Monday, November 9, 2009

2009-2010 Basketball Team Preview: Center

: Tracy Smith
Height: 6'8"
Weight: 247
Class: Junior

For the Wolfpack, the center position is surly the most solidified position on the floor. Tracy Smith is coming into his junior year fresh off of a breakout season that saw him average 10 points and almost 5 rebounds per game as a sophomore. What is even more impressive is that he did all of that damage while only logging 18 minutes per contest. Smith is a scoring machine who isn't afraid to mix it up in the middle.

As a high schooler many projected Smith to be a top-25 recruit, however his weight ballooned during his sophomore year, and had him playing at an enormous 285lbs. As the weight increased, big time programs began to back off, questioning his motivation and work ethic. During the latter part of his junior year, Tracy decided that it was now or never if he wanted to fulfill his dream of playing college basketball. He cut out fried foods and soda and began to put in work in the weight room. The intense training and disciplined eating paid off as Smith came into his senior season down nearly 30 pounds. With a new found work ethic and increased production on the floor, college coaches once again came knocking. In the end the highly touted big man chose NC State.

In his first season, Smith showed glimpses of what he was capable of in his sparse minutes of playing time, scoring with ease whenever he got the ball in the paint. Last season, with star center JJ Hickson moving on to the NBA, Smith was the first big off the bench, playing behind upperclassmen Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner. Smith immediately made the most of his opportunity, shooting an impressive 54% from the field and pushing the Wolfpack's experienced frontcourt for minutes down the stretch.

This season the Wolfpack are without McCauley and Costner, and with Smith stepping in, there isn't any reason to expect a decline of production in the paint. An off-season of intense weight training and grueling conditioning, courtesy of new trainer Wright Wayne, has Tracy ready to become a bona-fide star in the ACC.

"Last year I would say it was tough with Charles but Wright Wayne, he really put it on us. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since I’ve been at NC State and I think it’s going to show in our stamina, the way we run the floor and everything." said Smith during media day

In the exhibition versus St. Paul's College, Tracy did not disappoint, shooting 9-11 and dropping 21 points in only 21 minutes. He showed off a few new tricks, as he took it to the opposing 'Bigs' with both power, advanced footwork and a quick baseline spin move he's been working on this off-season.

Tracy will be the #1 option in a Wolfpack offense that still has a lot of questions to be answered. Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe preaches running the offense from inside-out, but if Tracy continues to improve, there won't be much need for the 'out' part of that equation.

Name: Jordan Vandenberg
Height: 7'1"
Weight: 238lbs
Class: Freshman

Surprise, surprise, Jordan Vandenberg isn't a project player after all. The unknown 7'0" Aussie inked with the Pack late in the recruiting process and had many State fans wondering if Lowe was playing the desperation card with the signing. It turns out he wasn't. Vandenberg is 7'0" tall and still extremely raw, but anyone who's watched him has seen that he's already capable of causing a lot of problems for ACC opponents. His tenacious style of play, and coordination on the floor has caught a lot of people off guard, including his teammates.

"Jordan surprised me when he got here. He's not your everyday 7 footer. He's a lot better than what I expected, because you know, a lot of times 7 footers that you haven't heard of usually don't have it all together. Jordan, he does." said Farnold Degand

The fans found one of their new favorites when Vandenberg stunned the crowd by winning the team dunk contest at the Red Rally two weeks ago, and again when he punished St. Paul's 'Bigs' during a stretch where he threw down a drop step dunk and followed it up with a ferocious block out of bounds on the other end.

The fiery big man will surely provide some much needed depth to the Pack front court this season and should definitely open a few eyes in the process. Although still very raw, his size and athleticism alone will keep teams honest in the paint and have opposing guards altering shots when they get in the lane. The future is very bright for the young freshman who still must learn to compete in the ACC, but he knows that if he keeps working he could be a very big piece to not only this years team, but the future of the program as well.

The center position is the easily the strongest part of this young Wolfpack team, thanks to Tracy Smith alone. The success of this team will depend heavily on whether he can shoulder the load the coaching staff will trust him with. His ability to score and rebound will need to be on display night in and night out if the Pack wants to be a dark horse in the ACC race. With the capable Vandenberg also in the mix, the center position seems to be sizing up nicely for Sidney Lowe and the Wolfpack.


22 Responses to "2009-2010 Basketball Team Preview: Center"
  1. redfred said...
    November 9, 2009 at 8:18 PM

    I haven't seen Vandenberg yet, but I hoping the coaching staff is constantly forewarning him about the officiating in the ACC. I mean, it's not like players in the center position haven't gotten away with bumping and banging everyone out their way in order to score and rebound before, and VERY RECENTLY, but don't forget, the uniform was an entirely different color.

    From what I've read and heard, I DO NOT want Lowe and staff to try to change Vandenberg's style at all. I just want them to make him well aware so that he won't get down on himself when the inevitable happens. That would of course be when the ACC officiating crews start trying to dictate who can do something on one end of the court, and when someone else can't do the exact same thing on the other end.

    If Vandenberg comes out of the chute playing D and altering what other teams want to do, I'd make a real effort to have him mentally prepared to shake it off, and keep his chin up when he gets some really shoddy officiating calls against him early on. Sidney Lowe also needs to be vigilant on the sidelines in order to nip that crapola in the bud.

    Would there ever be a time that we go BIG, and have both Tracy and Jordan in at the same time? Like I said, I haven't seen him play yet, but it sounds like with some PT under his belt JV might even be able to handle the 4 spot on occassion??? I don't know if Tracy might possibly be comfortable in the 4 spot with Vandenberg at center as well?

    word verification: "prich"
    That's getting kind of personal.

  2. spierce74 said...
    November 9, 2009 at 9:26 PM


    This is kinda random, but I am a student at N.C. State and I forgot to claim a ticket for the Georgia State game. Does anybody have any extra tickets on them? Free or not... I just really want to go. WPH, keep me posted on anybody you know that has some tickets and might not be going. Thank you guys!

  3. Afterglow said...
    November 9, 2009 at 9:35 PM

    I don't know what it is but I just have a good feeling about this. I think we're going to surprise some people. This feels like the type of team you'll watch and for a good part of the year they'll be like that shimmering mirage just out on the horizon, trying to make it's presence known... and then BAM! ACC Tournament kicks and people are like, where the hell did these guys come from? This could be interesting!

    Oh and... I do like the idea of putting both Smith and Jordan in at the same time. It might shake things up a little... you know, throw things out of kilter. Not all of the time... just every now and then.

  4. johnpackfan said...
    November 10, 2009 at 12:31 AM

    redfred, You are spot on. V better watch out -- cause the refs will be "briefed" about his "tendencies". Those fans who don't know that these "scouting" reports are part of officiating just don't understand. Hopefully, Jordan will hang in there & learn throughout the season, cause U know that he will not get any benefit of the doubt. I can hear the commentators saying -- Who is this dude already? It's all about the $$$$$$. Go PACK!

  5. Dof87 said...
    November 10, 2009 at 8:14 AM

    Having JV and Wood gives us so many options that were not possible the last 2 years. That's what gets me excited. If we are getting beat underneath, stick in the big guy for D. If they are collapsing in on Smith, run some isolation plays for Wood.

    Speaking of isolation plays..that is certainly one of Sid's strong points. Yes, we could see something special later this year. And I like that we have a few good teams on our OOC schedule, that will make us stronger.

    I'm more worried about Tracy getting into foul trouble than JV.

  6. Jason said...
    November 10, 2009 at 8:40 AM

    "Does anybody have any extra tickets on them? Free or not... I just really want to go."

    I'm pretty sure that you can just buy tix at the door for all the OOC games. Or at least that's how it's been the last few years. Right?

  7. Pack said...
    November 10, 2009 at 8:44 AM

    St Pauls bigs were 6'4 so I will hold back a bit for now and keep my fingers crossed.

  8. Anonymous said...
    November 10, 2009 at 9:38 AM

    We have only sold out for the holes and duke anfd most of those tickets were sucked up by them so I think G state you will be fine

  9. John said...
    November 10, 2009 at 10:41 AM

    I believe if you can bring 5 Kroger brand canned goods to the game and get in free for GSU. I think I heard that on the radio, but you might wanna check.

  10. Pack Leader said...
    November 10, 2009 at 11:33 AM

    Nice tip John!!!

    WPH can you confirm this??? Finally the school decides to entice fans and make an effort to bring them out to games!!

    Lets get a big win to start the season!!!

  11. John said...
    November 10, 2009 at 12:05 PM

    Hey guys, just callled the ticket office to confirm. Five Kroger brand, non-perishable (canned) items will get you a free ticket to the game. They told me that they will be collecting them at the South entrance.

  12. Anonymous said...
    November 10, 2009 at 12:58 PM

    So we are worth a can of beans???

    Ha sorry it is me refred could not help it.

  13. Pack said...
    November 10, 2009 at 1:13 PM

    You are too much redfred wow!

  14. Jason said...
    November 10, 2009 at 1:27 PM

    5 cans of beans

  15. Anonymous said...
    November 10, 2009 at 1:29 PM

    Think refred meant worth a hill of beans! Love the site you guy's know your hoops as well as keep it real!

  16. John said...
    November 10, 2009 at 1:30 PM

    apparently they don't have to be Kroger brand, not sure where I got that...

  17. redfred said...
    November 10, 2009 at 1:47 PM

    "So we are worth a can of beans???"

    Uh, I don't know who the "anon" is misspelled it as "refred" and said he was me, but it was NOT me. I did NOT type that.

  18. Eric said...
    November 10, 2009 at 1:48 PM


    No! In fact, we are worth 5 cans of beans.

    Also, while I am not WPH, I am going to try and bring a camera into tomorrow night's Oak Hill v Flora game to catch some highlights of Cothron in action. I do not plan on cutting it up or putting any fancy music to it (although I may be able to kazoo some beats if absolutely necessary). I will attempt to get them loaded on Thursday and post the Youtube link.

    The game starts at 6pm for anyone else thinking of making the trip.

  19. Pack Leader said...
    November 10, 2009 at 3:14 PM

    I assume those can o bean tickets will be at the tippy top...

  20. Dof87 said...
    November 10, 2009 at 5:24 PM

    Did someone say refried beans?

  21. redfred said...
    November 10, 2009 at 6:20 PM

    PL, are you asking whether the seats are at the tippy top of the RBC, or whether those cans of beans are on the tippy top of the grocer's shelves?

    I'm confused?

  22. Pack Leader said...
    November 10, 2009 at 8:40 PM

    Seats RF. I assume the can o beans will be in exchange for nosebleeders. Should be a win though...


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