WOLFPACK HOSTS HOFSTRA TONIGHT
After winning by 35 points in its season opener, the NC State men’s basketball team will host Hofstra Monday night at 7 p.m. Hofstra won its season opener 94-61 over Jacksonville on Friday.
FIVE PACK STORYLINES
1. A LITTLE MORE CHALLENGING THIS TIME
After winning by 35 points on Friday night, NC State’s contest with Hofstra is projected to be a bit closer. Hofstra was picked high in the Colonial Athletic Association’s preseason poll and has three talented transfers who sat out last season. NC State’s 35-point win on Friday was the team’s largest margin of victory since it beat Miami (Ohio) 97-59 to open the 2012-13 season.
2. NC STATE AT HOME
The Wolfpack is 179-68 all-time at PNC Arena. NC State went 12-6 at PNC last season and 17-1 there in 2012-13. Mark Gottfried owns a 38-13 record in the arena, which is the eighth-largest in all of college basketball.
3. NC STATE’S BACKCOURT HOLDING COURT
It’s common knowledge that guard play is ever-important in college basketball, and if Friday’s game is any indication, NC State is in good hands. Cat Barber and Trevor Lacey combined for 47 points, eight assists and four steals in the Pack’s 93-68 victory over Jackson State. Barber poured in a career-high 25 points with six rebounds and six assists (and no turnovers). Lacey, making his NC State debut, scored 22 points (20 in the first half) on 8-for-10 shooting.
4. 3 SEASONS, 3 NCAAs
Mark Gottfried, in his fourth season at NC State, will be working toward mentoring his team into the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season. The Wolfpack has made the Big Dance in each of his first three seasons, making Gottfried the first Pack coach and just the third in ACC history to achieve that feat. It marks the first time NC State had made three straight tournaments since 2004-06.
5. MIHALICH-WHITTENBURG CONNECTION
Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich and Dereck Whittenburg are familiar with each other. Mihalich got his coaching start as an assistant under Morgan Wooten at DeMatha Catholic from 1978-81. Their starting shooting guard? Whittenburg, who played his prep ball there before going on to NC State.
COUNT ON RALSTON TO GET AT LEAST ONE
Ralston Turner, a 6-5 fifth-year senior guard, was one of the top 3-point shooters in the ACC last season. He enters the season having made a 3-pointer in his last 19 games. That streak is the longest in the ACC (h/t Brian Morrison, ACC).
MORE LONG-RANGE SHOOTERS
Ralston Turner, who shot .372 from 3-point range and was among the league leaders in treys made, was often NC State’s lone threat from beyond the arc. NC State appears to have more weapons on the perimeter this season. Trevor Lacey and Cat Barber each made three 3-pointers on Friday, and the Pack shot 8-for-20 from beyond the arc. Lacey was a .400 3-point shooter at Alabama and he buried 62 treys as a sophomore in 2012-13. Another formidable outside threat will be Caleb Martin, a 6-6 freshman who was 4-for-6 from 3-point range in the exhibition vs. Queens.
RALSTON PASSES 1,000
Fifth-year senior Ralston Turner passed the 1,000-point mark for his career on Friday. He enters Monday’s game with 1,005 career points, 386 of which have come at NCSU. Turner has made 231 field goals in his career, 129 of them from 3-point range.
Heading into his sophomore season, Anthony ‘Cat’ Barber has taken the point guard keys for Mark Gottfried’s NC State Wolfpack vehicle. Barber drove that vehicle to the tune of a career-high 25 points with six assists and six rebounds on Friday. Barber, who averaged 8.5 points per game and started 18 times last season, is one of the quickest players in all of college basketball.
Mark Gottfried has also called Barber “one of the best on-the-ball defenders I’ve coached.” Barber drew a team-best 16 charges last season.
QUICKER ON DEFENSE
This year’s Wolfpack team promises to be much quicker on defense. Mark Gottfried has said he expects to exploit that increased quickness to result in more ball pressure and full-court pressing. The Wolfpack nabbed eight steals on Friday and held Jackson State to .281 shooting.
It was the lowest opponent shooting percentage since last year’s Northwestern game, when NC State forced NU into .250 shooting.
KYLE DOING BOARD WORK
NC State’s coaches have challenged the 6-9 sophomore Kyle Washington to rebound more. He answered on Friday, pulling in nine boards in 18 minutes of playing time. It was one rebound shy of his career high, which he set three times last season.
LENGTH AND (LESS) WIDTH
BeeJay Anya is one of the largest players in college basketball. He’s actually trimmed down considerably, having lost nearly 60 pounds since last season. But it’s his wingspan that sets him apart.
He has a measured wingspan of 7-9, the longest wingspan recorded in the NBA Draft Express database for basketball prospects.
ACC’s KING OF TWITTER
Last season, The Sporting News evaluated the prominent college basketball coaches related to their presence on Twitter. TSN named Mark Gottfried (@Mark_Gottfried) the ACC’s King of Twitter. As of this week, Gottfried has 33,256 followers. He ranks 13th among college coaches in Twitter followers.
As a team, the NC State Twitter account boasts 33,517 followers. That total ranks 15th in all of college basketball.
Three influential and inspirng speakers came to address the Wolfpack in the preseason. Nate McMillan came to campus at the end of September, Vinny Del Negro spoke to the team before Throwback with the Pack and General Raymond Odierno came to the Dail Center on Nov. 6.
Mark Gottfried will tell you last year’s tough schedule was the difference in NC State playing in the NCAA Tournament instead of the NIT. NC State’s 2013-14 schedule was ranked 21st toughest in the nation.
Mark Gottfried has adopted a similar philosophy this season, scheduling nine teams who played in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
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.