by Neil Morris
The one group who embraced the changin’ times was the Wolfpack players. Admittedly, they were playing a Miami (Ohio) team that finished 9-21 last year and didn’t appear capable of much more this campaign. Still, No. 6 N.C. State seized the task, jumping out to 10-0 lead and never looking back in grounding the outmatched RedHawks 97-59. In between, the closest Miami (OH) would get was a 21-15 margin midway through the first half. However, the lead was back to 19 by halftime.
While only one RedHawk notched double-digits, six Wolfpack players reached that mark, including every starter and sophomore Thomas de Thaey, who entered the game with only nine minutes remaining but sank four field goals, including two three-pointers. The Pack was led by Richard Howell and freshman Rodney Purvis, who scored 16 points each; Howell also added 10 rebounds. Lorenzo Brown picked up where he left off last year with a stat line of 15 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. And preseason ACC Player of the Year C.J. Leslie added 11 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, but after the game said he was unaware that NBA scouts representing the Toronto Raptors and Minnesota Timberwolves were in attendance.
Freshmen T.J. Warren (8 points) and Tyler Lewis (6 points, 6 assists) also enjoyed appreciable minutes, including a two-and-a-half minute stretch in the second half when Lewis tallied five points and a behind-the-back assist to Warren.
Gottfried appeared to spend much of the second half breaking in his new tires, at one point playing all three McDonald’s All-Americans at the same time. Indeed, the stock the program is already putting into their highly-touted newcomers was evident during postgame interviews when the four players made available to the press were vets Leslie and Brown…and frosh Purvis and Warren.
Meanwhile, the Wolfpack partisans wore the wide-eyed look of kids on Christmas morning. Holes remain that could be exploited by stouter competition, including the team’s lack of height in the paint, sometimes lax perimeter defense (a problem Brown specifically mentioned after the game) and bench inexperience—talented freshmen are still freshmen. But for this night, visions of championship banners danced in fans’ heads, at least the ones lucky enough to find a parking spot or decent Internet connection.