NC STATE BASKETBALL
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
Little movement on injury front for Duke’s Ryan Kelly and N.C. State’s Lorenzo Brown
There was little movement on the injury statuses of N.C. State point guard Lorenzo Brown and Duke forward Ryan Kelly on Monday.
Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed the health of the players in Mondayâ€™s ACC coaches teleconference. The two teams meet on Thursday night in Durham.
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said Brown, who injured his left ankle in a loss at Virginia last week, was nowhere near ready to play in the Wolfpackâ€™s game against Miami on Saturday. The Wolfpackâ€™s third-leading scorer was expected to be held out of practice on Monday. He said his availability for Thursday nightâ€™s game wonâ€™t be determined for a few days.
ACC media relations
Lorenzo Brown getting â€˜around the clockâ€™ treatment
NC State might not have the peripheral accolades after losing four of six ACC games by a combined seven points, but coach Mark Gottfried knows the team is moving in the right direction going into Thursday’s showdown at Duke.
Gottfried and the Wolfpack fell out of both polls after narrow losses to Miami (79-78) and Virginia (58-55) last week. NC State played the majority of the Cavaliers game and the entirety of the Hurricanes’ loss without star junior point guard Lorenzo Brown.
Freshman point guard Tyler Lewis eventually took his place in running the Wolfpack and could be enhancing his role as the team awaits Brown’s availability for the Duke game.
Below is a transcript from his weekly ACC teleconference:
“Well, I think that Thursday is going to be a good opportunity for our team [at Duke]. Obviously, we were disappointed in our last game, in the finish, and not being able to come out of there with a win. I think our group has a great opportunity to get back on track here in a very tough environment there at Duke.”
Some of the things you did well in the last two games allowed you to develop a longer bench and you fought there until the end. How do you reinforce those things after losses because I know your team was down after the Virginia game and Miami game, but after both of those games were there some positives?
“Well, I think there’s been a lot of positives. The difficult thing is there is four losses to show for those games. So, I think our team right now understands that â€” Tyler Lewis stepped up and not only played well, but I think there’s confidence that our team gained in him, which is good, and I think that’ll help us. I think [redshirt junior center] Jordan [Vandenberg] is giving us some quality minutes. Although they’re not a lot, they’ve been quality for us as an interior player.
“There are a lot of positive things happening, we just have to make sure that we turn those things into winning games, which we’ve obviously been very close. But we’ve got to do a few more things a little bit better and turn that around.”
You talked about struggling to finish. Obviously the Duke game last year in Cameron was an example of that. Can you use that experience last year as motivation for your team on Thursday?
“I don’t think so. I think the guys that played last year, obviously understand what that experience did for our team. But this is a different group, different team. Our young guys have not been into Cameron to play. I think that our team has to develop a mentality where we want to go on the road, we cherish going on the road. That’s a challenge for us that we need to grab a hold of. I think it starts this week, because we’ve played well enough at times to win on the road, but we’ve come up short a number of times. We’ve got to be mentally ready.”
Teleconference: Mark Gottfried
When you look at this season as a whole, I think perhaps the criticism of your team is that you play to the level of the competition; you get up for the big games, Duke, Miami, but then you play down to lesser competition, like Wake Forest. What do you say to that?
I would disagree.
How do you explain the inconsistency of your team this year?
Well, I think that there’s a lot of things. I don’t think that our team is any more ready to play or less ready to play depending upon who our opponent has been. And I think that we’ve played hard and sometimes not as well.
And sometimes we’ve not made shots, we’ve given up a rebound here or there at the end of the game which has cost us, but I don’t think you can just blanket our season and make that kind of a– I guess you can, but I would just disagree with it.
When you played Duke the first time it was the first game they played without Ryan Kelly. When you look at them now they’ve had a few weeks to adjust to that. Can you see any difference, or do they present any different problems?
Well, they’ve certainly gotten more comfortable playing without him.
When you lose a player like him, and we’ve obviously played without Lorenzo, you get some growing pains because you’re learning how to adjust, and they may have appeared to be that way initially with Ryan Kelly.
It seems now they seem a lot more comfortable with Amile Jefferson and what his role will be with Hairston, how they’re going to score the ball without Kelly stretching the defense with his three and how they’re going to defend without Kelly.
They certainly to me appear to be a lot more comfortable here now that they’re, whatever that is, four or five games into it.
I know it was almost a game-time decision on Lorenzo Saturday. With another four or five days, are you pretty confident that he’ll be back?
I hope so, but I have no way of knowing. I don’t think he was anywhere near being capable to play the other day. He wanted to and he dressed and went out there, but I still thought he was a few days away.
Now, obviously he’s getting treatment around the clock, so we’ll see. But I don’t anticipate him practicing today, and then I think in the next couple days we’ll learn a little bit more.
