New Era for State Men's Basketball Ready to Begin
Nov. 2, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. - On April 5, 2011, NC State President Dr. Randy Woodson and Director of Athletics Debbie Yow began penning the latest volume in the tradition-rich history of Wolfpack men's basketball when they announced the hiring of Mark Gottfried as the program's 19th head coach.
In Gottfried, they found a coach that had a proven track record of building programs and academic achievement for his players. In his previous stints as a head coach, Gottfried guided Murray State and Alabama to a combined seven NCAA Tournament and four NIT appearances, including taking the Tide to its first ever Elite Eight in 2004. In only his second year at the Capstone, Gottfried's Alabama team became the first in school history to obtain a No. 1 national ranking. During his tenures with the Racers and the Crimson Tide, 33 of Gottfried's student-athletes earned academic all-conference accolades and 40 of his players received their degrees.
Gottfried immediately raised the intensity level around the program, challenging the returning players from last year's squad that finished 15-16 overall and 5-11 in the ACC to do things the right way off and on the court.
"The guys on this team have been very coachable and as a group they've wanted to learn our system (of play)," Gottfried said. "They have been eager to do the things we've asked them to do, and they're hungry after finishing 10th in the league a year ago."
Leslie is the Pack's top returning scorer (11.0 ppg), rebounder (7.2 rpg) and shot blocker (39), but Gottfried is counting on him to raise the level of his game.
"Everybody that watches our team sees that C.J. Leslie has talent," Gottfried said. "But he's got to change some habits to make his play better and to help us as a team."
Brown, who will be transitioning to point guard full time this season, registered 3.7 assists per game last year (5th ACC). Brown also was State's fourth leading scorer, at 9.3 points per game. Wood is NC State's most experienced returning player, who has started all 67 games in his Wolfpack career, and averaged 9.7 points per outing last season. He is the Pack's top returning long-range threat after knocking down 72 treys last year, and his 135 three-pointers are the most by an NC State player after his sophomore season.
"Lorenzo and Scott are guys that understand playing in the ACC and can be very competitive as perimeter players," Gottfried said.
A swingman, Williams returns for his final campaign and Gottfried is counting on Williams to raise his productivity. He saw action in 31 games last year with four starts at shooting guard, contributing 4.7 points and grabbing 2.4 boards.
After lowering his playing weight during the offseason from 261 pounds last year to 250 this season, Howell is another player Gottfried is counting on for increased production. Last season Howell contributed 7.4 points and 6.5 rebounds.
Last year, Painter gained significant experience when he started 11 games at center when Tracy Smith was sidelined with an injury. During that stretch, Painter registered 7.4 points and 5.7 rebounds in 23.8 minutes of action.
Vandenberg gives the NC State frontline depth and experience after playing in 23 contests during the 2010-11 campaign.
Gottfried will have a talented contingent of newcomers at his disposal led by transfer Alex Johnson, who is available to play immediately under NCAA rules after receiving his degree in Communications from CSU Bakersfield. Johnson brings wealth of experience to the program with 62 career starts for the Roadrunners while averaging 9.3 points and 3.6 assists, and will provide a veteran backup to Brown.
Last year, De Thaey played at the Carnarias Basketball Academy, where he averaged 13 points and eight rebounds. He has extensive international experience playing on the Belgian youth national teams.
Harris comes to Pack after playing his final high school season at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J. He is the younger brother Tobias Harris, who was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks.
The final member of the group is Raymond, who averaged 21 points as a senior at Statesboro (Ga.) High School last year, while helping the team to the state playoffs.
Gottfried has assembled a staff that he feels is strong in recruiting and excellent on the floor. His inaugural staff includes two former head coaches and a pair of veterans of the assistant coaching ranks.
"We have two former Division I head coaches in Orlando Early and Bobby Lutz, and those guys have had to make critical decisions in that role," Gottfried said. "They understand the magnitude of that, and they are very good on the floor."
Early spent last year on Darrin Horn's staff at South Carolina after a five-year stint at Louisiana-Monroe. While at ULM, Early earned Sun Belt Coach of the Year honors after helping the program to a share of the league's Western Division title in only its first year in the conference. This marks the second time that Early has worked with Gottfried, serving on his Alabama staff for four years.
Lutz came to Raleigh after spending the 2010-11 season as an assistant on Fred Hoiberg's first staff at Iowa State, helping the Cyclones their highest win total since 2005-06. Prior to his appointment at ISU, Lutz spent 12 seasons as the head coach at Charlotte, where he was the winningest coach in 49er history, amassing a 218-158 mark. He guided Charlotte to a school-record five 20-win seasons, averaging 18 wins a year and collecting three league titles (1999, 2001, 2004).
In addition to the experience of Early and Lutz, Gottfried has added the coach talents of Rob Moxley, who comes to the Wolfpack coaching staff after one season at Middle Tennessee State, following a five-year stint as Lutz's associate head coach at Charlotte. Moxley has built a reputation as a solid recruiter, earning him accolades from Rivals.com and Basketball Times.
Rounding out his first staff, Gottfried tabbed Jeff Dunlap as his director of basketball operations, renewing a relationship that goes back 20 years, including two-years that Dunlap spent as an assistant to Gottfried at Alabama. Dunlap was an assistant at Western Michigan last season, helping lead the Broncos to 21 victories and a postseason bid.
Soon after getting the job, Gottfried began revamping the NC State schedule.
"My philosophy has always been is you need to play a competitive schedule," Gottfried. "We to play a schedule that will, one, make us better. Two, if you happen to be on the `proverbial bubble,' your strength of schedule will be a factor."