After the initial pushback over Mark Gottfried’s hire at North Carolina State — our old friend and NC State athletic director Debbie Yow disrupted her own press conference by accusing former Maryland coach Gary Williams of sabotaging the hiring process — the telegenic Gottfried surprised his critics by pumping life into the woebegone Wolfpack.
N.C. State suffered a setback Wednesday night, however, falling 82-72 in overtime to North Carolina Central in Raleigh. Jeremy Ingram scored 29 points as Central earned its first-ever win over an ACC team as N.C. State dropped with a thud to 2-2.
It was a lousy night for the newly expanded ACC, which saw member Georgia Tech fall at home 82-72 to Dayton. As Myron Medcalf writes for ESPN, this wasn’t the conference’s plan.
Back to Gottfried, the former Murray State and Alabama coach who was 48-24 in his previous two seasons in Raleigh. His first State squad went 24-13 and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Last year’s edition finished 24-11 and was bounced from the tourney in the second round which lead many experts to tab the Wolfpack among the year’s biggest underachievers.
To be fair, this is a transition year for Gottfried, whose team after heavy losses was picked to finish 10th in the ACC. Cat Barber, a freshman, paced the losers with 22 points. But State was hurt by the fact starters T.J. Warren and Desmond Lee fouled out late.
Meanwhile, N.C. Central is a team to watch. It returned seven players from a team that won 22 games last year and finished 15-1 in the MEAC. ”They’re a veteran team and they played like a veteran team,” Gottfried said.