Monday, February 2, 2009

Duke's results create hope for Wolfpack

Watching Duke hammer Virginia on Sunday, you couldn’t help but think that there’s hope for N.C. State this season.

Not hope in the sense that the Wolfpack will make a miraculous turn and get into contention for the NCAA tournament. But hope that N.C. State (11-8, 2-5 ACC) could win 16 or 17 games and have a shot at the NIT.


Over the last two weekends at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke has obliterated Maryland (85-44) and Virginia (79-54), and the game against the Cavaliers wasn’t as close as it appeared.

On Jan. 24, N.C. State lost 73-56 at Cameron but led 26-22 at halftime in a game that didn’t get out of reach until the final five minutes.

Point guards Farnold Degand and Julius Mays are improving for the Wolfpack, and the biggest benefit to N.C. State’s move to a big lineup has been senior Courtney Fells’ improvement.

The big lineup puts Fells back at shooting guard after he began the season at small forward. After scoring a career-high 24 points in Tuesday’s defeat of Miami, Fells led N.C. State with 22 points Saturday against North Carolina.

N.C. State’s biggest problem is its schedule. The Wolfpack plays just once against struggling Virginia and Maryland, but has two games remaining with Wake Forest and another at North Carolina.
But there still are enough winnable games on the schedule for this team to show progress in its final record after finishing 15-16 and in last place in the ACC last season. – Ken Tysiac