LUMBERTON — The Wolfpack Club Coaches Caravan made its annual stop in Robeson County at the Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Events Center on Thursday night, giving around 400 Wolfpack fans keen insight on the men’s and women’s basketball and football teams through the eyes of the teams’ head coaches.
With all that was said, the words that came pertaining to the North Carolina State basketball program from Mark Gottfried capped off the event and summarized a big week for the sixth-year head coach.
This week included the signing of 7-foot center Omer Yurtseven of Turkey on Monday in addition to the Wolfpack welcoming back more strength in the frontcourt with Malik-Abdul Abu and BeeJay Anya as they announced they were withdrawing their names from the NBA draft earlier in the day. Those announcements brought a sense of calming to the program after there were doubts from the outside starting to creep in after Cody and Caleb Martin decided to transfer out, Cat Barber signing an agent to lock his name in for the NBA draft and Abu and Anya declared for the NBA draft without agents to leave the opportunity to come back to school.
“When the dust settled we learned that we just had Cody and Caleb transfer and that was it. But we’re excited that Malik is back and obviously BeeJay too, and we’ve added some pretty good pieces to our team so we’ve got to keep working on it and see what happens,” Gottfried said. “I never really pushed the 911 panic button like everyone else did.”
The Wolfpack, who have had a handful of players transfer out in the past few years, find themselves on the other end of the transfer spectrum with Torin Dorn being eligible after sitting out a season following his Conference USA freshman of the year season at UNC Charlotte two years ago.
Yurtseven’s commitment came earlier in the week as Gottfried was speaking at the caravan’s stop in Cashiers.
“We’re excited about him and he’s a very talented guy and hopefully he can come in and help us,” Gottfried said.
Head coach Dave Doeren and the N.C. State football team face a tough gauntlet at home this season hosting the likes of Florida State, Miami and Notre Dame coming to Carter-Finley Stadium as well as a road trip to Clemson. With the stiff competition, he wants to see his team stay true to their offensive methods — running the ball.
“You can throw to score points, but to win championships you have to run the ball,” Doeren said. “For us to compete, we have to be the best version we can be.”
Doeren put a local twist when talking about his special teams unit with the addition of Lumberton grad Connor Haskins to the team as a graduate transfer this winter. He also shared an anecdote of something he saw from the kicker during spring practice, as well as answering a question from the crowd on whether he thinks Haskins will win the starting job over Kyle Bambard.
“We’ll see,” Doeren said. “He’s got to win the job and like we tell all the guys, you have to be consistent to give yourself a chance to win the job.”
Wes Moore is going into his fourth season leading the storied women’s basketball program and welcomes back a wealth of experience with his top five scorers returning.
After playing their home games this past season at Broughton High School while renovations continued at Reynolds Coliseum, the Wolfpack return back to their old home with a new feel and will open up the newly-renovated facility against UNC Pembroke on Dec. 4, Moore announced on stage at the event.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.