RALEIGH, N.C. - The expectations are high, NC State basketball coach Mark Gottfried knows. And expectations were the topic of discussion at the team's annual campus media day on Monday.
His second edition of the Wolfpack is in the top 10, if not the top 5, of every major preseason poll that college basketball has to offer.
With one of the nation's best recruiting classes, one of its most dynamic point guards in junior Lorenzo Brown, one of its top 3-point shooters in senior Scott Wood, one of its best rebounders in senior Richard Howell and one of its most talented big men in C.J. Leslie, the Wolfpack is justifiably optimistic about the season that will begin in early November.
Gottfried saw a few glimpses of what is to come when the team went on a five-game exhibition tour of Spain and the Canary Islands back in August. Brown was spectacular, only a few weeks after knee surgery.
Freshman T.J. Warren impressed with his ability in the paint and on the boards.
It didn't even really matter that prized freshman Rodney Purvis, who was not yet cleared to play by the NCAA, didn't make the trip. He's good to go with his eligibility, and eager to let loose on the court with his teammates.
Wolfpack fans can see what's in store for the season on Friday night when Gottfried and his team host "Primetime With the Pack," an ESPN-televised evening of basketball at PNC Arena that will include a shooting contest, a brief scrimmage and a campout for students in the arena. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the event begins at 7 p.m
For Gottfried, this is the kickoff to the follow-up of his successful inaugural year, which included 24 overall wins, a winning record in the ACC and trips to the ACC semifinals and the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. This season, he wants more sustained success.
"Everybody says what a great season we had last year, but the reality is that's not true," Gottfried said Monday afternoon. "We had a good end to the season last year. We did some really nice things down the stretch and made it to the Sweet Sixteen. But earlier in the year we were not great.
"There were games last year where we could have done better, against Syracuse, against Stanford. If we want to be really good this year, we have to play well the entire year."
And, truth be told, Gottfried likes the attention his team has earned leading into the season, but he's not completely buying into the hype. It's similar to his 2002-03 team at Alabama, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation early that season.
"We were ranked No. 1 in December," Gottfried said. "Were we really the best team in the nation? I don't know.
"Sometimes, the teams ahead of you lose and you really haven't earned the right to be there. That's similar to us this year. We will be ranked high, but I am not sure we have earned that yet."
N.C. State Sports Information Dept.