North Carolina State

The Acc

November 18, 2005|By HEATHER A. DINICH

Coach: Herb Sendek, 10th season at school (169-122), 13th overall (232-148)

2004-05 record: 21-14, 7-9 (tied for sixth in ACC; NCAA Sweet 16)

Returning starters: Senior F-C Ilian Evtimov, junior G Engin Atsur, senior G Tony Bethel

Sun prediction: NCAA first round

Why it will happen: The departure of leading scorer and rebounder Julius Hodge to the NBA will be felt, as none of the returning players averaged more than 9.8 points or 3.8 rebounds last season. Atsur was the only player who started every game, but his improvement, along with the return of a healthy Bethel, will keep the backcourt strong. Evtimov, second in the ACC in three-point shooting last season at 42.6 percent, is expected to fill the leadership void left by Hodge.

Why it might not: The Wolfpack is still deep enough to surprise some teams, as it returns three starters who combined to average 27.2 points per game. And Andrew Brackman, now a sophomore, had a team-high 40 blocked shots last season. The program has made a statement with four consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament, and knows what it takes to get there.

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