Tuesday's game against Georgia Tech will mark the start of a new season for the NC State basketball team.
That, however, doesn't make the sting of last season's stunning Senior Night loss to the Yellow Jackets any less painful for the returning members of the Wolfpack.
That game, which ended on a last-second dunk by Tech's James Banks III, was still on the mind of junior guard Braxton Beverly as he met with the media on Monday to talk about the fresh start and the opportunity to exorcise a few demons against State's ACC rival.
"We’re going back over how the game went last year and learn from the mistakes we made," Beverly said. "We’re all excited that it’s our first game and opening with an ACC opponent. We’re excited about that."
While there's always a sense of anticipation surrounding the first game of a new season, this opener is generating even more buzz than usual because it's against a conference opponent.
The ACC scheduled league games on opening night as a way of raising awareness for its new dedicated television network.
State and Tech put on quite a show in their most recent meeting last March.
The Wolfpack rallied from an eight-point deficit to take a 61-60 lead on a 3-pointer by Torin Dorn with 6.1 seconds remaining. But what shaped up to be a storybook finish for State's only senior in his final home game ended in heartbreak when the Yellow Jackets' Jose Alvarado dribbled the length of the floor and dished to Banks for the game-winning dunk.
Although a win Tuesday won't make things any better for Dorn, who is playing overseas this year, it would give his returning teammates at least a small measure of satisfaction.
"I’d say it would because it was our last game of the regular season (and it's) a little more fresh," Beverly said. "As heart-breaking as that one was, it’s still fresh on the mind."
Because both teams feature so many of the same players from that game last season, State coach Kevin Keatts said it's been easier to prepare for Tuesday's opener.
"Absolutely," Keatts said when asked if he planned to watch the tape of last year's matchup. "And I’ve watched tape, I’ve watched tape from last year and we just, quite frankly, didn’t make shots. When you look at two of our guys who started on the perimeter, I think Braxton was 0 for 8 from three and C.J. Bryce 0 for 4 from three. We’ve got to make shots. I just think we didn’t make shots in that game."
Beverly said it helps that he and his teammates have faced Tech's zone defense and will be better prepared to attack it than they were last March.
"It’s definitely been a challenge," the junior guard said. "For a lot of the new guys it’s new for them. You probably wouldn’t expect to come to the ACC and play a team running zone and the Princeton offense. It takes a lot of locking in on our side to make sure we get it down.
"(But) we learned. Personally, I’ve talked to every coach on our staff to see what went wrong and what we need to fix. We’ve had conversations over the last week or so about that."