Vandenberg Back And Ready To Contribute
Oct. 25, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. – In many ways, NC State junior center Jordan Vandenberg is returning to a completely new program.
The 7-foot-1 native of Melbourne, Australia, sat out last season as a medical redshirt and watched as his teammates put together one of the best seasons in recent memory, winning 24 games and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
Now that he is ready to play again, the expectations are substantially higher for the team – and for him – as the Wolfpack enters the 2012-13 season as a consensus preseason top 10 pick and the preseason favorite to win the ACC. It’s a whole different world for a player who devoted last season to repairing his injured shoulder and learning from the sidelines.
With four starters – C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Richard Howell and Scott Wood – returning and a highly touted freshman class of Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis looking to earn playing time, Vandenberg knows that there will be much competition to get on the court. He and sophomore Thomas de Thaey will look to replace the contributions of the departed DeShawn Painter, who averaged 20 minutes a game in the paint with Leslie and Howell.
“Last year was good for me because I got to see how the team interacted, how C.J. wanted the ball, how Rich wants the ball, how Lorenzo passes the ball, where Scott wants to catch the ball,” Vandenberg said. “It was really good watching and learning how everyone plays as a unit.
“Now, I believe, I can work my way into the lineup.”
Vandenberg was a contributor as a freshman and a sophomore, playing 23 games each season under former head coach Sidney Lowe. He averaged a little over eight minutes per game those two seasons, adding 1.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocked shots per game in those 46 contests.
Last year, in just seven games, he split time with Painter in the middle and contributed 2.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.7 blocks before first-year head coach Mark Gottfried and his staff made the decision to redshirt him to heal a chronic shoulder issue.
After just a week of practice, he feels comfortable again on the court.
“Mostly, I am getting used to being back in the flow of the game again, getting used to my teammates, learning about my three new teammates,” he said. “That’s fairly easy, really, because this is an unselfish team. They have been great at welcoming me back into the rotation.”
With his size, Vandenberg is expected to be a big part of the Wolfpack’s defense and rebounding, with some scoring mixed in.
“I think I’ll be able to add some points – not big numbers necessarily,” Vandenberg said. “But when we need it, I can make a post move and put the ball in the basket.
“I’m hoping that my defense is what gets me court time because I like to play defense. I am working with the strength coach (Bob Alejo) a lot on staying down and moving my feet because I need to shed a few more pounds before the season. Hopefully, I can become a lockdown defender for the team, especially when we face tall players.”
Mostly, he’s excited about the possibility of playing in a lineup that features Leslie, the preseason ACC Player of the Year, and Brown, one of the country’s most dynamic point guards.
“Playing with Zo is amazing,” Vandenberg said. “I’ve watched the kid grow from playing as a shooting guard next to Ryan Harrow to taking the point guard spot and making it his own. He’s a scoring, passing point guard who can give it all to you: Lay-ups, threes whatever you need he can give to you.
“He has a passion and a drive. He will attack the basket at any point in time. It’s the same with C.J. As soon as he gets fired up, there are not many players in the country that can stop him. He has foot speed and skill. I think they will both be huge impact players in the ACC this year.”
Gottfried doesn’t want any of his players to be overly attentive to all the hype that has been generated in the preseason, which includes last week’s No. 6 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and a No. 1 pick in both the coaches’ and media’s ACC preseason polls.
“Preseason is preseason,” Vandenberg said. “Everyone is just ranking us on what we have returning. We will have to play well early in the season to show we deserve that kind of hype and keep it up throughout the season.”