Yurtseven ready to do more than just smell the food for NC State against App State

Turkish big man joins the Wolfpack after nine-game suspension to add size and depth, but still has room to grow

The North State Journal—The North State Journal
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried gives tips to Omer Yurtseven (14) as he shoots free throws during a practice at the Dail Basketball Center on Friday

The wait has been a long one for the Wolfpack, but it’s finally over. On Thursday night, Omer Yurtseven will finally make his debut for NC State against Appalachian State after sitting out nine games to start the season.Yurtseven instantly adds something NC State’s lineup simply doesn’t have right now — size. At 7 feet tall, the entire Wolfpack lineup is ready to add the massive Turkish 5-star center into the mix.”Our guys are excited to get Omer in there,” Gottfried said. “They want to play with him as well. I know Dennis [Smith] is excited for him to jump in there and play. I think it’s all going to end up being a really good thing.”Having Yurtseven in the lineup instantly draws some attention away from Smith and the rest of the guards on the wing. It’s something Gottfried was hoping to have all season — a point he’s made abundantly clear since November — but is excited to see his full roster at his disposal.Prior to the start of the season, Yurtseven was ruled ineligible for the first nine games due to playing professional basketball overseas. Sitting on the bench was tough, but Yurtseven said he learned from watching the team from the sidelines.”I mean, sitting on the bench, like, how can I say it? It’s like you always smell the food but you never get to eat it,” Yurtseven said. “I think that’s how you can call it. Yeah, that’s the perfect example.”If there was one point of emphasis for Yurtseven focused on throughout his time off, it was how to limit his fouls. In the two exhibition games played, Yurtseven drew eight personal fouls in a total of 28 minutes, including five in just 11 minutes against Barton.The Turkish big man still has some room to learn after playing in a much more forgiving FIBA league where fouls aren’t quite as frequent. Yurtseven shared his interesting take on the referees prior to his first game.”I believe the reason behind it is the refs are trying to just — there are some new rules coming in — so they’re trying to adapt themselves to the new rules,” Yurtseven said. “They are trying to get the game softer is what I think. So you have to be smart with it.”Gottfried also chimed in with his thoughts on where Yurtseven needs to improve throughout the season.”I think there’s a lot of adjustments for Omer,” Gottfried said. “We forget two things: One he’s an international player that has played in FIBA system and the other is he’s a freshman. He’s young. He’s going to have a learning curve like any other freshman in the country.”I’ve got to be patient myself because I want him to be a finished product. That’s not gonna happen, it’s gonna take a little time.”For a team that has struggled inside recently with Abdul-Malik Abu suddenly going missing and BeeJay Anya’s inconsistent production, adding Yurtseven to the fold can help in myriad ways. Whether it’s offensively, defensively or even distributing the ball, Yurtseven can do it all well.So will Gottfried change the offense completely when Yurtseven joins the fold? Not quite. Regardless of the players that join the program during the season, Gottfried just wants to get the W to build the resume for March.”We’re going to try to win the game,” Gottfried said of Yurtseven’s return. “However that plays itself out, whether it’s a lot of minutes for him or a few, we’ll see. Within that, I just want to get him comfortable. I just want him to be comfortable on the floor. Every game, it’ll grow from there.”