clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

ACC Preview # 4 - N.C. State

We published this preview a few days ago, and accidentally cut off the top
paragraph. Here is the correct story.

After several tough seasons in Raleigh, Herb Sendek's Wolfpack broke through
last season and made it to the NCAA Tournament. Among other accomplishments,
they were the last team to beat national champs Maryland, knocking them out of
the ACC Tournament.

From that team, State loses little, though they do lose their starting
backcourt. It wasn't a terrible backcourt, but it is replaceable.
Anthony Grundy was an excellent defender, but he was also eccentric offensively,
and could shoot State out of a game as quickly as he could do anything
else. Archie Miller had a great outside shot, but he played his senior
season on a bad leg. On top of that, he was 5-7 on a good day. A 5-7 guy
with leg problems isn't the answer to anything. Yet State had a great run
with those guys in the backcourt.

The real question is: how did State go from the gang that couldn't shoot
straight to a team which ran an elegant offense? After several years of
admiring Herb Sendek's defense, only to be baffled by the utter lack of
offensive sophistication, it's hard not to think that new coaching addition
Larry Hunter had a huge impact.

Hunter, who was fired at Ohio despite a solid record, was hired by Sendek
last year and asked to perform an audit. Suddenly, State's defense was
complimented by a highly intelligent offense featuring screens and layups, a
high-post Evtimov who sometimes passed like a dream, and Archie Miller to keep
everything honest with his deadly three point range.

State has yet to bring in a really top-ranked point guard, and as a result,
sophomore Julius Hodge may well be asked to carry the load. Hodge had a great
freshman year, though he had some growing pains along the way. For one, he has a
mouth on him. Not shocking for a New Yorker, but it cost him a few times.
For another, at 6-6 and only 180, he was almost frail. Yet clearly he
established himself as a rising star, and is talented enough to be the point.

Josh Powell was at times just sensational, but as the ACC season wore on, he
wore down. A summer of weights will help him, and he should begin emerging
as a consistent force.

Marcus Melvin also began to prove himself, and had, overall, an excellent

But our favorite player on this team was Ilian Evtimov, who, after about
three games, established himself as the best Evtimov to ever play in the
ACC. State used him in the high post, and between an accurate jumper and
crisp passes to cutters, he was excellent and wise beyond his years.

Senior Clifford Crawford returns, though he has never quite caught on at
State, as does Scooter Sherrill, who also has a way to go to live up to his high
school clippings.

Jordan Collins had a few moments, and any DeMatha kid is worth a little

Levi Watkins lost almost the entire ACC season to injury, so he's a bit of

State has to be excited about the incoming class, too: 6-4 Cameron Bennerman
is a high-level athlete with a 40+ vertical leap. Justin Flatt, also 6-4,
is reputed to be a superb outside shooter. Dominick Mejia, again 6-4, is reputed
to be a solid player and a combo guard.

Adam Simon, a 7-0 kid from Burlington is the son of the Elon coach (who is
married to Gail Goestenkor), and a guy who has intrigued recruiting
analysts. For one, he's a great outside shooter. He has some
significant potential, and if he can develop, he could have a big impact - but
probably later in his career.

So basically you trade Archie Miller and Anthony Grundy for Bennerman, Flatt,
and Mejia, and a roster full of talent which is a year older and stronger.
With a little commitment, Bennerman could quickly become a better defender than
Grundy, and State has enough talent to make up for Miller's departure, at least
from the outside. And let's face it: Archie was game, he was tough as
nails, and he gave everything he had. He was also basically a crippled 5-7
specialist last year. Leadership is an unknown for anyone not close to a
team, but physically, State is upgrading.

The question comes back to the offense now. With, presumably, Hodge at
the point, and no fragile Miller to worry about, what will they do? Will they
keep the same structure? Or will they, finally, go uptempo as Sendek promises
every fall? A fast break featuring Hodge, Powell, and Bennerman could be
amazingly fun to watch.

We're still not sure on this bunch. Give Sendek enormous credit for bringing
in another head coach, and for setting himself up for articles like this one
(hey, on the other hand, it beats getting fired). The talent is solid
enough to do some great things. You'd think they could match last season's
record, and probably go further. But they've surprised us before,
too. Still, Sendek should do well with this group.