Nov. 7, 2013
The men's hoops season will officially begin Friday night when the Wolfpack, fresh off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, hosts Appalachian State at PNC Arena at 7 p.m. It's the 12th meeting all-time between the two schools, with NC State leading the all-time series 10-1. The Pack have won 10 straight in the series after losing to Appalachian State during the 1939-40 season.
NC State played two exhibitions last week, winning over UNC Pembroke and Morehouse College by an average margin of 18.0 points. Similar to Mark Gottfried's first two seasons in Raleigh, the Wolfpack showed explosiveness on the offensive end of the floor. NC State averaged 91.5 points in the two exhibitions and posted a .570 field goal percentage.
T.J. Warren, the team's top returner from last season's 24-win team, netted 26 points with 10 rebounds in each of the exhibitions. Newcomer perimeter players Ralston Turner (15.5 ppg) and Desmond Lee (14.5 ppg) provided additional scoring punch while shooting a combined .594 from the floor. Freshman guard Anthony 'Cat' Barber also averaged double digits in the two warm-up games, scoring 12.5 points per game.
Appalachian State returns four starters from last season's 15-16 team. The Mountaineers' leading returner is 6-6 forward Jay Canty, but he will miss the team's first nine games after being ruled academically ineligible. Canty reportedly will be out for the first nine games this season, leaving Tevin Baskin (9.9 ppg) as the team's leading returning scorer from last year.
Following Friday's season opener, the young Wolfpack squad will have an early-season road test at Cincinnati. NC State will take on the Bearcats Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 5 p.m. The game is part of ESPN's College Hoops Tip-off Marathon and will be televised on ESPN.
The Starting 5 - The top 5 storylines for this game
1. NC State Season Openers
The Wolfpack is 56-4 all-time in season openers since ACC play began in 1953. NC State hasn't lost a season opener since a 94-80 setback to Weber State back on Nov. 24, 1993. Only eight players on the current Wolfpack roster were alive when that loss to Weber State took place. The only four season-opening losses for NC State took place in 1976 (North Carolina), 1979 (North Carolina), 1992 (UNC Wilmington) and 1993 (Weber State). Mark Gottfried is 12-4 all-time in season openers (2-0 at NC State, 7-4 at Alabama, 3-0 at Murray State).
2. New Team
Much has been said and written about the youth and inexperience of the 2013-14 Wolfpack. The roster returns just one starter from last year's 24-11 team, and the current roster returns just 20 career starts at NC State. NCSU has just one senior, 7-1 center Jordan Vandenberg, and nine freshmen and sophomores (six freshmen and three sophomores). Of the 15 teams in the ACC, only Miami has less experience returning this season (zero returning starters).
Sophomore forward T.J. Warren, a 2013 ACC All-Freshmen Team pick, is NC State's top returning player. The 6-8 Warren posted a pair of 26-point, 10-rebound efforts in the two exhibition victories while shooting at a .677 clip. Last season, Warren averaged 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game and posted 24 outings with at least 10 points as one of State's secondary scoring options. His .622 field goal percentage led the ACC and was second all-time in NC State history (Kevin Thompson, .624). He was at his best last season against Florida State in February, totaling a career highs of 31 points and 13 rebounds in an 84-66 Wolfpack victory. He also scored 19 points in NC State's win over North Carolina.
4. Vandenberg Update
Senior center Jordan Vandenberg, the Oct. 30 exhibition vs. UNC Pembroke, suffered a Grade 3 left ankle sprain early in the game against the Braves. The timetable for his return is 4-6 weeks from the injury date. Before the injury, which occured at the 14:59 mark in the first half, Vandenberg had scored four points on a pair of dunks. Vandenberg, a fifth-year player out of Australia, is the only senior on the NC State roster.
5. Back-to-Back NCAAs
Mark Gottfried coached NC State into the NCAA Tournament in each of his first two seasons, becoming the first Pack coach and just the third in ACC history to achieve that feat. It also marked the first time NC State has been to the tourney twice in a row since 2005 and 2006, which was the back end of five straight tourney trips for the Pack under former coach Herb Sendek.