Aaron Schoonmaker

Immaturity, inconsistency doom NC State

Posted March 22, 2013
Updated March 23, 2013

— In the end, the problems for North Carolina State came in the beginning.

Yes, that was the case on Friday as the Wolfpack fell behind by double digits early and were ousted by Temple in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, 76-72.

“In the first half, we came in there and didn’t bother to defend as well as we should, turned the ball over 10 times and they turned about every turnover into a basket,” said head coach Mark Gottfried.

And yes, that was the case for the season as a whole, as the Wolfpack impressively plummeted from a preseason No. 6 ranking to beyond the receiving votes cutline.

“When you come in the season with a target on your back like we had, people are going to give you their best shot,” said senior forward Richard Howell. “There were times when we came out and didn't give other teams our best shot. That's something that you have to do when you have a target on your back, especially at the start of the season.”

Didn’t give teams your best shot? Competitive sports creed No. 1: always give it your best shot.

The issues did not stem from talent. NC State was one of the most talented teams in the nation this season. All five starters averaged better than 12 points per game. There were future NBA players in every huddle, team meeting and practice.

The issues lied in maturity, continuity and consistency.

“I think this team struggled with a lot of things; number one, we had some immaturity at times,” Gottfried said. “It just seemed hard at times to have everybody buy in all the way. And for us to get better in the future, everybody needs to. Our young guys need to learn that lesson.

“At times this year that just seemed to be a struggle for our group. That was a hard thing for us to overcome basically all year long, from the way we started,” Gottfried added. “Some of the young guys, some of the older guys, and building character every day and doing things right every day, putting the team first, and then personal success and glory comes later.” Hoops Headquarters -- black 2014 NCAA men's interactive bracket

The Temple game was a microcosm of the season. The Wolfpack got the first bucket of the game on a Calvin Leslie dunk, and then fell behind 12-4. They were able to draw even at 15, and then fell behind by 16 at half.

NC State shot 70 percent from the floor in the second half, scored 50 points and was able to pull within a single possession multiple times in the final minutes. When the clock hit triple zeros, however, they came up short, and their impressive play for the final 20 minutes was overshadowed by their disappointing first 20.

“I really thought we were going to play well, play early,” said Gottfried. “Great, great days in practice leading up to today. Great energy in our locker room, and then we just started slow, and I don't think defensively we were nearly as good as we should have been early.”

The Wolfpack highs were high – much like their 10-game winning streak that spanned into conference play. Their lows were low – similar to their seven-game stretch in late January/early February where they dropped five conference games.

“I think at the end of the day, you have a team that had a good year but didn't have a great year,” Gottfried said. “It was good but not where I wanted it to be.”

Turning good to great

NC State will lose seniors Howell and Scott Wood next season, at least. The futures of Leslie and Lorenzo Brown are uncertain. But there is still undoubted optimism for the program going forward.

After posting 48 wins in a two-year span, tied for the most since 1982-83, the state of State is better now than when the upper classmen joined. They have a corps of top-tier talents with one year under their belt and a subsequent class with equally high promise.

“Me and Scott are definitely leaving a better place than what we first got to NC State,” Howell said. “It's been a great experience, especially these two years with Coach Gottfried and the type of turnaround that we all had.”

“We've been here through the ups and the downs. We both came here for pretty much the same reason, to put NC State back on the map,” echoed Wood. “We know it's in good hands with Coach Gottfried, and he's going to do everything he can to make them improve. I like where it's at, and I know Coach Gottfried is going to continue to do a good job with it.”

Words to keep in mind: consistency, maturity and giving it your best.

35 Comments

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  • dmccall Mar 26, 8:53 a.m.

    The issues lied in maturity, continuity and consistency.

    Are journalists suppose to always give it their best shot, too? Did the issues fail to tell the truth or does the author need to review the conjugation of "to lie"?

  • The Beast On The Hill Mar 25, 1:51 p.m.

    As much as I want to believe in MG, if this wasn't his second season I'd have fired him before... View More

    — Posted by 4st8h8unc

    I became a Tar Heel fan when I moved into Raleigh in the late 1960's and began to watch Dean Smith and Charlie Scott. I have been a Tar Heel ever since and I have never wavered....and I never will!

  • 4st8h8unc Mar 23, 6:27 p.m.

    As much as I want to believe in MG, if this wasn't his second season I'd have fired him before he reached Raleigh. There's no excuse for not having the team better prepared; and I"m not just speaking about this game. The entire season this team under performed, even when they won. It concerns me that coach wasn't able to improve on the cohesiveness and maturity of the team. Its a direct reflection on him. I would have bench Leslie half way through the season until he came to grips with the fact he's not the superstar the press has made him out to be. Talented yes, but talent doesn't make you a star. The real glue for this team was/is Howell, Mr. Consistency. If Leslie was anything like the superstar people have convinced him he is he'd have looked at the role model of the team and learned. Instead he bowed his chest every time he was called for a foul and looking surprised that they dare call a foul on the "Star".

    I wasn't impressed with Brown at the beginning of the year, but his improvement did impress me and I think he's one of the better PGs in college ball. Yes, he makes mistakes but hell, look at what he had to work with. Woods is only good for shooting 3s. He can't create his own shot and teams picked up on that early in the season. The only time he scored was when we was wide open and that was rare. The staff should have recognized this and developed more plays to get him that one or two seconds of open area to he needed..

    I've been a State fan since 73 when I moved to the State. I've never wavered, but at age 50 I'm just about done. I'm tired of seeing the same old ineptness of coaches and players year after year. State must be one of the stupidest and cheapest schools in the ACC. Explain why there are schools with less history than ours, smaller and less recognized which are able to hire quality coaches and recruite quality players? I'm a State grad and it pains me to say these things, but I've had it.

  • PackFan1983 Mar 23, 6:03 p.m.

    it'll take a while to change the culture at state. you don't go from being a 30 year poster... View More

    — Posted by buckets112

    Correct. Most people don't realize that Coach K did not get to .500 until five years at Duke.

  • duane11 Mar 23, 4:21 p.m.

    CJ scored 20 and it's still his fault. Tell one your kids to put the video game down and go play... View More

    — Posted by Toddler10-21

    i saw CJ give up 13 pts, or so, with pizz-poor defense in the first half...even the announcer commented on it...don't know how many he gave up in the 2nd half, as i didnt watch it...if you give up as many as you score, you are a big part of the problem, as you are negating yourself

  • duane11 Mar 23, 4:16 p.m.

    another example of why Brown is no point guard...end of the first half, 10+ seconds to go...Brown dribbles too long far away from the basket, waits til 3 seconds to go, gets frantic, loses the ball...State gets no shot off

  • hokies94vt@gmail.com Mar 23, 2:26 p.m.

    A darn shame they didn't play in the 1st half. The 2nd was impressive.

  • buckwheatbro Mar 23, 9:57 a.m.

    CJ can hit the bricks cause deyboy sucks. He attitude sucks. Dey team sucks. Dey coach sucks.

  • HeelHater Mar 23, 8:42 a.m.

    I'm ok that's it's over this year. It's been a distraction that, because of the inconsistently showing up to play ball, has caused me chest pains. Win or lose, I love my Wolfpack.

  • Toddler10-21 Mar 23, 8:02 a.m.

    CJ scored 20 and it's still his fault. Tell one your kids to put the video game down and go play some ball.
    Julia Mays. NO!

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