While the offseason for college basketball programs is very much about helping individual players improve their skill sets with an eye towards the upcoming season, it’s also about improving teamwork and leadership traits. In recent years more teams have gone to some form of military-influenced training to help in those areas, and there have been positive results. VCU and Utah are among those who have used such methods to help them on the court, and NC State has taken a similar path.
Mark Gottfried’s team, coming off of a Sweet 16 appearance, participated in The Program, a two-day session led by instructors and United States Marine Corps veterans Jake MacDonald and Jamie Slife with an eye towards improving in areas such as teamwork, leadership and communication. Those aspects will be important for a team that lost three of its top four scorers from a season ago in Trevor Lacey, Ralston Turner and Kyle Washington.
Above is a short video of the team’s experience in The Program, with multiple players having to step forward in leadership roles. Guards Cat Barber and Terry Henderson and big men Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya were among those entrusted with the task of leading certain drills, and at the end of the camp Caleb Martin received the Spartan Warrior t-shirt that all participants strive to earn.
The Wolfpack have the talent to make yet another NCAA tournament appearance under Gottfried, but in an ACC that will be tougher than it was a season ago the intangibles improved upon in The Program could prove to be highly valuable during the season.
Video credit: NC State Athletics
North Carolina State sophomore Cat Barber helped lead the Wolfpack to an improbable run to the Sweet 16 as a No. 8 seed. After a win in the Round of 32 over No. 1 seed Villanova, Barber was caught on video going on a profane outburst directed at President Barack Obama. Obama had picked Villanova to reach the Final Four in his bracket.
The video — which caught Barber motivating himself by using the perceived slights of another to get himself pumped up like many competitors tend to do — drew national attention since it was directed at the Commander in Chief.
Barber apologized to President Obama on Twitter on Monday, but he went a step further by sending an email through an N.C. State connection to the White House on Tuesday.
According to a story from Joe Giglio of the News Observer, Barber’s email apology was given to Obama’s former White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, who is an N.C. State graduate.
The email found its way to the President and Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried said the apology was accepted.
“He understood and he knew it was in the heat of the moment and accepted the apology,” Gottfried said of President Obama’s response.
Gottfried went on to say Barber’s reaction after the win was “100 percent in the heat of the moment, in a fun way.” He still wanted Barber to apologize and it’s probably the right move for all parties involved. Now the Wolfpack can move on and focus on their Sweet 16 against No. 4 seed Louisville this week.
NC State guard Cat Barber was taken out of Thursday night’s ACC Tournament quarterfinal loss to Duke after being leveled by a screen from Amile Jefferson.
The concern was that Barber, the team’s third-leading scorer, had suffered a concussion. On Friday afternoon, the program announced that was not the case and he will be able to appear in NC State’s next contest. The official release states he suffered spasms in his neck.
“He just didn’t see it,” Jefferson said when asked about the play, via Joe Gigilo of the News Observer. “I knew it was going to be a tough hit for him. That’s why after that timeout, I went to check on him, make sure he was all right.”
Even with the loss NC State remains in the projected tournament field as a No. 9 seed. The quarterfinal loss to Duke could serve as a blessing in disguise for Barber, who will have the rest of the week to recover before the NCAA tournament begins on Thursday afternoon.