Notebook: Pack Ready for NIT

After a stellar showing in the 2007 ACC Tournament, NC State (18-15) will now play Drexel (23-8) in the National Invitation Tournament. Tip-off is set for 8:00 pm, and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

  • NC State has never played a game versus Drexel.
  • Wolfpack forward Brandon Costner's father Tony played college ball with Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint and assistant coach Geoff Arnold at St. Joseph's.
  • NC State's five starters have averaged in double figures throughout the season. If the averages continued to hold by season's end, it will mark the first time since 1977-78 that five players have averaged double figures for NC State.
  • All five Wolfpack players were named to either the first or second All-ACC Tournament teams.
  • Brandon Costner scored 90 points in the 2007 ACC Tournament, the best mark ever for a Pack player in the history of the event.
  • Senior Engin Atsür is the 39th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark. He now has 1,137 points for his career - the 11th-best mark among current ACC players.

    This will be the Wolfpack's 10th appearance in the National Invitation Tournament, its first since 2000. NC State posts an all-time record of 13-11 in the event.

    The Wolfpack has made just one appearance in the NIT finals, losing to Texas in 1978. In 2000, State advanced to the semifinals in New York, losing to Wake Forest in the first game and then to Penn State in the consolation round. In 1951, NC State actually played in the NIT AND the NCAA Tournament in the same year. Following a win in the Southern Conference Tournament, the Pack travelled to New York, where it lost to Seton Hall in the NIT, then played in the NCAA Tournament back in Raleigh, defeating Villanova and then losing to Illinois and St. John's.

    The NIT was founded in 1938 and was originally made up of six teams. In 1941, the field expanded to eight and grew to six in 1969. All rounds of the tournament were played in Madison Square Garden until 1977, when the first rounds began to be played on campus, with the final four teams only playing in New York.

    In 1979, the field was expanded to 24 teams, upped to 32 in 1980 and 40 teams in 2002. In 2005, the NCAA took over the administration of the NIT and last season, narrowed the field to 32 teams.

    It's only 75 miles from Montclair, N.J. to Philadelphia, but that short distance from home isn't the only reason that Wolfpack forward Brandon Costner is excited about the trip. Drexel assistant coach Geoff Arnold played with Costner's father, Tony, at St. Joseph's and the younger Costner even refers to him as his uncle. Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint was also a teammate of Tony Costner's at St. Joe's.

    Sidney Lowe's Wolfpack made an historic run to reach the finals of the 2007 ACC Tournament. The 10th-seeded Wolfpack knocked off the seven seed, Duke in the first round, sent second-seeded Virginia packing in the quarterfinals, and then followed that with a win over No. 3 seed Virginia Tech on Saturday. The Pack, exhausted from playing four games in four days, fell to top-seeded North Carolina in the title game, 80-89.

    Only one other time in the history of the ACC Tournament, had a team started in the play-in game/first round and advanced to the finals (that team was the 1997 Wolfpack).

    It's been a pretty simple formula for the Wolfpack all season. In the Wolfpack's 18 wins this season, the team has shot .538 from the field (493-917). In the 15 losses, that mark slips to .443 (349-788).

    Those marks are even more striking in the Wolfpack's games against ACC opponents. In its eight league victories (five in the regular season, three in tournament), NC State shot a blazing .574 on field goals (220-383), but stands at just .429 (269-627) in its 11 league losses.

    NC State has shot so well in its wins this season that it ranks second in the league in shooting percentage at .494 heading into the NIT tournament.

    In the ACC Tournament, NC State shot .555 in the four games.

    NC State enters the ACC Tournament ranked as the 24th-winningest program in the NCAA. The Wolfpack has gained 1,502 wins during its 97 years of basketball, putting it among the storied programs in the nation.

    After playing five of its first seven league games at home, the Wolfpack hasnt even unpacked its bags since the beginning of Febuary. NC State played five of its last eight regular season games on the road before heading ing to Tampa for the ACC Tournament. NC State was in Tampa for six days, got home late Sunday evening and then is heading out on Monday afternoon for Philadelphia to take on Drexel in the NIT.

    NC State posted a 2-8 mark in road games this season, then went 3-1 in the ACC Tournament on a neutral court.

    Although NC State did not win the ACC Tournament, the Wolfpack had more players on the all-tournament teams than any other school. The Wolfpack's Brandon Costner, who scored 90 points in the four games, was a unanimous first-team choice (one of just two), while Gavin Grant, who averaged 14.8 points in the even, was also a first-team choice.

    The rest of the Pack's starting five, Engin Atsür, Courtney Fells and Ben McCauley all made the second team.

    One of the main reasons that the Wolfpack enjoyed so much success at the ACC Tournament in Tampa was the team's prowess at the charity stripe. In the four games, the Wolfpack, which was shooting .722 on free throws heading into the event, shot .777 (80-103). In the last two games (against Virginia Tech and North Carolina), Sidney Lowe's team shot .851 (40-47) from the stripe, NC State won it's semifinal game against Virginia Tech on the foulline - shooting .857 (24-28) as compared to the Hokies' .421 (8-19) mark in the eight-point win.

    Junior Gavin Grant was particularly accurate, hitting 11-11 for the game, including 10-10 in the second half.

    Redshirt freshman Brandon Costner finished third in the ACC Rookie of the Year voting, but he played like a veteran in his very first ACC Tournament. In the Wolfpack's four games, Costner scored 90 points (including a career-high 30 against Duke), breaking NC State's ACC Tournament scoring record that had previously been held by David Thompson and C.C. Harrison. Costner, the Pack's leading scorer in three of the four games, was an unanimous choice for the All-ACC Tournament team.

    Costner's 30 points against Duke ranked as the ninth-best scoring total ever for an NC State player in the ACC Tournament, the highest ever for a Wolfpack freshman in the ACC Tournament, and the the second-highest ever for a Wolfpack freshman overall (Ernie Myers had 35 against Duke as a freshman in 1983).

    The Wolfpack's five starters have averaged double- figure scoring totals throughout the 2006-07 campaign and all five enter the NIT averaging 10.8 points or better.

    Although there is at least one game left to be played, if all five are still averaging double figures when the final horn sounds for 2006-07, it will mark the first time since 1977-78 that NC State has had five players average double-figures.

    In terms of single-game, double-figure scoring, all five of the Wolfpack's starters have scored in double-digits in the same game five times this season - at Virginia Tech, North Carolina, at Wake Forest, Mount St. Mary's and Delaware State. All five of those games were NC State wins.

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