RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Most basketball programs would be thrilled to have three straight Sweet 16 appearances on their resume.
“We had talked about on our championship (ACC) rings possibly putting ‘third straight Sweet 16,'” said Wes Moore, Wolfpack head coach. “And the players said no we don’t want that on there. We don’t want to be reminded of not going deeper than we did last year.”
State had a Final Four-type team a year ago but got bounced from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Indiana. That squad was considered Moore’s best in his eight years at N.C. State.
This year’s team is expected to be even better.
“Obviously our end goal hopefully is to win a National Championship but if we get to the Final Four that is one of our main goals too,” said Super Senior Raina Perez. “Definitely for sure, we’ve got unfinished business this year.”
N.C. State returns all five starters from a year ago. That alone would make the Pack one of the favorites to be the final team standing at the end of the year. But wait, there’s more. The Pack reeled in three-5 star freshmen as well as two-five star transfers. That’s a lot of firepower.
“This team has a lot of good players,” said Rutgers 5-star transfer Diamond Johnson. “This is definitely one of the most talented teams I’ve ever played on.” Johnson is a big reason why.
The Philadelphia native averaged 17 points per game as a freshman for the Scarlet Knights a year ago. She was the No. 6 ranked recruit in the class of 2020. Johnson feels she’ll have no problem fitting in the Pack’s star-studded lineup.
“I think I fit in very well,” Johnson said. “I don’t think it would be hard to not fit in.”
Moore feels the same way. Sometimes when a star player like Johnson joins a veteran team like N.C State, the chemistry can be thrown for a loop. It doesn’t look like that will be the case.
“They’re all very competitive out there,” Moore admitted. “When somebody makes a play (in practice) or somebody burns somebody else, they celebrate it and have a good time with it.
That sure doesn’t sound like a team with a chemistry problem. But it does sound like a team the rest of the nation might have a problem with.