This season's Wolfpack cooler, calmer, still hungry

jwgiglio@newsobserver.comMarch 19, 2013 

NC State, Wake Forest, basketball, NCAA

N.C. State's Richard Howell (1), right, talks with Scott Wood (15) during the second half of N.C. State's 81-66 victory over Wake Forest at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. Wednesday, March 6, 2013.


— The pure emotion and spontaneity of the moment still lives and breathes on YouTube.

There’s N.C. State last March, after being cruelly toyed with by CBS, erupting after seeing its name in the NCAA tournament bracket. A group of players jumped off the couch, resembling Tom Cruise on Oprah.

Alex Johnson danced and DeShawn Painter gave coach Mark Gottfried a bear hug.

There was no wild celebration, or at least YouTube evidence of one, on Sunday when the Wolfpack got the No. 8 seed in the East Region to face No. 9 Temple on Friday in Dayton, Ohio.

“We all just kind of clapped our hands,” senior Scott Wood said.

“We didn’t come out of our seats,” Gottfried said. “The suspense may not have been like a year ago, but I think our guys are really excited about playing.”

N.C. State’s entry into the 2012 NCAA tournament was in many ways a second chance. After an emotional loss to North Carolina in the ACC tournament, the Wolfpack wasn’t sure it would make the NCAA tournament.

When its name popped up on the CBS screen, out came the emotion, and N.C. State played like a team gambling with house money.

The Wolfpack’s entry into the 2013 tournament is more of a last chance. After a fifth-place finish in the ACC, and two wins in the ACC tournament, seniors Wood and Richard Howell enter the NCAA tournament knowing the next game could be their last.

Juniors C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown are also expected to leave early for the NBA. The veteran group experienced success last March. As the 11th seed in the Midwest Region, the Wolfpack dissected sixth-seeded San Diego State in the Round of 64 and then knocked off third-seeded Georgetown for a spot in the Sweet 16 in St. Louis.

Just like last year, the tournament starts in the state of Ohio. Not that Gottfried was particularly interested in a trip down memory lane on Tuesday.

“This isn’t last year,” said Gottfried, who has a 7-8 record in eight NCAA tournament trips. “Everybody likes to talk about last year. This is a different year, it’s a different team.

“I think this team is hungry. I think that we’ve won eight of our last 11 shows that this team has played well down the stretch. They want to win.”

One similarity to last year’s tournament Gottfried wouldn’t mind is a healthy Howell. The senior forward hobbled through the last three halves of the ACC tournament with an injured right leg.

He was kneed twice by Virginia forward Akil Mitchell in Friday’s quarterfinals and wasn’t at full strength for the loss to Miami. Howell scored 22 points in the opening-round win against San Diego State last year.

Gottfried said Howell was better but also said that Brown had tweaked his left ankle, which was first injured on Jan. 29 and caused him to miss two games in February.

“I think we’ll be healthy and ready to go,” Gottfried said.

•  Lowe case rescheduled: Former N.C. State basketball coach Sidney Lowe’s court date for tax evasion was rescheduled for May 29 on Tuesday.

Lowe was arrested last month in Wake County and charged for failure to file and pay state income tax in 2009, 2010 and 2011. It is unclear how much he owes the state of North Carolina in taxes. Lowe had a base salary of about $210,000 annually, and his total compensation was about $900,000 at N.C. State.

Lowe was the Wolfpack’s coach from 2006-11, going 86-78 in five seasons, and is now an assistant for the Utah Jazz in the NBA. He was on the Utah bench Monday night for the Jazz’s 90-83 home loss to the New York Knicks.

Lowe, 53, still owns a home in Wake Forest, where he was arrested on Feb. 18.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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