NC State mens basketball returns to Reynolds for first time since rebuild

Two years after its last game in Reynolds a loss to Wofford the Wolfpack returns to the historic building after a massive facelift

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
North Carolina State Wolfpack forward BeeJay Anya (21) puts up a shot in the annual Red and White scrimmage during Primetime with the Pack in the newly renovated Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh

RALEIGH — The Wolfpack has some great memories at Reynolds Coliseum, but the last game played in the stadium left a terrible taste in Mark Gottfried’s mouth. On Dec. 14, Wofford came onto NC State’s campus and shocked the Pack with a 55-54 victory when Trevor Lacey’s last-ditch effort was too late.”That was a bad memory for me,” Gottfried said. “Hopefully that won’t happen again.”On Saturday, the Pack resumes its non-conference schedule against Tennessee State (7-1) after a week off during exam week. After not playing a single game in Reynolds last season due to reconstruction, State gets to play its first “Heritage Game” in the rebuilt stadium on Fox Sports.The Tigers are strikingly similar to that Terriers team from 2014. With a win over a 9-1 Middle Tennessee State club on the road, Tennessee State has proved it can compete on the road despite a blowout loss to Vanderbilt.”They’re going to come in here with the attitude that they feel like they can beat us,” Gottfried said. “We better make sure we’re ready to play.”For many of the current NC State players, this will be the first time playing in the Pack’s old home. The only current starter that was on the roster when State lost to Wofford was Abdul-Malik Abu, who played four minutes, while BeeJay Anya played 36 minutes against the Terriers. Their roles are reversed now, with Anya playing 10 minutes or less in four of the eight games this season. Meanwhile, Abu is hoping to regain his dominance inside that has been lost in recent games. After averaging 15.4 points and 8.8 rebounds through the first five games, Abu has nine points and 5.6 rebounds per game over the last three.”I think sometimes he gets in a hurry,” Gottfried explained after the win over Loyola. “He gets the ball down there and he’s in such a hurry to make a play. I think he just needs to have a little more poise and take his time. He’s such a physical force, he doesn’t need to rush. We’ll get him there.”The younger crop of players in Dennis Smith Jr. and Markell Johnson will get their first taste of Reynolds along with experienced transfers like Terry Henderson and Torin Dorn. While the stadium capacity has been reduced to 5,600, expect the stadium brimming with Wolfpack fans to watch the team in Reynolds.For a guy like Henderson, who will be getting his first and last chance to play in the “Old Barn,” Saturday has a different feel. Growing up in Raleigh and played at Neuse Christian School, being one of the first players to start in the revamped Reynolds is a special occasion.”It’s indescribable, man,” Henderson said. “I remember playing pickup with no A/C in the summertime. It’s amazing, man. It’s one of the top venues in the country, if you ask me. I honestly wish we could play more home games there. … It’s smaller now, but it’s gonna be loud.”