North Carolina State, the preseason favorite in the ACC in 2012-2013, lost Lorenzo Brown, Rodney Purvis, Scott Wood, C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell, also known as last season’s starting five.
It looks as if it’s going to be a long year in Raleigh for Mark Gottfried and Co., but the one bright spot could be the emergence of sophomore forward T.J. Waren. He was the Wolfpack’s top reserve, averaging 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds, shooting 62 percent from the floor. N.C. State will rely on him heavily this season, though following this summer heavy isn’t the word used to describe Warren.
This offseason Warren slimmed down from 240 to a lean 218 pounds, earning the nickname T.J. 2.0 from Bert Strelow of the Fayetteville Observer.
As Sterlow points out, Gottfried will have options when using Warren this season, either playing him at the four, or having him out on the wing.
“T.J. would cause a lot of nightmare matchups if he played the four (spot), because I really don’t think there’s any fours in the ACC that can step out and guard him on the perimeter,” sophomore point guard Tyler Lewis told Strelow.
Warren’s weight loss was a result of a competition between him and Lewis, his roommate and the only other member averaged double-digit minutes last season. According to Sterlow, Lewis was trying to bulk up, adding 15 pounds this offseason.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: