Friday, October 30, 2009

Howell Making The Transition

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Coach Sidney Lowe has created a pipeline to the Atlanta prep scene that is starting to pay off big time. One of the players that has made his way to Raleigh by way of this pipeline is freshman PF Richard Howell. Howell played his high school ball at Wheeler high school, the same school that former Wolfpacker and current Cleveland Cavalier JJ Hickson attended, where he shined as a four star PF forward.

Howell is currently injured, however, the staff is hoping he'll be ready to go by the regular season. If he is, he will surely be one to watch on the block for the Wolfpack. We caught up with Richard recently about his transition to NC State and college basketball. Here is what he had to say:

On transitioning from high school to college:
"It's completely different from high school I can definitely tell you that. It's a hard adjustment but as you're making it you start to get the feel of things and it gets easier. Basketball wise, it's different from high school because you're basically playing with grown men. They're bigger, stronger and smarter. School wise it's different because you need to learn how to manage your time. It's really a maturing stage and you need to learn what to do in different situations."

On how the young guys have adapted:
"It's been smooth for everyone. Nobody is having trouble in the classroom and everyone is handling their business on the court. We're working hard as a team and I think the chemistry is outstanding, I really do."

On what has the team been working the hardest on:
"We push the ball every day in practice. That's one thing the coaches are really stressing this year, and I can understand why, because everybody on the team is fast enough and we can get out and just run and push the ball up the court. I think its really going to benefit us. No one is trying to slow it down and just dribble down the court. We want to get out and create breaks, keep it exciting."

On his goals for the season:
"My goal is for NC State to be successful. I want our team to be successful. I don't really care about how many points I'm scoring or how much playing time I get this season, I just want our team to have success."

Bulls Win Opener Over Spurs, Melo Too Much For Blazers

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Vinny Del Negro, former NC State guard and current head coach of the Chicago Bulls, guided a young Bulls team to a 92-85 victory over the Spurs last night in their season opener. They played a selfless and efficient brand of basketball, with 6 players finishing the game in double figures. They also had 20 assists on the night, and only 9 turnovers. The Bulls finished with a 41-41 record and went to the playoffs last season in Del Negro's first year as the head coach. The Bulls play tonight versus the Celtics on ESPN at 8pm.

Also, Carmelo Anthony's 41 point performance last night was too much for the Blazers, as the Nuggets won 97-94. Brandon Roy led the Blazers with 30 points. Tomorrow night Portland goes on the road against Houston at 8:30pm.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sharing the Wealth: "Toughest Coaching Job in America?"

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Sidney Lowe has never been shy about stepping up to a challenge. He was the point guard when the underdog Wolfpack took home the 1983 National Championship. He was the coach that took over a disastrous Vancouver Grizzlies team, in what most in the industry saw as a career suicide mission. Finally, he stepped up to the plate again when his alma mater came calling. When Sidney Lowe took the job at NC State he read the fine print. He knew he'd be under a microscope. He knew two of the top programs in the nation were less than 20 miles down the road, but that didn't stop him. He's seen stranger things happen. The Asheville Citizen-Times put out an article today on this very point, and asked the question "Does Sidney Lowe have the toughest coaching job in America?"

“It could be,” Lowe said with a laugh. “I'm sure not going to argue that point, but I welcome that. It's two great coaches, two great basketball programs, and we're trying to work our way back to where they are.”


The players also understand the extreme pressure that Coach Lowe feels on an everyday basis, but feel like if given time, he will level the playing field. The Ashville Citizen-Times caught up with Farnold Degand to get his take.

“Coach Lowe may have the toughest job in the country, because we are going up against two very quality coaches who have a lot of history of success behind them,” he said. “That definitely makes it easier to recruit talented players. I think coach Lowe is very talented and he possesses the same kind of ability they have, he just hasn't necessarily proven it yet, but in a few years he will get the ball rolling and he will be looked at in the same light.” said senior guard Farnold Degand.


This is a great read and has some other great quote by Coach Lowe and Farnold Degand. Make sure you check it out.

A Benefit For Brian Keeter

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According to Cary High School's iHigh.com website, they will be hosting a benefit for former NC State basketball player Brian Keeter on November 10th. Here is the description of the event:

"A benefit for Brian Keeter, 1998 former standout basketball player for Cary High School and NC State, will be held in conjunction with the men's basketball scrimmage on Tuesday November 10 at 6:00pm in the Main Gym at Cary High. Cardinal Gibbons, coached by former Cary High men's basketball state champion Marque Carrington, and Wakefield will be involved in the scrimmage. Brian was in a car accident last December that left him paralyzed from the waist down. The Cary Imp Club will receive donations throughout the scrimmage. The funds received will be presented to the Keeter family to assist with the cost associated with his care and rehabilitation. Please attend and consider contributing to this loving and caring offering for Brian."

This is a great opportunity for many of us to bless the Keeter family. I hope you can make it out!

Cam Bennerman Video Update

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Cam Bennerman Highlights (Dunk @ 1:35 mark)


Cam Bennerman Press Conference

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cavs Fall For The 2nd Straight Night

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Not many people would have predicted that the Cleveland Cavaliers would have started the 09-10 season with an 0-2 record. The Cavs fell to the Raptors tonight for the first time since November 30, 2007. Despite Lebron James' triple-double (23 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists), the Cavs didn't have an answer for Andrea Bargnani (28 points) and Chris Bosh (21 points), and eventually fell 91-101. Cleveland's main problem was that the team shot poorly as a whole, knocking down shots at a 34.9% clip.

J.J. Hickson played 5 minutes in the game, and scored 1 point (his first point of the season) and grabbed 2 rebounds. The Cavs get another chance at their first win of the season Friday night against the Timberwolves on the road.

Wolfpack in the NBA: (10/27/09)

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Nate McMillan's Portland Trailblazers started of the season with a 95-89 win at home, over the Houston Rockets last night. Travis Outlaw was the surprise of the night, coming off the bench to lead the Trailblazers with 23 points, and Brandon Roy wasn't far behind with 20. The Trailblazers next game is against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night at 7:30pm.

The Lakers pulled off a 99-92 win last night in an L.A. showdown versus the Clippers. Statistically, the game was fairly even, but in the end there was just too much Kobe Bryant (31 points) and Andrew Bynum (26 points) for the Clippers to handle. Josh Powell logged 8 minutes of action, scoring 2 points (1-3) and pulling down 2 rebounds. The Lakers play next this Friday night on ESPN at 7:30pm versus the Mavericks.

J.J. Hickson and the Cleveland Cavaliers lost their season opener against the Boston Celtics last night 89-95. Besides Lebron James' 38 point effort, the Celtics beat the Cavs in every facet of the game. J.J. Hickson played a little over six minutes in the game and missed the only shot that he took. The Cavs will play tonight at Toronto at 7pm.

A More Focused Farnold

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Farnold Degand was a Boston City All-Star known for his quick first step and his ability to fill up a stat sheet. After averaging over 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists per game as a high school senior, Degand took his game to Iowa State, to embark on what he hoped would be a successful college career. That's when the road got bumpy. Upon arriving at Iowa State, Degand quickly realized that his 6'4", 165lbs frame wasn't going to hold up against the bigger, more physical guards in the college game. The Cyclone coaching staff decided it would be best for him to take a year, build up his body, and be ready to contribute as a redshirt freshman. Farnold took that year and worked hard on increasing his size and strength, adding a much needed 10 pounds of muscle in the off season. Unfortunately for Iowa State, they would never see the spoils of that hard work. Degand decided to take his game to the ACC, to a team in need of a lead guard, NC State.

