Impact Frosh

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried made a couple of lineup changes following the Wolfpack's surprising 82-72 defeat to North Carolina Central.

One of those moves was starting true freshman guard Cat Barber, who was one of the few bright spots in the loss, totaling 22 points, three assists, and two rebounds in 32 minutes.

The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder responded by totaling 12 points and six assists in the 20-point victory over Florida Gulf Coast. In his two starts Barber is averaging 12 points, 5.5 assists, and two rebounds while shooting 64.7% from the field.

"I felt like it was time for Cat," Gottfried said of the move. "I think he's caught up in the time that he's missed and defensively he changes things for us at the point of our defense."

That is the other area where Barber can impact. He is a terrific on-ball defender, which can give the Wolfpack a huge lift on the perimeter given the new rules that prevents defenders from using their hands to limit the ball-handler.

"I've said it before, I'd hate for that guy to have to guard me," Gottfried previously said of Barber. "If I had the ball I'd never bounce it if he was playing defense on me."

"We can play offense, but we have to be great on defense," said Barber. "The transfer to offense, getting out and running... we take defense very hard because without defense we aren't going to win the ball game."

The Wolfpack's other starting guard, junior Desmond Lee, is also a stifling perimeter defender, and Barber believes they can play off each other defensively.

"Coach loves me and Dez defending," he said. "Throughout the summer we were playing defense against each other and it was kind of hard, but then he put us on the same team in practice."

The other lineup change Gottfried made was instantly inserting Jordan Vandenberg back in at center once he returned from his ankle injury.

Vandenberg's presence has certainly been felt. The 7-foot-1 senior is averaging 10.5 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks per game. In those two games, NC State is +33 in rebounding.

"Jordan is a big boy," said Barber, smiling. "He's long so he's expected to get a lot of rebounds, catch things at the rim. He changes a lot of things, he changes a lot of shots... he runs the floor very well."

"He's 40 pounds lighter than he was a year ago, he's more agile," Gottfried added. "He can bother shots, he can get some rebounds, and I thought there were a few times they threw the ball inside and just threw it back out. He bothered them with his length."

Next up for the Wolfpack is an interesting matchup with Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Wildcats are 4-4 on the season, having lost two straight. However, they can present problems with their shooting ability under first-year head coach Chris Collins.

"I like their team," said Gottfried. "Bill Carmody had recruited a collection of shooters and I think Chris has done a nice job of putting them in sets where those guys get good shots. Just about every other shot they take is a three and I think he's utilizing that.

"They were leading Missouri at the half, and they played UCLA tough. UCLA went 13-for-17 from 3... outside of that I'm not sure they would have beat them. He's doing a great job with that group."

Barber, who said he believes the Wolfpack will face a lot of zone defense tonight, is looking to attack it with poise but added that he knows the No. 1 priority... running.

"That's our first offense, to get the ball out and run," he stated. "If we don't get that we have to be patient and work the zone, not rush things.

"If we rush we probably won't get a good shot so we're going to go through the zone and do what we have to do... get in gaps, penetrate and kick, play off that."

That is exactly what Gottfried wants to see from his freshman point guard.

"I think he is growing in the position," Gottfried said of Barber. "He's gaining confidence, and he's learning everything that we're doing. Everyday he seems more comfortable. Hopefully he'll continue with that."

Pack Pride Top Stories