The Wolfpacker

November 2015 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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40 ■ THE WOLFPACKER 2015-16 WOLFPACK BASKETBALL PREVIEW Barber knew what Gottfried was trying to tell him. "When he was recruiting me, he saw what I could do," Barber noted. "I think he wanted me going back to being that person and play to the best of my ability. Once he said that, I felt like it was my time to be me, and that's what I did." Over the Pack's final 14 games, Barber av- eraged 15.3 points and 4.0 assists per contest, made 22 of 51 three-pointers (43.1 percent) and had a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio. "When the coach tells you to be you, it's always an honor that he wants you to be you," Barber said. "I felt like that he wanted me to score the ball more and do more for our team. Once he said that, it stuck in my head to score the ball more and be a leader." That advice alone, though, was not the sole reason why Barber played with a renewed sense of confidence and purpose over the final third of last season. Life events also intervened. On Jan. 16, the evening before NC State was set to play at Florida State in Tallahassee, his close childhood friend Jamar Thomas, whom Barber affectionately referred to as his little brother, was murdered. A distraught Barber was unable to suit up against the Noles. He watched as former Pack guard Trevor Lacey took over point guard duties and helped NC State pull out a 72-63 win. The news, Barber admitted, had him down for a few days. It also came one day after an even more monumental moment in Barber's life. On Jan. 15, Barber's daughter Cadence was born. Cadence's mother came up with her name, and Barber liked it. Cadence is tattooed on the left side of Barber's neck. She lives in Vir- ginia with her mother, but Barber's thoughts are always with her. "Without even playing basketball, you bring someone into this world, you want to do better for them," Barber said. "You have to do better for them to make sure their life is good. "Once she came along I felt like I had to do more on the court and in life to make sure she has a great childhood. That just set me off the most and made me want to go harder." Becoming A Leader Gottfried joked that it would be nice to get a magic wand, wave it and change someone to be what you want them to be. It obviously does not work that way. "I think part of the deal with Cat is being comfortable and confident," said the Wolf- pack head man. "Now he knows as an upper- classman he's going to carry the load more than he did in the past. "I think, even at times last year when Cat was very good, he could still look over and see Trevor Lacey, and know Trevor could bail him out if he needed him to. "Now the responsibility rests a little more on his shoulders, and I think he's ready to handle that." To prepare himself more, Barber worked hard to become a more consistent three-point shooter. "I've been impressed with Cat, more than anything, with the way he shot the ball this summer," Gottfried said. "If you think back to mid-year, that Georgia Tech game on the road, even I'm sitting over there saying, 'Who is this guy?'" That outing in Atlanta against the Yellow Jackets Jan. 31 was Barber's breakout game. He scored 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting, in- cluding a 4-of-5 effort on three-pointers. It came shortly after his sit down with Gottfried. "I felt like I wasn't me," Barber said. "I was still doing what I was trying to do to make the team win, but I feel like I didn't have that being-yourself mentality until Coach said something. "That's when I felt like it's time for me to do this. He wants more out of me, so that's what I am going to give him." If Barber can continue to shoot the ball well like he began doing at Georgia Tech a year ago, he becomes a lethal offensive weapon. He was always considered one of the quickest and fastest guards in the country. Teams have defended his penetration ability by backing off on his shot. "This year if you do that, I am shooting the ball on you," Barber confidently warned. That is probably music to Gottfried's ears. Barber is being himself and turning it loose. "That first year Tyler was here, and they shared minutes somewhat. Cat was kind of wild and young and playing, and just didn't really understand," Gottfried recalled. "I thought last year he took big steps and strides throughout the year. "It's safe to say we are all expecting him to be the same this year. He needs to be a leader on this team, and I think he is very capable of that, now. "He probably wasn't very capable of that as a freshman or sophomore, but now he can accept that role differently than he would have a year ago. He needs to be that guy for our group." ■ "When he was recruiting me, he saw what I could do. I think he wanted me going back to being that person and play to the best of my ability. Once he said that, I felt like it was my time to be me, and that's what I did." ■ Barber on head coach Mark Gottfried telling him to be "Cat Daddy" Barber exploded for a career-high 34 points in NC State's ACC Tournament win over Pittsburgh last season. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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