Entering the season, N.C. State was a team that had pretty high expectations considering they won four ACC games last year and lost a guy that averaged 23 points, four boards and four assists to the NBA.
But head coach Mark Gottfried had landed a commitment from Dennis Smith Jr., a top five pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He was bringing in Omer Yurtseven, a potential first round pick from Turkey. Torin Dorn was eligible. Terry Henderson was healthy. Maverick Rowan and Abdul-Malik Abu were back.
There was – and still is – enough talent on this team to envision a top six finish in a loaded ACC.
And yet, two weeks into league play, the Wolfpack are sitting a half-game out of last place in the conference after falling at Boston College on Wednesday night.
“I told our team we got better tonight,” Gottfried told reporters after the game. “We took a big step forward,” which … I mean … huh?
Boston College entered Wednesday 8-8 on the season with losses to Hartford and Nicholls State. They beat Syracuse at home – just a few days after Syracuse lost to St. John’s by 33 points in the Carrier Dome – but before Wednesday that was the lone win against ACC competition that the Eagles had landed in their last 22 games.
Now, in Gottfried’s defense, he has a point. The Wolfpack were 0-3 on the road this season, losing those games by a combined 83 points. Just three days before the trip up to Beantown, N.C. State had lost by 51 points at North Carolina.
So he’s right.
The Wolfpack were better.
But I’m not sure that’s something to brag about when your roster has Elite 8 potential, and I’m positive N.C. State fans don’t want to hear about how much better they are after losing to BC.
“Don’t care,” Gottfried told Joe Giglio of The News & Observer when that very point was made. “Don’t care if you do. Hell, I don’t really give a s*** if anybody does. We got better tonight.”
“You know, we’ve played four games in the league, three have been on the road. Most people think Boston College is just not very good, but they’re wrong. They beat Providence, beat Syracuse, they’re a good team.”
Again, Gottfried has a point.
BC is better than they were last year even if being better means they’re still going to finish in the bottom half of the league.
Let’s dig deeper. Why are they better? Because of sophomore guard Jerome Robinson, who had 24 points on Wednesday, and freshman guard Ky Bowman, who went for 19. They were BC’s two leading scorers Wednesday. They are BC’s two leading scorers this season.
Care to guess where they’re from?
Bowman is from Havelock, North Carolina. He originally committed to North Carolina to play football, but eventually decided on playing hoops at BC with offers from Cal, Memphis and Tulsa, according to 247 Sports.
Robinson? He’s from Raliegh. He played at Needham Broughton. You know who else played at Needham Broughton? Cam Gottfried, Mark’s son. They were best friends.
That’s who Gottfried lost to last night. He didn’t recruit either of them.
So while Gottfried does have a point, maybe it’s not the best idea to discuss getting better when an improvement from a 51-point loss to your archrival is getting whipped by an ACC bottom-feeder that’s led by two kids you didn’t want from your backyard.