Choose a blog

About this blog

State Now is your place for Wolfpack sports. Beat writer Joe Giglio has up-to-the-minute news and analysis. Columnist Luke DeCock also contributes. Follow us on Twitter at @jwgiglio or @accnow.

'Blank slate' for the 2013-14 Wolfpack

Bookmark and Share

When Mark Gottfried goes to the grocery store, he sometimes gets unsolicited advice from fellow shoppers.

“Hang in there coach, I know it’s going to be a long year for you,” Gottfried said, relaying a conversation. “I hear it everywhere I go.”

Expectations are a little different for the 2013-14 Wolfpack than they were last year, when N.C. State was ranked No. 6 in the preseason poll and picked to win the ACC. That group, which returned four starters, failed to meet expectations in its 24-11 season, finishing 5th in the league and losing to Temple in its first NCAA Tournament game.

This year’s team returns just four scholarship players, one of whom is guard Ralston Turner, who sat out last year after transferring from LSU. Rising sophomore guard Tyler Lewis, forward T.J. Warren and redshirt senior center Jordan Vandenberg complete the rest of the quartet, which Gottfried has asked to fill the leadership void.

Gottfried, in his summer press conference Tuesday, called this team a “blank slate,” with questions pretty much across the board. That has resulted in low-to-nonexistent expectations for those outside the program.

“If I had to walk in my mind through the league and who has what coming back, we’re going to be near the bottom, probably, to start off with,” Gottfried said. “Now for me, personally, I hope to find a way to get in the NCAA Tournament every year. Some years, that maybe a lot more difficult than others.

“When I look at our players, I think we have a long way to go, obviously. We’re a program that is certainly in transition. At the same time, we’re excited about where we can get to one day. How quick that is, we don’t know.”

Warren, who had the luxury of deferring to Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell last season, now must be the focal point of the offense. Can he handle it?

“We’ll see,” Gottfried said.

“We want to see him just as interested in defense and rebounding as he is scoring. I want him to get a better grasp of our offense and things that we’re doing offensively and defensively. He’s in a completely different role this year.”

Defense will be a particular point of emphasis for the entire team. Last year’s squad often didn’t seem interested in playing defense—a factor that could have led to the late second-round draft position of Brown and C.J. Leslie getting passed up be every team—so this year, the coaching staff will spend more time working on defense than in prior seasons.

The first official summer workout for the full Wolfpack squad began at 3 p.m. Tuesday, a 40-minute session. It will be the first time freshmen Anthony “Cat” Barber, Beejay Anya Kyle Washington, Lennard Freeman and Patrick Wallace run with the team. Barber will be counted on to anchor the backcourt with Lewis. Anya, listed at 6-foot-9, 275 pounds, needs to lose weight, Gottfried said, as does Vandenberg, who needs to be at 250 prior to the season’s start (he’s listed at 264, down from 286 at the end of last year). Junior college transfer Desmond Lee, another guard whom Gottfried hopes can contribute right away, is also new.

The new-look, untested Wolfpack will have a tough nonconference schedule waiting, with trips to Cincinnati and Tennessee, Gottfried said, as well as dates with Missouri, Northwestern in the Big 10-ACC challenge, Florida Gulf Coast and Detroit.

“If we’re fortunate enough to get good, I want to be in a position to get in the tournament,” Gottfried said. “ I don’t want our schedule to hold us back.”

A slightly different thought process from last year.

*In addition to the new players, Gottfried’s staff will be different, too. Larry Farmer, who spent one year as director of player development, left to become an assistant coach at Western Michigan. Levi Watkins, who graduated from N.C. State in 2005 and spent eight years on staff, most recently as assistant director of operations, is now an assistant coach at Buffalo.

*Staats Battle, a rising junior walk-on dismissed from the team last year after being arrested Jan. 1 and charged with driving while impaired, is back on the roster.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


An interesting year for the Pack for sure. Losing Wood and Howell would have been enough of a bad blow, but Lo and CJ, as well really leaves a big hole. Of course with the draft results, maybe they wished that they had stayed.
One of the most mind boggling things is that MG highly suspected that CJ would go in the first round? Boy he was kind of off on that one. Which makes me wonder how good are the new guys that he has chosen. Of course the sum of the whole should be better that the total account of each individual. Perhaps the team concept will get him to the NCAA. Someting Fur Yow has already discussed with him for sure.


