Virginia 71 NC State 58

“Just in case anyone needed a reminder, we aren’t very good this year.”

^These comments were actually shared by one of our community’s best posters (ShootingGuard) after NC State’s home loss to Boston College three and a half weeks ago. For whatever reason, they stayed in my mind and I thought that today was appropriate to bring them back.

As you can tell, this loss was all about the perimeter. We can’t shoot very well from behind the arc and we can’t play very good defense on the perimeter. When you are matched up against the two best shooting guards in the league – Singletary and Reynolds – that is a bad mix.

Virginia guards J.R. Reynolds and Sean Singletary couldn’t be stopped tonight, combining for 56 points. The Pack, meanwhile, couldn’t shoot and couldn’t score — not enough — in losing 71-58.

“If you have good guards, you’ll win in this conference, you’ll win college basketball games,” Lowe said after the Pack fell to 1-5 in the ACC. “They had good guards. They made shots and we didn’t.”

The Pack shot 31.7 percent for the game, going 7-for-27 on 3′s. In contrast, Reynolds and Singletary together were 10 of 18 on 3′s.

State may be looking at a best case scenario of 3-13 in the ACC this year. So, Wolfpackers must remain focused on the future. We should all be great at that as we are now approaching the 20th year of the phrase “Wait til next year!” being a major component of our lexicon.

This item of shooting from the PG, SG, and 3F threatens to carry over into next year and it scares me. Everything that we have heard about Farnold Degand is related to athleticism, defense, and quickness; nothing about offense and shooting. So, unless Marques Johnson has some special stroke that has not been publicly discussed…why should we expect shooting next year to be any better than this year with generally the same players playing the same position? – Fells, Grant, Ferguson?

The more I watch, the more I wonder/hope that Dennis Horner can continue to improve and round out his game between now and next year. Because of Horner’s ability to shoot the ball from the arc, you may see starting line-ups next year that resemble the line up from last night (no Gavin Grant).

After last night’s game Rick shared the following comments that should be highlighted:

This team has problems:

(1) There is absloutely no team speed. Fells is the quickest we have and he was getting beat at will. Speed is more important than height in basketball, how “you klnow who” did not know this astounds me.

(2) Our “guards” have no basketball IQ. Grant and Fells just don’t make smart decisions. Who knows if this is just because that is the way they are or if past coaching did not teach them well. I am again surprised that __ recruited this team on purpose.

(3) No leadership. No one is willing or able to step up and take over this team.

I see Sid trying everything he knows back there. Switching offenses and defenses but he just cannot over come these problems. He was handed a lemon and no sugar.

I am going to leave you with the text of the comments of ShootingGuard’s post from three and a half weeks ago.

Just in case anyone needed a reminder, we aren’t very good this year.

We have a coach coaching with passion and a limited number of players playing with extreme heart, but we lack a lot all over the court and will struggle all season as a result.

If anyone has been fooling themselves about how great we are—or should or could be—and doesn’t understand what we lack, just look at BC vs us. They have a Sr. 6′8″-6′9″ combo forward playing the 3 while we have 2 similar but young combo forwards playing pf and center for us—going up vs their 2 experienced 7-footers. They have a little quick pg while we have no one who is particularly quick on the perimeter. We do have decent size and athleticism on the wing, but BC, like almost everyone else we will face, can match that with their own—so we get no advantage there.

As much as I like Atsur’s scrappiness and having him back for a 7-8 man rotation, he was made for a slowdown PO type of offense and is really more of a “coming off the bench” type of guy for a really good team rather than a main leader type as he has to be for us—a poor man’s Greg Paulus, unfortunately. Although Atsur’s calmness will be big help sometimes, I think, unfortunately, it will also hurt us at times as well as his walk-it-up style allows defenses to set against us. It would be nice if we had a speed burner pg AND Atsur for a changeup, but “we are who we are” and have to make the best of it for now…

Fells needs to get focused and bring it every game. Unfortunately, with such a limited bench, benching a guy—or two—who are off means a huge drop off in talent or potential on the floor…

Unfortunately, to go along with our lackings, we also came out ice cold today…

Oh well, I guess I will stop before I waste anymore time analyzing our limits and failures—or falling into dreamy WTNY mode wondering how the game might have been different with a speed burner pg, Costner sliding out to cover Dudley while JJ Hickson played center and Ben manned the pf…

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06-07 Basketball General

85 Responses to Virginia 71 NC State 58

  1. BJD95 01/25/2007 at 9:22 AM #

    I’m not as worried about next season. Perimeter shooting won’t be as big of an issue if we have a truly dominant front court (adding Hickson and Smith) and can push tempo when transition opportunities present themselves (Degand and Johnson). Also, if we JUST added defense to the mix next year, it wouldn’t make us a GREAT team, but we’d at least be respectable. Solid NIT/NCAA bubble, at least. It’s not completely hopeless, like I believe it is for Wake and Miami.

