College basketball starts again in Raleigh tonight as the Wolfpack is set to tip-off against Miami (OH) in the newly named PNC Arena. After being named the pre-season favorite to win the ACC, a top 10 team in the country, and numerous other honors; I wouldn’t be surprised if the ceiling exploded from the pressure of all that hype. Many Wolfpack fans probably feel like they’ve been here before, and to guard against the annual heartbreak that is NC State sports, they remain cautiously optimistic.
The hype among Wolfpack Nation for even small achievements in recruiting can create the kind of expectations that have made us a laughing stock among other fan bases.
“Hey, did you hear a five-star O lineman named Rob Crisp committed?”
“ Yeah, everyone knows TOB is known for O line play, he’s really turning things around. I bet he’ll have an ACC Championship in two years.”
“Man, I can’t believe Sid landed J.J. Hickson, Tracy Smith, and some scrappy Puerto Rican by way of Miami…Javi Gonzalez I think.”
“Shit yeah, I heard that too. Sid’s ready to throw on the red jacket and cut down the nets again!”
Of course, after league play begins there is really only one refrain coming from the dark depths of Pack Pride forums: “FIRE HERB!” “FIRE TOB!” “FIRE SID!”
The posters there are a lot like the base of the GOP that tarnish any good candidate by making them wade into the shallow pit of craziness where they reside. But this year, let’s not let the inmates run the asylum.
This team has the potential to be very good. While most of the pre-season praise has been aimed at Calvin Leslie, Zo Brown might just be the best player on the team and best point guard in the ACC. Scott Wood will continue amaze behind the arch (the kid was taking 500 shots a day on a 10 ft rim at age 5) and if Richard Howell can stay out of foul trouble he’ll cause fits for big men across the country.
Add in Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren, and Tyler Lewis and you have a level of talent not seen in Raleigh since the 80s. With improvement, Thomas De Thaey and Jordan Vanderberg should be able to give Leslie and Howell a few minutes of rest each game.
From all accounts, it seems like the team chemistry that Mark Gottfried built in his first season as head coach has carried over to the All-American freshman class. If he can get them to play together for 40 minutes without getting in foul trouble…the Pack really could be back. So get the popcorn ready. At 7 o’clock tonight we’ll start to find out if this is going to be very good team, or something really special.