North Carolina isn’t the only university celebrating their 100th season of basketball. N.C. State kicks off its milestone season Nov. 12 against Georgia State with positions to fill and coach Sidney Lowe’s seat getting warm.
In his fourth year at the helm, Lowe finally has control over his team with the graduation of almost all Herb Sendek’s recruits.
The Wolfpack lacks senior leadership, with Farnold Degand and Dennis Horner as the lone elders, and boasts a five-player freshman class, including 7-foot-1 Australian center Jordan Vandenberg.
Lowe was hoping his freshman class would be one player larger, but Lorenzo Brown did not qualify academically. Ranked No. 37 in his class by Rivals.com, Brown is attending Hargrave Military Academy this year with hopes of joining N.C. State in the 2010-11 season.
Noticeably gone from N.C. State’s starting lineup are Brandon Costner, Ben McCauley and Courtney Fells. The trio combined for half of the Wolfpack’s offensive production last season. Costner had a team-high 13.3 points per game and chipped in six rebounds.
McCauley started all 30 games for the Wolfpack and led the team with nearly eight rebounds per game. Fells tied McCauley with 28 steals on the season for most on the team while adding 11.3 points per game.
Junior forward Tracy Smith posted more points than any other returner from last year’s 16-14 team, with 10 points per game and 4.5 rebounds.
Sharpshooter Javier Gonzalez and his team-leading 72 assists return. Gonzalez, a junior guard, played in just 22 games last year and averaged 6.6 points per game with a .429 average from 3-point range.
When the Wolfpack traveled to the Smith Center on Feb. 18, Gonzalez led his squad with 18 points in the 89-80 loss to the Tar Heels.
N.C. State went an abysmal 6-10 in ACC play but had a 9-1 record at home in out-of-conference play. The Wolfpack’s schedule this year is conducive to replication as they play the likes of Elon, Georgia Southern and Winthrop at the RBC Center with their toughest matchup coming Jan. 3 against Florida.
Lowe has yet to bring much success to Raleigh since he played point guard for the Wolfpack in their 1983 national championship year. He has accumulated a 51-46 record during his three years at N.C. State.
In fact, his team has not sniffed postseason play since losing in the quarterfinals of the NIT in his first year, where they lost to eventual NIT champions West Virginia.
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