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Wolfpack returns to Reynolds

Posted Thursday, December 8, 2005

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Raleigh, NC - The Wolfpack will make its annual return to the “Big Barn” on Saturday when NC State takes on Appalachian State. The venerable Reynolds Coliseum served as the home of the Wolfpack from 1949-99 and was the site of 766 NC State basketball games, three Southern Conference Tournaments, 13 ACC Tournaments, eight NCAA regionals and varous NIT appearances.

The Wolfpack played its first game in Reynolds on December 2, 1949 against Washington & Lee. NC State’s last contest with the old coliseum as its home was on March 15, 1999, when the Pack lost to Princeton, 61-58, in the second round of the NIT.

The Wolfpack is 3-0 in its annual ‘Heritage Game’ in Reynolds, defeating NC A&T 101-63 in 2002-03, winning over Hartford, 78-49, in 2003-04 and defeating Liberty, 94-60, last season.

The Wolfpack posted an overall record of 589-177 (.769) in the 50-year history of Reynolds Coliseum, and has added victories in the three seasons that it has played Heritage games there. Herb Sendek boasted a successful tenure in Reynolds, whch was home of the Wolfpack during his first three seasons with the program. His teams posted a 39-17 (.696) mark in Reynolds, with a record of 29-3 (.906) in non-conference games (not including the Heritage games since the Pack has moved to the RBC Center).

TEAM TAKES A BREATHER: After opening the season with a flurry of games, the Wolfpack has had 10 days off between games in order to take final exams. That's the longest break a Wolfpack team has had since 1997, when Herb Sendek's second NC State team played a game on Dec. 7 and did not play again until Dec. 18.

PACK TURNS IT OVER AT IOWA: The Wolfpack lost a hard-fought contest at 14th-ranked Iowa in its last outing, falling 42-45 and tying for the lowest scoring output for the Wolfpack under Herb Sendek's (State had a 42-51 loss at Clemson on 1/18/97, Sendke's first season). It marked the 17th time in Herb Sendek's 10-year tenure that the Pack has held an opponent to 45 points or less. NC State turned the ball over 24 times in the contest (Iowa wasn't much better with 19 miscues) and missed half of its free throw attempts (5-10). The November 30 game marked the earliest in the season that NC State has played a ranked opponent under Sendek.

60 IS MAGIC NUMBER: Solid defense has been the calling card for Herb Sendek teams over the years. The Wolfpack has led the ACC in scoring defense four times in his eight seasons as head coach, and ranked second in the league last season with just 66.1 points allowed. Heading into this season, Wolfpack opponents had averaged just 65.0 points per game under Sendek.

NC State has been particularly effective when holding its opponent to 60 points or less in recent campaigns. During Sendek’s tenure, the Pack has held the opponent under that scoring mark 107 times, including 10 times last season and five times already in 2005-06. In other words, in 37% of its games under Sendek (111 of 297), the Pack has held the opponent to 60 points or less. In the past nine campaigns, the Pack posts an 94-17 mark when holding the opposition to 60 or less and has won 40 of its last 45 games when doing so.

FORCING FUMBLES: NC State's opponents have averaged a whopping 17.7 turnovers per game in the early season, with all six foes turning the ball over at least 15 times. The opposition has tallied just 60 assists (10 per game) for a 0.57 assist-to-turnover ratio. NC State's turnover tally stands at 13.8 per game, but the team's 15.8 assists gives the Pack a solid +1.14 assist-toturnover ratio - the third-best in the ACC.

"THE BEAST" LEADS THE PACK: When former Wolfpack standout Julius Hodge visited Raleigh in September, he had one comment about his former teammates: "Cedric is a BEAST!"

He was referring to sophomore center Cedric Simmons, who has not only added 20 pounds to his 6-9 frame, but has also upped his level of play. Simmons' beastliness was on center stage in the Wolfpack's three-point loss at Iowa, when he posted his first career double-double. He tallied 13 points n 5-8 shooting and pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds. He also had career-best eight blocked shots - a mark which ties for the third-best single game mark in school history and was the best for a Wolfpack player since 1995.

