Posted: 3:15 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013
The Wolfpack had media day Monday and as always it’s a time of optimism. State faces radically different expectations than last season, when the Pack was seen as a breakthrough Top Ten team. Didn’t happen of course, but not for the reasons we thought – frontcourt depth and Richard Howell foul trouble – but rather because of chemistry and selfishness.
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This year, Mark Gottfried is closer than ever to having his own players and most in fact are his own recruits – we think the only El Sid recruit left is senior Jordan Vandenberg and he’s not been much of a factor on the court – so the Pack is now really his team. And while it’s young, there is a talented core: T.J. Warren, who had a terrific freshman year, transfers Ralston Turner, Trevor Lacey, Desmond Lee, all able to contribute, Tyler Lewis who showed some chops when he got regular minutes late and four talented freshmen. Vandenberg is at least capable of spot duty and Staats Battle is at least capable of a few minutes if needed. He’s pretty fair for a walk-on.
Cat Barber, who got some scrutiny for alleged off-court issues in high school, is a significant talent and should do well. The other freshman might be more key because State needs help in the frontcourt fast and one of the three freshman big men is going to have to step up.
One of State’s problem hasn’t changed: this is a thin team. The Pack goes no more than 9-10 deep, unless someone is better than advertised, meaning that health is a really key issue.
State has one issue currently festering which could become more serious: Gottfried’s staff is accused of tampering with ASU recruit Devonte Graham. Last year, State was accused of tampering with South Carolina’s Damontre Harris, who ended up transferring to Florida. You don’t want that sort of accusation to become a pattern.