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Pack Puts It Together, Runs Over FGCU 82-62

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Cat Barber started over Tyler Lewis and Jordan Vandenberg returned from injury as Mark Gottfried unveiled his team’s new look lineup in impressive fashion

The Wolfpack was dominant in every aspect of this one. They controlled the boards, defended well and knocked down nearly every open shot they got, dubbing FGCU 82-62. Here are the game notes.

Cat Barber surprisingly started over Tyler Lewis. The freshman answered the bell by going for 12 points and dishing out 6 assists. He did have 5 TOs, but he looked really good and gave State another dimension they’ve been lacking. Lewis has struggled of late. When he’s not hitting his shots and State isn’t able to get out on the break the offense sometimes can become stagnant. Now, don’t get me wrong, Tyler Lewis is going to play and he’s going to be a huge factor on this team, but the point is that there are times when Barber is simply the better option. Tonight was one of those times. Barber made a lot of big plays with the shot clock winding down, he made some big time passes and was able to get into the lane and make things happen. Couple all that with the fact that he’s playing great defense for a freshman and you can see why he’s earning minutes. I don’t think this is a one time thing. Barber kicked this team into a new gear and was yet another weapon Mark Gottfried has at his disposal.

Vandenberg is back and fulfilling promise he showed as a freshman. The thinner, more conditioned, more disciplined Vandenberg looked great tonight. He finished with 9 points and 10 boards, but best of all, he altered shots and knocked around rebounds that otherwise would have found their way into the hands of a FGCU big. Big V added 2 blocks and 2 assists, but for the first time in a long time he looked comfortable. He was running the floor, throwing his weight around and really causing havoc on the boars. All in all, I think we see that JV is going to be a giant piece to this puzzle. He needs to stay healthy and out of foul trouble. If he can, then NC State has a legit shot to shock some people.

– What more can we say about TJ Warren. The guy is a pro and he’s impressing every single time out. In this one he was nearly unstoppable. #TJBuckets went for 30 points and 9 boards. His midrange game and touch around the rim are just uncanny. Wish his new found quickness and his shot coming along, Warren is going to be a major force all season.

Dez Lee looked good once again. Cat Barber did overshadow him, but his defense was phenomenal and he did finish with 9 points and 4 boards. Lee is such a strong finisher and is so controlled,  yet physical when he goes to the rim. He’s sharing minutes with Turner right now, as Lewis seems to be bearing the brunt of Barber’s increased role.

-Freeman and Washington continue to look good. KWash went for 6 points and 5 boards in limited action and Freeman got 32 minutes, scored 2 points and had 4 boards. I think it’s safe to say that Gott loves the way this kid plays. He’s physical, he defends well and he’s strong. Washington and Anya have been good, but Freeman is bringing the most to the table right now.

– Speaking of Anya, the big freshman was as billed. Three dunks in the span of 5 minutes and 2 big blocks for Beejay. He still needs to lose weight because his rebounding could use work, but his massive wingspan is showing that it can help him be productive in limited minutes this season.

– After a lot of preseason hype, Ralston Turner is settling into this role a little better. With Turner taking less (and better) shots, it opens up the offense to run through Barber and Warren.

State out-rebounded FGCU 43-25. Part of it was that the Eagles were without one of their best bigs, but it was also thanks to Vandy, who we a monster on the glass.

Notable Quotes:

Vandy on the 360 alley oop:
“I thought Cat would throw it a little bit higher and he didn’t, I don’t know exactly what happened. I just know the ball went in the basket and I hurt my finger. It was fun. It’s just fun to run the floor. As soon as I saw the ball behind me, I just took off running. It was like, ‘Come on, Cat!’ so he threw it.”

Vandy on his first game back with the team:
“The first game is the most important because you can try to lead as much as you want but if you don’t demonstrate on the floor what you can do, they ain’t going to listen to you. I think this game at least shows them ‘Hey, I can play basketball’ so what I’m saying, you can take notice to, regardless of how much older I am than them.”