Omega Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
Slip-Sliding Away: More on Second Half Issues/Problems
If percentage of points yielded in the second half does not convince you, consider this: the Wolfpack have been outscored in the second half for five consecutive games. This is a trend. This is an issue/problem. With all due respect, I ain’t getting on your damn omnibus.
Again, in their first four conference games the Wolfpack were +29 in the second half, or 7.25 points better on average than their opponent. In their last five, the Pack are -41, or -8.2 points worse per game.
Why do teams score more after intermission? There are a myriad of reasons. Teams get in a flow. Foul trouble leads to slack defense. Coaches make adjustments. Teams also tend to play a larger rotation in the first 20 minutes in order to save the legs and fouls of the most important players for the stretch run. That last reason may show why the Wolfpack do not really improve offensively after intermission. They rarely expand the rotation, even in the first half, unless foul trouble or injury forces their hand.
Tyler Lewisâ€™ Emergence Means More Than You Think
Look, Iâ€™m not here telling you that Lewis is All-ACC yetâ€¦heâ€™s not. Or wait, maybe I wontâ€™ say that, because everytime I doubt him, I end up wrong. My point is, I donâ€™t want to hype the kid too much after just one game, however, Iâ€™m not blind and what I saw on Saturday afternoon was special and itâ€™s going to mean a lot of things for NC State.
1) Lorenzo Brown gets a breather. Zo needs to get some rest. The guy is running the break defending the opponents quickest player and all the while is expected to play almost 40 minutes per game. Thatâ€™s not possible. Itâ€™s almost certain that weâ€™re seeing a watered down version of Brown late in games and thatâ€™s a problem. You donâ€™t want your best player sucking wind when you need him most, and thatâ€™s one reason Lewisâ€™ emergence was so vital. Now, State can give Zo a breather without a big drop-off in play.
2) You can change up the looks. Brown does a lot of things that Lewis will never be able to do, just based off of size and athleticism alone. But Lewis can give opponents a whole different look, a different pace. Tylerâ€™s vision is probably a tick better than Brownâ€™s even at this point and he plays the game a little different speed. Zo is obviously the guy you want out there when the game is on the line at this point, but Lewis can definitely bring his strengths to the table if Brown gets tired or starts forcing things a little too much.
3) Another ball handler. Lewis gives Gottfried another guy that can come in and handle the ball late in games. You saw at Miami how crucial it is to have guys that are comfortable with the rock when teams are pressing and adding Lewis to the mix will only help. Not to mention, Tyler is nearing 80% from the line this season, so you likely are going to start seeing him at the end of games.
4) Creativity with lineups. Finally, Gottfried has a little depth to work with. All season long heâ€™s been working with basically 6 players. Now he can get creative. He can move Brown to the 2 at times and bring Lewis in to run point. He can go small and have Lewis, Brown and Purvis all in at the same time. It just gives him the ability to throw a lot of different looks at opponents and that always is a good thing.
But wait, really? All of this over one good game from Lewis? Shouldnâ€™t I wait to make all these claims after heâ€™s done this for a few times over? Well, honestly, Iâ€™m just going to go ahead and get a little ahead of myself because Iâ€™m sick and tired of being proven wrong by Tyler Lewis. Heâ€™s good. Heâ€™s shown it at every level, and frankly, Iâ€™m done doubting him.
Rob McLamb (TechnicianOnline.com)
Gottfried faces balancing act
Mark Gottfried has an aura about him. He is the type of person who get looks from others in a crowded room. He has a terrific personality. His educational and employment background, along with family history in coaching have prepared him well.
For all of Gottfriedâ€™s strengths and background in coaching and communication, he is a terrible actor.
When N.C. State loses, he makes no pretense of his hurt, disappointment or even anger. He stews when the Pack suffers a tough loss, and all of the ACC losses have been agonizing so far. The fact that he is in an ill mood after defeat is not entirely helpful for the writers who use Gottfriedâ€™s quotes to help put food on their table–â€” the members of the media gorging on pregame buffets notwithstanding.
But Gottfriedâ€™s terseness after tough losses should not be considered a negative. It is in fact a poetic symmetry to the hunger of the N.C. State fan base. When the Pack loses, its supporters are usually in no mood for looking on the bright side of life.
It is also a stark contrast to post-game mood often displayed by Gottfriedâ€™s two predecessors over the previous 15 years before he arrived in Raleigh from his sojourn at ESPN before last season.
Herb Sendek would often show a remarkable detachment from human emotion after games, regardless of the outcome. Sendekâ€™s normal demeanor was akin to a doctor in an emergency roomâ€”whether it was the joy of birth or the sorrow of death, he was stoic. There was a logical explanation for everything.
Sidney Loweâ€™s post-game press conferences would have the former point guard steering seamlessly between complete befuddlement as to why his teams were mediocre and hope to a brighter future that somehow only he could see.