    If our transition game and lowpost strength must be defended aggressively, you could see more wide open 3s for Horner, Costner, and Fells (assuming Fells can break out of his slump with less minutes and ball-handling responsibility). I think those guys are more than capable of making those shots, and could make us at least “league average” from the perimeter.

    Agree totally with the “basketball IQ” comments. As I noted in the game thread, there were times last night when Atsur (playing at about 50% physically) looked like the only guy with enough sense to tie his own shoes. Hopefully, he won’t relapse and we can get some chemistry back together before our next stretch of winnable games (home vs. VT, at Miami, Home vs. MD). Perhaps some of his IQ will rub off on Fells and Grant in particular. If not, you might see Degand and Johnson playing significant minutes TOGETHER next season.

  2. burnbarn 01/25/2007 at 9:29 AM #

    We are not a very good team… That being said, neither is UVa. As poorly as we played we COULD HAVE won this game.

    I was disappointed by our FT shooting, but this is onely the second game that we have shot poorly from the line. I know GG had to be upset at himself for that, but he was not the only one.

  3. PapaJohn 01/25/2007 at 9:38 AM #

    I went last night and thought the only thing positive was the improvement in Fells’ play. 14 pts, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocked shots and no turnovers against very good guards. Hopefully he can learn to play defense someday, and if so, he’ll be a good player for us. Perhaps next year with another big on the court Brandon can move to the 3 and Ben to the 4 which may be a better fit. I still think they are ACC quality players. Not sure about Dennis Horner, he’s had good moments, but last night he struggled. I like his heart and think he’s got potential.
    But as Rick said, outside shooting, a point guard, and a go-to guy still may be severly lacking next year.
    This mess has been many years in the making, it will take a while to get back to where we need it to be.

  4. highonlowe 01/25/2007 at 9:39 AM #

    No leadership is the most critical item, imo. Costner was the only one I saw last night with real ‘take over the team’ potential. McCauley is clearly our hardest worker but no one else seems to feed off his energy for some reason. If Costner steps up in the leadership role, with Ben playing so hard independently, the other guys will fall in line and we can win a few more ‘promising’ games, stocking up credit and confidence for next year.

  5. StateFans 01/25/2007 at 9:41 AM #

    burnbarn,

    So, here is why you/we should be excited about something — if UVa is ‘bad’ now and we could/should be more competitive with them — how are they going to be next year when they lose JR Reynolds and Sean Singletary (who has to be going pro) while we lose effectively nobody and add a Top 10 recruiting class?

    It’s tough to be bad this year. But, ^these types of ‘projections’ to the future make it tolerable.

    Fells DID generally play better last night. This is why he got to start over Grant. If Fells could play that focused and engaged every night (defensively, etc) then we will be much better in the future. BUT, he was 1 of 6 from behind the the 3-point line and many of his shots were wide open looks. He is shooting 28.6% from the 3-point line for the year. NO ACC school can win games with a shooting guard that cannot shoot. His athleticism can only get him so far. We have to find a shooting guard who can shoot. Period.

  6. Par Shooter 01/25/2007 at 9:49 AM #

    I’ve got to admit that what I’ve seen the last couple of games has been very discouraging. I don’t think anyone rationally expected to win many league games this year, but we all viewed this year as “building towards the future”. Seeing guys improve and seeing a new style emerge under Sid’s leadership.