Simmons became the first player in NC State history to ever post five or more assists and five or more blocks in the same game against Iowa.

Simmons currently ranks fourth in the ACC in field goal percentage (.625) and second in blocked shots with three per game.

SENSATIONAL SOPHOMORES LEAD PACK: They may be young, but they're experienced - the Wolfpack's trio of talented sophomores are currently ranked as the first, fourth and fifth-leading scorers on the squad.

Sophomores Cedric Simmons, Gavin Grant and Andrew Brackman combined to play 1,396 minutes last season, but are almost a third of the way to that total in just six games this season (475 total minutes) as all three have started all six games this season.

Simmons, who averaged just 3.5 points as a rookie, is leading the team in scoring with 13.3 ppg. Simmons also leads the team in blocked shots with 18 and rebounds with 7.0 per game. He and roommate Gavin Grant, who averaged 4.2 points last season, each scored career
highs of 22 points in the Nov. 20 win over Delaware.

Grant is now ranked fourth on the team with 9.8 points per game, and ranks second on the team in rebounds with 5.7 and leads the team in assists with 27. HIs 4.5 assists per game is tied for third in the ACC.

Brackman led last year's rookies with 7.4 points per game, and is now averaging 8.0 per outing. He has blocked eightshots this season.

THE 'PACK' HORSE: Every team needs a Packhorse - the guy who may not be the flashiest player on the court, but who carries the load.

Junior guard Engin Atsür may not be a stallion, but he has definitely been NC State's Pack Horse in the last couple of seasons. Atsür was the only player to start every game for NC State last season and ranked second in minutes played. This season, he leads the team in minutes (29.8 per game), is shooting 51% from the field, 37% on three's and 71% from the charity stripe. He ranks second on the team with 22 assists (against 17 turnovers).

Atsür ranks 15th in the ACC in assists, is tied for 11th in steals. and 15th in assist-to-turnover ratio.

But Atsür's biggest contributions come on the defensive end of the court. He ranks third on the team in deflections (35) and leads the team in steals (12). Atsür is coming off what might have been the worst game of his career. His five turnovers at Iowa were the most
since his freshman campaign and tied his career high.

WOLFPACK OPENS WITH FIVE VICTORIES: NC State opened the 2005-06 campaign with a 5-0 mark, marking the fifth time in Herb Sendek's 10 seasons that the Pack has posted a 5-0 start. Last season's 8-0 record to open the season was the best start for the Wolfpack under Sendek and the best for the Wolfpack since 1981-82, when Jim Valvano's squad opened 9-0.

The Wolfpack opened the 2005-06 campaign with three victories in three days, sweeping the field at the Hispanic College Fund Classic. The Wolfpack posted a 30-point win over Stetson (91-61), defeated The Citadel 91-59, then won over Delaware, 73-57.

SWEET CHARITY FOR WOLFPACK: NC State has taken 156 trips to the charity stripe in its first six games, including 39 against Delaware and 37 against The Citadel. The Pack's 26 trips to the line per game ranks third in the ACC.

TO THREE OR NOT TO THREE: NC State has now hit at least one threepointer in 506 straight contests, a streak that dates back to the Wake Forest game on March 4, 1989.

That streak looked to be in jeopardy on Nov. 20 versus Delaware, however. The Pack missed its first nine three-pointers and didn't connect until the 3:50 mark in the second half, when Ilian Evtimov nailed a three. The team ended up going 1-11 from behind the arc, marking the lowest three-point field goal total for the Wolfpack since Feb. 22, 2003, when the team shot just 1-10 against Duke. The Pack must have used up all its three's the night before. State connected on 14 three-pointers against The Citadel, the most since Nov. 26 of last season against Campbell.

For the season, the Pack is averaging 7.17 three-pointers made per game, third in the ACC.

PACK POWERFUL VERSUS NONCONFERENCE COMPETITION: NC State has posted a 96-32 record against non-conference competition
under Herb Sendek (86-23 in the regular season) and posts an impressive 52-5 home record against non-conference opponents since the Wolfpack began playing in the RBC Center in 1999-2000. That gives NC State a 91 percent winning mark against non-conference competition at home. The squad has also won three games against non-conference opponents in Reynolds Coliseum during that time frame.

