N.C. State has played four home games this season, three were really close.
The Wolfpack beat Georgia Southern, from the Sun Belt, by two points (81-79); Loyola-Chicago, from the Missouri Valley, by two points (79-77) and Boston University, from the Patriot League, by four points (77-73).
All three of those teams are in the top 150 of Ken Pomeroy’s computer rankings, not that N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried needed empirical data.
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Gottfried bristled when asked after the game about all the close calls.
“We won the game,” Gottfried said. “Come on, man.”
A win is a win, and better than any loss. Gottfried said the close calls, and losses (to Illinois and Creighton), are part of the learning process for an inexperienced team.
Gottfried used seven players for more than 15 minutes in Saturday’s win over Boston and four are freshmen.
“You look out there sometimes, you see a freshman, a freshman,” Gottfried said. “We had four freshmen out there on the floor together at one time today.
“I wish I could have a magic wand and make them all juniors and seniors. They’re not. So they’re going to learn. The best way for them to learn is to get right in the fire, just like they’re doing right now.”
According to Pomeroy’s experience metric, N.C. State ranks 310, out of 351 teams.
The Wolfpack will add another freshman to the mix when forward Omer Yurtseven is eligible on Dec. 15. The Wolfpack has to play one more game, on Saturday against Tennessee State, without the 7-foot Turk.
Gottfried has said all along his team will change once all the parts are in place. Sophomore wing Maverick Rowan has missed seven straight games with a concussion but did return to practice last week. With no mid-week game scheduled, the players have exams this week, there’s a chance Rowan could play in the next game.
Once Yurtseven and Rowan are in the fold, maybe Gottfried will change his mind about the defensive deficiencies. Right now, he’s not panicking about where his team is.
He defended the loss to Illinois, by 14 on the road last Tuesday, and the close call with Loyola after each team scored important wins on Saturday.
“Just saw Illinois beat VCU, pretty good win,” Gottfried said. “I know everybody thinks they’re just a crappy team. They ain’t bad. And Loyola just beat San Diego State today. Ain’t bad, either.”
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio