Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sophomores, better depth will help Lowe and N.C. State improve

N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe held his summer news conference Tuesday, and much of the attention, as expected, focused on the incoming freshmen. There’s no doubt point guard Ryan Harrow, guard Lorenzo Brown and forward C.J. Leslie give State an infusion of talent.

But the real difference in the Wolfpack’s season could be that, for the first time under Lowe, State has competition for playing time. Remember that State’s sophomore class is quite good, and college basketball players generally experience their greatest improvement from their freshmen to sophomore years.

State’s problem in recent years has been a lack of legitimate ACC players on the roster. That’s not the case now. Scott Wood started all 16 ACC games and averaged 28.9 minutes and 8.4 points.

With added strength, as detailed by A.J. Carr on GoPack.com, he should become even better. Look at it like this – wouldn’t State fans be thrilled if Brown averaged 28 minutes and 8 points in ACC play?

Sophomore Richard Howell missed the entire preseason and first four games with knee surgery but showed the potential to be a real beast inside by season’s end. He averaged 14.2 minutes and 5.3 points in ACC games.

Lowe, WRAL.com reports, said that Tracy Smith will play power forward and sophomore DeShawn Painter will compete for time at center. And you have to expect 7-1 sophomore Jordan Vandenberg to be improved and push for minutes as well. So remember, this is a sophomore class that helped turn around the malaise State had suffered in previous seasons and helped bring a tougher spirit back to Wolfpack basketball.

Lowe will have to balance out the playing time and build camaraderie, but overall, competition in practice makes for a much better team. Lowe finally will have that. The freshmen have a level of athleticism that surpasses the sophomore class, but the bottom line is Lowe has quality and quantity on the roster for the first time.

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