The Wolfpacker

November 2015 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 35 of 155

34 ■ THE WOLFPACKER 2015-16 WOLFPACK BASKETBALL PREVIEW BY JACEY ZEMBAL N C State has reached the NCAA Tournament four straight years, and there is no reason to belive that streak will end this season. Head coach Mark Gottfried has orches- trated the impressive run, which has in- cluded two berths in the Sweet 16. The Wolfpack reached the Sweet 16 last year thanks to junior center BeeJay Anya's game-winning shot against LSU in the first game and then a stunning 71-68 upset of No. 1-seeded Villanova, with the Wildcats shooting a paltry 31.1 percent from the field in the round of 32 contest. The joy ride eventually came to an end against new ACC member Louisville 75- 65, but the standard for NC State's program had been raised in the process. NCSU fin- ished 22-14 overall and 10-8 in the ACC, and expectations are hopeful once again this year. The USA Today coaches poll has the Wolfpack ranked No. 32 going into this season, while some basketball preview magazines expect a top-four finish in the ACC. NC State returns three starters and adds a former college starter in West Virginia transfer Terry Henderson. The Wolfpack will need to find a new small forward, but they have numerous options to turn to. Gottfried, however, could see NC State picked low in the preseason ACC media poll, but then outperform the projection. "In the beginning of the year, if I was kind of predicting our league out, I could see where we could be picked ninth, 10th or 11th in the league, with what we lost," Gottfried said. "But for us, it's not about how we start but how we finish." Building a perfect roster is getting harder, and recruiting has extended way past the April signing period in adding players for the upcoming season. Redshirt junior combo guard Trevor Lacey elected to turn pro last spring, and sophomore post player Kyle Washington transferred to Cincinnati. The losses of Lacey, Wash- ington, Ralston Turner and Desmond Lee will make this year's team different, but six current members of the team were ranked in's top 100 coming out of high school. "We're a team that has a lot of question marks," Gottfried said. "We have a lot of players that need to take a major step for- ward. If you look at our team last year, it's important to note both Ralston and Trevor, two guys that aren't here this year, did a lot for our team. "They took a majority of the shots and they made the majority of the big, key shots. Those two guys became very reliable offensively, very dependable and scored a lot of points for our team." The optimism is due to having junior point guard Anthony "Cat" Barber, sopho- more power forward Abdul-Malik Abu, junior post players Anya and Lennard Free- man, and Henderson. Sophomore wings Caleb Martin and Cody Martin, and fresh- man small forwards Maverick Rowan and Shaun Kirk make for a potential nine-man rotation with plenty of motivation. "We always have something to prove," Barber said. "People are always going to think less of you, but there are some that think highly of you, too. We can't get into that. "We are going to prove to ourselves be- fore we prove to anybody else that we can go further in the season." The preseason expectations were low last year, with many bemoaning the loss of T.J. Warren prematurely to the NBA. NCSU ended up far exceeding what many thought it could achieve. "I feel like we have the same kind of vibe we had last year," Henderson said. "Last year, not a lot of people expected us to go as far as we did. We have that same kind of chip on our shoulder." Getting some last-minute help was cru- cial in giving this year's team some much- needed depth. The additions of Rowan and Kirk are perfect examples of recruiting in the modern era. Kirk verbally committed April 29, and Rowan came aboard Aug. 2. Their recruit- ments were both affected by the thought they could have ended up in the class of 2016. The other remaining scholarship player is sophomore guard Torin Dorn, who is sitting out the season as a transfer from Charlotte. NCSU had hoped to add another two players during the spring or summer, which would have taken away some of the re- maining question marks. The inside game could have used one more player, but mas- sive center Georgios Papagiannis elected to remain with his professional organiza- tion in Greece. The backup point guard position is the biggest void going into the season after the Wolfpack came up empty in recruiting. "We have a lot of guys that are very anx- RAISING THE BAR The Retooled Wolfpack Shoot For A Fifth Consecutive NCAA Bid And Deeper Postseason Run Head coach Mark Gottfried has guided the Wolfpack to 92 victories since arriving in Ra- leigh — the most wins for the program over a four-year span since 1972-76. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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