Gott was not alone in missing the boat on CJ. Predraft projections had CJ all over the place, mostly late first round or early second round. I was not surprised that he wasn't drafted. For all his talent, he can't shoot a midrange jumper, doesn't play defense and shows up half the time on offense. Apparently, NBA scouts aren't dumb.


But as his coach, he surely would have known all of those things. Had he gone high, or gone even, it would have been a benefit to the program. Maybe MG was hoping the scouts were dumb or perhaps just trying to paint something positive.

PR Job

Plain and simple. Also the approach Gott took with CJ throughout his career.

Didn't work though because the product was in plain sight.

Cautiously optimistic

State will enter the next season with low expectations. Good. Not having CJ Leslie will be addition by subtraction. Perhaps now the sense of entitlement that was so obvious with certain members of last year's team can be replaced by consistent intensity and unselfishness.

I expect the Pack to have a good season if the following can happen (in no particular order):

1. TJ Warren accepts the fact that he needs to play defense and rebound consistently. We know he can score, although he also needs to work on his free throw shooting. If he can improve those three areas, he will be helping his team and himself. The kid is potential lottery pick.

2. Jordan Vandenberg has to contribute in a meaningful way. He doesn't need to be all-ACC, but he does need to generate significant productive minutes. The Pack has some potentially terrific freshmen in the frontcourt, but they will need a year to develop. It would be best if they can provide depth this year without being relied on to carry the load underneath.

3. Tyler Lewis needs to take control at point and not relinquish it to anyone. I am a believer in Lewis, defensive shortcomings notwithstanding. Based on Gott's comments recently, it looks like Tyler is off to a good start in a leadership role. We saw what he could do last year in a limited role. There is no reason he can't handle an expanded role this year, especially with Cat Barber available to spell him so that he doesn't burn out.

4. Ralston Turner and Des Lee have to be as good as advertised. I can see a small lineup with Lewis, Barber or Lee, Turner, Warren and Vanderberg starting with the three big freshmen rotating in to spell Jordan and TJ. Warren can drop down to the 3 occasionally and the four guards can all rotate throughout the game.

There will be growing pains, but that's fine. I think most Pack fans understand that the road may be bumpy early, but that the team should improve as time goes on. Gott wants to get into the NCAA Tourney again. There is no reason to believe this team is not capable of doing so.


Good synopsis.
What do you define as a good season? Making the Tournament? Top half of the ACC?

It will be interesting to see if TJ is the "star" or not and what affect that will have on the team dynamics. I could see them as being just as successful one way or another.

I admit that it is hard for me to see Vandenberg contributing significantly. Could happen though.

I espect Lewis to do well, but perhaps not to the level MG/Yow desires. Solid is what I expect.

I don't know much of anything about the new guys. I guess MG likes them somewhat, but with his statements, it doesn't appear that they will be mindblowing good.

For those that claimed that the "Pack was back" last year, well it doesn't seem like they stayed around very long. Of course the year hasn't started yet, so a clean slate is better than a marked up one, I guess.

Successful year

Would be making the NCAA tourney. There are too many unknowns to predict their prospects now, but any success they have will depend on two things. Teamwork and a dedication to defense. We'll see.

makes sense

Certainly appropriate. Seems odd though. One and a half steps forward and one step back.
Back to my mantra regarding what State needs, skilled athletic players who stay around for 3 or more years. Well, he had that, but not sure if he will have it again this year or maybe next.

You never know.

Actually, I think TJ Warren will be the only player to leave early after this year. Not sure about Cat Barber until we see how he does in college. Everyone else should be there for the full term of their eligibility, depending on how good the Freshmen bigs turn out to be. For them it could be 2 or 3.


Yep, it will be interesting to see how "quick" he adjusts to the college game.

Cars View All
Find a Car
Jobs View All
Find a Job
Homes View All
Find a Home

Want to post a comment?

In order to join the conversation, you must be a member of Click here to register or to log in.

About the blogger

Laura Keeley is the Duke beat writer for the News & Observer. Follow her on Twitter @laurakeeley