By CJ Guion
The NC State Wolfpack Basketball team has found itself in the usual place that it has been located in the last several years residing at the bottom half of the ACC rankings. The team seems to be like the “Little Red Engine that could.” Just as soon as the team begins to push up over the hill it slides back down to the bottom. The team was projected to do well in the preseason rankings with the three incoming freshman (Ryan Harrow, C.J. Leslie, and Lorenzo Brown) which would make it a possible high contender in the ACC. That fate has yet to be seen as the Wolfpack is more than half way through the season with little hopes of receiving a bid into the NCAA Tournament unless a miracle falls from the sky and the teams wins the rest of its games.
The Wolfpack began the season with a decent start in a subpar strength of schedule. The team has had close games here and there but along the way they have suffered close losses with the addition of a couple of blowouts from the likes of Wisconsin, Duke, and Carolina. As it stands right now the team sits at 2-5 in the ACC, 12-9 overall. The team currently has a .44 Field Goal Pct., .34 3 point field goal pct., and averages 12.7 turnovers per game. The basketball team appears to be one that has only been able to play one-half games. In one game they are able to have an effective first half and in another game they are only capable of providing a good second half. They have not been able to be consistent throughout a 40 minute time span. This was evident in their game against Duke a couple of weeks ago when the Wolfpack had a miserable first half but were able to recharge and produce a run in the second half when it was too late. From watching a game it is very clear that the team has a lot of potential, but they can’t seem to find easy baskets and consistently commit silly turnovers. At the beginning of the season the team started off without the assistance of big man Tracy Smith who was out with a knee injury, and was without the energetic freshman Ryan Harrow Saturday in their poor performance against rival North Carolina. It was evident that the team was severely missing the presence of one of its key players. Freshman Lorenzo Brown was able to take up some of the slack in the game without the starting point guard even though the team was unsuccessful in Chapel Hill.
The team had so many open opportunities to capitalize against the Tarheels in the game on Saturday, but was never able to make a run and grab down defensive boards. It appeared that after the late second-half run by UNC, the team began to give up. In the previous game against Clemson, the pack let go of a 19 point lead. One issue is that the Wolfpack has not been able to find a consistent Point Guard to control the ball up and down the court. Some players are attempting to make long distance shots that should not be shooting from the perimeter. Leslie has had several decent games here and there, but has not appeared to live up to the hype. Maybe it’s just one of those times when the media boosts players before they have had the opportunity to showcase their skills on a college level basketball court.
This is a very important season for Coach Sidney Lowe. For five years Lowe has been unable to produce a bid for the team into post-season play in the NCAA tournament. At this moment it seems that the only way that this will be possible is if the Wolfpack can go on a late season run which would include a lengthy run in the ACC Tournament. The team only has nine games left before post season play begins. There is only so long that one can boast about a NCAA Championship won in 1983. This is 2011. Duke and Carolina are household names but it seems that no one knows about NC State basketball outside the state of North Carolina. The team has big potential to make an ACC run and possible NCAA run in the future as the current freshmen gain experience. Again the team is very talented and they have to find a way to showcase the talent which they possess. The Wolfpack Nation is pushing for the team to be successful and will support the team all the way through; but there’s a time when it becomes uneasy being the team in last every year on the Tobacco Road.