After the performance on Saturday I do not want to think about football right now, so I thought I would address some challenges that I believe the basketball team will face this year.
(1) The loss of Julius Hodge – Besides being responsible for 23% of the points, 20% of the rebounds and most importantly 31% of the assists, Jules was the heart of the team. He was the player that wanted to take the final shot and was the emotional leader on last years team.
(2) The loss of Larry Hunter – Hunter came into the fold at the perfect time. He has been a steadying influence on the NCSU team and coaching staff.
(3) Finding a leader – Who is going to take the last shot? Who is going to energize the team?
(4) Integration of an interior offense – With the exception of Josh Powell, we have not seen an interior player with the potential of both Cedric Simmons and Andrew Brackman. How will these players be integrated into the offense?
(1) Herb has not been to the NCAA without the aid of both Hunter and Hodge, but the loss of the only Wolfpack player Sendek has had drafted into the NBA was expected and something for which the staff should have been managing. The very nature of college basketball is transitional. We will also miss Larry Hunter, but if Herb has learned from Hunter then fresh blood in the staff could be a good thing.
(2) Who will take the “last shot” and how will we use the big men? There two types of players – those that want to take the last shot and those that do not. Someone will emerge as the former, the question is will he be able to hit the big shots? We have some impressive talent at the 4 and 5 spots and an interior offense can help to offset scoring droughts. Will the coaching staff leverage that interior strength in an effective manner?
These two questions will probably not be answered until late December or January. It seems to take our team a while to hit full stride so I expect us to stumble early in the schedule. If Cedric is averaging 15 points and has developed into an effective go-to player on the post, this could be a very good team midway through the ACC season.