    Sadly, what I’ve seen is this team continuing to slide into 5 moderately talented guys out there going in five different directions. Our offense is basically one guy trying to do things he can’t do…with the one guy alternating on different possesions. But as poor as our teamwork is on O, it is 100% worse on D. There is very little team concept or help, and Lord knows we need to help each other. Lots of us said early in the year “we may not win too many, but we’re going to love watching this team give their heart and soul in tough times.” Honestly, I’m not seeing that right now. I’m seeing dejection. To borrow a term from “the desert fox”…we’ve flinched. And that’s what really bugs me. There have been a litany of excuses (Atsur’s been hurt, poor Grant has to handle the ball, we’re short of guys, yada, yada, yada). But the bottom line is that we are not playing as a team and only play hard in spurts.

    I see no progress. I see no building. And I sure as hell hope that what we’re seeing isn’t guys “adapting to Sid’s system” because if so he would basically be Les in a tailored suit. I think Sid is a better coach than his team is showing right now, but that’s really based on faith and no evidence as of yet. I’d really like to see some progress and building between now and our exit in the acc tourney but does anyone expect that at this point?

  7. BJD95 01/25/2007 at 9:52 AM #

    I like the fact that Lowe is trying different combinations out there. We have to find out who can be relied on next year and who can’t. With more puzzle pieces to work with, I think Lowe can have some success next year.

  8. ncsslim 01/25/2007 at 9:54 AM #

    Very dissappointing results when Sid put Fells on Reynolds late in the game to shut him down. Courtney has all the physical tools to wreak havoc on a smaller guy whose game is maimly outside shooting (Redick, etc..), but Fells had no clue, apparently very little attention span. Got schooled.

  9. TNCSU 01/25/2007 at 10:03 AM #

    You guys still must remember Fells is a Sophomore who played very little as a Freshman. He is RAW! He has too much natural ability, and a good looking shot (although he forces sometimes, but every great scorer has)…I will stick to my feeling that if he continues to improve, he will be a force all over the court. I think he’ll be all-ACC player if not next year, by his Senior Year. Just my prediction…my other one is that Degand will NOT be a force, but I hope he can prove me wrong.

  10. PapaJohn 01/25/2007 at 10:07 AM #

    Par Shooter – you said what I think many of us are thinking – could it be that Sid’s not the coach we hope he’ll be? Shouldn’t we expect to see the best these particular guys have to offer every night, whether winning or losing? Where’s the evidence of his impact?
    Let’s not forget that Sid’s learning too. College hoops is a different animal than the NBA. Just like the team, I think we’re seeing good tendencies at times. He’s constantly experimenting. He calls plays out of the huddle. He uses timeouts wisely. He’s certainly better with the media. Based on listening to him talk, I think he has an excellent basketball mind. I think Sid’s going to do great, and like the team, I’ll bet he’ll improve rapidly in the next year or two.
    But make no mistake, I hate it this year like everyone else.

  11. choppack1 01/25/2007 at 10:10 AM #

    The WS Journal said that Grant didn’t start because of a team infraction – missed a study hall or team meeting or something.

    Regarding next year – the pieces will be more complete. We add more team speed and add front court depth. Perimeter shooting may still be an issue.

    I said it in another post regarding us missing Atsur. I thought they we would have lost the games vs. BC, Clemson and Duke even w/ him, but by not as much. If we didn’t have him last night, we’re trailing by 20 again.

    I guess right now, I’m more consistently disappoined w/ our D. Most teams in college basketball struggle offensively from time to time. However, D should be a consistent factor. We knew going into this game that you had to contain Reynolds and Singletary – and those 2 almost beat us by themselves. ( Pack 58 – Singeltary and Reynolds -56.)

  12. CarnifeX 01/25/2007 at 10:31 AM #

    who is Davis? #3?

  13. Tracy 01/25/2007 at 10:42 AM #

    FootBaller #3 Darrell Davis

  14. Dan 01/25/2007 at 10:57 AM #

    Lowe’s post game comments are all that needs to be said:

    “We had poor shot selection, especially when we made some stops. You’ve got to be patient and you’ve got to be smart. I kept telling the guys you have to turn down bad shots to get good ones. You have to get a good look at it. It’s something we’re working on.”

    “It was great to have Engin [Atsur] out there and allow the guys to play their natural positions. He’s a little rusty and I didn’t want him to do too much, because when you do too much you end up making yourself look bad. With Gavin [Grant] not starting, it was a decision I made. I wasn’t pleased with his defensive effort in previous games, and I wanted us to come out with a strong defense at first. When he came off the bench, he played good defense and proved he wanted to play.”

