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ACC Basketball Preview: NC State

Quick Facts

2005-06
Record: 22-10, 10-6 in the ACC
ACC Regular Season Finish: 4th
ACC Tournament Result: Lost in Quarterfinals
NCAA Tournament Result: Lost in 2nd Round

Players and Coaches

Head Coach: Sydney Lowe, 1st season
Key Returnees: G Engin Atsur(10.8 ppg), G Gavin Grant(8.3 ppg), F Brandon Costner(2.8 ppg), C Ben McCauley(2.1 ppg), F Courtney Fells(2.0 ppg)

Preseason Rankings
Poll Rankings: None
ACC Preseason Poll: 12th

Outlook

NC State has a new coach in Sydney Lowe and a handful of returning players which will make this season a struggle but one most NC State fans were willing to endure to rid themselves of the much maligned Herb Sendek. This season, more than anything else, will be about what kind of program Lowe will be running and what Wolfpack nation can expect from their team on the court. There will be no shortage of enthusiasm and energy at the RBC Center even though the wins will be difficult to attain. NC State was hit particularly hard by two early departures. Cedric Simmons left for the NBA and Andrew Brackman left the team to focus on baseball. Brackman would have been a solid contributor but Simmons is the defection that hurts the most since he would have probably significantly improved upon his 11.8 ppg average in an offense that would properly utilize his skill set. So going into this season the cupboard is not entirely bare. The Wolfpack return about 35% of the offense from last season but I would surmise that whatever offense Lowe is installing in Raleigh will make better use of the athleticism of players like Courtney Fells, Gavin Grant, Brandon Costner, and Ben McCauley. Senior Engin Atsur will pick up the point guard duties, be depended on to run the offense and play a lot of minutes. Atsur is also nursing a foot injury in the preseason and given NC State's lack of depth this could create a huge problem for them. And speaking of depth, it should be noted that the drop-off from the starting five to the bench is stark. This will be of great concern when the Wolfpack is forced into up tempo games. It will also be paramount for the Wolfpack to play good defense without fouling due to the absence of significant bench help. NC State struggled mightily with rebounding last season ranking 11th in the conference in rebound margin. The loss of Simmons and Brackman is certainly going to make improving that statistical ranking a more daunting task.

THF's Prediction

On paper NC State is fielding a good starting five. The lack of depth is going to be an issue as will the rebounding. I actually think the ACC media is being a little harsh on them ranking them dead last in the preseason poll. I am of the opinion that the energy surrounding a new coach as well as the excitement the fan base is now showing will give them a boost. The out of conference schedule has more meat on it than in the Sendek years. Michigan, Alabama, Cincinnati, and West Virginia are all NIT or NCAA teams from last season. The conference schedule is somewhat kinder in respect to the fact that they only play Duke, Boston College, and Georgia Tech once with only the latter on the road. For rivalry reasons they play UNC twice but only seeing the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ranked teams in the ACC preseason poll one time is a nice little break.

Prediction: 13-16 overall, 5-11 in the ACC for 10th place