State Now Three Points: Handling the hype and reading the tea leaves

jgiglio@newsobserver.comNovember 10, 2012 

— • Box score

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• Video of coach Mark Gottfried's post-game remarks

Three points from N.C. State's 97-59 win over Miami (Ohio):

1) Handling pressure is an either/or proposition.

You either handle the preseason pressure or you don't. It's like being pregnant, there's no in between. N.C. State didn't show any signs of being deluded by the hype in Friday's season-opening clinic. That's a credit to the coach and the four returning starters, who as coach Mark Gottfried pointed out after Friday's win:

"They've been down the road here. They understand if you don't play, you're going to get beat."

There was no danger of that on Friday, which doesn't mean there won't be lulls but as far as starts go, the Wolfpack couldn't have asked for a better one.

So much so that that a legitimate question before Friday's 38-point win was: Is N.C. State really the No. 6 in the country?

And after Friday's 38-point win a legitimate question is: Are there really five teams better?

Miami (Ohio) won nine games last year and didn't have much, if any, by way of ACC-level talent but when you play bad teams it's about you, not the opponent. And N.C. State provided a resounding answer to the "Can they handle the hype?" question on Friday.

If N.C. State's not going to be burdened by expectations, then there are very few weaknesses on this team.

(P.S. Don't believe the hype, it's a sequel)

2) Scott Wood was right

The senior guard astutely observed earlier this week, "We know the offense is probably not going to be our problem."

The 97 points were the most by a Wolfpack team since Nov. 26, 2004, when Julius Hodge's last team put up 99 on Campbell (which was preceded by the last 100-point game, a 100-66 win over East Carolina on Nov. 19, 2004).

N.C. State has hit the 90-point mark only four times in the previous six seasons, including a 91-61 win over Morehead State last November under Gottfried.

One good sign for N.C. State: Freshman guard Rodney Purvis made three of his five 3-point attempts. Someone other than Wood, who finished with 10 points, has to be able to hit from the outside this season.

If you want to pick nits, Lorenzo Brown went 0-for-2 from 3. To be great, State will need Brown to hit his jumpers this season.

3) So far, so good on the foul front

Richard Howell had two fouls in 26 minutes and C.J. Leslie had one in 27 minutes. In 37 games last season, Howell and Leslie combined for three fouls or less only three times.

Howell, who fouled out of five games last season and spent most of the ACC in early, first-half foul trouble, didn't pick up his first foul of the season until the 8:32 mark of the game.

Leslie was called for a push-off, correctly, at 17:16 in the first half but played the rest of the game without picking up a foul.

Leslie even took a charge, as called by regular ACC ref Ray Natili, in the first half. How many 50-50 calls did either Leslie or Howell get last season? If you're trying to read the tea leaves on this season, that might be the best sign from Friday's win for the Wolfpack.

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