    That’s better analysis that I can muster. It honest. It shows the firm hand on Grant. Its 100% dead on, and it gives me confidence that our program is in solid hands.

    The players are going through a 180 in philosophy. The old system turned them into robots. Those are McCauley’s words. The new system allows a lot more freedom which in turn requires a lot more IQ in order to use it correctly. That freedom doesnt mean that Gavin can now just go nuts. It means he has to play even smarter. It doesnt take a genius to choose the only option allowed. Its harder when there are multiple options every time.

    Sendek’s system required obedient kids. They didnt always need to understand at all times. Just do it. Lowe’s system requires a lot more vision and understanding. The only fair comparison I can think of is a QB that calls his own plays vs a QB that never calls his own plays. They werent asked to do that under Sendek, and that’s not a slight against Herb. A lot of great coaches are dictators. And they are dictators because they believe that they are way more equipped than a 18 year old. I mean freshman QB’s dont call their own plays. There are people who say that they just cant do it. That a 19 year old Courtney Fells shouldnt be trusted to choose between three good options. Give him one on each play. Give him a definite role. I dont agree, but I understand the argument.

    But that has to be a hard adjustment for a kid. There is no short amount of history documenting Sid’s ability to do that when he was at State. V joked he was the coach. That is what is required in the NBA. That’s what he’s trying to teach these kids. He’s working these kids along slowly in understanding it. I think he’s trying to be careful to stay true to an offense that allows multiple options and at the same time get these guys to learn to recognize when to take option A over option B. And at the same time keep both options in play. You cant tell Courtney and Gavin, “when you get the ball at this postion, pass to here, and dont shoot.” You want them to have the option to shoot, but the understanding to know when its better to pass or penetrate. I think they are learning that this “free, fun” offense requires a lot more IQ than the Princeton.

  15. RickJ 01/25/2007 at 11:07 AM #

    Here are my positives:

    We can’t lose 20 games this year – If we lose the rest and the first round of the tournament it will be 19. NC State has never lost 20 games in a year. We’ve also never lost 10 in football.

    Assuming all players with eligibility return and all incoming recruits qualify, our roster looks very competitive with everyone in the ACC not named Duke or UNC-Chapel Hill. We are adding more talent to our team than anyone except Duke. Expansion has really changed the landscape of the league. Next year, maybe for the first time ever, there is a decent chance there will be more really bad basketball teams in the ACC than there are in football.

  16. BJD95 01/25/2007 at 11:09 AM #

    Dan is right. This is a TRANSITION. It’s also not necessarily the same skill set to max out with whatever roster you inherit vs. winning and winning big with your own players and philosophy installed.

    Realistically, Sid going 16-13 or 12-17 with this team tells us VIRTUALLY NOTHING about whether he will be a good coach for us in the long term.

  17. partialqualifier 01/25/2007 at 11:11 AM #

    I do think the effort last night was much better than the Duke game…for that I am thankful. I also agree with those of who point out the very low basketball IQ of this team. We have somehow managed to combine low basketball IQ + no depth + no shooting + no size. As I said before the season….we have one of the worst teams in the last 25 years in the ACC.

    Even Herb started with a team that could shoot and had lots of basketball IQ. This is pitiful. I also would like to give Coach Lowe some credit. Now I have questioned a few things this year that I think he can control….for example effort. I also dont think he is pushing all the right buttons at the right time, but his margin for error is very very slim. The one thing I like is the fact that he is trying different things. He is playing different Defenses, he’s tried different guys at the point, he’s played different line-ups with different combinations. So he is trying…he’s not just sitting there watching.

    One major concern I have had is the same SFN brought up above….I’m not sure we will be much better next year. Sure we will have some bangers who will help us on interior D and rebounding, but you win in college with guards. It has been that way for 50 years…and it is that way today. Who in that group for next year can shoot? Who can defend? Only Degand will be available at the start and he is a combo guard….so still no true point guard. While I think we will be slightly better….I am afraid next year is still going to be a 4-12, 5-11 ACC.

  18. BJD95 01/25/2007 at 11:11 AM #

    I liked what Sid said about Grant. Sounds like he really wanted to test whether Grant had the desire to be out on the court, or whether he was a lost cause. Thankfully, Sid’s assessment was that he does have the requisite desire.

    I think Sid does a pretty good job of balancing the carrot and the stick.

