Final Report Card: NC State
Nowhere in the ACC was the on-court demeanor and body language of the players more radically different from the season before than at NC State.
Mark Gottfried's first Wolfpack team was a work in progress right into March, when everything finally came together. Gottfried handled the various personalities exceptionally well. He got a group of players, who really hadn't had the proper college basketball experience, to learn how to practice, prepare and eventually play legitimate big-time college hoops.
This wasn't a team without blemishes. It had plenty. But the story of its season isn't so much a narrow loss here or there, or its inability until March to notch a really good win. The story about NC State's season is how everything eventually came together. It's about a team that trusted its coach and they finally gave a hungry fan base of this proud program something to boast about.
NCSU advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament while finishing 24-13 overall and 9-7 in the ACC. Here is a look at the Wolfpack's report card for its performance this season:
NC State offense: State finished 3rd in the ACC in scoring (72.9), was second in field goal percentage (45.8), 3rd in 3-point shooting (35.5 percent), 2nd in rebounding offense, and 2nd in assists. This was the ACC's second best offensive team, and it got better as the season went on. Lorenzo Brown was really good at the point, but the key was how C.J. Leslie eventually shaved off some of his horrible habits with the handle and in the paint. State was unselfish, had a nice flow to its offense, got solid production from its thin bench, and ran a quality scheme. Grade: B+.
NC State defense: This wasn't a particularly good defensive team in November, but the Wolfpack got better each month and were pretty solid by March. Foul trouble was a consistent issue all season, especially its bigs committing silly ones. The Pack finished 8th in scoring defense (67.6), 5th in field goal percentage defense (41.5), 8th in 3-point defense (33.2 percent), 6th in blocked shots and 4th in steals. Grade: C.
NC State intangibles: Forget the things the Pack did just moderately well or not much at all, such as getting good looks in late-game situations. Forget some of the basic intangibles that one expects from Sweet 16 teams. Much of that eventually came together. But what stands out about this team is the individual and collective growth of everyone in the program, from the staff down to the walk ons. In one year this program went from irrelevant and its fans completely apathetic to a possible ACC title contender next season and a base as excited as ever. Grade: A+.
NC State final grade: Because the base is united behind the coach and vibe around the program is so positive, this was the best NC State basketball season since 1989, when it last won an ACC regular season title. Grade: A.