Sophomore Cedric Simmons' looks different in warmups - he's gained 20 pounds since the beginning of last season. But he also looks different once the ball is tipped. After averaging 3.5 points per game last season, Simmons is averaging a team-leading 14.3 points after three games this season.
The 6-9 center scored a career-high 22 points in the win over Delaware on Sunday and averaged 6.3 rebounds for the weekend to lead the team. He blocked six shots for the weekend.
WOLFPACK OPENS WITH THREE VICTORIES
NC State opened the 2005-05 campaign with three victories in three days, sweeping the field at the Hispanic College Fund Classic. The Wolfpack
opened with a 30-point win over Stetson (91-61), defeated The Citadel 91-59, then won over Delaware, 73-57.
The Pack started out with some hot shooting on Friday night versus Stetson, hitting 57% of its shots (including a blazing 72% in the first half) and hitting nine three-pointers.
The shooting was much colder in the next two outings, 45% against The Citadel and 43% against Delaware.
NC State took 73 trips to the foulline in its first three games, including 39 against Delaware and 37 against The Citadel.
TO THREE OR NOT TO THREE
NC State has now hit at least one three-pointer in 503 straight contests, a streak that dates back to the Wake Forest game on March 4, 1989.
That streak looked to be in jeopardy on Sunday versus Delaware, however. The Pack missed its first nine three-pointers and didn't connect until the 3:50 mark in the second half, when Ilian Evtimov nailed a three. The team ended up going 1-11 from behind the arc, marking the lowest three-point field goal total for the Wolfpack since Feb. 22, 2003, when the team shot just 1-10 against Duke.
The Pack must have used up all its three's the night before. State connected on 14 three-pointers against The Citadel, the most since Nov. 26 of last season against Campbell.
GRANT IS MVP
Sophomore guard/forward Gavin Grant was named the MVP of the Hispanic College Fund Classic after averaging 13.7 points, six rebounds and five assists in the Wolfpack's first three contests.
Grant turned in his first career double-double in the season opener, tallying 13 points and 10 assists. That was the highest assist total for a Wolfpack player since December of 2002.
In Sunday's game against Delaware, the Bronx, N.Y., native scored a career-high 22 points on 6-12 shooting, hitting 10 of his 13 free throw attempts.
Grant posted a 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio for the weekend, blocked two shots and had two steals. He was one rebound shy of his second double-double in three days in the win over Delaware.
PACK POWERFUL VERSUS NON-CONFERENCE COMPETITION
NC State has posted an 94-31 record against non-conference competition under Herb Sendek (84-22 in the regular season) and posts an impressive 51-5 home record against non-conference opponents since the Wolfpack began playing in the RBC Center in 1999-2000. That gives NC State a 91 percent winning mark against non-conference competition at home. The squad has also won three games against non-conference opponents in Reynolds Coliseum during that time frame.
Overall, Sendek's squads have won 77% of their games in the RBC Center, posting an 80-24 mark.
BETHEL BOUNCES BACK
The saga of Tony Bethel's variety of illnesses and injuries is hopefully reaching a finalé. Bethel, who suffered a torn groin in the ACC Tournament in March, missed most of the Pack's postseason run and spent the summer rehabbing. He also missed the first month of practice this season. Bethel missed the Wolfpack's first exhibition game and played just five minutes in the second preseason contest, but handled the three games in the three days well last weekend, seeing action in all three contests for an average of 18.7 minutes.
The Ft. Washington, Md., native hit five of his 11 field goals for the weekend, but the best might have been when he went flying for a dunk in Sunday's win over Delaware.
There was silence in the arena as as the 6-1 guard landed after the dunk, but when he ran back up the court easily, a loud roar when up. Last season, Bethel was the squad's fourth-leading scorer during ACC play (10.0 ppg) and his sharp-shooting was a key in the Pack's seven regular season league victories.
Prior to the Maryland game on Jan. 23, he had missed the previous four games after a bizarre string of illnesses. His bout began as the flu back in mid-December, when the Wolfpack traveled to the west coast to take on Washington and then played at BYU.
After Christmas, when the Pack was playing in New York, he began having severe diarrhea, losing 15 pounds in a matter of days. That problem was diagnoses as colitis, which the medical staff has now discovered was caused by a bacteria. One of the strange manifestations of that particular bacteria is swelling in the joints, which Bethel began experiencing late before the Miami game - even having to walk with crutches for a couple of days. Bethel's bout with physical problems continued late in the season when he suffered a groin tear in the first game of the ACC Tournament. He missed the next four contests and was able to play just two minutes in the loss in the Sweet 16.
Engin Atsur is shooting 64% from the field (14-22) and 50% from beyond the arc (7-14).