The Wolfpacker

May 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 47 of 79

Season Superlatives six double-doubles during that span and came within two rebounds of getting four more while scoring in double figures each contest. That kind of production led Leslie to receive second-team All-ACC honors. Most Improved Player: Williams had a career scoring average of 4.3 points per game his first three seasons, was inbounding the ball, and Leslie tiptoed the baseline and scooped in a shot around the backboard to beat the buzzer in a 67-65 win at St. Bonaventure Dec. 20. The win proved important for State's résumé after the Bonnies won the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Team MVP: Over the final 16 games of the season, Leslie averaged 17.1 points and 8.4 rebounds a game. He had averaging a personal-best 4.7 points a game in 2011. This year he averaged 10.6 points a contest and made 34 three-pointers, one more than he made in his first three campaigns combined. Best Individual Performance: It came in a losing effort, but Leslie scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against UNC in the RBC Center Feb. 21. The performance was impres- sive because it came against the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year, John Henson. Leslie made 9 of 17 shots, and Henson finished with just two blocked shots. The game was a significant improvement for Leslie over the first time the two teams met. He had just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting and was clearly bothered by Henson, who had five blocks in the game at Chapel Hill Jan. 26. Best Non-Conference Win: After a slow first 15 minutes for the Pack, State trailed third-seeded Georgetown 25-15 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament March 18 in Columbus, Ohio. After that, NC State controlled the action. The Pack ended the half on a 15-2 run to lead 30-27 at the break. State stretched the lead to 11 twice in the second half and never trailed, although the team had to wait until Jason Clark's three-pointer sailed wide at the buzzer to celebrate a 66-63 victory. Best ACC Win: If NC State did not beat Virginia in the sec- ond round of the ACC Tournament March 9 in Atlanta, there is a real possibility that the Pack would have been playing in the NIT instead of the NCAA Tournament. State never trailed after going on an 8-0 run with the game tied 9-9 early in the first half, but the Pack had to work hard to earn a 67-64 win. Sophomore guard Lorenzo Brown's two free throws with seven seconds left gave State a five-point lead to seal the win. Biggest ACC Heartbreak: The non-call at the end of warded when State earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament and the Pack began to show considerable improvements. "We're a team that started to play well the end of the year," Gottfried noted. "For most of the year we were a competitive team, quite frankly, that's where we were. We've got to be careful that just because we finished well that doesn't mean we were a dominant team all last year. I think we are a team that got better and finished strong, and you can build on that." Here is a look back at the brightest moments from a memorable season. Play Of The Year: Sophomore forward C.J. Leslie caught a court-length pass from senior wing C.J. Williams, who Head coach Mark Gottfried put together a challenging schedule for his squad this past year, but he was re- the top player at his position in the ACC next season. NC State will be counting on his leadership because the rest of the back- court will be young. State is losing its senior duo of start- ing shooting guard C.J. Williams and top reserve guard Alex Johnson. Williams av- eraged 10.6 points per game and was ar- guably State's best on-ball defender last season. His 34 made three-pointers were second most on the team. Johnson con- tributed 4.4 points and 2.8 assists while averaging 19.5 minutes per game off the bench, playing in all 37 contests in his one season in Raleigh. "For those guys that are seniors like C.J. Williams and Alex, they feel good because I think they have left maybe a mark on the fans grumbled about loudly after the game, and several na- tional media outlets seemed to side with the Wolfpack in their complaints. Biggest Non-Conference Heartbreak: NCSU had a chance for an early statement win when Indiana came to town Nov. 30 as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. In a back-and- forth affair, the Pack seemed to grab control of the game with a 7-0 run to take a 63-56 lead, forcing a 30-second timeout from Indiana with 7:48 remaining. That's when poor free throw shooting cost NC State. Indiana went on a 14-5 run to take the lead with 3:58 left the NC State-UNC semifinal game in the ACC Tournament March 10 in Atlanta will forever be debated among the rivals. UNC point guard Kendall Marshall, NC State fans would ar- gue, charged into NC State fifth-year senior point guard Alex Johnson with 10 seconds left. The refs did not blow the whistle, and Marshall made a short jumper that proved to be the game- winner in a 69-67 UNC win. That was one of several calls from the officials that State after the Wolfpack made just 1 of 5 free throws in that stretch, including missing the front end of a pair of one- and-ones. Indiana would make its free throws and win by a deceptive 86-75 final. — Matt Carter 48 ■ THE WOLFPACKER Forward C.J. Leslie opted to return to NC State for his junior campaign after averaging 17.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest over the final 16 games of the 2011-12 season. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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