A fan, a coach, and the red sea of Wolfpack revelry

jgiglio@newsobserver.comJanuary 14, 2013 

— There were two distinct reactions to N.C. State’s big win over Duke on Saturday.

There was the euphoria of a hungry fan base, epitomized by Will Privette’s rise to Internet glory, contrasted by the earnestness of those inside the program, and best summed up by coach Mark Gottfried’s post-game interview with ESPN.

While hundreds of fans rushed the court after the clock hit all zeroes on State’s 84-76 win over No. 1 Duke, Gottfried fretted amongst the red sea of revelry to ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards about Wednesday’s game with Maryland.

Asked about the significance of the win after the game in his press conference, Gottfried relented after some parsed coachspeak.

“I’m happy for our fans,” Gottfried said. “My hope is we can continue to deliver.”

N.C. State is in rarefied air after Saturday’s win over the previously unbeaten Blue Devils. The Wolfpack (14-2) has a 10-game winning streak and a 3-0 ACC record for the first time since the 1988-89 season, which is notable since it’s also the last time the program won an ACC title.

Normally, a win over Duke or North Carolina would be enough to stoke the N.C. State players, and most did celebrate on the court after the game, but others were cautious to assign too much meaning to the win.

Senior guard Scott Wood noted Duke was missing injured forward Ryan Kelly and played the final 3 minutes without guard Seth Curry. Wood also noted unlike last season, the two teams will play twice this season, with the rematch scheduled for Feb. 7 in Durham.

“It’s big time for the program but at the same time you’ve got to understand, they’re not 100 percent and you’re going to see them again,” Wood said.

Former Pack great Julius Hodge expanded on Wood’s sentiment. Hodge took his 9-month-old son, Legacy, and 5-year-old daughter, Michaela Supreme, to PNC Arena on Saturday expecting an N.C. State win.

“I would have been disappointed if we gave that game to Duke,” said Hodge, the 2004 ACC player of the year who still regularly works out at the Dail Center and is close to the program.

“It’s a big win but this can’t be our only big win or the high point of the season.”

Few people got as caught up in the afterglow of the Wolfpack’s first win over a No. 1 team since 2004, like Privette, who rarely misses a home game.

Privette, a senior from Zebulon, got knocked out of his wheelchair as he stormed the court, which ESPN’s Dick Vitale pointed out during the broadcast.

Privette temporarily lost his chair, his eyeglasses and cell phone in the scrum at center court, before getting a lift from N.C. State star C.J. Leslie, who had just scored 25 points in the game.

“I was about to get crushed, but once C.J. saw me, he started pushing everyone away,” Privette, 23, said. “Then he just picked me up and he was jumping up and down and I just kept patting him on the head and saying, ‘Thank you.’ ”

Privette quickly got his chair back, and his glasses and phone. His mom, Debbie, called him and told him about Vitale’s comments and concern. Privette quickly let everyone know, via Twitter, he was OK.

Four hundred new Twitter followers, countless video clips across the Internet and newly minted “Roll Pack,” T-shirts later, Privette is the new face of an ACC upset.

After a crazy 24 hours, with his new-found fame, Privette tried to enjoy the final fumes of the Duke win on Sunday and keep it in perspective.

“We could lose to Wake,” Privette warned. “It’s hard being a State fan, you always expect the worse.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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