CJ Leslie’s return to the lineup should come as no surprise

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As we saw yesterday with Wyoming’s Heath Schroyer, its never too early to fire your head coach.

So when Sidney Lowe googles his name and sees posts like this popping up all over the place, its only a matter of time before he starts to get concerned, right?

It may also play a role in why CJ Leslie will be returning from his suspension today when the Wolfpack practice and will rejoin the team in competition when NC State heads to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest.

Now, I have no idea what Leslie did to get himself suspended for Saturday’s embarrassing loss at Duke. Lowe wouldn’t go any farther than to say it was a “violation of team rules”, which could mean Leslie was late for practice, missed class, missed a curfew, or took a baseball bat to the back of an assistant coaches head. While the one game suspension leads me to believe that it was more than likely not the latter that got him in trouble, Lowe is making the smart move — for his personal well being, at the least.

This was supposed to be the year that NC State competed. They were a near-consensus pick for the top 25 and the top four in the ACC in the preseason. The Wolfpack not only returned their star power forward Tracy Smith, they were bringing in a loaded recruiting class headlined by Leslie, a top 15 recruit.

The product on the court, however, has remained just has ugly as it was the previous three years of Lowe’s tenure. The Wolfpack have lost seven of their last eight games, they are getting mollywhopped on the road, and the only reason they aren’t in dead last in the conference is that Wake Forest is atrocious.

All this has happened while Duke is a favorite to win a second straight national title and North Carolina, who won their own title in 2009, has seemingly bounced all the way back from a down year in 2010.

If Lowe wants to keep his job, he is going to need his team to make an impressive turnaround late in the season. And if they are going to do that, they need CJ Leslie on the court and playing well.

Which is why, regardless of the rule that Leslie broke, he was going to be reinstated after the Duke game.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.