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November 9, 2012
NC State coach Mark Gottfried prefers a difficult schedule and expects this year's to meet that standard starting tonight against Miami (Ohio).
NC State will have a bull's-eye on its back this year thanks to some lofty preseason national rankings. The USA Today preseason coaches' poll and The Associated Press poll both have NC State ranked No. 6 in the country.
NC State has opened in the AP preseason top 25 poll 17 times since 1970-71, with the most recent being No. 21 in 2007-08. The last top-10 preseason ranking for the Wolfpack occurred in 1974-75, when they came in at No. 1.
The buildup for the season opener has been going on for months.
NC State hosts rebuilding Miami (Ohio) at 7 p.m. tonight at the renamed PNC Arena.
The Wolfpack return four starters from last year's 24-13 Sweet 16 squad and welcome the Rivals.com No. 4-ranked recruiting class. NC State scrimmaged against East Carolina and won 105-80 against Belmont Abbey last Saturday.
The explosive offense featured five players in double figures, led by junior point guard Lorenzo Brown, who had 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Touted freshman forward T.J. Warren added 19 points and seven rebounds, senior center Richard Howell came off the bench for 19 points and nine rebounds and junior power forward C.J. Leslie finished with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Leslie and Brown were both preseason first-team All-ACC selections by the league coaches and media, and Leslie was tabbed the preseason player of the year. Having two player of the year candidates has helped set the Wolfpack apart in being named the preseason ACC favorite.
Miami (Ohio) went 9-21 overall in the last year of long-time coach Charlie Coles, who finished 263-224 for the most wins in RedHawks history.
New Miami (Ohio) coach John Cooper's first job was as an assistant coach at Fayetteville State from 1993-95. He then was an assistant coach at South Carolina, Oregon and Auburn.
Cooper became the head coach at Tennessee State in 2009 and guided the Tigers to a 20-13 record last year, which was the first winning season since 1995-96 and first 20-win season in 32 years. Tennessee State knocked off Murray State in the regular season, but then lost 54-42 in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament title game. He's expected to bring a pressing and running style to Oxford, Ohio.
Gottfried tries to get a mix of teams each year on the schedule. Adding Miami (Ohio) is part of an bigger picture plan that revolves around the RPI. The nonconference schedule should set up NC State well for when ACC action starts.
NC State's marquee nonconference game is at Michigan in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Nov. 27. The Wolverines opened at No. 5 in the preseason coaches' poll, and the top-10 clash has the Wolfpack excited.
"Our game with Michigan on the road will be a great, great challenge for our guys because I think they will be really good," Gottfried said. "They'll be a highly ranked team."
Michigan, UConn, St. Bonaventure, Norfolk State and UNC Asheville each made the NCAA Tournament last year, while Stanford and Cleveland State played in the NIT.
"I like our schedule," Gottfried said. "It's going to be a tough schedule. I'm staying with the same philosophy where we are trying to find some BCS-type games that are attractive and good games.
"When you play a Cleveland State or a Norfolk State, guys in our business, in the coaching profession, are going 'Whew, hold on, you have your hands full tonight.' This past year, we learned playing those teams."
NC State opens up the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Nov. 15 against Penn State, and then plays the winner or loser of Providence versus Massachusetts. The Minutemen played in the NIT last year, as did a Tennessee team that potentially looms on the other side of the bracket.
"Our second night is the winner or loser of Providence and UMass, who are both up-and-coming type teams," Gottfried said. "Tennessee is in there, and they should be a top-25, top-15 type of team as well."
NC State plays against UConn in the Jimmy V Classic Dec. 4 at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, N.Y. The Huskies might not be as talent-laden as they were in the past, but have three Rivals.com four-star players, and one five-star prospect, sophomore forward DeAndre Daniels, who is a former NC State target.
"Playing in the Garden is always fun, and playing UConn will be fun," Gottfried said.
Gottfried credited last year's nonconference games against the likes of Syracuse, Indiana, Texas, Vanderbilt, and St. Bonaventure for getting his players battle-tested by the time the ACC rolled around. He hopes this year's schedule will do the same.
