Can NC State's Mark Gottfried Lead the Wolfpack to the Next Level?

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IJuly 28, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 23:  Head coach Mark Gottfried of the North Carolina State Wolfpack argues with a referee against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Midwest Regional Semifinal at Edward Jones Dome on March 23, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

College basketball coaches don't always start off well.

  • Mike Krzyzewski went 38-47 his first three years at Duke.
  • Dean Smith's first three years at UNC weren't much better (35-27).
  • Lefty Driesell's first two years were a less-than-memorable 27-25.

Mark Gottfried began his coaching tenure in Raleigh last year with a boom.

In his initial year at the Wolfpack helm, NC State went 24-13, which is the most wins the program has had since Jim Valvano's 1987-88 team notched a 24-8 record.

To put that mark into further context, those two dozen wins are nine more than the Pack won in the 2010-11 season.

On top of that, NC State advanced to the 2012 Sweet 16, the first time they made the NCAA Tournament at all since 2006.

But, Gottfried has to be chomping at the bit as he looks towards the 2012-13 season.

The Wolfpack return their top four scorers (C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood and Richard Howell) and top three rebounders (Howell, Leslie and Brown)

Gottfried also brought in's No.10 recruiting class, which includes a trio of McDonald's All-Americans.

With all of these instant accomplishments and the accompanying sky-high expectations, can he lead the Wolfpack to the next level?

One of the targeted areas of improvement should be their showing in conference regular season play.

Last season, NC State went 9-7 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, finishing in a tie for fourth with Virginia.

After winning four of their first five ACC matchups, the Pack lost six of their next nine conference contests.

If Gottfried can get everyone working together, NC State has a legitimate shot at winning the conference for the first time in 24 years.

The other target should be to get to the Final Four.

The school hasn't been to the national semifinals since Jimmy V's 1982-83 squad won it all.

The Pack has the talent, the depth and the experience to get a lot done this coming season.

While Gottfried is not a newcomer to March Madness, his postseason record (8-9) is very ordinary.

Prediction: NC State will win the conference regular season, be a No. 2 seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament and get to the Final Four in the ATL.