From Inside Carolina
Quote:NORTH CAROLINA STATE
By all accounts, the Wolfpack recruiting year was fine but the State coaching staff did its best job in simply keeping Julius Hodge around for another season.
The league's reigning player of the year, the 6-7 Hodge and his all-around game would have made him a prime target in the NBA draft. But Hodge opted to return for his senior season in Raleigh, and that fact alone again makes State a leading contender.
The ultra-competitive Hodge was second in the conference in scoring at 18.2 points per game, ranked seventh in assists (3.6), ninth in rebounding (6.4), fourth in free throw percentage (.828) and led the ACC in field goal percentage (.507).
Word is he's working harder in the weight room than ever and is now consistently weighing in at 200 pounds on that lanky, hard-to-guard frame -- bad news around a league that already had trouble containing him.
PROGRAM OVERVIEW: Coach Herb Sendek seems to have weathered the storm of some lean years at N.C. State. Suddenly, the Pack has three consecutive upper division finishes in the top basketball league in the land, including last season's surprising second-place showing.
Now entering his ninth season at State, Sendek has three consecutive NCAA appearances and two trips to the ACC final in the past three years.
The constant question is can the Pack consistently recruit the big-time players to compete with Duke and Carolina year-in and year-out. At least the last couple of seasons, the answer is an emphatic "yes."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You always want to do better, you always want to be further ahead. We feel like we've made steady and continued progress. I think we really had a good season this past year. Even our earlier teams that didn't cross that magical threshold of the NCAA Tournament can be looked on retrospectively with great pride because those guys helped to build a bridge to where we are now." -- Coach Herb Sendek.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
KEY RECRUITS AND TRANSFERS: Guard Tony Bethel -- Started two years at Georgetown before transferring to State last fall. The 6-2 point guard averaged 10.5 points, 3.1 assists and played over 30 minutes a game in his two seasons with the Hoyas. Can step right in and help fill the void left by the graduation of Scooter Sherrill.
Forward Andrew Brackman -- A 6-10 power forward, Brackman is also a big-time baseball prospect and plans to play both sports for the Pack. He starred at Cincinnati's Moeller High School and has a world of potential, particularly if Herb Sendek could keep him just on the hardwoods.
Forward Gavin Grant -- Was a high school teammate of Julius Hodge. The 6-7 Bronx native has the combination of skills -- scoring, passing, moving without the ball -- to be effective in the Pack's Princeton-styled offense.
Center Cedric Simmons -- Rated the top prospect in the state, the 6-10 Simmons started at West Brunswick High in Shallotte, N.C., and needs to have an immediate impact to help bolster State's suspect inside game. Quick and athletic, Simmons could be a star sooner rather than later.
INJURY IMPACT: Junior Ilian Evtimov, who missed the entire 2002-03 season with a torn ACL, had surgery on his other knee in mid-June. Sendek estimated a six-week rehabilitation for the crafty Bulgarian forward, a real key in State's motion offense. Evtimov had surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus but is expected back on the court by the end of July. Another international import, sophomore guard Engin Atsur, is also expected back for the fall semester in mid-August despite his appointment to the Turkish National Team. Atsur will get to play a limited schedule with that squad, including their August 8 meeting with the U.S. National Team.
|07-13-2004 06:19 PM