#79 North Carolina St: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #79
Conference Rank: #8 Atlantic Coast Conference
2009-10: 20-16, 5-11
2009-10 postseason: NIT
Coach: Sidney Lowe (71-62 at North Carolina State, 71-62 overall)
North Carolina State has been the model of inconsistency during the Sidney Lowe era. Some teams have overachieved while some very talented teams have done rather poorly. This particular group lies somewhere in the middle. There is plenty of talent to work with, but a young backcourt may, yet again, lead to a disappointing NIT appearance.
Key Losses: G Farnold Degand, F Josh Davis, F Dennis Horner, G Julius Mays
The three newcomers are a talented bunch and the Wolfpack will have to rely on both Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow to make an immediate impact. Harrow, a 6-0, Marietta, Georgia product is mostly a pure point guard. Inconsistent point guard play has been a major issue with this team, but it is unlikely that a freshman will fix that. Lorenzo Brown can play both guard spots and he will likely be the one who steps into a starting role right away. The frontcourt does not need much depth, but 6-7 forward C.J. Leslie is a very versatile player who could find a role on this team right away.
Javier Gonzalez will once again handle the point guard duties. He averaged 9.5 points and 3.7 assists last year, but committed way too many turnovers. Ideally, Gonzalez would play off the ball where he can concentrate on scoring, but that probably will not be an option most of the time. And without Farnold Degand to help him handle the ball, Gonzalez will be counted on to be much more efficient bringing the ball up the court, especially while the newcomers adjust to their roles. C.J. Williams, a 6-5 wing, was a part-time starter a year ago. He is not much of a scorer, but he does all the little things to help the team win games. Barring the frontcourt finding another player to step into a starting role, Williams will have to play quite a few minutes just because he has the ability to hit the glass from the wing.
Scott Wood could see minutes at the small forward position since he was the team’s most prolific long range shooter during the 2009-2010 campaign. That is where the 6-6 forward played last year, but the absence of Dennis Horner and the influx of new guards could push him to the four spot. Wood is mostly a shooter, but he was just a freshman last season and another year in the weight room could make him a much tougher rebounder. Richard Howell will be the guy Coach Lowe calls on when he needs a bigger body in the paint. Howell averaged less than 14 minutes per game as a freshman, but he was quite productive when given the opportunity. Jordan Vandenberg and DeShawn Painter saw even fewer minutes, but it would be beneficial if one of them could play about 15 minutes per game especially if NC State starts getting beat on the glass because Wood is stuck being a power forward.
Who to Watch:
However, rebounding should not be much of a problem thanks to Tracy Smith. The 6-8, 255 pound senior led the team with 16.5 points and 7.3 rebounds and added 1.1 assists and 1.0 blocks per contest. His combination of strength and quickness catches most opponents off guard and he is ready for a huge senior season after developing very nicely during his time in Raleigh.
The key will be how effective the group on the perimeter can get Smith the ball and whether or not some scorers on the perimeter can come into their own and help take the pressure off of the big man. Gonzalez and Wood should help with their outside shooting, but this team needs somebody who can take their man off the dribble and create shots for themselves. If they do not find it, North Carolina State will be back in the NIT.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Javier Gonzalez, Senior, Guard, 9.5 ppg
Lorenzo Brown, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
C.J. Williams, Junior, Guard, 4.3 ppg
Scott Wood, Sophomore, Forward, 7.8 ppg
Tracy Smith, Senior, Forward, 16.5 ppg
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