Why State Can/Will Win in Cameron

I will preface this by reminding everyone that I am the furthest thing from a wild-eyed optimist. I also don’t think this Wolfpack team is really that good (which is why I see ACC COY as a two-man race between Gottfried and Bennett, the two coaches who have gotten the absolute maximum out of rather limited personnel). So…how can I predict a win next Thursday at Duke? Especially in light of how choppy State’s play has been over the past several weeks?

First, with all top tier ACC squads having fatal flaws – I give great weight to matchups. And NC State matches up every bit as well with Duke as it matches up poorly with UNC. Though Carolina matches up poorly with Duke (as I predicted via e-mail to one of my Hole fan friends, I suspected UNC would be too stubborn to be as physical with Duke as they needed to be). NC State doesn’t have the talent luxury to be so stubborn. It also has three quite physical bigs to rotate in the lowpost. Physical play annoys the Devils, and interrupts their flow. And offensive flow is really Duke’s only card to play. Without that, they are an extremely average team, as they showed against physical defensive teams like Temple, Ohio State, Florida State, and even Miami.

Second, NC State has a full week to prepare for this game, and get rested in advance of a physical war. CJ Williams can get healthy. Lorenzo Brown can sleep and hopefully regain full confidence. DeShawn Painter can get over the flu. Side note – the rest of the team had damned well better have gotten their flu shots.

Duke, on the other hand, has another emotional game today. So…no rest, either physically or mentally. Assuming a win over the Terps (a loss today would blow up the Pack’s chances completely), the Devils will enter Thursday night coming off two emotional wins over teams they hate. Could there be any better a setup for a letdown? Is this not the perfect example of a “trap” game? And when the Pack’s physicality predictably annoys them, won’t things probably snowball further? I certainly think so.

Finally, although I believe NC State – like Virginia – is a “low ceiling” team in the ACC’s “reasonably good” tier…that doesn’t mean the Pack is incapable of having an especially good game and playing over their heads. And thus far, our timing has been pretty good (see State’s top effort of the year, resulting in its best resume win at Miami). In that sense, the lackluster play of the past few weeks is actually a positive sign – State can’t play like a good team every night, and picked a good time to be “due.”

Now, this is not to say that an upset is a lead-pipe cinch. Just because NC State is “due” for a good performance doesn’t mean it 100% will happen. Lorenzo Brown could get in foul trouble. Scott Woo could have a poor night shooting (and/or the man he’s guarding could score 50 instead of 20). Duke could lose today and come out loaded for bear. CJ Williams could tweak his shoulder early. Calvin Leslie could decide he needs to showcase his perimeter “skills” for NBA scouts.

But it’s all about possibilities, isn’t it? And Thursday night marks NC State’s best possibility of the 2011-12 season. It certainly won’t be on short rest (and a poor matchup) against the Noles, or the nightmare matchup against the Holes (anytime or anywhere). Very few commentators will expect it to happen in Cameron Indoor Stadium, either. But now, you know better.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

Big Four Rivals NCS Basketball

56 Responses to Why State Can/Will Win in Cameron

  1. mak4dpak 02/11/2012 at 9:52 AM #

    We won at Miami, they won at Duke, so anything is possible. I believe!

  2. Wulfpack 02/11/2012 at 10:11 AM #

    We most certainly have the advantage on the interior, but I think we are at a disadvantage on the perimter and our guards/wings are going to have to play like gang busters to give us a shot at the end. I’m talking about Zo, Wood, CJW and AJ who will be matched up against Rivers, Curry, and Dawkins. As we all know, Duke loves the dribble drive and the kickout for the open three. If we cannot stop that drive be prepared for a whole lot of Blue Devil rainmaking. And the thing about playing Duke in Cameron is you can be just about even with those guys, and then they will go on their patented run (mostly due to turnovers) to take the 6-10 point lead. And they are the best at milking away the game, so you have to get on them early and stay on them — no scoring droughts. Our bigs are going to have to step up and stop that drive, and they MUST stay out of foul trouble or else I see this as a Blue Devil win.

