Joe Giglio and ACCNow are at it again!!! Here they go again putting together some great work and elevating the News & Observer’s credibility!! (potentially with some guidance from our own choppack…see our comments section)
This morning Giglio offers some fantastic insight into both the 2008-2009 version of the Wolfpack basketball team and into Coach Lowe’s broader strategy and perspective. We will highlight some of Giglio’s points in this entry, but there is plenty in the piece that you will enjoy that we won’t quote here.
I think Giglio’s lead assessment is accurate and serves to enhance the importances two general deficiencies on this club: (1) our struggles with turnovers at the point guard position, (2) our inconsistent rebounding. (Note the improvement from going from a bad rebounding team to a more inconsistent rebounding team, largely thanks to the playing time given Tracey Smith).
N.C. State’s not a bad team, not since the first seven ACC games anyway, it’s just a team with no margin of error.
I think it should be noted that the general feel of NC State’s offense has progressed light years from where we stood when Coach Lowe took over the program. The impact of our obvious need for a premier point guard not withstanding, this offensive system is both effective and very efficient.
When veterans Brandon Costner and Courtney Fells combine for 18 points, like they did Thursday against Wake Forest, there aren’t many ACC teams N.C. State’s good enough to beat. That’s even with above average contributions from Tracy Smith (18 points) and the point guard position (20 points from the combination of Javy Gonzalez and Farnold Degand), which State got in Thursday’s 85-78 loss against a good Wake team.
State’s problem is it’s not good enough to win games with its defense. Ergo, it has to outscore the opposition (as opposed to holding it to fewer points). That means when scoring leaders Costner, Fells or Ben McCauley decide to take a powder — as they have been apt to do in the past two seasons — the chances of victory go with them.
Later in the article Giglio highlights something that we have shared with you various times in the past – Coach Lowe is known in the basketball community as an excellent offensive tactician.
If he doesn’t make it in the college game, it won’t be because he was out X-and-O’ed. Lowe is what Will Ferrell would call an above-average “strategerist.”
Thursday’s game offered both ends of the spectrum in offensive philosophy. No team in the ACC runs more halfcourt sets than N.C. State. State runs a wider variety of plays (for example, than Boston College) and more player-specific plays (for example, than UNC) than any other ACC team. The problem, since Engin Atsur’s departure in 2007, hasn’t been the design but execution.
There is no doubt that the Wolfpack’s defense and rebounding have not been strong suits over the last three seasons. With this said, I enjoyed Giglio’s insight that there is more design/strategy to some of these deficiencies than I previously recognized. That doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with the strategy – especially now that State has a roster that can legitimately go 10+ deep with talented athletes like Johnny Thomas and CJ Williams – but, it is interesting nonetheless.
State’s a passive defensive team by design. Coach Sidney Lowe would rather contest shots in the lane than pressure the perimeter. That strategy has its merits but creating turnovers and points is not one of them.
State ranks 12th in the conference in steals, 10th in blocks and 10th in field-goal percentage defense. Those are not the marks of a good defense. That’s the down side for State fans.
The bright side is better athletes usually make better defenders (save for the anomaly that is Wayne Ellington) and Lowe’s next recruiting class upgrades the program’s talent level.