NC STATE BASKETBALL
Joe Giglio (N&O)
N.C. State working against UNC, history
Mark Gottfried provided the current N.C. State players with a history lesson Thursday.
Gottfried informed his team, with a message on the white dry-erase board at the teamâ€™s practice facility, that the Wolfpack hasnâ€™t swept North Carolina since the 2002-03 season.
The Wolfpack has only won both regular-season games against the Tar Heels three times since David Thompson dominated the rivalry nearly 40 years ago.
Junior guard Lorenzo Brown, who was instrumental in the Wolfpackâ€™s 91-83 win against UNC in Raleigh on Jan. 26, still wasnâ€™t sure about all the particulars but he got the gist of Gottfriedâ€™s message.
â€œIt was a long time ago,â€ said Brown, who had 20 points and 11 assists in the first meeting. â€œHopefully we can do it again on Saturday.â€
It was 10 years ago when Wolfpack coach Herb Sendekâ€™s teams swept UNC, then under coach Matt Doherty, in both 2001-02 and 2002-03.
Roy Williams succeeded Doherty the following season and the Tar Heels havenâ€™t lost to the Wolfpack in Chapel Hill since.
Even with the late January loss, Williams is 19-2 against N.C. State and 9-0 at the Smith Center. UNC had won 13 in a row before the eight-point loss at PNC Arena.
History has been on UNCâ€™s side since the start of ACC play in 1953-54. In the 59 ACC seasons, N.C. State has swept the season series (tournament games included) six times (compared to 27 times for the Tar Heels).
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Pack will test UNC with new emphasis on rebounding
While North Carolina has switched to a smaller, four-guard lineup, N.C. State is in the midst of going the other way.
In the hopes of getting more rebounding, N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried started three forwards against Florida State on Tuesday night.
Gottfried used freshman T.J. Warren, whoâ€™s 6-foot-8, together with forwards Richard Howell (6-8) and C.J. Leslie (6-9) in the starting lineup.
The Wolfpack (19-7, 8-5 ACC) finished the FSU game with a season-best 45 rebounds, including 21 on the offensive glass. The Wolfpack also turned in its most complete ACC win thus far, an 84-66 decision.
Warren grabbed a season-best 13 rebounds and eight on the offensive end. He hadnâ€™t had more than seven total rebounds in an ACC game before Tuesdayâ€™s outburst.
Thanks to Warren, N.C. State outscored FSU 29-6 in second-chance points.
N.C. Stateâ€™s issues have primarily been on the defensive glass. The Wolfpack has given up at least 13 offensive rebounds in 16 games, including five times in ACC play.
N.C. State guards Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood and Rodney Purvis have been anxious to get out in transition and have routinely let Howell handle the rebounding.
The problems happen when the ball bounces away from Howell and thereâ€™s no one on the other side of the basket to help.
â€œI do think at times our team relies on Richard to go get them all,â€ Gottfried said. â€œA lot of times we have perimeter guys leaking out, ready to go run the fast break before we have the ball.
â€œWe have to be a team where everybody gets involved in the rebounding part of the game.â€
Akula Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
Defensive Rebounds Or Death
Defensive rebounding could make a huge difference to this team’s postseason prospects, and this is where we need T.J. Warren. Warren’s efforts against FSU moved him ahead of Tyler Lewis by a hair in the defensive rebounding percentage category, but he still trails Scott Wood and Lorenzo Brown. You see the problem. Jordan Vandenberg moves in molasses, so his DR% isn’t much better than Warren’s. This puts a ton of pressure on C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell to snag rebounds, because they’re the only ones doing it at a respectable rate.
Seriously, Warren is grabbing fewer defensive boards–on a percentage basis–than Scott Wood. If Warren can show some commitment at the defensive end, State can cut into a major weakness. We need that to make a run come tournament time.
Nolan Evans & Luke Nadkarni (technicianonline.com)
The Baby Blue Battlefront: Wolfpack travels to heart of enemy territory for encore clash with Tar Heels
Winning at the Smith Center is no easy task. The Tar Heels have a record of 12-1 at home this season, the only blemish being a loss to No. 2 Miami, who coincidentally is the only team to win in Raleigh this season as well. If the Pack wants to come out with a win, it will need someone other than the usual suspects of Brown, Howell and Leslie to step up, much like Warren did against FSU.
â€œWhenever we have all our guys on the same page, weâ€™re so much better,â€ Leslie said.
The Heels employ an up-tempo style of play that State is also comfortable with. The Pack ranks eighth in the nation in points per game, while Carolina is right behind them at 10th. Still, dictating the pace of the game will be an essential ingredient to victory.
â€œWe know how quick they want to play,â€ Howell said. â€œBut we want to keep it at our tempo and not their tempo.â€
State and Carolina are part of a three-way tie for third place in the ACC with Virginia, which hosts Georgia Tech on Sunday. The Cavaliers, who defeated State 58-55 on Jan. 28th, currently hold the tiebreaker over both teams. Should the Pack win and secure a season sweep of the Heels, they would own any tiebreaker with UNC down the road. That would add to the sweetness of sweeping their biggest rival for the first time in ten years.
â€œIt would mean a lot,â€ Warren said. â€œIt would be great for the program and great for the fans. We just want to go out there, play as hard as we can, and just try to come off the road with a win.â€
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
ACC Layup Lines: “Harlem Shake” still on the rise, with UNC and N.C. State looking to follow suit
Crank up (begrudgingly) the “Harlem Shake” for:
N.C. State (19-7, 8-5) at North Carolina (18-8, 8-5)
N.C. State, UNC and Virginia are currently tied for third place in the ACC, so the winner of Saturday’s game in Chapel Hill increases its chances of earning a first-round bye for the conference tournament.
The Wolfpack finished the first half of the previous meeting against the Tar Heels with a 20-0 advantage in fastbreak points, and an up-tempo style still favors N.C. State, especially if you factor in the 40-yard dash of Wolfpack alum Mark Thomas.
If N.C. State builds another big lead, expect fans of the rams to voice their displeasure.
Warren: Everybody is amped up
N.C. State freshman T.J. Warren has never played on the road at Chapel Hill, but he is excited for his first opportunity.
Howell: It’s just another game
Richard Howell talks preparing for the Tar Heels like any other team, but he still recognizes that sweeping Carolina would be big.
Brown: I’m getting back to where I need to be
N.C. State’s Lorenzo Brown talks on his rehab process and difficulties presented by the Tar Heels.
Wood: A win would be big
Scott Wood talks about the challenges of playing in Chapel Hill, and says a win against the Tar Heels Saturday would be big for the program.