The NC State Wolfpack travel to South Bend, Indiana tonight at 9:00 EST to battle the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (ACC Network – Tim Brando, Mike Gminski), their first ACC road game of the season. These are two teams going in different directions. The Wolfpack are struggling on defense, rebounding, free throw shooting, 3pt shooting, attacking zone defenses, interior offense, and the inability to hold on to leads after starting strong, especially over the last 3 games. The Irish lost their all conference player in Jerian Grant due to academics but were still able to beat Duke by 2 points on Saturday. Notre Dame has had a couple of home loses this year to (#59 KenPom) Indiana State and (77 KP) North Dakota State, plus an OT win over (136 KP) Canisius, along with a couple of tough loses away from home to (11 KP) Iowa and (1 KP) Ohio State.
The Irish are another highly efficient team on offense and above average on defense, struggling at forcing turnovers, perimeter defense (which won’t be a problem for them tonight since we stink at shooting the 3) and that ever difficult Free Throw defense (hey, we’re not the worst anymore!!!…but again it won’t affect them since we suck at making those too.) Here’s irony, Notre Dame is great at shooting FT’s but don’t get to the line much and their opponents are shooting a blistering 77.8% from the line but they don’t send them to the line. What will be interesting is since Notre Dame, this year, hasn’t had many FT’s shot in their games this year by both them and their opponents, how will that change now with “ACC officials” and their ability to study tendencies and call fouls before they even happen?
Players to watch:
- #24 Pat Connaughton (6-5, 214, JR) – There isn’t much this guy can’t do with the exception of offensive rebounding and saving kittens from trees. Frankly I don’t see anyone on the Pack who will be able to slow him down and it’s going to be a long night from everywhere on the court. Whatever Gott does please don’t put Turner on him.
- #23 Demetrius Jackson (6-1, 195, FR) – Jackson is shooting the ball effectively from behind the arc and charity stripe while only taking 13% of the teams shots. He’s doing exactly what he needs to do as a freshman to help his team.
- #0 Eric Atkins (6-2, 182, SR) – Atkins is what we call your do everything PG. He’s getting the ball in the hands of players who are in position to score on top of being an effective scorer, especially from 3 point land. Personally I’d like to see Lee guarding him.
- #11 Garrick Sherman (6-11, 255, SR) – Look he’s an efficient shooter inside the arc and great at rebounding on both ends, it’ll be an interesting battle all night between him and V/Anya but that’s not why you need to pay attention to him. It’s all about the beard…
When State has the ball expect to once again see State get few second chances at the basket and fail to capitalize on their opponents weaknesses due to it being State’s weaknesses. The Pack is pretty good at offensive rebounding, or should I say Buckets is pretty good at it, but the Irish are doing an even better job at preventing their opponents from getting offensive rebounds.
When the Irish has the ball expect to see a very efficient offense who will get second chances even when they miss. The Irish are just average at offensive rebounding but the Pack are really struggling with defensive rebounding. The only real question will be will the Pack be effective on the perimeter to minimize the Irish’s 3pt threats (Atkins, Connaughton, Jackson)?
Look, until the Pack learns that transition offense begins on defense by preventing easy shots, forcing turnovers, and defensive rebounding, this team will struggle against quality opponents.
KenPom likes the Irish by 7, it’ll be more.
This is the eighth meeting between the two schools, and the first since a 61-48 neutral-court Wolfpack victory in 2005. Prior to that contest in the Wooden Classic, the two teams hadn’t played since NC State’s title season of 1983.
T.J. Warren continues to hold the top spot in the league in scoring at 23.9 points per game. Warren scored 23 points in NC State’s ACC opener vs. Pittsburgh, a game that saw the Pack lead 34-26 at halftime before Pitt mounted a comeback. A win Tuesday night would give the Wolfpack its third straight road win. NC State has claimed wins at Tennessee and UNC Greensboro over the last three weeks.
NC State will be playing a very confident Notre Dame team that is coming off a win over Duke. The Irish are led by 6-11 senior Garrick Sherman and senior guard Eric Atkins.
1. ACC ROAD OPENER
A win over Notre Dame would lift NC State to a 3-0 record in ACC road openers under Mark Gottfried. In the Wolfpack coach’s first season, NC State rolled past Wake Forest 76-40 in the first ACC road game of the season. Last year, the Pack went to Boston College and won 78-73. In all, NC State has won its first ACC road game in three of the last four seasons.
4. PUT THE BALL IN THE BASKET
The Wolfpack has been effective shooting the basketball most of the season, standing fourth in the ACC with a .477 field goal percentage. NC State has posted seven outings with .500 shooting or better, including its .582 offensive display against East Carolina on Dec. 21. The Wolfpack shot .619 in the season opener vs. Appalachian State and was at exactly .500 shooting in wins over Eastern Kentucky, Long Beach State and Detroit. Dating back to the beginning of the 2012-13 season, NC State is 21-5 when shooting at least .500 from the floor.
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Wolfpack faces tough test with Fighting Irish
Sub-freezing temperatures and snowy winter storms paralyzed most major Midwest airports Monday, but N.C. State’s basketball team was able to safely fly to Notre Dame.
The Wolfpack chartered a flight directly into South Bend, Ind., which helped avoid traveling snarls in Chicago and Indianapolis. The Wolfpack (10-4, 0-1 ACC) will even get a chance to shoot-around at Notre Dame (10-4, 1-0) on Tuesday afternoon before its 9 p.m. tipoff.
The smooth travel into wintry Indiana put coach Mark Gottfried ahead of his last trip to Notre Dame. In December 2006, Gottfried’s Alabama team got delayed a day going to Notre Dame. The Crimson Tide arrived the day of the game, missed the shoot-around and then got blitzed by the Fighting Irish 99-85.
Gottfried said his Alabama team never found a rhythm. He has talked with his Wolfpack players about tuning out distractions.
He wants to keep his team focused. He knows his team will have its hands full with the Fighting Irish, who have gone 76-8 at home the past 41/2 seasons.”
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Notre Dame sweeps ACC weekly honors after win against Duke
Eric Atkins earned the ACC’s top player award for the second week in a row for spearheading the Irish’s rally from a 10-point second half deficit to a 79-77 victory against Duke.
Not only did the senior point guard record his first double-double of the season in the game with a team-leading 19 points and 11 assists, he made the tying and go-ahead baskets as part of his team’s 20-4 run to close out the game.
Atkins is averaging 24.5 points and nine assists in his last two games.
Q and A: BeeJay Anya
Between a slam dunk, or a blocked shot, which do you like better?
That’s hard (laughs). If it’s on somebody, I’d say a dunk. But if I can send a shot into the eighth row, that’s a good block.
You’ve been known to give the Mutombo finger wag after blocks. Have you always done that?
I did that in high school, and have definitely given that to a few people. Dikembe Mutombo was one of the guys I looked up to when I was growing up. He went to Georgetown, which is right near where I’m from in DC. He used to do that all the time and it grew on me. But Coach Gottfried said I can’t do it anymore because I don’t want to get a technical foul.
What are some areas you hope to improve as a player moving forward?
I need to continue getting into better shape. I’ve come along way already. I’ve been working with Coach (Bob) Alejo every day. If I continue doing that, I’ll be able to be on the court longer and be able to be more effective on the court. I’m getting there. Every day I’m going to continue to get better.
Bonus: (check out these)
Notre Dame’s Garrick Sherman Rips Doug Gottlieb Over on Twitter Joke About His Beard
Whatever you do, don’t make fun of the beard of Garrick Sherman. CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb learned the hard way when he took a light-hearted jab at the Notre Dame center which resulted in a straight ethering by Sherman.