2007 NC State Wolfpack Basketball Preview
Under new head coach Sidney Lowe (20- 16), the NC State Wolfpack (20- 16 overall, 7- 9 ACC) tied for 10th in the ACC last season. It was Lowe’s first season ever as a head coach, and in his rookie year, he led the club to the ACC championship game and to two NIT wins. Now he and his players have some experience on which they can build, and the Wolfpack fans are expecting even more this season but will they get to the conference tournaments?
Although the club earned a fine overall mark, the NC State season was marked by uneven play and NCAA point spreads. The team scored an average of 71.7 PPG, while opponents hit for 71.5 PPG. The Wolfpack grabbed 32.1 RPG to 33.6 for opposing teams. The good news is that the team’s field goal percentage of .491 ranked them second in the ACC, just behind the Tar Heels.
The frontcourt features sophomore Brandon Costner (16.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 47.4 FG%) and junior Ben McCauley (14.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 58.4 FG%). Both are excellent under pressure and both are able to provide plenty of quality minutes. Rookie J.J. Hickson, a top-ten prospect, is a 6’ 9”, 220-pound power forward. Strength and athleticism are two traits that Hickson, a MacDonald’s All-American, possesses.
Senior swingman Gavin Grant (14.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.8 APG, 47.3 FG%) is a playmaker, capable of slashing through defenses, grabbing the rebound or finding the open man with a slick pass. But he’s not a point man and that in a nutshell is the dilemma for NC State. Former NC point guard and standout Engin Atsur (11.3 PPG, 4.2 APG, 1.1 SPG) is now in the NBA. There are prospects but no one seems to possess all the tools needed.
Lowe, a former NC State point guard, is certainly a hometown favorite. But with little expected last season, the Wolfpack felt very little pressure and were able to play free and loose. This year will be different. Can Lowe guide this team to the next level—the conference tournament brackets? The Wolfpack have been to the tournament 22 times, made the Final Four three and won two national titles. If he can get his team into the Big Dance, it’ll feel like old times again to the NC State faithful.