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April 19, 2013
Thursday night was a bit of closure on a basketball season of mixed emotions for NC State coach Mark Gottfried.
The awards banquet also represented a time to, what he called, "somewhat turn the page and get on to the next chapter."
Juniors Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie, both of whom decided to enter the NBA Draft, senior center Richard Howell and departing freshman guard Rodney Purvis did not attend the banquet.
Master of ceremonies and NC State radio basketball color analyst Tony Haynes explained that Brown, Howell and Leslie were preparing for the NBA Draft, while Purvis is transferring to Connecticut.
Howell, along with classmate Scott Wood, was named the recipient of the David Thompson MVP Award. Overall, nine of the 14 named awards given out went to players who will not be on the team next season.
Such a changeover though is becoming more frequent to the point where it's almost the norm in college basketball.
"We're going to have some tough things to fill," Gottfried acknowledged. "We've had a lot of guys that have accomplished a lot the last couple of years. Whether it's rebuilding, restarting, reloading, whatever word, we are going to have a pretty big challenge to replace the guys that have done a lot for our program."
What is gone are players that won a combined total of 48 games the past two seasons, reached back-to-back NCAA Tournaments and semifinals of the ACC Tournaments and went to the Sweet 16 in 2012. They also defeated then-No. 1 Duke and routed archrival UNC in memorable home games this past season.
However, NC State was picked to win the ACC in the preseason by both the coaches and media, and preseason polls had the Pack pegged as the No. 6 team in the country.
"There are a lot of positive things that happened this year, just not as many as we would've liked and not as much as we wanted to accomplish," Gottfried said. "Our players need to recognize the fact that they have accomplished some things here the last two years, especially the upperclassmen, that haven't been done here in a long time. There are some positives things that have happened.
"This is a time for us to start really building for the future. The guys that are returning are excited. They've worked extremely hard. We are going to have a lot of new faces. I don't know if there are a lot of teams in the country that will have lost as much as we've lost from last year to next year, so we got a big challenge ahead. I think that everybody that's involved is going to go at it pretty hard."
One piece that Gottfried will be counting on to help replace the losses is recently signed junior college guard Desmond Lee, a second-team All-American selection for New Mexico Junior College this past season.
"The first thing with Desmond is that he's a little bit older which is good for our team because we are going to be awfully young and inexperienced," Gottfried said. "He's a guy that we feel really can shoot the ball well from the perimeter. He's a combo guy that can play with the ball or without. He's a good guard. That's what I think our team needed at this point."
Gottfried disputes the notion that as a coach he may be more excited about a team next season that would require more coaching and less reliance on their talent.
"I'm excited about every year," he explained. "I was excited last year, and I was excited the year before. I will be excited this year. Every year has different challenges. This year, is going to have some unique challenges that maybe last year's team didn't.
"We will be tremendously inexperienced. We'll be young. We'll have a number of young guys on the floor at the same time, and this team coming up will have to learn itself, who can do what really, and to learn how to be an effective team. We have a lot of questions, we know it, that's going to be exciting. To me every year is when you start the year."
N.C. State NEWS