Primetime With The Pack A Success

RALEIGH, N.C. – As he slowly descended from the upper deck of PNC Arena, second-year NC State basketball coach Mark Gottfried was a little apprehensive – until he saw the eager faces of the 10,257 Wolfpack fans waiting for his arrival.

"It was a little unnerving, but I have to tell you, the atmosphere out there was unbelievable," said Gottfried, who was locked into a harness and lowered from the upper level with a temporary boom in the rafters of PNC Arena. "What was absolutely great about tonight was that our fans continue to prove the are the best in the country.

"Who wouldn't want to jump into them?"

Gottfried jump-started the activities after the players were introduced with spotlights and fireworks.

Then all 12 members of the team participated in a 3-point shooting contest, going head-to-head in six preliminary rounds. Seniors Scott Wood (18 of 20 attempts) and Jay Lewis (15 of 20) had the most in the prelims and faced off against each other in the final round.

Not surprisingly Wood, who has made 230 3-pointers in his college career and has led the Pack the last two seasons in that category, won the contest by making 17, while Lewis, a walk-on who has not yet made a 3-pointer in a college game, had 13.

The squad was split into Red and White teams for a 20-minute scrimmage, which the Red won behind 15 points from junior C.J. Leslie and 14 points from junior Lorenzo Brown. Sophomore Thomas de Thaey and freshman T.J. Warren had 10 each for the White team.

"It felt great to be out there again and the atmosphere was alive," Leslie said. "We definitely felt the energy here so it was great."

It was the first time most Wolfpack fans had the opportunity to see the highly touted freshman trio of Warren, Rodney Purvis and Tyler Lewis, all three of whom were high school All-Americans before arriving at NC State.

"They're going to get a lot better as the season goes on, but as far as coming in and gelling they played great tonight," Leslie said.

The junior forward also had words of praise for his coach, for being willing to take a great leap of faith from the upper deck.

"I don't know if I would have done that," Leslie said. "Coach has a lot of heart and is young spirited so it feels great to have a coach that's full of energy."

Gottfried was pleased with his team's quickness and scoring – but recognized that this is just the start of the preseason practice.

"I thought we played well," said the coach. "But the key for us is to keep working harder."

It was the first time the Pack, which begins practice in earnest on Saturday, had played together since returning from its five-game exhibition tour of Spain and the Canary Islands.

"I think participating in those games put us a little farther ahead," Gottfried said. "Our guys understand what we are trying to do offensively and defensively. But we still feel like we have a long way to go to become an elite team."

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