Overall, Sendek’s squads have won 77% of their games in the RBC Center, posting an 81-24 mark.

GRANT IS MVP: Sophomore guard/forward Gavin Grant was named the MVP of the Hispanic College Fund Classic after averaging 13.7 points, six rebounds and five assists in the Wolfpack's first three contests.

Grant turned in his first career doubledouble in the season opener, tallying 13 points and 10 assists. That was the highest assist total for a Wolfpack player since December of 2002.

In the final game against Delaware, the Bronx, N.Y., native scored a career-high 22 points on 6-12 shooting, hitting 10 of his 13 free throw attempts.

Grant posted a 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio for the weekend, blocked two shots and had two steals. He was one rebound shy of his second double-double in three days in the win over Delaware.

BETHEL BATTLING BACK: The saga of Tony Bethel's variety of illnesses and injuries is hopefully reaching a finalé. Bethel, who suffered a torn groin in the ACC Tournament in March, missed most of the Pack's postseason run and spent the summer rehabbing. He also missed
the first month of practice this season, the Wolfpack's first exhibition game, and sat out the VMI game on Nov. 23 as the injury flared up again.

The redshirt senior is averaging 18.6 minutes in the five games he's seen action in, shooting 35% (8-23) from the field. His rebounding is down from last season whn he averaged 3.8 per game to just 2.0.

Last season, Bethel was the squad’s fourth-leading scorer during ACC play (10.0 ppg) and his sharp-shooting was a key in the Pack’s seven regular season league victories. NC State posted a 16-5 record when he was able to start. Prior to the Maryland game on Jan. 23,
he had missed the previous four games after a bizarre string of illnesses. His bout began as the flu back in mid-December, when the Wolfpack travelled to the west coast to take on Washington and then played at BYU.

After Christmas, when the Pack was playing in New York, he began having severe diarrhea, losing 15 pounds in a matter of days. That problem was diagnoses as colitis, which the medical staff has now discovered was caused by a bacteria. One of the strange manifestations of that particular bacteria is swelling in the joints, which Bethel began experiencing late before the Miami game - even
having to walk with crutches for a couple of days.

Bethel’s bout with physical problems continued late in the season when he suffered a groin tear in the first game of the ACC Tournament. He missed the next four contests and was able to play just two minutes in the loss in the Sweet 16.

WOLFPACK INKS THREE: NC State men’s basketball coach Herb Sendek has announced that three talented players have signed letters of intent with the Wolfpack program, including two that are ranked among the top 100 nationally by several publications. Larry Davis of Middle Village, N.Y., Dennis Horner of Linwood, N.J., and Dan Werner of Middletown, N.J., will join the squad for the the 2006-07 season.

“We are excited to welcome these three young men to the Wolfpack family,” said Sendek. “All three join us from outstanding programs and have been exceptionally well-coached. They are all smart, versatile players who have been recognized as among the best in the 2006 class and each is a terrific young man away from the court. We look forward to these gentlemen representing our basketball program and our university with excellence and class.”

Larry Davis (G, 6-3 , 180)
Middle Village, N.Y. • Christ the King
Plays his prep ball at prestigious Christ the King High School for Bob Oliva … The only junior to be named to the NYC allcity squad by the New York Daily News … Considered a top-3 senior prospect out of New York by ... Also named fifth-team all-state selection of
the NY State Sports Writers Association … Averaged 13.9 points, seven rebounds and four assists as a junior … Posted a season-high of 30 points against Rice … Helped lead his team to a 24-3 record and a No. 15 national ranking by USA Today … That mark included a 12-0 mark in the N.Y. Catholic League, making Christ the King only the fourth team to post a perfect record in that conference in 20 years … An honors student with a 4.0 GPA ... Ranked 79th nationally and the No. 16 shooting guard by, he is also considered a four-star prospect by that outlet ... Will play in the 2005 Glaxo Invitational in Reynolds Coliseum.

