Developing The Rotation

The Wolfpack likes to keep the same lineup if it can and that has been a chore at times for Coach Mark Gottfried.

"Part of the game over the course of a 30-game season, you're going to have some of those and you have to be good enough to roll on," Gottfried said of lineup issues.

There have been injuries and a disciplinary action that have factored into his lineup decisions. But mostly, the Wolfpack has been successful this season and so Gottfried prefers to maintain a routine for his players.

"Most people do, especially if you're winning," he said. "I do think players get in a rhythm, even players coming off the bench."

The Wolfpack needed a contingency plan prior to Sunday's game at Miami in case senior guard C.J. Williams' shoulder injury prevented him from playing. But he was ready by game time and so the Wolfpack avoided another lineup change.

Gottfried said the ability to deal with potential changes and real changes will help shape how the season plays out.

"I'm not a guy who makes a lot of excuses," he said. "If a guy is out, for whatever reason, then we have to step forward and play and move on."

This is particularly relevant for N.C. State, which has used a rotation of seven players for the most part, with a couple of others filling in for spot duty.

-- N.C. State owned a share of first place in the ACC after five games. With a 4-1 league record, the Wolfpack is one victory shy of last season's ACC win total. In order to keep their place atop the standings, the Wolfpack will have to win Jan. 26 at rival North Carolina, which is a half-game behind the trio of first-place teams. While it will be a late-January showdown, it's something worth coveting for an N.C. State program with a limited number of big games in recent seasons.

-- Coach Mark Gottfried has used some of his ESPN connections for additional exposure for his program. The Wolfpack granted an ESPN crew all-access accommodations to take a behind-the-scenes look at the team recently. That segment is scheduled to air on ESPNU on the eve of the Wolfpack's visit to Chapel Hill to play rival North Carolina. Gottfried had been working as an ESPN commentator prior to taking the N.C. State job last spring.

-- N.C. State won two ACC road games so far this season, something it hadn't done since going 4-4 in 2005-06. The Wolfpack have two home games in its next seven games.

BY THE NUMBERS: 58 -- Number of consecutive free throws for junior G Scott Wood, setting the ACC record after he was fouled on a three-shot opportunity Jan. 22 against Miami. Wood, whose mark spans two seasons, passed former Duke player J.J. Redick's ACC record of 54 in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're going to try to run and score a lot of points." -- Coach Mark Gottfried, whose team has at least 71 in six consecutive games, including all five of its ACC games.

--at North Carolina, Jan. 26
N.C. State will need to lace up the sneakers for this potentially fast-paced game and the Wolfpack's depth is bound to be tested against a deep North Carolina team, which will be without starting G Dexter Strickland for the first time since his season-ending knee injury. But the Tar Heels are well-stocked and their interior players C Tyler Zeller and F John Henson will provide a big challenge for F Richard Howell in the lane.

--vs. Virginia, Jan. 28
The Wolfpack has shown the preference for a faster pace and Virginia will make every attempt to reduce the tempo. This will be the Wolfpack's only home game during a four-game stretch and keeping track of Virginia F Mike Scott will be one of the key assignments.

FUTURES MARKET: The Wolfpack has uncovered another offensive weapon in junior C DeShawn Painter. He could emerge as another option because of a nice mid-range shooting touch. His ability to fill in for foul-plagued F Richard Howell in Sunday's victory at Miami was significant because he came within one point of matching a career high by scoring 18 points. And he logged 33 minutes, so his durability was another plus. He's the only true post player coming off the bench for any prolonged stretches and he has set a foundation that could bode well.

-- G Scott Wood is the third-leading three-point shooter among active ACC players with 188 for his career. He has been going back-and-forth with Florida State's Deividas Dulkys between the third and fourth place on the active list for ACC players in this category.

--F Richard Howell has seven double-doubles this season after producing one Jan. 19 against Boston College. The junior entered the season without any double-doubles.

--G C.J. Williams was in the starting lineup at Miami three days after suffering a shoulder injury against Boston College that made him listed as doubtful for the game. Williams has started every game this season.

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