  3. Wufpacker 02/11/2012 at 10:22 AM #

    I think we’ll give them a game, but unfortunately I don’t see this team (ours) as having enough end of game poise or being mentally tough enough yet to be able to close one out at Cameron. I actually think we stand a better chance to keep it close and then sneak up from behind at the end (kinda like they did to Carolina) than to have a lead with 5 to play and keep it.

    I still think we’ll beat FSU at home, however.

  4. theTHRILL 02/11/2012 at 10:25 AM #

    There is no way we will win this game.

    - AT Duke, where we haven’t beaten K in forever
    - we folded at the Dean Dome, we will fold at Cameron
    - they have better players than us
    - they have a better coach than us
    - referees, referees, referees

  5. wolfonthehill 02/11/2012 at 10:31 AM #

    I love the optimism – I just wish I could share it.

    Howell may be big, but he plays weak. He will “punish” no one inside. Calvin may be tall, but same story… no punishment there. While DeShawn is huge, he fires 12-15 footers vs pounding it inside.

    Wood won’t get an open look all night… Zo will play frazzled (aka @unc-ch)… and we won’t get a 9-for-31 shooting effort from Duke.

    I think the only chance we have in the next 3 is vs FSU… and that’s a 1-in-4 deal. Need it bad.

  6. BJD95 02/11/2012 at 10:36 AM #

    I like the Duke/UNC analogy a lot. Carolina has better talent than Duke, but not so much to be overwhelming. Same applies to State vs. Duke.

    So…Duke can sneak up on Carolina and win under the right circumstances. As can State vs. Duke. But State vs. Carolina is a bridge too far – this year.

  7. wolfwarrior 02/11/2012 at 10:39 AM #

    No long scoring droughts for State, then State wins.
    Long scoring droughts for State, then blue devils wins.

  8. Wufpacker 02/11/2012 at 10:44 AM #

    I’m glad we have the week off to rest up and prepare for Duke, but I really miss having a game to look forward to on the weekend.

  9. BJD95 02/11/2012 at 10:48 AM #

    Thrill, I agree with your points, just not the “can’t win” conclusion. All of the same points apply just as strongly (if not more so) to Miami and FSU, both of which won at Cameron this year. Once might be a fluke, but two is a trend.

    For the record, I think the Duke game is the difference between a 10-6 NCAAT season, and 9-7 NIT. I don’t see us sweeping Miami/Clemson/VPI.

  10. wolfie91 02/11/2012 at 11:03 AM #

    The guys have to believe they can win at Cameron. That’s the first start. We did play Duke better during the Lowe years than we did UNC. Hopefully the guys will think about that and not the awful job we did there last year.

  11. wolfpackdawg 02/11/2012 at 11:25 AM #

    No…because Coach K is a whiny cunt who intimidates the officiating to the point of influencing games. He has ruined the ACC imo.

  12. BJD95 02/11/2012 at 11:31 AM #

    It does suck not to have a game to look forward to today. General college basketball has been a let down, and there’s no football or baseball either.

    I’ve taken to watching English Premier League soccer lately. I don’t understand it, but it’s a pretty cool cultural phenomenon. Plus, one of my daughters is a soccer player, so I want to learn more about the game.

    I’ve adopted Everton (“the People’s side”) as an appropriate team for a Wolfpacker to support. Reminded me of “we all go to NC State” and how one of my Hole fan friends loves to mockingly call the ESA “the People’s arena.”

    1-nil halftime lead. Woohoo!!!!

  13. JEOH2 02/11/2012 at 11:31 AM #

    I just hope our coaches and players don’t read into the idea that we can’t beat Duke at Cameron that some of us seem to have…

  14. BJD95 02/11/2012 at 11:44 AM #

    I don’t have a problem with calling it as one sees it. I did so (and caught some heat) before the game at the Nose Dome. I just disagree with the conclusion. We really CAN win at Cameron.

    Remember, we are not a “rah rah” operation at SFN. We aim to be rational, and tell the truth as each of us sees it.