He was looking for a new beginning with a team that was starting over fresh themselves. With new head coach Sidney Lowe at the helm, Degand saw an opportunity to compete for serious playing time at a school that was playing at the top level of college basketball. After sitting a season, due to transfer rules (and in effect, losing a year of eligibility), Farnold was ready to show the NC State fans exactly what he was capable of.

It had been two years since Farnold Degand played a competitive game of basketball, but it all came back quickly. It looked as though the Wolfpack had found their point guard, as he led them to a 7-3 record. Through the first ten games he was leading the team in assists (29) and three-point percentage (8-16, 50%). However, the feel good story came to an end soon after that. On December 23rd, playing against Cincinnati, Degand went down with a torn ACL, ending his season and forcing him to watch from the sidelines once again.

After an off-season of intense rehab, Degand returned to the team last season to help fill a point guard role that had haunted the Wolfpack the two years prior. Around mid-season there were reports being made that Farnold's knee was healed and that he was close to 100% again, however, you could tell by watching that he was not his old self. The down court speed was apparently there, but his lateral movement looked forced and awkward. As the season wore on, Degand saw less and less floor time, putting a damper on his confidence.

Fast forward to the present. Farnold Degand is entering his senior season and it has been two years since his surgery. With a healthy knee, and one more chance to make an impact, he feels good about his situation.

"Last year I wasn't necessarily in the best condition. I was going through a lot of pain with the knee and I was struggling with it at times, but this year I feel as confident as ever. My knee shouldn't give me any problems at all." he told us.


A healthy Degand is exactly what the Pack will need this season as they once again are looking for a player to emerge who will be able to handle the guard duties. Degand hopes he is that man, and is ready to take the reigns."This is probably the best I've felt since the injury. I feel real confident in my knee and real confident in my ability right now." he told us.

While Farnold has historically been used as the point guard, the coaches have moved him over to the 2 this season, in hopes to improve ball handling in the backcourt and to help alleviate some of the pressures that the point guard will face. Making this change in his senior season has been a transition Degand has met with a great attitude and a new mindset.

"I've definitely improved my focus. This year I've made sure to correct things that have been wrong in the past. I haven't necessarily had the best success doing it the old way, so I figured I should go about it a little different this year and I've decided to take that route."


A healthy knee is not the only thing that was keeping Farnold from reaching his potential. The perennial class clown and team jester was never one to miss a joke and was known for his quick wit and sharp sense of humor. However, this new increase in focus has him joking less, and working more.

"I think just being able to focus on any task I'm doing with the team. The last couple years I was a bit of a jokester which took away from the focus I had. This year I put an emphasis on focusing on whatever I'm doing. I think that is the biggest improvement in my game."

In a career that has been anything but smooth, Degand is making sure that he goes out knowing he gave all he could give. He is taking the lead, working hard and cutting out the cutting up, in hopes that this year, he gets the last laugh.

Update From Across The Pond: 10/28/09

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Brandon Costner
led M. Hainaut (1-3) to a 84-72 win over Leuven on Saturday night, which was their first win of the season. Costner paced M. Hainaut with 20 points (6-11) and 9 rebounds.

Costner is averaging 15 points and 5.3 rebounds through 4 games.

Cameron Bennerman's Basket Crabs improved to 4-0 on Sunday night, defeating Aget IM 88-82. Bennerman had 11 points, 5 assists (a season high) and 3 steals in the contest.

Cam is averaging 18.8 points and 3 steals a game.  

Simon Harris went crazy in Ireland as he dropped 33 points and hauled in 20 boards. I know Simon is a modest guy and doesn't mention his points per game in his "Simon Says" articles, so we will be mentioning them for him.

Since our last update, Clifford Crawford's Levice (5-3) crew has won one, and lost one. Last Wednesday, despite Crawford's worst shooting performance through 7 games (1-13), Levice came away with a victory over Bystrica 65-62. Despite Cliff's struggles, he finished the night with 10 points and 6 assists. On Saturday, Levice lost to Nova Ves 71-81. Levice may have lost, but fortunately Crawford was able to return to form, tallying 18 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals.

Crawford is averaging 17.0 points, 9.7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2.6 steals.

Carife lost to Vanoli on the road this past Sunday night, by the score of 82-91. Anthony Grundy had 21 points and 3 steals.

Grundy is averaging 21 points and 3 steals through 3 games.

Strasbourg (0-4) lost again this past Saturday night to Le Havre in a nail-biter, by the score of 80-81. Ben McCauley came off the bench to collect 12 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.

McCauley is averaging 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cavs Pick Up Third-Year Option On Hickson

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have picked up the third-year option on J.J. Hickson, that will keep him under contract through the 2010-11 season. The former NC State forward will earn $1.5 million in his third year (2010-11). Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry had this to say about Hickson:

“J.J. is a young, talented player who continues to work hard and still has a great deal of upside,” Ferry said to Cavs.com. “We are excited to keep him in our program and help him fulfill his potential.”

Hickson has also made two very important teammates believers as well. Hickson spent a majority of this summer training with Lebron James and has made a good first impression on the new 'big man' in town, Shaquille O'Neal. Here is how James described his summer with Hickson to CantonRep.com:

“I had J.J. with me all summer, for the most part, before I went overseas,” said James, who worked with Hickson at Cleveland Clinic Courts, in Akron and even in San Diego. “Everywhere I went, I had him with me working out with me because I knew the potential that he had. And he’s definitely implementing everything he learned this summer from myself and from himself, and doing it on the court.”

Shaq also had some lofty words of praise for the young Hickson, who is entering his second year as a professional.

"He's a young kid who has a lot of raw talent. The good thing about him is he's got a lot of good players to work with him," O'Neal said to Cleveland.com. "I was telling him you have to watch the so-called greats. You have to watch your so-called favorites and do what they do. Add a little bit of your own, then become the first J.J."

Hickson showed his coaches, teammates and the fans that he is ready for more during the 2009 preseason. He averaged 9.8 points (52.2% FG) and 3.5 rebounds in 20.2 minutes a game.

Congratulations J.J.!

SIMON SAYS: Issue #3: "Fully Acclimated"

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Dear Wolfpack Fans,

I'm not a fan of "moral victories." I just personally feel that a loss is a loss, and nothing else. With that being said, we lost a really close game in OT to one of the undefeated teams in the SuperLeague. I was so proud of our team this week. We played all out for the entire game. We maintained the lead pretty much throughout, but just couldn't pull it together in the extra period, and eventually lost by three.

Now if you know me, I am not a fan of losing at anything (cards, sports, rock paper scissors, etc.). So I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately, to see what it is that I can change in order for us to finally earn our first SuperLeague win. This last game was the first game that I felt fully acclimated to the style of play here. I had much better numbers than I had in the previous two games, but that all accounts for nothing, because we still lost.

