NC State saw its season come to a likely end Wednesday.
The Wolfpack hopes its fans eventually see the struggles of the 2015-16 campaign under the larger context of both how the team continued to battle and where the program is headed in the near future.
NC State head coach Mark Gottfried was asked about whether his team would accept a bid to play in the NIT or CBI if invited. He was diplomatic but also mentioned in detail how the Wolfpack has been forced to deal with multiple injuries, both over the course of the season and of late.
“It is like a MASH unit in there,” Gottfried said after NC State’s loss to Duke. “We’ve got to get healthy. Then we can make a decision what is best for us to do as we go forward.”
Another decision that will be made going forward will be whether or not Cat Barber returns for his senior season. Barber left it all on the court Wednesday. He finished with 29 points (10-for-18 field goals), seven assists and three rebounds.
“I'm going to try and get healthy first,” Barber said when asked about his offseason plans. “I'm going to talk with my family, talk with my coaches, and go from there. I can't give you an answer right now.”
The season began with an ugly home loss to William & Mary. The Wolfpack regrouped to end the nonconference slate 10-3 and had a huge lead in its ACC opener at Virginia Tech before the Hokies rallied.
The conference season was brutal for NC State but the team typically did not allow itself to get routed by the opposition, with the loss at Virginia the only defeat in league play to exceed 15 points.
Wednesday’s matchup was the third of the season between the Triangle rivals. The Wolfpack connected on 96-of-189 (50.8 percent) shots against Duke this season but has only three losses to show for its effort.
In his career as a head coach, Gottfried has directed teams to conference titles, a top-ranking while three times reaching the regionals in the NCAA Tournament.
There is conjecture as to if or whether NC State would play in a lower level tournament this season but Gottfried’s run of four straight NCAA Tournament berths with the Wolfpack came to an end in the nation’s capital.
The fifth-year head coach still spoke glowingly of his team.
“I’ve been head coach for a good while now,” Gottfried said. “I’ve had teams that won more games in a season but I’m not sure I’ve ever been as proud of a team.”
The respect that Gottfried has for his team is something that Abdul-Malik Abu, who finished with 19 points and nine rebounds against Duke, hopes will resonate with fans.
“[I] just [want fans to] remember how hard we worked and that we never gave up,” Abu said. “No matter what position it was or what the outcome may look like, we just kept fighting and pushing forward.”