RALEIGH — N.C. State likely will face first-place Miami today without injured guard Lorenzo Brown.
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said his team must be able to respond without one of its best players.
A Wolfpack legend who knows all about key injuries called it an opportunity for the current team to get better.
"They havent gone through any adversity yet," said former guard Dereck Whittenburg, one of the leaders on N.C. States 1983 national championship team. "Thats when you find out about a team and whether it will come together or fall apart."
Whittenburg broke his right foot in January of the Wolfpacks championship season, in a home game against Virginia. He missed 14 games but returned to help the Wolfpack make one of the most memorable runs in NCAA history.
"Its part of basketball," said Whittenburg, now an analyst for ESPN. "Every great team has to be able to handle adversity."
Brown sprained his left ankle in the first half of Tuesdays loss at Virginia, a coincidence that caught Whittenburgs attention.
Brown, who averaged 14.7 points and 8.7 assists in the first seven ACC games, has been in a walking boot since Tuesdays injury. Gottfried did not completely rule out Brown for the Miami game, but the coach did not sound optimistic.
"The probability, in my mind, for him to be recovered enough to cut and move and sprint and jump is pretty slim," Gottfried said. "We have to prepare as if hes not going to play and then well go from there."
Freshmen Rodney Purvis, who has started at shooting guard most of the season, and Tyler Lewis, a reserve who has played limited minutes, would replace Brown at the point, Gottfried said.
Gottfried did not know how much time Brown could potentially miss. The coach said Brown had X-rays on his injured foot, which cleared him of any serious injuries, but did not give a timetable for Browns return.
Browns injury is only one issue for the Wolfpack from Tuesdays loss.
Late in the second half, ESPNs broadcast focused on senior forward Richard Howell and freshman forward T.J. Warren trading words after a defensive lapse.
Gottfried didnt think the animated exchange was a big deal. Neither did senior guard Scott Wood.
"Sometimes in the heat of the moment, when you are competing as hard as you can, I think some of that happens," Gottfried said. "You deal with it and you move on."
Gottfried said the players are "absolutely, 100 percent" together and pulling in the right direction.
Wood said the veteran quartet, of him, Howell, Brown and C.J. Leslie, would not let "one dispute ruin our season."
"I think were fine," Wood said. "Our problem isnt that were not working hard or playing together."
Wood pointed to a lack of execution on offense in late-game situations as the source of the teams problems in a one-point loss at Maryland, a two-point loss at Wake Forest and Tuesdays three-point loss at Virginia.
Gottfried said his team is close to figuring out how to take the next step. Browns injury introduces another hurdle, one Gottfried hopes his team can handle.
"Injuries affect everybody," Gottfried said. "Its part of life, you have to deal with it and youve got roll on and keep fighting."