Return to Glory: 5 Keys for the Wolfpack to Make a Run at the ACC Title
There is a lot of buzz surrounding the 2011-12 Wolfpack. The fans in Raleigh are not only tired of being third wheel to Duke and UNC, but are also tired of finishing in the bottom tier of the ACC.
It’s up to new head coach Mark Gottfried to return a once-proud program back to glory. So far, he has the team re-energized and off to a 5-1 start, which includes an impressive 18-point second-half comeback against Texas.
These are five keys for the Wolfpack to make a run at the ACC title.
Keep C.J. Leslie Motivated
For the Wolfpack to contend for the ACC title this year, C.J. Leslie must drop the Randy Moss stereotype.
Leslie is arguably the most dominating athletic force in the ACC, but many times last year he seemed uninterested and only played hard in spurts.
But that was last year. This a new year, a new coaching staff and a new C.J. Six games into the season, Leslie leads the team with 16.7 points a game and seven blocks.
New head coach Mark Gottfried must make it his priority to keep Leslie engaged in every game and on every possession.
Give Scott Wood the Green Light
Green means go, or in the case: Shoot. Scott Wood is shooting a ridiculous 57% from behind the arc. This kind of 3-point accuracy gives the Wolfpack the ability to stretch the floor and keep teams from dropping down and double-teaming C.J. Leslie.
Wood is a weapon from deep and should shoot the ball every time he gets a clear look.
Richard Howell Must Average a Double-Double
C.J. Leslie is the Pack’s go-to guy and Scott Wood is their threat from deep, however, Richard Howell must be the most consistent player night in and night out for the Pack to contend for the ACC title.
During C.J. Leslie’s three-game suspension, he led the team in scoring and rebounding. Six games into the season, he is averaging 13.7 points and 8.8 rebounds a game.
If Howell can become the ultimate glue guy and average a double-double, look for the Pack to be contenders.
Play Without Fear!
Many times during the Sidney Lowe era the Wolfpack looked timid. Lowe’s pro-style slow motion offense seemed to handcuff what is a really athletic team.
The ACC has always been a fast-paced, up-tempo conference, and new head coach Mark Gottfried promises to embrace this style of play. Gottfried’s college-style offense has given the Pack a new-found confidence, a confidence they will need to compete with crosstown rivals Duke and UNC.
In six games this year, the Pack is already averaging 78.8 points a game, up eight points from last year's average of 70.7.
Solid Point Guard Play
Every championship-level ACC team has solid point guard play. NC State’s true point guard won’t suit up until next year, with Tyler Lewis coming in, who could be the next Chris Corchiani.
This year, however, Lorenzo Brown is running the point. Brown is a shooting guard, but with the lack of a true PG this year, it’s up to him to run the show. So far, Brown has 2.1 assist/turnover ratio. That’s not bad, but it is not great either.
For the Pack to contend, Brown must prove he can take care of the basketball and get the team in the right positions to make big plays.