The Wolfpacker

November 2013

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 39 of 139

M By Ryan Tice uch like the NC State basketball team as a whole this winter, the Wolfpack's frontcourt will be built around sophomore forward T.J. Warren. However, the inexperienced, new-look interior will need contributions from every available big man. Warren, who paced the ACC with a .622 shooting percentage during his rookie year, is a versatile and ideal centerpiece. He may have been the Pack's sixth man for the majority of last year, but he still found a way to average 12.1 points per game en Ba ketball Preview 2013-14 ing, experience and star power that it lost this offseason. "I think the challenge that we've made for T.J. is we know that he can score," Gottfried explained. "Everybody understands that, but he has to be a very good defender and a very good rebounder. We need his rebounding this year as much as anything. "That's something every day that we talk to him about. That's the goal for him — continue to be a good offensive player, but be a great player in every aspect. Be a great teammate, a great player, a great rebounder; he can do all of those things." said. "He got himself into the best possible shape that he can be in. Last year when the season ended, I think he had been up to 286 pounds; he's about 245 right now. "He recognized that C.J. and Richard have left, so there's a golden opportunity. Somebody has to play and we'll see [who it is], but I believe he can have a good year and help us win. I'm excited about his opportunity this year." The coach noted that the big man has a unique ability to get up and down the floor for his size, and the Pack has shown a penchant for running in two years under Gottfried, so the weight loss has been a All Hands On Deck The Wolfpack's Frontcourt Will Need Contributions From Every Piece This Season route to ACC All-Freshman honors. Now the Durham native and NCSU legacy is ready to step forward into the spotlight and continue his emergence that began last February and March. He started the last 10 games of the campaign and averaged 13.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game during that stretch. Warren played at least 33 minutes in every postseason contest, and he shot 75.0 percent from the field and upped his production to 14.7 points per game in the ACC Tournament. "T.J. Warren gets a lot of baskets without you ever calling anything for him," head coach Mark Gottfried noted. "He went 21 for 28 in the ACC Tournament, and I'm not sure we ran anything specifically to him. What happens with him now is there are things we ran for Scott Wood that we can run for T.J., and there are things we ran for Richard [Howell] or Calvin [Leslie] that we can run with T.J. because he's so versatile. "He can go inside and I can put him at the forward position; I can play him on the wing. Right now in practice, he's learning a lot of different positions for us. Believe it or not, if we were in a pinch, I'm not sure that he couldn't play a little bit at the point. I don't know that we ever will be, but I think he's capable of doing that." Gottfried called Warren a prolific scorer, and the Pack expects the star sophomore to continue performing on offense. However, his contributions on the boards and defensive end will be just as essential, and maybe more so, while the team tries to replace the plethora of scoring, rebound- Neither the coach nor the player seem concerned about what position Warren officially lines up at, and it could change throughout the year based on opponents and situations. Gottfried noted that there will be a learning curve for the squad as the newcomers get acclimated to ACC basketball, but there will also be a period where the coaching staff has to figure out the new-look lineup. "Whatever position Coach Gottfried wants me to play for our team to be successful is what I'll do," Warren said. "I feel like I can be [the No. 1 option], I've been preparing for it. My teammates trust me and I trust them. Our coaching staff feels the same way, so we're going to make this happen. "Everybody can do a little bit of everything and play different roles. We've got a lot of options." Last Shot For Big Man The lone returning scholarship big man outside of Warren is fifth-year senior center Jordan Vandenberg. The 7-1, 245-pound Australian is not very proven on the offensive end — he has tallied 90 points in 76 games and averaged 0.7 points in 23 appearances last season — but his most valuable contributions are likely to come in other areas. In seven games during the 2011-12 campaign, he averaged 2.7 rebounds in 11.9 minutes before he missed the rest of the year with an injury, and the Pack is hoping he can build on that number, as well as his 49 career blocks. "I feel like he's in the best position since I've been here to have success," Gottfried significant development. His experience as a veteran of 76 games and his knowledge of what Gottfried is looking for on the floor are also huge advantages as the three newcomers in the post adjust to college. "Jordan is separated from the three freshmen in that he's 40 pounds lighter and he knows everything we're doing," Gottfried explained. "Jordan gives us a sevenfoot presence that we didn't have last year. Now we've got a little more size and that's something that might help us defensively. "I just know that he's better than he's ever been." Rookies Must Make An Impact While Vandenberg has reshaped his body to the delight of the coaching staff, one player is just beginning on that path, and the physical transformation has been slow to start. Rookie forward BeeJay Anya is a big-bodied post player that coaches knew would have work to do physically when he got to college. The four-star recruit, who was ranked by as the No. 58 player in the class of 2013, arrived on campus with about 336 pounds on his 6-9 frame, according to Gottfried. Despite working with strength and conditioning coach Bob Alejo — the guru who was responsible for all of the weight shed by former All-ACC forward Richard Fifth-year senior center Jordan Vandenberg (shown during the 2011-12 season) has tallied 90 points in 76 game appearances over the course of his Wolfpack career. Photo by Ken Martin 38  ■  the wolfpacker 38-40.Men's BKB Frontcourt.indd 38 10/22/13 1:20 PM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolfpacker - November 2013