Posted on: November 19, 2011 9:29 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 10:39 pm
By Jeff Goodman
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It was tough to tell.
Is this N.C. State team a legitimate NCAA tournament contender with the addition of C.J. Leslie -- or was this an inaccurate evaluation of the Wolfpack since Vandy was without Festus Ezeli?
I wish I had the answer.
Leslie, in his first game back after serving a two-game NCAA-mandated suspension, was dominant -- especially in the first half. He finished with 20 points.
Richard Howell went for 16 points and nine boards. N.C. State's big men exposed Vanderbilt on the interior, a team that is missing a potential first-round pick in Ezeli.
"I don't know yet," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried told me when asked if this team can get to the Big Dance. "We need all our guns."
The Wolfpack were without its top shooter, Scott Wood, who is nursing a sprained ankle. Gottfried also said he's hopeful that the NCAA will make a decision soon on the status of skilled 6-foot-8 Belgium native Thomas de Thaey. On paper, N.C. State nearly knocked off a Top 20 team on Saturday night.
But Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings will be the first to say that, without Ezeli, his Commodores don't deserve to be ranked right now.
"We've got a long way to go before we're a good team," he said.
Which brings me back to my original question -- which may be impossible to answer just yet.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 10:30 am
Posted by Eric Angevine
A couple of weeks ago, I speculated that first-year N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried might look to the handful of still-eligible, recently-graduated guards in the nation to find a backup for Lorenzo Brown. I guessed that Ole Miss grad Trevor Gaskins might be the best choice.
I had the strategy correct, but zeroed in on the wrong player. The Charlotte Observer has learned that Gottfried will bring in Alex Johnson – a transfer from DI independent Cal State Bakersfield – to plug the hole left by the departure of Ryan Harrow.
Johnson is not a well known player, but he should provide a solid second option at lead guard. He averaged 13.3 points and 2.4 assists per game last season for the Roadrunners. He also boasts another handy trait – he can shoot the lights out from deep:
If Johnson is able to work as a complementary ballhandler and a competent shooter for one season, he will be the perfect player to help bridge the gap between Sidney Lowe’s last class of recruits and Mark Gottfried’s first full offering.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: April 11, 2011 1:50 pm
Edited on: April 11, 2011 2:09 pm
“Us staying together would be good,” said freshman point guard Ryan Harrow, by far the most apprehensive sounding member of the Wolfpack. “But at the end of the day you’ve got to think about what’s best for you and what’s the best option in the long run.”Harrow has enough talent to seriously consider a pro future, though he's hardly a lock at this point. The words quoted above don't make him sound too thrilled about sticking around. Nobody involved is going to be dumb enough to say what they're really thinking.
On that note, one of the more positive signs that the program may be OK was couched in similar unrevealing rhetoric. Iowa point guard Cully Payne, fleeing a recent Big Ten coaching change, may buy into the rebuilding effort at N.C. State if this quote, originally reported by the Daily Iowan, says what it seems to say:
It's obviously not as easy as Harrow-out, Payne-in, but it would look that way to fans of the program. Even as Payne sat out a transfer season, he'd be something hopeful to point to for the future. A sign that this Gottfried cat may actually know what he's doing.
Gottfried does know what he's doing, but his name isn't as sexy as some of the others Pack fans heard in recent weeks. They wanted a Shaka Smart or Brad Stevens. Hey, so did everybody else. But Gottfried has been to the NCAA tournament seven times combined with Murray State and Alabama. He even took the Tide to the Elite Eight in 2004. That makes him an improvement over Sidney Lowe, and if he can keep at least a couple of Lowe's players around, he has a good base to work with in Raleigh.
If Gottfried can land Payne, so much the better. Payne once wanted to play for Gottfried at 'Bama, and now the two get a second shot at making the deal. The Hawkeye had a nice average of 8.7 ppg as a freshman, but it is his handle and decision-making abilities that will mean the most to the Wolfpack should he make the move official. Payne only played five games at Iowa last season due to injury, and should have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Photo: US Presswire