  19. BJD95 01/25/2007 at 11:16 AM #

    My early prediction for next year is anywhere from 6 to 9 ACC wins, depending on how our new guards mesh and how many top players (from other teams) leave for the NBA. I would be shocked if we win less than 5.

    Still, it’s Year Three that is the key. None of us should be making even semi-definite judgments before then.

  20. Dan 01/25/2007 at 11:24 AM #

    ^ Regarding year three:

    Julius Mays is currently shooting 46% from the arc. Went 3 for 3 in his last game. From what I’ve read this year, Julius might be nice fit. I am looking forward to signing day of next year to get that kid wrapped up.

    Are there any other kids named Julius out there we can recruit? ;o)

  21. Rick 01/25/2007 at 11:25 AM #

    Here is my take on next year, with the caveat that I have only seen Smith play so I am making assumptions based on what I have read about them.

    1) We will be much improved inside. The best quote I have heard about Hickson came from Sidney and it referenced him being mean. That toughness will spill over. It will also allow McCauley to move to the 4. McCauley is not a power player and will excel when he is playing beside one. Smith has all the talent to be dominant just not the attitude. Paging Mr Hickson.
    2) Our speed will improve alot. For example, Grant is a slow guard but a quick SF. One quick guy can make everyone quicker. IMO if Grant is playing the 1 or 2 next year it will be a tough year. It will be interesting to see if Costner or Grant starts at the 3.
    3) I think one of the new players will be our leader. Not sure who but it has to be. No one we have now has both the desire and ability to be that leader.
    4) I think we will be a better shooting team. Combine natural improvement (we are essentially a team of freshment), more players so less fatigue and a better interior presence and I think we are at least average in that area. One thing to remember is it is less important with Sid because he will actually feed the post and find other ways to score.
    5) Defense. This one scares me a little. I am not sure on this one. I HOPE that more players mean everyone puts more effort into it or sits. Team speed will help here are well.
    6) Coaching – he will have a year under his belt which always helps. But I have seen alot of flexibiity from Sid. I agree with Packer in that Sid fiddles with stuff until he gets it right. V was never the best fundamentals coach but he sure could get a team playing well when it matters. I believe Sid will be similar.

  22. burnbarn 01/25/2007 at 11:38 AM #

    I think next year we willbe a middling ACC team. We will win some we shouldn’t and we will have a few head scratchers as well. We will not be fighting for a conference title next year but by season end, we could be a good team. We still will lack experience at guard.

    I also agree UVa will not be very good next year.

  23. Sam92 01/25/2007 at 11:44 AM #

    the good people at RAWFS just posted our 2007 football schedule. looks pretty tough (i don’t think UCF is a total pushover)

  24. TNCSU 01/25/2007 at 12:07 PM #

    ^^Realistically, Sid going 16-13 or 12-17 with this team tells us VIRTUALLY NOTHING about whether he will be a good coach for us in the long term.

    I’m sure he’d choose the first option, as would most fans. I agree a bad season – losing from here on out – is not the end all, but part of coaching is “playing with the cards you’re dealt.” Next year, he’ll just have a better hand to play with!

  25. Texpack 01/25/2007 at 12:18 PM #

    If Hickson is as advertised next year, moving Costner to the 3 will help us. I think he has the most potential on the current roster to be an effective spot up jump shooter. He looks to me the least mature player on the team in terms of handling the bad stretches. Hopefully this is something he will grow out of.

    Horner reminds me of a young Googs. Lanky, slightly uncoordinated, slow footed, with indications of having a pretty good shot.

    Courtney Fells needs to shoot 700-800 jumpers a day over the summer. His athletic ability alone can get him good looks, but he simply has to improve his shooting or defense to be a meaningful contributor.

    Sidney’s post game comments about having good guards speak volumes. He may have taken too much for granted in terms of how much BBall IQ this team had. His lack of college coaching experience may be the culprit there. Courtney Fells and Gavin Grant have never played for Morgan Wooten.

    I think I have posted here before that Valvano got schooled frequently during his first ACC season. I saw too much of Sidney Lowe during my years at State to doubt his basketball IQ. I really think he will be able to motivate and teach, but those two things still have to be proven. I’m glad he’s got a five year deal, because it may take until year three to really see major movement up the ACC standings.

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  1. University Update - 01/25/2007

    j1VEgy Thanks-a-mundo for the article.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

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