BOONE, N.C. – Appalachian State University men's basketball faces a difficult test to begin the 2013-14 season when it opens the 2013-14 season at North Carolina State on Friday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from PNC Arena.
The Mountaineers are coming off a 15-16 record from last year that included a 10-8 mark in Southern Conference play and a trip to the SoCon Tournament semifinals - where the team narrowly lost to heavily-favored and eventual champion Davidson (65-62).
The Wolfpack is coming off an impressive 24-11 campaign last season, including an 11-7 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference and an at-large spot in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. NC State fell to Temple by a 76-72 final in the second round of the tournament.
YOUTH MOVEMENT• Appalachian State will field an extremely young team this year as the roster is heavily populated with underclassmen.
• The lone seniors on the squad are Tevin Baskin and Tommy Spagnolo while Jay Canty, Mike Neal and Tab Hamilton make up the junior class, another junior, Jacob Lawson, who will redshirt per NCAA transfer rules.
• Despite the team’s relative lack of upperclassmen, Appalachian’s sophomore class saw plenty of time on the floor a season ago as it combined for 80 appearances and 35 starts.
• Canty leads all returning players in scoring (14.3 ppg) while Baskin (9.9), Hamilton (9.2) and Neal (8.8) are the next three in line.
• Chris Burgess and Michael Obacha are the top underclassmen for the Apps. Obacha appeared in 30 games and made 29 starts a year ago while Burgess played in all 31 games and made six starts as a freshman.
• Frank Eaves and Rantavious Gilbert are poised to see more playing time this year after both earned valuable minutes of the bench a season ago.
• In addition to the four sophomores, Appalachian receives a boost as Dustin Clarke will be eligible to play after redshirting a year ago per NCAA transfer rules. A redshirt-sophomore, Clarke gives the Apps another solid shooting guard to add to the rotation.
• Appalachian brought in three freshmen this season in the form of Mike Kobani, Aaron Scott and Ty Toney - all of whom are expected to see the floor in some capacity early on.
• One player who Appalachian must replace is departed forward , who led the team in scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg) a year ago en route to SoCon Defensive Player of the Year honors.
SCOUTING THE WOLFPACK
• A year removed from a 24-11 season and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, NC State has an entirely new look to its roster this year.
• The Wolfpack lost its top-four scorers from a year ago in C.J. Leslie (15.1 ppg), Richard Howell (12.7 ppg), Scott Wood (12.6 ppg) and Lorenzo Brown (12.4 ppg).
• Howell, who also led the team in rebounding (10.9 rpg) last season, was a first-team all-ACC honoree a year ago and signed as a free agent with the Portlant Trailblazers in September before being released in October.
• Leslie, a third-team all-ACC selection a year ago, spent time with the New York Knicks before being waived late last month.
• Brown was a second-team all-ACC selection and was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 52nd pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but was waived at the end of October as well.
• In addition to the losses of Brown, Howell, Leslie and Wood, the Wolfpack also lost another top player in Rodney Purvis (8.3 ppg), who transferred to Connecticut in the offseason.
• NC State’s leading returning scorer is T.J. Warren, who averaged 12.1 points per game a year ago.
• After Warren, the Wolfpack does not return a player who averaged more than 3.5 points per game last season.
• The Mountaineers open the home portion of their slate against Campbell on Nov. 12 as part of a men’s/women’s basketball doubleheader at the Holmes Center.
• The Apps and Camels will tip off at 8 p.m. while the Mountaineer women will take on ETSU at 5:30 p.m.
• All told, Appalachian will play just two of its first six games at home as the November slate is filled with a series of tough matchups.
• In addition to the trips to Cincinnati, NC Central and NC State, the Apps will also travel to Georgia for a game on Nov. 29.