That's enough negativity for today (Haha). The trip up to Belfast was AMAZING. We drove up the day before and stayed the night in Dublin out by the airport in a Travellodge, and didn't get to see much of the city (I was pretty upset about that, because I've always wanted to go back to Dublin since I was here in Ireland last). But, I cheered up quickly when I got to Belfast! It is a beautiful city. It has a great mix of modern and classic buildings, and it had a real American feel to it. Only thing that was weird about it was that they use British currency up there, and there is no border into Northern Ireland. The only way I knew I was in a different country was when I received a text from my mobile carrier telling me about the ridiculously high charges that I would receive if I used my phone (which I wasn't happy about because it woke me up from my pregame nap), so I just turned my phone off, because I didn't want to deal with that nonsense (Haha).

Next week we have a two game home stint, which is well deserved. We play two of the league leaders yet again, so hopefully we can carry this positive momentum from the game last night with us into this home stand and get a win. Hope all is well Wolfpack Nation. Talk to you soon.


Simon

Monday, October 26, 2009

ACC Media Day Press Conference: Coach Lowe

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Dennis Horner has been around a long time it seems like. Is he the guy you're going to look to for leadership and to take the reigns of this team?

Coach Lowe: I am, but Dennis is more of a leader by example. He's not very vocal so he's not going to be the one to pull guys together and talk to them. He does it by example. We'll need someone else to step up and take on that role. That leadership is such a fine line, because most of the time leaders are born, they're not made. You've got to just have it within you, and we'll see if one of our guys have that.

Do you feel like you have a guy now that can step up and run your offense the way you'd like to see it run?

Coach Lowe: Well, I still think it's going to be by committee. I think both of my point guards, Julius Mays and Javi Gonzalez both played well this summer, and have started camp playing well. Farnold Degand obviously is back as well. We're playing him more at the two position just to get another ball handler in the game, but I'm comfortable with Julius and Javi.

With the way outsiders are perceiving your ballclub, do you think it will be a sense of motivation for your team?

Coach Lowe: I think it could be. I think it should be, but I think the more important thing is that we expect more from ourselves and not so much how other people feel. You like the fact that they don't put much expectations on you, but at the same time it should be a motivating factor, and I think our guys just want to go out there and play as hard as we can, and as smart as we can, and then we'll see what happens.

Do you feel like there is a young guy that will come along quickly and be a big surprise for your team this year?

Coach Lowe: Well, we have a couple and that's what's exciting about it. You know, Scott Wood is definitely going to help us with his ability to shoot the basketball. So, if we go inside to Tracy and teams are double teaming him in the post, we have a pretty good shooter out there on the perimeter. Josh Davis, is a young man that really hasn't been talked about a lot. His talent is that he plays hard. That's his talent, and you know, he makes things happen. He's played extremely well for us. Our big man, our big 7 footer, Jordan Vandenberg. He's surprised me with the way he's come along. He still has a long way to go, but I didn't think he'd be as far as he is right now. He did a nice job. Seven feet tall, you can't teach that. As coaches you can take credit for a lot, but you can't take credit for that.

Have you seen a lot of improvement in Tracy Smith this offseason?

Coach Lowe: Absolutely, absolutely. Now, Tracy has been the one that has been more of the verbal leader. He's done a nice job, and Tracy is not a loud guy, he doesn't talk a lot, but he's certainly changed somewhat this summer in the way he communicates with the guys, especially the young guys. For himself, he's worked extremely hard this summer. I'm not going to say what his body fat was at the beginning of summer, but now he's down to single digits. So, I'm very proud of that and he's worked extremely hard and we're hoping he's going to have a great year for us.

In the commissioners meeting today they talked about how in the NBA they have the 'charge' line under the basket, but for the NCAA, instead of the line they will allow the officials to make judgement calls. How do you feel as a coach, knowing that?

Coach Lowe: It's going to be difficult because it's going to be hard to question an official since he's the one having to make judgement himself. There's no line there to say 'you're inside' or 'you're outside.' They have to make their judgement and there is not question that there could be some inconsistencies in the calls from the different officials. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes, because that's a tough thing. If there's a big play at the end of a game and you get a charge call or a block call , it's really just up to that official to call. I think it's a difficult thing, but as a coach you just have to be patient with it because that's a lot on that official. It's a lot.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

HoopMixTape: Lorenzo Brown vs. Oak Hill

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V's Ride For Research

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This Sunday the 4th Annual Jimmy V Ride for Research will occur at Koka Booth Amphitheater (formerly known as Regency Park). There will be fun events set up for casual bicyclist, as well as the wanna be Lance Armstrong. Be sure to click of the above link to read the brochure of happenings throughout the day. All proceeds go towards the V Foundation which speaks for itself here in this community, as well as across the nation for their charitable and tireless work, seeking cures for all types of Cancer. The weather forecast is going to be great for riding – partly cloudy with a high of 67!

One of our own in the WPH community has signed up for the 100 mile ride. Here he goes by the handle Jose, but his Christian name is Joseph Paul Duprey of Cary, and your encouraged to look at his personal event page and read some of his thoughts on what is motivating him to do something many would deem a ridiculous length of time and energy on a bike. If you would like to donate any amount of funds toward this charity you may do so, following the secure and easy to navigate steps on Joe's event page.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Josh Davis Living A Dream

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Standing at 6’7" and weighing in at 210 pounds, freshman forward Josh Davis looks the part of an elite division one athlete. He even scores like one, averaging 25 points per game during his senior campaign at Raleigh’s Athens Drive High School. So why, you ask, was Josh Davis overlooked by almost every top program in the nation?


“I really don't understand . I guess kids at his position are usually good perimeter shooters. Earnest Ross and Garrius Adams (other local high major recruits) have a little bit better jump shot than Josh at this point. That is also partially due to the roll that we asked Josh to fill this past year. A jump shot is something that a kid can work on. He just turned 18 years old. He's a young 18 but this kid has so much upside.” Said Athens coach Robert Clemons.

NC State coach Sidney Lowe saw that upside and immediately knew that Josh was a good fit for the program. It was thought that the Wolfpack would not have an extra scholarship available for Josh in 2009, but Lowe and company hoped he would take the prep school route and enroll in 2010. That wasn’t necessary, as junior Trevor Ferguson announced he was leaving the program at the end of last season. Not long after the announcement, Josh Davis had a committable offer to NC State. An offer he couldn’t refuse.

Davis spent his childhood rooting for the Wolfpack, thanks to a mother who grew up watching the dominant Jim Valvano teams of the early 80’s. Her dream was to one day see her own son cloaked in the red and white, helping NC State return to the glory days that she once enjoyed. That dream became a reality when Josh signed on the dotted line, and cemented his commitment to the Wolfpack.

"I've waited for this day for a long time." She said, glowing with pride on her son’s signing day.

With his freshman season approaching, Josh takes on the task of proving his doubters wrong, and earning the attention that was once neglected by scouts and top tier programs.

“ I do feel like I came in under the radar, but I don’t let that get to me. I feel like I’ve been performing pretty well and I hope that translates into me being able to contribute a lot this season.” Josh told us during Media day.

Davis came in as a relative unknown, but has certainly turned the heads of those who have watched his progression this pre-season, most notably head coach Sidney Lowe.