Dennis Horner (F/G, 6-7, 200)
Linwood, N.J. • Holy Spirit
Plays his prep ball at Holy Spirit High School for Tom Attanasi … A three-year starter … Averaged 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks as a junior … An all-conference selection and all-parochial selection … Also won a secondteam spot on the All-South New Jersey
squad … Help lead Holy Spirit to a 19-8 record as a junior … Known as a solid three-point shooter ... Ranked as the No. 84 player nationally and the No. 19 shooting guard by ... Also a scout. com four star prospect.

Dan Werner (F, 6-7, 220)

Middletown, N.J. • Christian Brothers Academy
Plays his prep ball at Christian Brothers Academy for Ed Wicelinski … A third-team all-state performer as a junior … The Shore Conference’s Player of the Year … Also named the 2005 Asbury Park Press Player of the Year … Averaged 16.2 points and 7.4 rebounds
… Shot 52.4 percent from the field and 36 percent (41-of-113) on three-pointers and his team went posted a 26-3 mark during his junior campaign ... Team lost in the independent-school state final to current Wolfpack freshman Brandon Costner’s Seton Hall prep team.

FORMER PACK PLAYERS JOIN STAFF: Two players who have been instrumental in the Wolfpack's success in recent years are now members of their former head coach's staff. Archie Miller, who spent last season as NC State's Director of Basketball Operations, is now an assistant coach for his alma mater, while Levi Watkins, who graduated in May, is now an administrative intern.

Miller graduated from NC State in 2002 and spent a year as an assistant coach at Western Kentucky. A four-year letterwinner
from 1998-2002, Miller was a senior captain on the team that made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 11 years. He ranks second in school history in career free throw percentage (.846) and his career mark of .428 from behind the three-point arc ranks ninth in ACC history. Watkins and his fellow seniors joined just five other players in Wolfpack history to advance to four straight NCAA Tournaments.
He graduated from NC State in May and joined the staff this summer.

SOPHOMORES PACK ON THE POUNDS: There's some new muscle on the Wolfpack squad this season, particularly in the post. The Wolfpack's three sophomores, Andrew Brackman, Gavin Grant, Cedric Simmons have added a collective 69 pounds since last season.
Brackman was listed at 205 pounds on last season's roster, but now weighs in at 235. Simmons has gone from 216 to 233 pounds, while Grant went from 190 to 212.

Graduate student Ilian Evtimov took the opposite approach. He has dropped almost 20 pounds from his heaviest weight last season and plans to play around 216.

SENIORS EARN DEGREES: Four players from last year's team have already graduated, with a fifth on schedule to graduate in December. Julius Hodge, who was drafted in the first-round by the Denver Nuggets in June, and Levi Watkins, who is now a member of the Wolfpack
staff, graduated in May. Another senior from last season, Will Roach, also earned his degree. Jordan Collins, who is helping out as a student-assistant coach, is on pace to graduate next spring. Ilian Evtimov finished his undergraduate degree this summer and currently
enrolled in graduate courses. Evtimov is in his fifth year with the program after suffering a torn ACL prior to his sophomore campaign.

POSTSEASON WARMUP: The Wolfpack has 12 games on its 2005-06 schedule against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago. NC State will also play six contests against squads that went to the NIT Tournament.

Last season, the Wolfpack played teams that advanced to the postseason in 20 of its 35 games, including 15 games against NCAA Tournament teams. Over the past four seasons, NC State has played the last seven national champions, defeating each one at least once in that time span. The Wolfpack has posted nine wins over teams ranked in the top-10, including five away from Raleigh.

SENDEK MENTORS MANY: NC State head coach Herb Sendek has enjoyed well-documented success by producing great players, but not quite as well known is his ability to produce quality coaches. Six of Sendek’s former assistants are currently head coaches on the Division
I level. Sendek, who is in his 12th year as a collegiate head coach, is tied for the ACC lead with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (now in his 30th year) for having the most former assistants currently serving as head coaches in Division I.

