ACC Hoops: State, Wake want elite status
RALEIGH ó North Carolina State coach Sidney Lowe sounds confident when talking about his fourth season with the program he led to a national championship as a player a quarter-century ago.
Although the coach repeatedly says the Wolfpack is heading in the right direction, it’s unclear exactly what it all means for a program that had five straight NCAA bids before his arrival. The Wolfpack was picked to finish last in the ACC.
N.C. State must replace the scoring lost with the departures of Brandon Costner, Ben McCauley and Courtney Fells. That puts the burden on Tracy Smith inside and senior Dennis Horner on the perimeter. N.C. State also is still trying to sort out its point guard race, which is primarily between Javi Gonzalez and Julius Mays.
WINSTON-SALEM ó Wake Forest returned to the ACC’s elite last season, and now the Demon Deacons want to stay there.
That could be tough. They return only one double-figure scorer from the team that reached No. 1 for the second time in school history and made its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2005.
But coach Dino Gaudio is hoping that forward Al-Farouq Aminu can pick up the slack for a lineup that will be without two underclassmen who bolted for the NBA after their sophomore seasons.
The key might be Ishmael Smith. The speedy point guard has the backcourt all to himself now that breakout star Jeff Teague is in the pros.
Smith is being asked to push the tempo, get Aminu and big man Chas McFarland plenty of touches and rediscover his shooting stroke.