“Josh is just fun, he’s just enjoyable to have. He doesn’t say much, he just works hard. That’s his talent, he works hard. He’s the type of player that you don’t have to call a play for, he just makes it happen. When I talked about the ball being on the floor, he’s the first one to go on the floor, the first. He’s going to be a guy that it’s going to be hard to not have him on the floor, because he does all the little things. He defends, he rebounds, he runs, he’s going to get those loose balls and he’s a finisher. He gets on the break, he’s gets the ball and he finishes. He’ll get the offensive rebound, go back up and get fouled. He’s been fun to coach. It’s been a short period of time but, it’s been fun.”


Nothing has been handed to Josh Davis. It’s been hard work, commitment and a dream shared with his mother that has gotten him where he is today. Surely, he wouldn’t want it any other way.

HOOPMIXTAPE: Zo Posterizes Two Oak Hill Defenders

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Brown Goes Bonkers Against Oak Hill

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Last night we were on location at Pulaski County High School in Dublin, Virginia to catch NC State (re-) commit Lorenzo Brown, and Hargrave, take on OaK Hill academy in a preseason scrimmage. This was only the second time we've been able to catch Lorenzo Brown in person, and it was a real treat. Brown was, in my opinion, better than advertised tonight as he dropped 26 points against a very talented Oak Hill team. When watching Lorenzo, the first word that crosses your mind is "smooth." It's remarkable the way he glides down the court. He truly makes the game look easy as he crosses over, spins and finishes in traffic.

Brown uses his smooth style to lull defenders to sleep before he kicks it into high gear and leaves them in the dust. He is much quicker than I had remembered, and uses hesitation and change of speed to create space. When he gets in the lane, Zo likes to punch it down. While Brown does possess a nifty and accurate floater, he doesn't hesitate to hammer down a highlight reel dunk. On the break tonight, he gave everyone in attendance an example. Brown threw the crowd into a frenzy when he rose up on, not one, but two Oak Hill defenders, putting them on the wrong end of a posterization. The kid can really fly and is more athletic than most give him credit for.

While both teams played extremely hard, there was not much attention paid to the score. Oak Hill won the first half, and after the score was set back to zero/zero, Hargrave won the second half. Lorenzo's shot looked nice and fluid. Zo drained two threes, however, most of his damage was done slashing.

In the end, we were very impressed with Lorenzo. If he is included in this class by the scouting outlets, there is no way he should drop below the top 25 mark based on what we've seen out of the 2010 class. He's that good. His speed, handles, athleticism and size make him nearly unstoppable at this level.

Lorenzo Brown Recommits to NC State

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Lorenzo Brown originally committed to NC State back in July of 2008. NC State's 2009 recruiting class was ranked as the 11th best one in the nation, with Lorenzo Brown as the gem of the class. Before graduating from Centennial High School (Alpharetta, GA) this past Spring, some complications arose in Brown's academic eligibility and Brown was forced to spend the 2009-10 season in prep school at Hargrave Military Academy. With Lorenzo not enrolling at NC State this fall, the original letter of intent that he had signed was washed away. In all reality, Brown was free to check out his options, commit or sign with another school. This alarmed many Wolfpack fans, who understood the commodity that Brown was, and that it was a guarantee that other schools would come knocking on his door.

While Brown will still have to sign his letter of intent,( he will do so in November) he gave NC State fans assurance tonight that he was still set on donning the Red and White, by recommitting to the Pack before tonight's scrimmage between Hargrave and Oak Hill.

"I'm coming back to NC State. I recommitted today," Brown told us. "I really came to Hargrave, because Coach Lowe said it was a good program that would give me structure, and that is what I needed in my life."


Over the past couple of months, Brown has learned a lot from his time at Hargrave, a school that prides itself in discipline and structure.

"It's been really good and it's been really tough," Brown told us. "It gives you a lot of structure, and it makes you really look forward to basketball. After all of the military stuff...you really look forward to basketball."


NC State's current 2010 recruiting class of Ryan Harrow, Lorenzo Brown and Luke Cothron is a consensus Top-10 class. We asked Lorenzo what he thought of his incoming teammates.

"I can't even tell you about this class. It's crazy," Brown told us. "I've played against Luke and I know he's real good. With Ryan being my god-brother, I know we'll just be able to do our thing back there in the backcourt."


With Brown solidifying his commitment to NC State today, the Wolfpack fans have reason to believe that things in Raleigh could be getting pretty exciting in the near future.

Jordan Vandenberg: 2009 Media Day Interview

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Jordan Vandenberg Talks With Wolfpack Hoops

WPH: Jordan, can you tell us how it's been making the transition from Australia to the State?

JV: It wasn't really that bad. The only thing that got me was the time difference and getting my sleep in and getting my body adjusted.

WPH: How's school been going so far?

JV: School is going really well. I'm getting my GPA up and I'm not failing any classes, so real good.

WPH: How have workouts been so far this off-season?

JV: Workouts have been good. I sat out a week due to an injury, but I'm all good now. The whole team is bonding well, so we're looking good.

WPH: We hear the strength and conditioning has been tough, how has it been working with S&C coach, Wright Wayne?

JV: It's been really good. I was surprised at how good he was because I met the strength and conditioning coach last year and I was excited to work with him and when I found out there was a new guy I was like "What's going on?" but Wright does a really good job. I've been really impressed at the way we've come along.

WPH: What can we expect to see from the 'bigs' this year?

JV: All the big men are fairly skilled, like me, DeShawn, Dennis and Tracy. Especially Tracy, because he's a junior this year and he had a really goo year last year. I reckon we'll all see some fairly good court time this year. How much, I don't know, that's up to coach. We're going along well, we're competing strong, and we bond really well.

WPH: What would you say the difference is from Australian basketball to basketball you've seen so far in the ACC?

JV: The main difference, and the one thing that really gets me, is (when the ball is) on the rim, we can go up and get it (while it's touching the rim). Here, there is the cylinder rule, where it can't be on the rim anywhere (when you touch it). That took me a couple of weeks to adjust to, but now I'm fine.

CJ Williams: 2009 Media Day Interview

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CJ WILLIAMS TALKS WITH WOLFPACK HOOPS

WPH: We've been hearing a lot about this new haircut you got. Apparently you drove to Fayetteville to get it done. Is this a new look for you?

CJ: Um, yeah it is. I plan on trying to keep it as long as I can, or as long as my mother will let me.

WPH: What would you call this cut?

CJ: Well, I've heard a lot of different names. I've heard "the mohawk," but probably one thing that I've heard, that kind of stuck with me, is "the FRO-hawk"

WPH: So can you explain why you drove all the way to Fayetteville to get it cut?

CJ: Yeah, my barber, he's good with my hair and he talks to me a lot. His step-son is Tank Tyler, who played football here. He knows a lot about the college ranks.

WPH: Can you talk about the difference from last years team to this years team?

CJ: I think we're going to play with a lot more emotion this year. We have a lot of guys that work hard and want to compete every night.

WPH: This summer you played in the Durham Pro-AM league, put on by Jerry Stackhouse. You played exceptionally well against some pretty stout competition. Do you feel that helped you a lot?

CJ: It definitely gave me a lot of confidence knowing that I can go out and compete against NBA guys, former NBA guys, and guys that never made it, but were good enough to make it.

WPH: Can you talk about what improvements you've seen in your game this off-season?

