as a new rule in college basketball holds that college programs can start practicing 42 days before their first game. The NC State coaching staff has titled the first set of practices before the university’s fall break a “mini-camp.”
Head coach Mark Gottfried liked the intensity and competitive nature the players showed in the first day of the “mini-camp.”
“Number one, they competed hard. And that’s important,” Gottfried said. “We were able to put some things in during the fall so we’re a little ahead offensively, but we still have a way to go yet. But what I did like was that they did compete. They competed hard and that’s a good place to start.”
After winning 48 games and playing in the last two NCAA Tournaments, NC State has a young and inexperienced, but extremely talented, squad. Gottfried’s 2013 recruiting class was ranked in the top 15 in the nation by most recruiting publications.
By all accounts, TJ “Buckets” Warren is now a trimmed down beast ….
T.J. Warren lost a lot of weight, and Tyler Lewis gained it. That was by design.
After last season, N.C. Stateâ€™s basketball coaches asked Warren to take off some of his freshman fat, and he complied.
â€œI was about 235 or 240 last year,â€ Warren said. â€œRight now Iâ€™m about 218 or 217. I havenâ€™t played at this weight since my freshman year in high school.â€
Warren said people tell him they no longer recognize him.
â€œI look in the mirror and wonder who I am,â€ he said.
And a picture is worth a thousand words….
I repeat, will the real Slim Shady please stand up?
We’re gonna have a problem here..
In any case, I for one do hope that the sullen “ready to do bad things to bad people” look in his eyes is for real.Â The more muscle we can get down low this season, the happier we are all apt to be.
Young Wolfpack basketball team will count on Lee, Turner (NewsObserver.com)
The description â€œyoungâ€ definitely applies to freshman forward Lennard Freeman, whoâ€™s only 17, and also the trio of newcomers Cat Barber, Kyle Washington and BeeJay Anya, who are all expected to be major contributors as freshmen.
But the Wolfpack does have a pair of older players in junior guards Des Lee and Ralston Turner, who Gottfried will count on for some leadership, despite the fact that neither has played a minute in the ACC.
Sophomores Tyler Lewis and T.J. Warren are the only major contributors back from last yearâ€™s team. Warren, who averaged 12.1 points as a freshman, is the only returning player who averaged more than 15 minutes a game last season.
Thatâ€™s where the maturity of Lee, a 6-foot-4, 194 pound junior college transfer, and Turner, a 6-6, 209 pound transfer from Louisiana State, will factor into the leadership equation.
â€œWeâ€™ll be able to help,â€ Turner said. â€œAnd with Tyler and T.J. coming back, collectively, weâ€™ll be alright.â€
DeCock: Wolfpack relying on freshmen up front (NewsObserver.com)
Wolfpack prepare for season with overhauled roster (WRALSportsfan.com)
N.C. State basketball faces challenge with new roster (FayObserver.com)
Point guard is a position where the Wolfpack has some intriguing options. Sophomore Tyler Lewis saw time last year and returns with a bigger frame and some glowing reviews from his coaches about his defense. Freshman Anthony “Cat” Barber is quicker and possesses a more refined scoring touch.
This summer, the pair has played together at times. And it’s an option Gottfried said he’ll likely employ at points this season.
“I think you turn into a really good running team,” Gottfried said. “You’ve got two guys that can quarterback your team. So we’ll see how that works out. That’s not something I’m opposed to looking at.
I added the bold within that quote above because it addresses something we’ve talked about often here since last season.Â I think we were all rather pleased with how Tyler Lewis ran the team on the offensive end when he was pressed into duty after Zo Brown went down with his injury.Â But at times he did have some defensive lapses.Â Some of that I personally also believe was a strength factor in transitioning from HS to college ball.
Thus a bigger frame and glowing defensive reviews is music to my ears.Â But please Tyler…not TOO much bigger.Â You must always remain the “Wee Baby Seamus”. 😀
Photo Gallery (N&O)
And just to get your blood pumping, a little bit of highlighted remembrance from ’12-’13…Oh, what could have been….
And last, but by no means least….
The Pack will again tip off the season for the fans with a “midnite madness” type of event this year on Friday October 18th (a midnite madness of sorts…do note that it starts at 7pm please)….
On THAT issue, Coach Gottfried and I are in full agreement.
Great time of year, indeed.
It won’t be long now….TICK TOCK…