The “Battle Cannon” chant started with about 5 minutes left in N.C. State’s season-opening win over Jackson State last Friday.
The Wolfpack had a 37-point lead and the home crowd was anxious for senior guard Staats Battle and junior guard Chase Cannon to get on the floor.
The fans got what they wanted a few minutes later when the pair led a group of walk-ons – sophomore guard Patrick Wallace, sophomore forward Chris Brickhouse and freshman guard Chris Corchiani Jr. – for their first bit of extended action of the season.
If the self-dubbed “SWAT” team gets in the game, that’s usually a good sign, junior guard Trevor Lacey said.
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“That’s the goal, we want to see those guys got on the court,” Lacey said.
Lacey said it usually means N.C. State (2-0), which faces Jacksonville on Thursday night, is up big and the game is out of reach.
Lacey, who starts this season for the Wolfpack, spent most of his time with the walk-ons last season. The junior guard had to sit out under NCAA rules after transferring from Alabama and worked with the scout team to prepare the Wolfpack’s starters.
He said Battle, Cannon, Wallace, Brickhouse and Corchiani – who are all from the state of North Carolina – put in a lot of work behind the scenes without interest for credit for their important contributions.
“No one sees what they do every day in practice,” Lacey said. “I think they have the hardest job.”
The biggest job of the walk-ons is to learn the other team’s offense, usually on short notice. Assistant coach Bobby Lutz gives them the scouting report and they’re expected to learn the plays and run them.
“Right when we’re learning it’s challenging,” said Corchiani, a Raleigh native whose father was a star point guard for the Wolfpack in the late 1980s and early ’90s. “Once we get going and we’re running against the starters, we get into the flow of it and it gets easier.”
Battle, who is from Raleigh and played in high school at Broughton, has made the most of a second chance. He missed the second semester of his sophomore season in 2013 after a driving while impaired charge.
He returned to school and the team last season. Before this season began, Gottfried awarded him with a scholarship. The video of Gottfried making the announcement to the team was recently posted on the school’s web site.
“It’s more of a gift to my parents because they’ve been so good to me,” Battle said of his scholarship status. “But my role with the team is still the same, nothing has really changed. It’s still the walk-on life for me.”
Battle and Cannon have become pseudo-celebrities for their videos on GoPack.com, usually off-beat interviews with their teammates. But there’s some skill to the walk-on unit.
Wallace might be the best shooter on the team. He made a 3-pointer against N.C. Central last season with 2.7 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
“Any time (a team plays) zone,” Lacey said “Patrick Wallace could come in and make 10 3s.”
Battle and Cannon are always hunting 3-pointers. Brickhouse, also a Broughton product, is one of the most athletic players on the team. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound sophomore can bench press 360 pounds and has a 39.5-inch vertical jump.
Brickhouse, who was a standout tight end on the Broughton football team, had a pair of dunks at the end of the Jackson State game. The first, an alley-oop from Wallace, brought the house down.
“That was fun,” Brickhouse said.
His second dunk, with 5 seconds left, irritated Jackson State coach Wayne Brent, but gave the group eight points in about 2 minutes.
The “SWAT” team tried to get the alley-oop on ESPN’s “Top 10” plays but the Twitter movement didn’t gain much traction.
“It didn’t get going like we thought it would,” Corchiani said. “But we’ll try to get another one.”