CJ: I've worked on my ability to get to the basket a lot more. I've worked on being able to set my other teammates up by seeing the entire floor as I'm going to the basket.

WPH: Last year you relied a lot on the jump shot. This year, you're saying we will see a different player?

CJ: Right, yea. I think I am a different player than I was last year. The experience was definitely good for me, and I learned a lot from Courtney Fells. He was like a big brother to me on the team, and he taught me a lot about what I needed to know in ACC basketball.

WPH: We've heard that the strength and conditioning this year has gotten a lot more intense. Your thoughts?

CJ: It is intense. It is very intense. Charles was definitely a good strength and conditioning coach and Wright knows what he's doing, so there is a difference, but you know.

Update From Across The Pond: 10/21/09

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Cameron Bennerman's Rimini Crabs improved to 3-0 on Sunday night, defeating Scafati Basket 89-84 at home. Bennerman led all scorers with 19 points (6-11 FG, 3-6 3PT) and also added 4 rebounds and 4 steals.

Cam is averaging 21.3 points and 3.0 steals through 3 games. He is also shooting a dead-eye 46.2% from deep range. Thanks to one of our loyal readers, J.SOL, we were able to come across a pretty good interview with Cam about his team and the role the fans play in their performance.




Clifford Crawford is continuing to make Levice thankful that they picked him up this off-season. On October 14th, Levice lost 1st place Pezinok 78-89. Cliff posted a balanced stat line of 18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 blocked shots. On Saturday night, Crawford took charge and lead Levice to a 75-70 win over Handlova at home. Cliff finished the night with 14 points, 14 assists, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. This marks the third time in 5 games that Crawford has posted a double-double.

Cliff is averaging 18.0 points (49.2 FG%), 10.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals through 5 games. Levice is 4-2 and currently in third place.

Anthony Grundy's Carife squad lost on Sunday night to Armani 66-71. Grundy had 23 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in the loss.

Grundy is averaging 21.0 points (60.0 FG%), 5 rebounds and 3 steals through 2 games. Carife is 1-1.

Brandon Costner picked up the slack last Wednesday night, scoring 16 points (he led his team in scoring) after scoring only 2 points in the previous game. He shot 5 for 9 from three-point land and is shooting 39% from deep through three games. Despite Costner's performance, M.Hainaut lost to Charleroi 60-66.

Costner is averaging 13.3 points and 4 rebounds through 3 games. M. Hainaut is 1-2.

Ben McCauley's Strasbourg team has had a rocky start to the 09-10 season, losing their first 3 games. In Ben's second game he scored 11 points and grabbed 6 boards. In Saturday's loss to ASVEL, Big Ben struggled mightily, scoring 1 point in 23 minutes of play.

Ben is averaging 8.7 points and 5.0 rebounds through 3 games. Strasbourg is 0-3.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2011 Guard Dezmine Wells Commits to Xavier

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We just wanted to let everyone know that 2011 combo guard, Dezmine Wells, has given his verbal commitment to Xavier. Dez was on the Pack's radar for 2011, but Xavier was one of his first offers and made him a top priority.

Wells is a 6'3", 210lbs combo guard from Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh. He is a strong and physical player, however, it is hard to tell which position he'll play at the next level. Last season he played on the block for 'Word of God Academy,' but has lately been transitioning over to the guard position. Overall, we still think Dezmine is a quality player and will have nice career at Xavier.

The Pack is still heavily tracking Rodney Hood and Laquinton Ross for 2011, but it is still very early, so expect new names to keep popping up.

SIMON SAYS: Issue #2 : "Off-Week in Ireland"

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Dear Wolfpack Fans,

Well, we didn't have a game this week. So you know it goes without saying, we had an extremely tough past week of training (thanks Coach). With that being said, this past week I spent a lot of time icing and doing my best to familiarize myself with the area that I live in now. I live in a small village by the name of Moycullen (hometown of my club team), and we are about ten minutes outside of the town of Galway, which is the major city in this area of the country (To give you a mental picture Moycullen is like Apex and Galway would be Raleigh) and is where everything in the area really takes place.

Since I've had a free weekend I have been in and around town seeing the sights and getting to know the area. This place is beautiful, it has wonderful people and there is always something interesting going on. The culture here is so laid back and accepting of everything, which really is a beautiful thing. It's not like my hometown (Pittsburgh) at all, where it's like everyone you encounter is on a mission to get a certain task accomplished. Everyone here takes the time to speak to everyone and be cordial, and they're really genuine. People here just love other people regardless of their ethnicity, gender, etc. Maybe that's why I love it here so much. To be honest, everyone is literally treated as an equal. It's a great change of pace from the States.

But back to basketball, haha. We travel to Northern Ireland this upcoming Saturday to play another road game. Hopefully we get this first win. Our community really deserves it and I know they're really hungry for it. It's up to us to try to go get it now.

Wish us luck...,

Simon

Monday, October 19, 2009

Harrow To Sign November 11th in Raleigh

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2010 commit and star point guard, Ryan Harrow, has confirmed that he will in fact be signing his LOI (letter of intent) to NC State in the early signing period on Nov. 11th. Already a fan favorite, Harrow has decided to give the Wolfpack fans another treat. Ryan will be making it official here in Raleigh, right across the street from campus at Sammy's Tap and Grill.

The signing will be open to the public and will be held at 12 noon. If you are in the Raleigh area and looking for a different way to spend your lunch break on November 11th, simply head over to Sammy's to grab lunch and witness Ryan Harrow officially become a member of the NC State Wolfpack

Coach Lowe In The Spotlight

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'09 Red Rally At Reynolds: Dunk Contest

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2009 Red Rally At Reynolds Highlight Reel

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Johnny Thomas: Media Day Interview

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JOHNNY THOMAS TALKS WITH WOLFPACKHOOPS

WPH: What’s different about this year’s team compared to last year?

JT: I think the way we started last year is totally different from the way we started this year. It’s more up-tempo than it was last year. We’re doing a ton of conditioning compared to last year. We did a lot of conditioning last year but this is jut more intense. I think coach Lowe wants to prepare us for the season and wants us to last longer in games. I think we’re going to be really good this year.

WPH: How have you developed as leader this year?

JT: I’ve kind of taken on the role. I talked to Courtney and Brandon and it was more so telling me what I needed to do to improve my skills, then to improve my leadership skills also. I feel like talking with some of the other guys and about certain situation and making sure they get to class on time and everything. It helped me develop as a leader.

WPH: How much does it mean to you to come into the season feeling 100%? And are you ready to show State fans and the ACC who Johnny Thomas is and what you can really do?

JT: Oh yeah, I feel like the State fans haven’t seen anything yet. They’ve seen me play and maybe got a little glimpse of it but that’s probably 5%, there’s like 95% more coming at them. I’m just ready to show them what I got.

Dennis Horner: Media Day Interview

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DENNIS HORNER TALKS WITH WOLFPACKHOOPS

WPH: Can you talk about the transition for you in becoming a leader?

DH: These past couple years we’ve had seniors. We had three verbal guys who would step up and lead. This year its more of my turn and maybe some other guys too. I’ve always been a leader through my years playing basketball so it’s really not anything different.

WPH: You’re a guy that many said lead by example, have you shifted to being more verbal this season?

