10. The Lowe down: NC State coach Sidney Lowe said he was going to get a call from good friend and former NBA mentor Flip Saunders about an assistant job with the Washington Wizards. Lowe took the call and stayed put. While the Wolfpack have had a few NBA players come through during Lowe's tenure, the winning hasn't been consistent. Making a change now would have meant another rebuilding phase. Keeping Lowe allows for more consistency; whether that translates into more wins, we'll have to see.
"...the winning hasn't been consistent ... keeping Lowe allows for more consistency..." How encouraging.
Among ESPN's ten key players:
6. Tracy Smith, Sr., NC State: The Wolfpack need someone -- anyone -- to stand up and become a go-to player for a squad that has lost its way. This 6-foot-8 forward could be that person in lieu of the departure of Brandon Costner. Smith had his moments last season, averaging 10 ppg on 54 percent shooting. But the Detroit native needs to be the focus for the Pack to snap out of their fog.
I can't really blame Andy Katz for missing the mark here, because who could be bothered to watch an also-ran's relatively meaningless games down the stretch? Smith was a go-to guy once he became a fixture in the lineup and probably was the team's most valuable player from that point on. He used more possessions and took more shots while he was on the floor than anybody else on the team. The real question is whether or not NC State can surround Smith with enough useful complementary parts to start moving the program in the right direction. If CJ Williams can carry over his outstanding summer play into the season, that's a start.
Jay Bilas predicts the Pack to finish 11th, but he's also got Miami 5th and Boston College 10th despite arguing that the Eagles "will not slip far," among other oddities.