NC State dealing with life in the hoops fast lane
Posted April 1, 2013
Updated April 2, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — NC State is now dealing with life in the fast lane.
Back in the 1970's, the Eagles suggested such a life would “surely make you lose your mind.” But for NC State, I’ll propose a different reaction: This is the standard initiation fee when you try to join college basketball’s best.
In less than a week, State has lost five of their top six players: Richard Howell and Scott Wood to graduation, CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown to the NBA draft, and Rodney Purvis to transfer. That’s a devastating set of losses for a team that dropped its opening-round game in the NCAA tournament.
But it comes with the territory… Just ask the folks in Durham and Chapel Hill.
After all, that’s the level the Pack is aiming for – and talented players tend not to stay in school for four years. The nation’s top programs have been dealing with this phenomena for more than a decade now, and NC State is now getting their taste.
State has more talent on the way for next season - Scout.com ranks the Wolfpack’s recruiting class as the 9th best nationally. Incorporating that talent alongside returning players like TJ Warren and Tyler Lewis will be the challenge for Mark Gottfried, and the level to which he succeeds with a mostly-clean slate next season will likely give us much insight into State’s future.
Like a lot of people, I miss the days when top players stayed in college. Teams had more clearly-defined identities back then. But those days are gone – and talking about them is about as constructive as shopping for pagers or debating the best games on Atari.
In today’s college basketball world, the window of opportunity with a particular group of players is much, much smaller. When Georgetown lost to Carolina in 1982, the Hoyas had three more cracks at winning a title with Patrick Ewing. A scenario like that would be unlikely at best today.
This brings us back to NC State. The 2012-13 Wolfpack season will likely be remembered as disappointing, given the expectations. But I’ll argue it’s better to be in the conversation than not. State was outside of the conversation for a long time. You have to walk before you run, and this team put in a lot of good strong laps.
The Pack got a taste of the fast lane this year. Now they’re paying the bill in terms of a roster reset - and it’s generally a price worth paying.