Final home game with Wolfpack bittersweet for Dorn

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The bridge guy will suit up in PNC Arena for the final time as a member of the Wolfpack on Wednesday. 

As a Charlotte-native, as the son of a former North Carolina football player and brother of another Tar Heel, Torin Dorn Jr. is quite familiar with the rigors of the ACC. 

There is a uniqueness to each journey, however, and Dorn’s is winding down. The transfer from Charlotte who has played for two coaches, has seen N.C. State dip from the national scene with two consecutive 17-loss campaigns followed by consecutive seasons on at least 20 wins. The Pack, 20-9 overall and 8-8 in ACC play, is gunning for its second straight NCAA Tournament berth with two games remaining before the ACC Tournament begins next week in Dorn’s hometown. 

“It’s bittersweet,” Dorn said of his final home game Wednesday. “It’s bitter because there are so many memories there and leaving will be tough. It’s sweet because it marks the end of this chapter while heading to another one. I’m excited for it.”

It is hard not to be wistful in the waning moments of a college career. 

When Dorn made the decision to leave Charlotte after being named the C-USA’s Freshman of the Year, he was not afraid to move to a bigger school with competition at his spot. 

“My dad was on a recruiting call with one of the coaches that were here and he was telling my dad about all the wings that we had,” Dorn recalled. “My dad stopped him and said we’re not worried about anyone else and Torin would get there and work his tail off. I’ve always taken that hard-hat mentality with me.  I never look at who is there and what all they can do. I’m confident in my abilities.”

Dorn also remembers the promise of joining a program coming off a Sweet 16 appearance in 2015. He sat out the following campaign as a transfer and watched helplessly as the Wolfpack slid to 16-17 to miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010-11. 

With him in street clothes on the bench were Terry Henderson and Dennis Smith Jr. The trio was tabbed the “Rescue Squad,” but Henderson got hurt and Smith was a lone weapon most of the time as the much-ballyhooed freshman center Omer Yurtseven struggled in his adjustment to college ball. That led to the dismissal of head coach Mark Gottfried after six seasons in charge of the program. 

As with the competition at the wing position when he arrived, the hard times as a redshirt and in his first season on the court with the Wolfpack never flustered Dorn. 

I’m thankful for all the adversity I’ve faced and learning from those experiences,” Dorn said. “Those are invaluable lessons you can take on through life.”

The hiring of Kevin Keatts meant frantic-paced practices and Dorn sliding over to the four-spot as N.C. State coach prefers athletic wings who are multifaceted. 

Dorn has not disappointed. His rebounding was vital in the Pack’s resurgence last season. 

Eventually, Keatts will get the taller wing-type athletes that fit his system. In the meantime, Dorn has bridged the gap nicely. 

“I don’t know how we would play without him,” Keatts said. “Even back to last year, he’s been one of our better rebounders on our team. At 6-(foot)-5, he’s averaging around seven rebounds a game, and he allows us to be able to play a little smaller because of the job he does rebounding for us. With Torin, I don’t know how well we’d rebound (without him) because he’s done a tremendous job for us.” 

As Dorn looks to help N.C. State lock down an NCAA Tournament berth, he allowed himself some reminiscing about some of his former teammates, but only briefly. 

“Cat Barber is probably my freshest teammate I’ve ever had,” Dorn said. “BeeJay Anya has the gift of gab. He can talk his way out of anything. Malik Abu, he’s a basketball player/rapper so he’s a pretty talented and eclectic dude. Sam Hunt also has the gift of gab and is probably the best shooter I’ve ever played with. Dennis Smith is probably the most talented guy I played with. The (Martin) twins are hilarious. Eric Lockett will be a friend forever. 

“There’s just been so many people who made an impact on me during my time at N.C. State. It’s going to be really emotional, but at the end of the day we have to win this game and have a job to do.”

Rob McLamb of Inside Pack Sports has covered N.C. State athletics and recruiting since 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @RobMcLamb.