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When you talk about the North Carolina State Wolfpack you begin with star point guard 6'6" Julius Hodge. He is the young man who makes it all happen for State. There isn't much the long, lean Hodge can't do. He hits 3-pointers, drives the lane to dish or score, handles the ball very well, and presents nightmarish matchup problems for opposing guards with his height and athleticism. Julius is also a factor on the boards for potential second-chance points. Averaging about 20 ppg with healthy assist and rebound numbers, it's not hard to see where this team begins and ends: with Julius Hodge.
The second person who comes to mind isn't a player but is a coach. Head man Herb Sendek has turned NCSU around the past two years in a big way. First, he adopted an offense similar in principles to the Princeton Offense, then infused highly athletic talent to "turbocharge" it. The Wolfpack spreads the floor and attacks from all angles as well as any team in the country. Second, on the other end, Sendek employs a sticky, stingy defense that disrupts offenses and contests every shot. The type of athlete he has brought in is typically long and quick which makes passing and shooting difficult for foes. This high pressure defense is designed for easy, fast break points in transition.
NCSU has sharpshooters. 6'3" Scooter Sherrill is a savvy sniper and he has a huge compliment in 6'8" Marcus Melvin who is perhaps the Wolfpack's best inside-outside threat. Anchoring the post is 6'9" Josh Powell who figures to be among the best in the ACC this year. 6'3" Clifford Crawford provides senior leadership along with nifty guard skills.
It's a young but incredibly talented team and Gonzaga will have to play 40 minutes of well-executed, hustling basketball on both ends of the court to come away with a W. Expect Gonzaga to play hard after an embarrassing first-half against Georgia that for all intents and purposes lost that game. But this is the Jimmy V Classic, a premier event named after the late Jimmy Valvano, former head coach of NC State who led the Pack to a dramatic National Championship over Houston's famed Phi Slamma Jamma two decades ago. Needless to say, NCSU will be inspired, too.