Gottfried Brings Excitement to NC State
By Dwayne Harrison
There was no Midnight Madness with its bright lights and hip-hop soundtrack to get the Wolfpack faithful excited about the upcoming 2011-12 season. NC State simply held a two-hour practice at the Dail Basketball Center on Oct. 14 to officially start the season. However, it doesn’t mean that Pack fans aren’t excited about the season. In fact, they have been eagerly anticipating the Pack’s first game since the hiring of Mark Gottfried on April 5.
While Gottfried hasn’t made any promises of an NCAA Tournament berth in his first year on the job, he has promised that his team would work hard off and on the court to make its passionate fan base proud. There is no doubt that Gottfried has his work cut out for him. He inherits a team that finished 15-16 overall last year and 10th in the ACC with a 5-11 mark.
The nucleus of Gottfried’s first team will be returning starters Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, and C.J. Leslie. This season, Brown will make the transition from shooting guard to point guard, a role that will require the soft spoken sophomore to be a more vocal leader. Wood, one of State’s most experienced players with 67 career starts under his belt, is the team’s top threat from long range. Since taking over the reins of the program, Gottfried has challenged the talented Leslie to step up his game and to be more productive on both ends of the court.
The Pack also will get significant contributions from Richard Howell, C.J. Williams, DeShawn Painter, and Jordan Vandenberg. Gottfried is counting on increased production from Howell, who is better conditioned after slimming down over the off-season. Williams, a senior, will provide additional leadership and experience in the back court, while Painter and Vandenberg give the Wolfpack depth along the frontline.
Alex Johnson, a transfer from CSU-Bakersfield, gives NC State an experienced back up at the point guard spot. Also during the offseason, Gottfried added a talented trio of freshmen in Thomas de Thaey, Tyler Harris, and Jaqawn Raymond, all of whom could see playing time in during their first collegiate campaign. A versatile player from Belgium, de Thaey could pose problems to opposing defenses with his ability to post up or shoot the ball from the outside. Harris, the younger brother of Tobias, who played at Tennessee and is now with the Milwaukee Bucks, is a quick player who can contribute, but will need to add muscle to go along with his athleticism. Raymond will add depth to the Wolfpack back court with his ball handling and shooting abilities.
Gottfried will need everything his team can give him when the season begins on Nov. 11. The Wolfpack will be tested right out of the gate with its first four opponents (UNC Asheville, Morehead State, Princeton and Vanderbilt), the latter three in the TicketCity Legends Classic. All for qualified for the Big Dance last season.
One thing is for sure this year – Pack fans will be excited with the effort their team will give on the court this year.
Tickets for the Championship Rounds of the TicketCity Legends Classic at IZOD Center in the New Jersey Meadowlands can be purchased by calling 800-745-3000 or online.