DH: I think so yeah. Maybe some guys are skipping some things and you’ve got to do this as a team, you’ve got to do that , so I think so.

WPH: How are things different from last year at this time?

DH: I think everyone works really hard on this team. Everyone wants to play well. Everyone has been in the gym working hard, so practices are more up-tempo. I guess that’s the style we’re going to be playing now, so it’s going to be good.

WPH: How are the coaches using you right now position wise?

DH: I’m at the four right now, but in Coach Lowe’s offense the four is still playing a little bit of ht wing too with the screen and pops, and the pick and pops. I might have the advantage of being on the outside with a guy that can’t move as quick as me or something.

WPH: What has been the biggest improvement in your game this off-season

DH: I’d like to think my physicality, since I put on weight and put on more muscle this year. I got rid of some bad body fat so I can get in there now and finish at the rim and get in there and bang around.

WPH: Coach keeps saying that you walk around with your shirt off more now. Any truth to that?

DH: Haha. No I don’t think so. He might just be noticing it more now cause I got a little bigger.

Scott Wood: 2009 Media Day Interview

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SCOTT WOOD TALKS TO WOLFPACKHOOPS

WPH: What’s it been like transitioning from high school ball to college ball?

SW: Just trying to get adjusted to the speed and the strength of the game. It’s definitely different from high school, but I actually expected it to be a lot worse, but it’s not too bad. I’m just trying to get acclimated to the college life and I think I’m transitioning well.

WPH: Is school going pretty well for you?

SW: So far, so good. My grades probably aren’t as good as my parents would want, but I’m keeping them up there and I’m doing a lot better this semester.

WPH: Your parents are going to see this online, so maybe you can let them know how hard your trying.

SW: Yeah, I’m definitely trying my hardest and that’s all that matters.

WPH: How is the team chemistry?

SW: I came in here and kind of thought it was going to be worse. Watching last year I didn’t think we’d have the greatest team chemistry but when I came in here it actually looked pretty good. I think the sophomores and freshman have a real good bond and the veterans are coming in here and putting in their bond and showing us some things. Everybody has a good bond. I’ve really hung out with everybody. Getting that bond and chemistry is real big.

WPH: What position have they been running you at in workouts?

SW: It seems like they’ve been running me at the 2 and 3. Maybe a little bit more three when CJ is in there it seems like I’ve been playing the three but guarding the two. Basically for us 2 and 3 are the same things. I’ll be one of those positions and the main thing is that I’m just getting up there and helping out on the offensive end a lot and trying to improve my defense.

WPH: Can you talk about the offense this year?

SW: Last year was a little bit slower pace, but Coach Lowe has stressed that he wants to get up and down. We’ve done a couple drills where the big men have to get under the basket and within a couple of seconds and take the ball out and we got to get up there and run and the wings have to be out. It’s definitely going to be a lot quicker pace and we definitely want to transition on people.

WPH: Do you think playing at point guard last season has helped you?

SW: I think it helped a lot. There are a couple of threes that can put it on the floor but not may that can put it on the floor pretty good. I think me playing point guard and getting pressured a lot last year is really going to help me, especially if a three guards me that might be a little bit slower. I think just having to handle pressure is going to help me a lot.

Julius Mays: 2009 Media Day Interview

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JULIUS MAYS TALKS TO WOLFPACKHOOPS

WPH: What is the difference between last year this time, and this year?

JM: I feel a lot more confident in myself and my teammates. We’re all on the same page this year. Every guy is about the team and nobody is about themselves. We all feel we have something to prove and nobody has confidence in us and every poll has us coming in last. We want to go out and compete and prove a lot of critics wrong.

WPH: What is it like to have Scott Wood here?

JM: It’s good having a high school teammate here. He knows how I play , I know how he plays, I know where he wants the ball , he knows where I want the ball. It’s also good to have a friend off the court. It’s not really homey, but it brings the ‘home’ feeling. I like it a lot.

WPH: Coach Lowe wants to push the ball up-tempo this yaer, do you see the ball moving a lot faster this year?

JM: Definitely. The stuff we did around this time is nothing like what we’re doing now. The way we conditioned last year is nothing like we’re doing now. Everything has changed, the way we play, the way we condition this year. I’ve never ran as much as I have in my life. Coach really wants to push the ball. He made sure we got in the shape we need to get in. That’s what we’re going to do, push the ball.

WPH: Talk about your game. Where have you improved this off-season?

JM: I think I’ve become more of a solid point guard. I make a play for somebody else before I make a play for myself. I’ve gotten a lot more confidence than I had coming into the season last year. No one thinks we have a point guard so I’m ready to show everyone that we do.

WPH:Do you feel like in this offense the 1 and 2 blend? Do you see yourself playing a little of both?

JM: I think as the season goes on you’ll see that a lot of people’s talents are going to come out and you could have me pushing the ball and CJ pushing the ball up to me, Scott pushing the ball up to me or Farnold pushing the ball to me, and me pushing the ball to Farnold. It’ll be a real interesting year, seeing as we changed our whole style of game., turning into a more up-tempo team.

Tracy Smith: 2009 Media Day Interview

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TRACY SMITH TALKS WITH WOLFPACKHOOPS

WPH: What’s been the biggest different from last season to this season?

TS: Just working hard. Last year, I noticed when I was watching my films I didn’t really run the floor as much as I’ll run the floor this year. This past off-season I worked on my 15 footer, my face-up game, my jumpshot, I just think everything is getting better right now.

WPH: So you’ve worked on your ballhandling? Are you going to face up and take people to the rim instead of banging?

TS: I’m trying to work on my face-up, one dribble, take’em to the basket, my spin move. I mean, I kind of mixed my game up this year.

WPH: Talk about the strength and conditioning from last year to this year?

TS: Ohh yeah. 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.

WPH: Is there going to be a much more up-tempo style would you say?

TS: Definitely, we’re going to have more energy. Coach Lowe wants us to be more of a running team. We’re going to get out of the half court set and we’re just looking to run.

WPH: What are some goals you set for yourself?

TS: I want to be a leader of the team. Everyone was watching me, seeing what I was going to do. So I just came in the gym on my off time and worked hard to prove that I can be all that I can be.

WPH: Does the chemistry seem better this year?

TS: Yeah. We’re all on the same page, we all bonded collectively as one. Everyone just wants to win.

WPH: Talk about the battles that have gone on down low with the bigs early in practice.

TS: DeShawn and Jordan just battle at practice, they go at each other hard. There’s even a couple of times where people are about to fight, but it’s all just competing and everybody just goes hard at practice.

WPH: Any of the young players surprise you?

TS: DeShawn really stands out to me. Richard when he was healthy, he really stood out, Scott can shoot the ball, Josh Davis he’s very athletic and Jordan, he could use a little work on the post and stuff but his defense is good.

C.J. Leslie Pulls Out of Kentucky 'Big Blue Madness'

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There have been rumors flying around that top ranked 2010 NC State recruit C.J. Leslie, who was slated to be in Lexington, Kentucky for the Wildcat's 'Big Blue Madness' event, did not end up making the trip. Well, we can now confirm those rumors, but it is not yet known why Leslie decided against the visit.