  15. MBS 02/11/2012 at 11:50 AM #

    I’ve been looking forward to this game for a few weeks. I completely agree with BJD95′s assessment. We may not win, but this IS a winnable game. Having a bye this weekend gives us a BIG boost. As far as I am concerned, there are four keys to beating Duke:

    - Lorenzo Brown needs to play well. He doesn’t have to score a bunch, but he needs to direct the offense.
    - Our perimeter defense needs to show up. At different times this year, it has looked pretty good. At other times, it has looked atrocious. We need it to be good.
    - Richard Howell needs to stay out of foul trouble. NOTE: This is the most unlikely event in this list of four. We are so much better when he is cleaning the boards.
    - Scott Wood needs to be on . . . or at least not be off!

    I think all four of those things are very possible, especially with extra days to prepare. I won’t say I am optimistic . . . but I am at least hopeful.

  16. Wufpacker 02/11/2012 at 11:52 AM #

    I can’t decide between Butler@ClevelandSt., and BallSt.@KentSt. What a dilemma. I think I’ll go watch the grass grow instead.

  17. WTNY 02/11/2012 at 12:29 PM #

    I never understand the thought that we can’t against a certain team or at a certain location because we haven’t in a while. Maybe in-season it makes a difference but from one season to the next it really shouldn’t. It’s almost like saying this next flip of the coin will be tails because the previous 10 flips have been heads.

  18. TruthBKnown Returns 02/11/2012 at 12:51 PM #

    Duke thanks you for the bulletin board material.

  19. PackerInRussia 02/11/2012 at 1:11 PM #

    ^^^The odds are stacked against grass growing in the winter. If it happens, that could indeed be the upset of the day. I say “go grass.”

    ^I think it’d be hard to get bulletin board material out of this post. “We match up well against Duke and stand a chance to win” doesn’t sound like the kind of thing to ruffle anyone’s feathers. It lacks the typical middle school-type insults and name-calling. It even compliments them at certain spots. If Duke can get riled up over this post, then they’re way too self-conscious and paranoid.

  20. Rick 02/11/2012 at 1:28 PM #

    Great article and I agree with your argument that we can beat Duke.
    We need to get the interior working.

    I disagree that FSU is a bad match up. If FSU is not shooting well they are easy to beat.

  21. chriscgray 02/11/2012 at 1:42 PM #

    This game is all about what we do defensively. Duke is going to shoot the 3 and we must play excellent perimeter defense. We have had some horrible games playing perimeter defense this year, but I expect Gottfried to make that a main focus in preperation for the Blue Devils. Offensively we must take good shot selection to set up good defense on the other end. These are obvious components to a winning formula, but against Duke at Cameron it is a must to even be competitive.

  22. wolfie91 02/11/2012 at 2:10 PM #

    Just hope the guys focus on one game at a time. All 6 remaining games are tough.

  23. Thinkpack17 02/11/2012 at 2:12 PM #

    “Howell may be big, but he plays weak. He will “punish” no one inside.”

    Howell regularly puts people on their ass and is one of the best rebounders in the league. Is Howell short? Yes. A reacher? Yes. Couldn’t jump over the Warren county phone book? Check.

    Weak? Not a chance. His strong, below the rim game is the only reason he is such an elite rebounder. To suggest he’s weak I would think you are talking about a different Howell on a different State team. Maybe Tennessee State has a Howell.

    Everton is a good, honest club who respects and employs American footballers. The only club that may respect American soccer more is Fulham.

  24. Jediwolf 02/11/2012 at 2:28 PM #

    We have enough talent on this team to beat Duke. We just need to play a smart game and have the mental toughness to finish the job. GO PACK! GO GOTT!

  25. graywolf 02/11/2012 at 2:57 PM #

    Painter has the flu…..even if you get the flu shot it is only a guess by virologist as to the types of strains that will be prevalent during the year. If he did not get the flu shot then shame on him.

    I love your optimism but I don’t see us winning any of the next 3.
    1st : we have not played well even though we won the last few games….we cannot do this and expect to win
    2nd : officiating……I for one do not thing this is an excuse…they get the calls and its a home game for them which is even worse.
    3rd : It has been more than 2 decades since we won in Cameron…..the basketball gods have not been on our side for quite some time.
    4th : slow start against the devils and we are toast.

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