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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Old school, new school: N.C. State downs Dawkins-led Stanford 88-79

Posted by Google on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Richard Howell faces up the Cardinals Dwight Powell during N.C. States 88-79 win over Stanford in Raleigh
  • Chris Baird
  • Richard Howell faces up the Cardinal's Dwight Powell during N.C. State's 88-79 win over Stanford in Raleigh
PNC ARENA/RALEIGH—N.C. State’s 88-79 win over the Stanford Cardinal Tuesday night was an impressive result against a game, major conference opponent. The No. 25 Wolfpack led the entire contest, although the margin didn’t reach double-digits until early in the second half. They were led during the opening stanza by Scott Wood, who shook off several recent subpar performances with five first-half 3-pointers—matching his season high before intermission—along with two blocked shots. However, the Cardinal—playing their first true road game this season—only trailed by five at halftime, propelled by high-flying junior forward and leading scorer Dwight Powell, whose 15 first-half points kept pace with Wood’s tally.

While Wood would only add two more points after halftime, point guard Lorenzo Brown scored 18 of his game- and career-high 24 points in the second half. The ever-improving Richard Howell kept up his torrid play, contributing 17 points and 12 rebounds, his sixth double-double this season. After the Wolfpack saw its lead cut from 17 to seven over a four-minute period in the second half, Howell’s determined drive and basket with five minutes remaining stopped the hemorrhaging, and he converted five of six free throws over the final 1:33 to stave off one last Stanford push.

Howell’s leadership has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by his teammates, including Brown.

“[Richard’s] a lot more vocal and aggressive than he was last year,” Brown said. “He’s telling young guys where to go and trying to hype us up before the game. He gave a great speech before the game; it really hypes everybody up.”

The Wolfpack shot 32-57 from the field, improving their season total to an NCAA-leading 53 percent.

The postgame interviews following the game assumed a familiar ritual. First, the press rushed to an unused locker room in the bowels of PNC Arena to crowd around various members of the victorious Wolfpack and prod them for as many choice quotes and quips as the select players would allow. Then it was time to rush back down the corridor to the media area, the same place where just hours before said journalists chowed down at a barbeque buffet, ranking this ESPN2-telecasted game the highest so far this season on the “N.C. State Pregame Media Meal Sliding Scale of Importance,” second only to the barbeque/fried chicken/banana pudding selection normally reserved for conference season.

There, Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried held court, fielding questions and otherwise praising his team’s impressive performance against a feisty Cardinal flock. As Gottfried’s presser ended at approximately 11:30 p.m., most media members scattered. Photographers went to review and upload their pics, writers to rap out their copy, and a bleary-eyed few just headed for the exit, their deadline already blown.

Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins
A few minutes later, however, one last interviewee entered the media room for the few press types still lingering: Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins. Among the pantheon of ACC greats, few exceed Dawkins, the former Duke standout who was the 1986 Naismith College Player of the Year. Dawkins is still the fourth leading career scorer in ACC history, and his 2,556 points ranked him as Duke’s all-time leading scorer until his mark was surpassed by J.J. Redick in 2006. In 2002, Dawkins was tapped as one of the 50 greatest players in ACC men’s basketball history, and in 2006 The Sporting News named him the 78th greatest player in college basketball history.

Dawkins hasn't been a totally forgotten figure since his playing days, having spent 11 years as a member of Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching staff at Duke before leaving to become Stanford’s gaffer in 2008. But whereas Gottfried was peppered with reporters' questions for over eight and a half minutes, the best basketball player in the building—past or present—was done in less than three, barely enough time for him to extol praise on N.C. State and compare Lorenzo Brown to former Georgetown great and Gastonia native Sleepy Floyd. After the courtly Dawkins wished happy holidays to those assembled, a few of the press corps’ older guard sauntered forward to greet him as he stepped off the dais, smiles of recognition being exchanged between folks who may have performed this same ritual almost 30 years ago.

N.C. State (8-2) returns to action this Saturday, Dec. 22 at 3 p.m. when they host St. Bonaventure.

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Whereas Mark Gottfried was peppered with reporters' questions for over eight and a half minutes, the best basketball player in the building—past or present—was done in less than three.

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