This is a very interesting turn in C.J.'s recruitment, to say the least. With Leslie and UNC mutually parting ways this past week, many Kentucky fans felt as if they would receive a commitment this weekend. That does not appear to be the case. We do know for a fact that NC State and Kentucky were both, as of yesterday, still heavily in the mix. We are tracking this story very closely and will be reporting to you every step of the way. Stay tuned.

Luke Cothron Enjoys ‘Red Rally’

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Last week Luke Cothron made the announcement that he’ll be spending his college years at NC State. The 2010 commit is a highly touted 6’9 big man. His recent commitment solidified what was already a stellar recruiting class (Ryan Harrow, Lorenzo Brown) and he has been a fixture at NC State all year long. He’s taken in almost every home football game this season, but on Friday night he got to sit back and watch his future school open the 2009-10 season with the “Red Rally at Reynolds.” We checked in with Luke to see how he enjoyed his visit and what he thinks about this years team.

“It was real good, I had a good time. It was good to see the fans out there, and a lot of them were coming up to me and telling me how they can’t wait for 2010, saying that’s when NC State is going to turn the corner. I also thought it was pretty cool to hear some of the fans start chanting my name at the end. That meant a lot.”


While many are looking towards 2010 for the breakout season, this year’s Wolfpack team put on a very good showing, something Luke noticed and talked about.

“I thought Tracy looked real good and Scott (Wood) can really shoot it. I think they’re going to be good this year. I really do.”


Luke was on the court after the game talking to the coaches and was accompanied by another 2010 recruit, Tashawn Mabry. Mabry is a high energy player that is very athletic and very physical. He really broke out this summer at the Bob Gibbons AAU Tournament, which reignited his recruitment. The Pack is still hot on the heels of local superstar recruit CJ Leslie, who was scheduled to be at Kentucky’s Midnight Madness event Friday night.

Also attending the event was 2011 recruit Dezmine Wells who is high on the Pack’s radar and his fellow CP3 teammate, 2013 recruit Rodney Purvis. Purvis is only a freshman but is already starting to see his recruiting heat up. He has been in contact with the NC State staff and already holds an offer from VCU.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Javi Gonzalez: 2009 Media Day

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JAVI GONZALEZ TALKS WITH WOLFPACK HOOPS

WPH: What is the biggest difference in the team this year compared to last year?

JG: I think we are all more focused on winning and playing together and playing hard every single play. Everyone has the same focus this year and it’s like a new mentality. We want to win every single game.

WPH: Talk about the difference from this year to last year with strength and conditioning

JG: I think we’re running a lot more and I think physically, like me, I’ve been getting a lot stronger than last year and in better shape than last year. Coach Lowe wanted us to run a lot cause he plans on us to push the floor up and down the floor and we’ll need to be in good shape to do that.

WPH: How do you feel your experience will help you this off-season.

JG: It helps a lot especially when we have a lot of young guys coming in. Me talking with them and being vocal with them, they’ve been listening to me the last couple weeks of practice, so I think that’ll have a good impact on them.

WPH: How’s the chemistry between the three point guards?

JG: It’s fine, we come out and play hard. Coach Lowe plays me at the one or the two, he plays Julius as the one or two. He’s been playing us together so I think it’s fine.

WPH: Talk about how the point guards may also find themselves at the two this year.

JG: Exactly. Especially when we are trying to push the ball. If the rebounds on that side of the court and Julius is there. They can give it to him and I’ll run the wing and he pushes the ball. If it lands on my side, I push the ball so it’s a lot easier and push the ball and run the court.

DeShawn Painter: 2009 Media Day

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DeShawn Painter Talks with WolfpackHoops

WPH: Deshawn, what has it been like transitioning to college this first year?

DP: Pretty hard. Haha. You’ve got to work hard. You know, school and books, it’s been tough on and off the court. It’s been tough though.

WPH: How are you liking Raleigh?

DP: Love it. I love it here, it’s a nice place.

WPH: How’s it feel to be wearing the NC State jersey right now?

DP: Feels good. It feels real good. I was a youngers watching Julius Hodge. He was one of my favorite college players at that time period. So you know, I’m just surprise that I’m here.

WPH: How has the transition been basketball wise, from HS to the ACC?

DP: Everybody is good. You know, Hargrave really prepared me. At Hargrave everybody was good. It’s been kind of the same but the players are a little bit better, but you’ve got to come and compete every day.

WPH: How have the coaches been using you in workouts this year?

DP: Coming off shooting, playing inside-out. I play in the post and I’ll be stepping out some.

WPH: Is there any chance we could see you on the wing at all , with you ability to step out and face up?

DP: Haha. I don’t know, I’ll leave that to the coaches. I don’t’ really know, I can’t really speak on that.

WPH: What’s it been like battling with the other bigs on the team?

DP: Haha I can say one thing, me and Jordan are fighting/competing everyday. Me and Tracy, we’ll just be laid back competing, but me and Jordan, it’s high intensity. There’s just a lot of yelling and battling in there.

WPH: How has having an upperclassman like Tracy helped you make the transition to college ball?

DP: Little stuff. He’ll just say “Come here” and pull me to the side. He’ll tell me “Look man, this is what you do.” He talks to me and keeps me going and when I do big things he cheers me on.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pack Provides Excitement at 'Red Rally'

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Basketball season is officially here and NC State fans got an early preview during the "Red Rally at Reynolds.' The night started off with a women's basketball practice which gave many their first chance to meet the new Wolfpack women's coach Kellie Harper. The women's team ran through a series of drills before making way for the games. First was a 'hot shot' shootout where the players from the men's and women's teams teamed up with a fan. Dennis Horner and Julius Mays' team got hot and won the competition rather handily.

THE DUNK CONTEST
Next up was the dunk contest. If there were odds on this contest, they surely would have heavily favored the high rising redshirt sophomore, Johnny Thomas. Thomas, known for his freak athleticism, took on Kaycee Obi-gwacham, Farnold Degand, and Jordan Vandenberg in what didn't look like much competition on paper. That wasn't the case. Although Degand was very impressive, throwing down a pump reverse slam, it was Thomas and freshman Jordan Vandenberg who got the crowd on their feet. Vandenberg, a 7'0 freshman who was virtually unknown when he signed with the Pack last season, didn't garner a lot of off-season hype. Maybe it was because NC State hasn't had the best of luck with 7 footers in the past few years. Jordan, however, took the crowd by surprise when he placed fellow freshman, Scott Wood in the upper deck to assist on his first dunk of the night. Wood lofted a perfect bounce pass from the rafters which Vandenberg caught near the rim and threw down with authority ( and surprisingly, some athleticism). Definitely a nice novelty dunk that drew some attention, but probably not enough to take down Thomas. Johnny Thomas was up next and threw down a nasty windmill, getting straight 8's and 9s from the judges. Vandenberg countered with a off the side of the backboard alley oop. He took off from outside the lane and put it down hard, showing off some aggressiveness and some real athleticism. Thomas came back with an impressive gliding slam that get him to the final round, where he met Vandenberg.

The crowd was already buzzing about the Australian, who many viewed as a project player coming into the season, when he pulled out the dunk of the night. Vandenberg took off from the right, elevated, went between his legs with the ball and threw down a dunk that sent the crowd into a frenzy. 10's across the board gave Jordan the victory, and gave NC State fans a very pleasant surprise.

