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Gottfried's 1st year offers hope for Wolfpack

By Aaron Beard

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, March 24 2012 1:16 p.m. MDT

North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried watches in the final moments of an NCAA tournament Midwest Regional college basketball game against the Kansas Friday, March 23, 2012, in St. Louis. Kansas won 60-57.

Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State went from missing the NCAA tournament five straight years to coming within a shot or two of playing for a trip to the Final Four.

The Wolfpack (24-13) finished with the program's most wins in 24 years under first-year coach Mark Gottfried, who guided N.C. State to the NCAA tournament's round of 16 before losing to Kansas.

Gottfried said all year that the program has a long way to go, but his first season might have sped up expectations for the former Alabama coach to build an every-year contender in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

N.C. State sophomores C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown thrived this season, though it's unclear whether Leslie will return or enter the NBA draft.

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