Vandy on ‘his time to shine’:
I knew this was it.  I wasn’t going to be behind Rich, DeShawn, Tracy Smith, or Dennis Horner. If this goes out to the people, they’ll be like, ‘Who the hell is Dennis Horner and Tracy Smith?’ I’ve been here a long time.”

Gottfried on the win:
“I thought that was a very good team win. A lot of guys contributed in a lot of different ways, both offensively, defensively and on rebounding. I was proud of our group to bounce back against a good solid group of players from Florida Gulf Coast. They had a lot of success last year. It is a good team win for our group.”

Gottfried on starting Cat over Tyler Lewis:
“I felt like it was time for Cat. I thought he’s caught up in the time that he missed. Defensively, he changes things for us at the point of our defense.”

 

 Highlights:


Next game is Saturday against Eastern Kentucky at 8pm.

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NC State Basketball

NC State is Adding UMASS’ Brett Nelson as an Assistant Coach

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According to reports, NC State is adding UMASS’ Brett Nelson as an Assistant Coach.

Nelson was only at UMASS for 1 season under Frank Martin. Prior to that, Nelson was the Head Coach at Holy Cross for 4 seasons, posting a 27-84 record.

Prior to taking the Head Coaching mantle at Holy Cross, Nelson was at Marquette for 5 seasons, spending the first 3 as an Assistant Coach, and the final two as an Associate Head Coach. Prior to Marquette, Nelson also served as an Assistant Coach at Ball St., Drake, Arkansas and Marshall.

Before coaching basketball, Nelson played for the University of Florida from 1999-2003. He was All-SEC twice, and earned Third Team All-American honors. When he left Gainesville, he was the Gators’ all-time leader in three pointers made, and ranked 2nd in steals.

As a Senior in High School, Nelson was a McDonald’s All-American.

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NC State Basketball

Ernest Ross Announces He is Returning to NC State

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Power Forward Ernest Ross announced this morning that he is returning to NC State for his final year of eligibility.

 

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Last Friday, Ross committed to UTSA after entering the Transfer Portal on April 17th, but it looks like he had a change of heart over the past couple of days.

NC State has been in desperate need to add a Big out of the Portal. They have hosted ECU’s Ezra Ausar and Georgia’s Frank Anselem-Ibe, but neither of them have found a home yet. With the addition of Ross, NC State has added depth in the Frontcourt, and unless something changes, their roster is full with 13 scholarship players.

Ross played in 14 games this past season, averaging 3.4 minutes per contest. After playing in 34 games last season, averaging 11.4 minutes per contest, Ross saw his participation dip to a career low this season, but that didn’t for a second break his infectious personality. On the sideline, you could count on Ross every single game to be the heart and soul of the Wolfpack on the bench. To watch a player who played as little as he did, care as much as he did, makes me super proud that this young man represented NC State so well.

Ross was a consensus 4-star player in NC State’s 2021 recruiting class, with 247Sports ranking him as the #60 overall player nationally. ESPN ranked him as the #5 overall player in the state of Florida.

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NC State Basketball

A Matchup Between NC State & Marquette Next Season Might be in the Works

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According to NCAA.com’s Andy Katz, a matchup between NC State and Marquette next season might be in the works.

This past year, the Wolfpack defeated the Golden Eagles 67-58 in the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

NC State and Marquette have played one another 6 times overall, with the Wolfpack holding a 4-2 lead in the series, winning the past two matchups.

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NC State Basketball

NC State Men’s Basketball Will Play in the 2025 Maui Invitational

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The NC State Men’s Basketball Team will be playing in the 2025 Maui Invitational, on November 24-26 in Hawaii. This will mark the first time that NC State has ever played in the Maui Invitational.

NC State will be joined by Baylor, Oregon, Seton Hall, Texas, UNLV, USC and Chaminade.

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