Wolfpack Superlatives

Pack Pride writer Austin Johnson takes a look at NC State's regular season as the Wolfpack begins ACC Tournament play tonight.

Game of the Year: NC State 83, North Carolina 79
Breaking out the bright red sports coat for the first time, Lowe and his team delivered their best performance of the season at the most opportune time. Hitting on 75 percent of its shots in the second half, the Wolfpack pulled out a stunning upset over the No.4 Tar Heels. Lowe wasn't hired just to beat North Carolina, but the first-year coach gave his tenure its first defining moment with this victory.

Team MVP: Engin Atsur
Unfortunately it took a two-month absence to see just how valuable the Turkish native was to this squad. Atsur isn't flashy and doesn't wow people with any of his talents, but he's the sort of player every coach in the league would die to have. He's relentless, gritty and fiercely competitive, and has an knack for knowing when his team needs him to step up. Expect him to have a long and productive career playing overseas.

Offensive MVP: Brandon Costner
Costner can do everything from an offensive standpoint. He can step back and hit a the 3-point shot (38 percent on the year). He has an assortment of post moves that he can use to beat defenders in the paint and he gets to the line with regularity. He improved his free-throw shooting during the season, hitting on nearly 80 percent in conference play and collecting a team-high 119 points from the charity stripe. Even the media took notice, putting Costner voting him to the ACC All-Freshman team and making him a third-team All-ACC selection.

Defensive MVP: Ben McCauley
McCauley had to guard some of the leagues top big men and held his own every time. In a season full of disappointing defensive performances, McCauley provided hustle and intensity on both ends of the court. His best performances came against Virginia Tech, where he silenced Coleman Collins on two separate occasions. McCauley was also an honorable mention in the All-ACC voting.

Biggest Overachiever: Brian Neiman
The senior walk-on from nearby Wake Forest-Rolesville came into the season with zero expectations. Even on a team with no depth there was little reason to believe Neiman would even play, much less contribute positively. The final numbers are nothing eye-popping - 16 minutes, two points, 1.7 rebounds a game. But Neiman gave the Pack its hardest-working perimeter defender and didn't make bad decisions on the court.

Best single-game performance: Brandon Costner vs. UNCW (27 points, 19 rebounds) and Ben McCauley vs. UNCG (26 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists)
These games weren't against the best competition in the world, but they produced some memorable final lines for NC State's two big men. Costner, who led all Pack players with seven double-doubles, showed a workman-like effort by collecting 19 rebounds and scoring a career-high 27 points against UNC-Wilmington. McCauley flashed his versitile skill-set by dishing out eight assists and scoring a career-high 26 in an overtime win over UNC-Greensboro.

Dunk of the Year: Gavin Grant vs. UNC
The award would go to McCauley's one-handed alley-oop against UNCW but I couldn't find the video - blame ESPNU. Honorable mentions include Costner and Fells at Wake Forest and Fells at Virginia Tech. If Fells' dunk on Visser counted, it would have won.


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