With a new year comes the New Year’s Day bowl games. Most specifically the nation was intrigued in watching Oregon thrash national champion Florida State and then Alabama getting upset by Ohio State. Now the day after, it is time to look back at the past year in Wolfpack Athletics. So much happened over the past year in Wolfpack Athletics that a top 10 list will not do. Therefore, we will institute a Top 11 list. This list will discuss some of the major topics to come out of West Raleigh over the past 12 months. So enough of the introduction and let’s begin this Top 11 list:
11. The Men’s Swimming and Diving team finished 2nd in the ACC and 13th in the nation. It was their best finish in the conference since 1978-79. The 13th place finish at the NCAA tournament was the ACC’s top finisher. There were two relay teams and one individual that were 1st team All-Americans. Congratulations to Jonathan Boffa, Simonas Bilis, David Williams, and Matt Thomas in the 800 Freestyle Relay; Simonas Bilis, David Williams, Jonathan Boffa, and Andreas Schiellerup in the 400 Freestyle Relay; and Christian McCurdy in the 200 Butterfly.
10. This summer the football team broke ground on the long awaited indoor practice facility. This facility will help the team prepare even when bad weather is happening. This is a much needed facility for the team. For perspective, the only other team in the conference without one is Wake Forest. The past couple of coaches really were pushing for it and now Coach Doeren will be able to take advantage of this. He said over the summer that this first team lost parts of 15 practices due to weather.
9. The baseball team struggled to find consistency this year in failing to make it to the NCAA tournament. The team, which started out the year ranked number 5 with a realistic shot at winning the ACC Atlantic, ACC, and national championship, just couldn’t put it together. There were unfortunate injuries to key players like Andrew Woeck and Bubby Riley, the combination of either A. good pitching and a lack of run production or B. good hitting and uneven pitching led to a 10th place finish in the conference. The season ended with a one run loss to UNC and shockingly a horrible out call against Trea Turner who was stealing home was the key play in the game.
— The Wolfpacker (@TheWolfpacker) May 20, 2014
8. Karl Hess returned to Raleigh. After two years of not being assigned to referee a NC State basketball game as a result of him throwing out Wolfpack legends Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani against Florida State in 2012, Hess came back when the Pack hosted Wofford in venerable Reynolds Coliseum. And it did not disappoint. Hess handed Mark Gottfried a dubious technical before the first television timeout. Of course those two points were the difference in a 56-55 loss to the Terriers.
7. Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner were selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft this June. Rodon was drafted #3 by the Chicago White Sox while Turner was drafted 13th by the San Diego Padres. They are the first two players drafted in the first round since Coach Elliott Avent came to Raleigh. Throughout the summer, the two players really impressed their new teams. Surprisingly, Turner has since been traded to the Washington Nationals, but due to league rules, he is ineligible to play for the Nationals until one year after he was drafted. Therefore, he has to play and be coached by Padres coaches for 3 or 4 months until he legally can be traded. Weird. Rodon has a legitimate chance to be the number 5 starter for the White Sox this year.
6. The football team won the BitCoin St.Petersburg Bowl by defeating Central Florida 34-27. The Pack jumped out to a 17-10 halftime lead and stepped on the accelerator early in the second half to take a 34-13 lead. The Knights tried to make it interesting, scoring two touchdowns to trim the lead to 7 but Tyler Purvis caught the onsides kick with less than 2 minutes remaining to seal the win. Jacoby Brissett had a big game passing, along with some timely running plays, while Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes led the running game as the offense rolled up 487 yards of total offense against the number 5 overall defense in the country. The Pack finished 8-5 for the season, winning 4 of their last 5.
5. First year women’s basketball coach Wes Moore came onto campus and immediately showed that Debbie Yow made an excellent hire. Moore took his team, which was preseason 10th in the ACC, and led them to a 4th place finish at 11-5 and wound up 25-8 overall. The Wolfpack was seeded 5th in the NCAA Tournament and met 12th seeded BYU in Los Angeles. The team had two of their top 6 players with ACL injuries over the last 2 weeks in the regular season and couldn’t overcome that against the Cougars.
4. Mark Gottfried became the first coach in Wolfpack history to lead his first three teams to the NCAA Tournament. The team was not expected to make the dance, but lead by ACC Player of the Year TJ Warren the Pack made a late season run, keyed by an upset of Syracuse in the ACC Tournament and was selected as one of the First Four teams to play in Dayton, Ohio. The Pack demolished Xavier to advance to a matchup with 5th seeded St. Louis. The Billikens trailed the Pack by 16 with a couple of minutes remaining, but stormed back to force OT by making three pointers and aided by the Pack’s inability to finish the game off by missing too many free throws.
3. 35-7. Do I really need to say much else? NC State went into Chapel Hill and completely dominated North Carolina in every aspect of the game. State wound up with 388 yards rushing and would have had a shutout expect for a dubious pass interference call with less than 2 minutes remaining to help give a mercy score to the Tar Heels. Shadrach Thornton and Jacoby Brissett each ran for over 160 yards while Brissett also threw 3 touchdowns.
2. Nick Gwiazdowski won the NCAA Wrestling championship in the 285 pound weight class.
Gwiazdowski posted a 42-2 record. He won the ACC championship. Then, as the second seed in his weight class, went 5-0 and defeated Minnesota’s two-time NCAA champion to win the title. In his first season for the Wolfpack, Gwiazdowski who had transferred from Binghampton, solidified the Pack’s wrestling team as it sent five guys to the NCAA tournament. He is back this year as he tries to repeat as ACC and NCAA champion.
1. TJ Warren became the first player since Julius Hodge to win the ACC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. Warren received 2/3 of the votes for POY, easily beating Jabari Parker of Duke. Warren averaged a conference leading 24.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, and shot a conference best 53.2% from the field. He had 9 games of 30+points and he ended his season on fire. After only scoring 36 against UNC, he scored 41 at Pittsburgh and then finished the regular season with 42 against Boston College.
So this is one man’s list. Did I miss anything? I leave you with my play of the year in Wolfpack Athletics.