THE SCRIMMAGE
There was something a little different about the Red/White game this year. There was a feeling on the court that this team was out to prove something. From the very get go, the competition was intense. Coaches shouting instruction from the sidelines, full court defense, and players getting on the floor for loose balls. The red team was comprised of Farnold Degand, Javi Gonzalez, Thomas Painter and Tracy Smith (Josh Davis was the sub). The white team came out with Julius Mays, CJ Williams, Scott Wood, Dennis Horner and Jordan Vandenberg. The tempo started fast and stayed fast throughout, and it really looked as if the players were starting to grasp the faster paced game. When the lanes were open and they had the numbers, the Pack attacked on the break, but when nothing was there, they attacked and then pulled back. It was obvious that they wanted to get out and run the way Degand, Mays and Gonzalez pushed the ball all night. Teams are going to need to be ready to get back on defense when they play the Wolfpack this season. Here is a breakdown of each player from the scrimmage:

Farnold Degand
Degand looked as healthy as he's ever looked. Last season he was deemed 'ready to play' but still had some visible struggles with his injured knee. Last night he was in attack mode and wow was he quick. For the most part he made good decision on the break and got the ball to the right person at the right time. He was also playing some good defense and knocked down an open three from the wing.

Julius Mays
Poised and calm like always, Mays looked a little more confidence tonight than he did last season. He was pushing the ball and trying to make plays, and while his shot wasn't on this night, he showed a lot of the same positives he did last season toward the end of the year. He took care of the ball, ran the offense and went 100% to entire time.

Javi Gonzalez
There has been a huge difference in the Javi Gonzalez we saw at the beginning of last year to the Javi we saw at the end of last season and tonight in the scrimmage. He's stronger with the ball, attacking the rim and looking to shoot off the dribble when he can free himself. Javi saw a few open shots and knocked them down. It seems as if it will be he and Degand fighting for that lead guard spot all season (although Degand seemed to play a lot of the '2' tonight)

CJ Williams
CJ is going to have to score this season for the Pack to be successful and he knows that. Williams, sporting what he calls a "fro-hawk" and a bulked up body did not disappoint. He played hard every minute he was on the court, constantly looking for his shot. He knocked down a few short jumpers in traffic and definitely will be a go-to guy for the Pack this year.

Scott Wood
Definitely one of my favorites out there last night, Wood was everywhere. He played with a confidence I haven't seen from a freshman since Julius Hodge stepped foot on campus years ago. Wood was always hustling and actually was very impressive on defense, staying in front of his man and providing help side defense when he was supposed to. On offense, you can tell, he just gets it. He knows where the ball is supposed to be and what is a good shot. For Scott, any time he's open it's a good shot. He showed off a very pretty, very soft shot that is Steph Curry-esque in terms of quick release. He also showed that he isn't scared of the big boys as he challenge Johnny Thomas one on one, on the break. Wood threw is body into Thomas for the layup attempt, and although he was blocked, he picked up the foul and the respect of all in attendance.

Josh Davis
"Josh Davis is going to be hard to keep off the floor this season" said Sidney Lowe in his press conference on Friday, and you could see why in the scrimmage. Davis never stops moving. He is definitely a defenders nightmare the way he is constantly cutting and screening. He is also a battler on the boards. He stands at 6'6 but rebounds like he's 6'8. The guy obviously cherishes the fact that he's wearing the red and white and is going to give you everything he's got, every time he steps on the floor. His defense is textbook and he even showed the fans a little of his offensive game when he caught a swing pass, drove baseline and finished over all the bigs with a little tear drop. Davis is that energy guy, or that glue guy that the team will look too when in a funk. Davis looks like he'll be seeing a lot of 6th man time this year if he keeps this up.

DeShawn Painter
For us, Painter was one of the more impressive guys out there in terms of upside. Now, he didn't shine in a way that makes you think that he'll be a star from day one, but at some point Painter is going to be a key piece to this Wolfpack team. With very long arms and some very quick springs, Painter is a real scrapper in the paint. If there's a rebound up for grabs, he's going to do whatever he can to bring it down. He also is a match up nightmare. At 6'9, Painter was banging in the post for position, and a lot of the time he got it. What makes him so dangerous though is his ability to swing out to the wing an attack. When he brings a 6'9 guy to the perimeter, they're toast. Painters' got a great first step for a big and very accurate jumper that looks very smooth. Don't be surprised if Painter becomes a real force once he gets acclimated to the ACC.

Johnny Thomas
The Pack fans finally got to see a healthy Johnny Thomas, and it was a sight for sore eyes. Thomas was aggressive as usual and looking to score. The staff were careful with him and gave him some him a lot of rest, but he looked good overall. He was hustling, locking down on defense and attacking the boards. Thomas showed off the jumpshot he's been talking about as he knocked down two long 2's. If he can stay healthy, Thomas will be a key part of this team.

Dennis Horner
Dennis has definitely added some weight this season, something that will do him good now that he's strictly a 4. Horner was going up against Painter a lot of the night and looked like the veteran that he is. He, for the most part, made the right plays at the right times throughout the game. While his three ball wasn't falling tonight, you can see how big of a mismatch he'll cause with big, lumbering forwards who can't guard the perimeter, as it seems he hasn't lost any quickness with the added muscle. All night, Dennis mixed it up in the paint showing the fans that he's not afraid to throw his body around. He has definitely bought into the fact that he is 4 now and will be looked to for rebounding.

Jordan Vandenberg
We won't lie. We were literally shocked with Vandenberg. We've heard that he's better than advertised but really? While Vandenberg still has some work to do, this kid has the skills to get paid at the next level if he can harness his skills. Any time a 7 footer goes through his legs for a dunk, I think you should take notice. The dunk contest gave the fans a taste of what Vandenberg can bring to the table. He is no project player, that's for sure. While he has a ton of potential, he showed in the scrimmage that there is still work to be done. He's obviously not used to the contact and the physicality of the ACC game on offense, but on defense Jordan is a terror. He altered shots, blocked a shot and came down with a bunch of boards. He showed that he loves to crash the offensive glass. His jumpshot was also pretty impressive. He has a soft touch and an accurate hook shot, that just wouldn't go down tonight.

Tracy Smith
Smith was as advertised. Big, strong and talented. This season he looks like he's in tip-top shape and that he has been working on his post game. Upon receiving his first entry pass, Smith (back to the basket) faked left, spun right and hit an acrobatic reverse layup. When Smith received the ball on the blocks, he had on goal. Punishment. He just backs himself in and goes up for the slam in aggressive fashion. It is nice to know you have a guy that really invites contact in the paint and can finish with the best of them. Smith is projected to have a breakout season and tonight he showed that the hype is certainly warranted.

Overall the 'Red Rally' was a success and there was a pretty decent turnout. The excitement around the basketball program is growing and a lot of people are starting to take notice. Tonight there were some big-time recruits in the house. 2010 commit, Luke Cothron was sitting court side and seemed to be having a great time. Down one section was another 2010 prospect Tashawn Mabry who has been in contact with NC State and maybe in the plans if the Pack misses on CJ Leslie. 2011 prospect Dezmine Wells was also in the house along with 2013 phenom, Rodney Purvis. We'll have more on the impact of this event later, along with some updates on how the recruits enjoyed themselves.

Stay tuned for video and more Red Rally coverage later on in the day...
 

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