Daniel Wilson (TechnicianOnline.com)
‘Seven Nation Army’: just what the Pack needed
As I entered PNC Arena and took my seat on the baseline for the contest against the baby blue abomination of the Atlantic Coast Conference, I expected nothing better than the humdrum â€œBoomâ€ video, following the amazing â€œOur Stateâ€ video before the national anthem.
I expected mediocrity. I expected the status quo. But I saw a new video â€“ a fantastic new video!
After the State student body finished jeering the visiting rivals, the lights went down as Mr. and Mrs. Wuf took center court to make their traditional howls. The giant screen showed the nighttime skyline of the city of Raleigh after the howling concluded, and a remixed techno version of the iconic semi-acoustic guitar riff in the White Stripes song â€œSeven Nation Armyâ€ began playing. Instantly, the hungry Wolfpack crowd responded.
As the tune broke down and momentarily paused, the video showed head coach Mark Gottfried pumping up the players inside the locker room.
â€œWe didnâ€™t come here to be second.â€
The beat returned while the screen showed highlights from previous games, including the memorable upset of the Blue Devils. The video concluded with the well-known â€œWolfpack in the houseâ€ yell.
This video gave the team and fans the three-point shot they needed as the prelude to what became the massacre of the vermin that had dared to step into PNC Arena that fateful day. N.C. State officials had previously integrated â€œSeven Nation Armyâ€ into Stateâ€™s game-day tradition as a way to energize the already-pumped crowd, usually when the opposing team took a timeout following a large-scoring run for the Pack.
The beat has brought many State fans to their feet to jump and yell as the video did on that fateful day when it debuted. My only complaint: Why didnâ€™t officials introduce this video sooner?
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
ACC Power Rankings: Miami has to trip up somewhere, right?
1. Miami (17-3, 8-0)
Last week: 1
My take: The ACC race wonâ€™t be interesting until Miami makes it so. The Hurricanes have to drop a league game somewhere along the way to make their trip to Duke on March 2 a big deal. Among the best opportunities for such a result will likely be Saturdayâ€™s game at home against North Carolina and a trip to Florida State on Feb. 13. Donâ€™t rule out something crazy happening when the Hurricanes head to Wake Forest on Feb. 23. The Demon Deacons appear to be a whole different team at the Joel.
2. Duke (19-2, 6-2)
Last week: 2
My take: While weâ€™ve mentioned the fact that Miami needs to trip up somewhere to allow Duke to make this thing interesting, itâ€™s worth noting that Duke doesnâ€™t have much of a margin of error. A loss on Thursday night to N.C. State or any sort of craziness during their trip to Maryland or home date with North Carolina next week could doom the Blue Devilsâ€™ hopes of first place before they get a chance to do something about it.
3. N.C. State (16-6, 5-4)
Last week: 3
My take: Seven points equals four ACC losses. Thatâ€™s tough to get your head around, but for N.C. State itâ€™s a bitter reality.
4. North Carolina (15-6, 5-3)
Last week: 4
My take: These recent good vibes for North Carolina are nice and all, but how about that schedule? A trip to Miami on Feb. 9 and a trip to Duke four nights later? Yikes.
8. Clemson (12-9, 4-5)
Last week: 8
My take: Boston College shot better from 3-point range than it did from the free throw line in its win against Clemson this weekend. For a Tigers team that had won two straight, that has to sting.
Andrew Jones (FoxSportsCarolinas.com)
ACC Power Rankings: Miami holds steady
1. Miami (17-3, 8-0)
The Hurricanes picked up two more road victories, winning at Virginia Tech and at the buzzer at NC State. The Hurricanes are now 5-0 on the road in the ACC and six of their final 10 games are at home. They have done everything to prove they are the leagueâ€™s best team and are showing no signs of letting up.
2. Duke (19-2, 6-2)
Two really good road wins marked Dukeâ€™s week, beginning with a narrow victory at Wake Forest that required a lot of grit followed by a rout of Florida State. Mason Plumlee was dominant when needed at Wake Forest and the long-bombers were on in Tallahassee. Duke is still searching for itself post-Ryan Kellyâ€™s injury, but is still plenty good.
3. N.C. State (16-6, 5-4)
Two losses, an injury to Lorenzo Brown and more issues with C.J. Leslie made this a frustrating week for the Wolfpack. At the same time, the team played inspired basketball in losing at Virginia and at home to Miami. In the long run, this week may make the Wolfpack better.
4. North Carolina (15-6, 5-3)
The Tar Heels have quietly won five of six ACC games, and this past week beat Boston College on the road before edging Virginia Tech in overtime at home. North Carolina wasnâ€™t great in either game, but this team is proving itâ€™s learning how to win, and thatâ€™s a positive moving forward.
7. Clemson (12-9, 4-5)
Brad Brownellâ€™s club made a heck of a late charge at Boston College but fell short Saturday. Ironically, the Tigers nearly blew a nice lead at home to Georgia Tech earlier in the week. Consistently inconsistent describes the Tigers.