Much has been said and written about the youth and inexperience of the 2013-14 Wolfpack. The roster returns just one starter from last year's 24-11 team, and the current roster returns just 20 career starts at NC State.
NCSU has just one senior, 7-1 center Jordan Vandenberg, and nine freshmen and sophomores (six freshmen and three sophomores). Of the 15 teams in the ACC, only Miami has less experience returning this season (zero returning starters).
PACK ON ESPN
NC State will be shooting for its 58th win on ESPN. The Wolfpack played on the main ESPN channel six times last season, splitting with a 3-3 record. NC State has won four of its last seven game on ESPN.
GREAT START FOR DEZ
After thriving for two seasons at New Mexico Junior College, Desmond Lee scored 24 points in his first Division I game.
Lee, a native of Norfolk, Va., finished 10-for-12 from the floor and 3-for-3 at the foul line while playing 36 minutes vs. App State. Lee was the 10th-ranked junior college prospect last season, averaging 20.3 points per game at NMJC.
#TONYBUCKETS GOT AGGRESSIVE
T.J. Warren was off to a slow start, scoring six points in the first half against Appalachian State. During a stop in play, Mark Gottfried pulled Warren to the sideline and urged his young forward to take over and be more aggressive. Warren responded with 21 second-half points on 10-for-14 shooting.
With 7:20 remaining in the first half on Friday, Cat Barber was fouled hard on a fast-break drive to the basket. He was shaken up on the play, and an intentional foul was called on Appalachian State. The freshman guard bounced back and showed toughness after the foul and finished his first college game with 13 points and six assists.
Senior center Jordan Vandenberg, the Oct. 30 exhibition vs. UNC Pembroke, suffered a Grade 3 left ankle sprain early in the game against the Braves.
The timetable for his return is 4-6 weeks from the injury date. Before the injury, which occurred at the 14:59 mark in the first half, Vandenberg had scored four points on a pair of dunks. Vandenberg, a fifth-year player out of Australia, is the only senior on the NC State roster.
With Jordan Vandenberg injured and several young post players learning their way, NC State showed it may often use a small and fast lineup. Playing point guards Tyler Lewis and Cat Barber together with guard Desmond Lee, the Wolfpack forms a quick lineup that provides match-up problems for opponents.
Several NC State players changed their bodies this offseason. T.J. Warren lost 20 pounds and is faster and has more stamina. Conversely, Tyler Lewis was charged with adding bulk to his 5-11 frame. He gained 15 pounds of muscle.
Jordan Vandenberg also trimmed down, cutting 40 pounds to prime himself for a successful senior season.
EARLY-SEASON ROAD TESTS
Since coming to NC State, Mark Gottfried has placed an emphasis on challenging his team with non-conference tests to prepare for ACC play. In addition to playing Tuesday at Cincinnati, the Pack will face a test at Tennessee on Dec. 18.
TYLER PASSING THE
NC State's players praise teammate Tyler Lewis and consider him one of the nation's best passers.
Lewis dished six assists on Friday, including a highlight-reel around-the-back pass to T.J. Warren for a lay-up. He had just one turnover. Four of his six assists resulted in a Wolfpack lay-up and the other two went for made 3-pointers. In NC State's two exhibitions, Lewis averaged 9.5 assists per game.
PRESEASON RECOGNITION FOR T.J.
T.J. Warren has received a few national accolades in the national college basketball media recently. Warren was tabbed preseason All-American by CollegeInsider.com and recently NBC CollegeBasketball-Talk listed Warren among the country's top 10 wing forwards.
Warren was an all-freshmen team pick in the ACC a year ago.
NEED A COMPLETE T.J.
Mark Gottfried has said he has challenged T.J. Warren to become more of a complete player. The 6-8 sophomore will be counted on to improve defensively and to increase his rebounding. Warren accepted that challenge by dropping 20 pounds in the offseason.
When asked how he dropped the weight, Warren replied he gave up Bojangle's chicken and Chinese food.
HIGH OCTANE OFFENSE
Friday's 98-point output was the team's highest total in nine years, but it also served as a sign of Mark Gottfried's up-tempo offense getting results at NC State.
Last season, NC State ranked ninth in the country with 77.4 points per game. The Wolfpack was fourth in the country in field goal percentage (.496) and held the national lead in shooting for several weeks.
COACHING BRAIN TRUST
Mark Gottfried has built one of the most experienced coaching staffs in all of college basketball.
In addition to the third-year NC State coach, the Wolfpack are mentored by three other former head coaches. Associate coach Bobby Lutz won 399 games as a head coach at Charlotte and Pfeiffer, Orlando Early was the head coach for five seasons at Louisiana-Monroe and Dereck Whittenburg ran the programs at Wagner and Fordham.