"You are also trying to find some opponents that, and nobody has a crystal ball, project as 20-win teams, which will help our RPI," Gottfried said. "We've got teams on our schedule that went to the tournament and have a lot of players coming back."
The schedule will also include two games apiece with top-25 ACC opponents such as Duke (No. 8), North Carolina (No. 12) and Florida State (tied for No. 24).
The ACC's addition of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse will help alter NC State's league schedule in the future. However, the Wolfpack will play home-and-home games with their two ACC partners — North Carolina and Wake Forest.
"It's going to take some time for people to get used to it, but you basically traded two bye games or nonconference games against lower opponents for two ACC games, when you add two more on," Gottfried said. "That will make our schedule pretty tough."
Miami (Ohio) preview
NC State 2011-12 roster
NC State schedule/results
NC State season stats
Miami (Ohio) roster
Miami (Ohio) schedule/results
Miami (Ohio) season stats
Miami (Ohio) (0-0) at No. 6 NC State (0-0)
Game time: Friday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m. — PNC Arena, Raleigh
PG — 2 Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 186, Soph., 12.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.8 spg)
SG — 0 Rodney Purvis (6-2, 195, Fr.) or 15 Scott Wood (6-6, 169, Jr., 12.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.6 apg)
SF — 15 Scott Wood (6-6, 169, Jr., 12.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.7 apg) or 24 T.J. Warren (6-8, 235, Fr.)
PF — 5 C.J. Leslie (6-9, 200, Soph., 14.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.6 bpg)
C — 1 Richard Howell (6-8, 257, Jr., 10.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.0 spg)
PG — 2 Quinten Rollins (6-0, 185, Jr., 7.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.6 spg)
SG — 13 Will Sullivan (6-3, 183, Soph., 2.1 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 0.3))
SF — 3 Allen Roberts (6-3, 214, Jr., redshirted last year, but 7.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.3 apg in 2010-11)
PF — 33 Will Felder (6-7, 202, Jr., redshirted last year, but 11.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.3 bpg at St. Francis (Pa.) in 2010-2011)
C — 55 Vince Legarza (6-9, 265, Sr., 1.2 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.9)
Scouting Miami (Ohio)
Location: Oxford, Ohio
2011-12 record: 9-21 overall, 5-11 MAC
2011 postseason: None
Coach: John Cooper 43-51 overall (4th season) and first year at Miami (Ohio)
Series: First meeting
Miami (Ohio): Miami (Ohio) defeated Maryville 73-64 in an exhibition game Oct. 31 with a trio of players in double figures. Redshirt junior forward Will Felder had a team-high 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the way, and redshirt juniors Allen Roberts and Drew McGhee added 10 points apiece The 6-7, 202-pound Felder played two years at Saint Francis (Pa.), where he averaged 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and blocked 38 shots his sophomore year. Felder had a career-high 30 points against Wagner in 2010-2011. He then transferred to Miami and sat out last year The 6-3, 214-pound Roberts, who plays shooting guard, missed last year with a right knee injury, but started 17 games in 2010-11, and averaged 7.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Roberts had 23 points against North Illinois Feb. 9, 2011, and added 20 against Towson Nov. 12, 2010 The 6-11, 236-pound McGhee listed NC State during a portion of the recruiting process in the class of 2009. He picked Miami over Davidson and Penn State Harris, who is 6-8 and 206 pounds, made three or more three-pointer's in eight games last year, and cracked double digits in points in 11 contests The 6-6, 245-pound Edwards played in seven games last year before injuring his right wrist and missed the rest of the season. He started off at Penn State, where he started five games and played in 26 out of 31 his freshman year before transferring to Miami and sitting out the 2010-2011 season Sophomore center Jared Tadlock is originally from Conifer, Colo., but played for Charis Prep in Wilson, N.C. last year Miami isn't a stranger to playing tough nonconference games. The RedHawks played Duke, San Diego State, Ohio State, Xavier, Cincinnati and Kansas, among others in 2010-2011. Xavier, Cincinnati, Ohio State and Vanderbilt, were on last year's schedule. NC State, at Louisville Nov. 18, at Dayton Dec. 8 and UMass at home Jan. 2, highlight this year's schedule.
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