Sean Miller, who served on Sendek’s staff at NC State from 1996-2001 was named the head coach at Xavier earlier in 2004. He replaced Thad Matta, another former Sendek assistant who is now the head coach at Ohio State. Charlie Coles at Miami (Ohio), Jimmy Christian (Kent State) and Ron Hunter (IUPUI) also worked under Sendek before becoming head coaches, while Larry Hunter, who spent the last four years on Sendek's staff, is now the head coach at Western Carolina.

SENDEK SUCCESSFUL VERSUS 700 CLUB: When NC State defeated UCONN in the Syracuse Regional in the NCAA Tournament last year, it gave Herb Sendek eight victories over six different coaches who have at least 700 career wins.That is quite an accomplishment when you consider only 19 Division I head coaches have reached the 700 victories club.

Three of Sendek's eight wins over 700-victory coaches have come against Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, one in Sendek's first year and one each in 2002-03 and 2003-04. The two coaches met twice last year, in Raleigh and the ACC Tournament. The other 700-victory
coaches Sendek has beaten are Lute Olson of Arizona, Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, John Chaney of Temple, and Jim Phelan of Mount St. Mary's. Sendek's win over Olson came in the 1995 NCAA Tournament when he was the head coach at Miami (OH).

That means Sendek has two wins over 700 victory coaches in NCAA Tournament play as his 12th-seeded Miami team upset the fifth-seeded Wildcats and the Wolfpack defeated the secondseeded UCONN Huskies and Jim Calhoun to advance to the Sweet 16 last season.

Sendek has posted five wins over three different coaches who have at least 500 career wins this season alone. He has two wins over Maryland's Gary Williams, two wins over Purdue's Gene Keady and the victory over Calhoun.

BRACKMAN PROVES TO BE DUAL over, he joined the baseball team as a 6-10 right-handed pitcher. Brackman had an impressive debut on
the basketball court last season for the Pack playing in all 35 games and making 14 starts. He was the fifth-leading freshman scorer in the ACC with 7.4 points a game, and he led all league rookies in blocked shots.

During the baseball season, Brackman made 10 appearances on the mound with seven starts. He finished with a perfect record of 4-0 and an ERA of 2.09 while striking out 43 batters in 43 innings pitched.

Brackman was so excited to start the baseball season, that he was in the dugout in uniform the day the basketball team returned from Syracuse after starting in the Sweet 16 the night before.

SUCCESS = SHOUSH: Ilian “Shoush” Evtimov has enjoyed success on and off the court during his Wolfpack career. Evtimov earned his degree in communications last summer and is enrolled in graduate courses while he completes his eligibility. Evtimov came to NC State in
2001, but a knee injury before his sophomore season forced him to redshirt. Evtimov was the Pack’s second-leading scorer last year, finishing with eight double-figure scoring outputs in his last nine games. This season, he is also ranked second on the team in scoring with 12.6 per game, but leads the team in threepoint shooting (.483). He has connected on 11 of his 12 free throw attempts. A second-team All-ACC Tournament choice a year ago, Evtimov led the ACC in three-point shooting against league competition (.507) and ranked sixth in three’s made (2.38/game).

Evtimov was the Pack’s second-leading scorer in postseason action last year, averaging 13 points in the six postseason games (3 ACC, 3 NCAA).

CUTTING IT CLOSE: In the past six+ seasons, 40 percent (77 of 196) of NC State’s games have been decided by eight points or less. The three-point victory over Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament was the 13th last season decided by so close a margin.

NC State had 15 games decided by eight or less points in 2003-04, had a dozen in 2002-03, eight in 2001-02, 10 in 2000-01 and 19 in 1999-2000. The three-point loss at Iowa marked the 32nd decided by a margin of three points or less over the last five seasons.

PARLEZ-VOUS FRANCAISE? SPRECHEN SIE DEUTSCHE? You might not, but a couple of Wolfpack players do. Two members of the Wolfpack basketball squad are multi-lingual. Ilian Evtimov, a native of Sofia, Bulgaria, speaks Bulgarian, French, English and Spanish. Engin Atsür, a sophomore from Istanbul, Turkey, speaks Turkish, English, French and German.

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Wolfpack returns to Reynolds
NCSU men’s basketball coach Herb Sendek.
photo by Gene Galin

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