The ’09/’10 edition of the Wolfpack opened their hoops slate last night by pounding head coach Sidney Lowe’s alma mater into the Reynolds Coliseum floor, 84-42 in an exhibition game. While it would be somewhat foolish to take too much away from this game – St. Pauls is a D2 school and hardly resembles ACC competition – several positive signs were notable. One of our longtime readers and commenters was in attendance and made the following observations:
- Scott Wood is a real 3 point shooter. Granted, this was St Pauls, but he has a stroke and confidence that will be sustained against better teams, no doubt.
- Julius Mays – I just don’t know. He reminds me of that Marcus kid that transferred from Tennessee to NC State, then transferred to Ga State.
- Javi is our PG, period. He pushes, he leads, he looks to get teammates involved.
- Horner did struggle from the arch. I counted 0-for-5. But he showed a good midrange and I thought he moved well.
- Vandenburg is going to be a good player in time. He is very athletic for a 7 footer. Has decent hands and is a good passer too. He wont be a Tommy Burleson, but he can be a Craig Watts (only a few here will get that reference).
- Tracy Smith is hands down our best player. If he gets injured or in foul trouble, game over. He gets into position very well and finishes as well as any NC State player in recent memory. Now, a lot of those shots he got wont be there against quality competition (St Pauls didnt have any player over 6-4).
- Which brings me to my concerns: we were out-rebounded on the O glass by a team of short guys. We also had 19 TOs. No excuse for that. I saw some positives, but if we turn the ball over and get out-rebounded, we are not going to win many games. I didnt see a ball-hawking D. Yes, St Pauls had a poor shooting percentage, but I didnt see an aggressive D from us.
- Really nice to be in Reynolds. Took my son to Mitch’s for dinner, then walked over to Reynolds for the game. Old school, and I loved it. Great to see the Longines clock again – which is still running, but didnt have the correct time. That thing just screams 1950s! Coach Harper, her husband and all the womens team was there showing support.
Seeing that Wood seems to be as good as advertised from beyond the bonus arc can mean nothing but good news for the NC State offense. Having a credible threat from the outside forces teams to avoid packing in the inside scorers, and when they have to account for a player that can bomb it from long range it tends to make good offensive flow in the halfcourt all the easier to accomplish.
I think Mays will be fine over time, remember this is the first exhibition game and Mays didn’t consistently get minutes last year – at least enough to where we can expect him to pick up right where he left off, that is, the only really good thing on the floor in State’s ACC Tournament loss to Maryland. Let’s reserve judgement on Mays until we get towards the Christmas holiday and even then, be prepared to change our minds as State rolls into its ACC slate. We’ve seen that he can be a solid player, now he simply has to do so night in and night out in probably the toughest conference in all of basketball.
Robbi Pickeral of the News and Observer had this to say about Wood, and leaves us with some cause for concern, too:
Offense, it seems, comes naturally to Wood. His shooting stroke has been compared with former Duke star J.J. Redick’s, and he showed it early.
His 3-pointer with 18:16 left in the first quarter made it 6-0, then his back-to-back 3s about four minutes later gave the Pack an 18-2 lead. He finished the half 4-for-4 from behind the arc when he buried another one just before halftime. State held a comfy 44-22 lead at the break.
“I think the main thing was coming down and hitting my first shot,” said Wood, who also posted two rebounds and a steal. “That gave me a little bit of confidence, and I didn’t have to really worry about it as much. Once that first shot goes in, you’re not as nervous, and you get in a rhythm a little bit.”
Indeed, the only reason that rhythm was thwarted was because of back spasms. After playing 15 minutes in the first half, he played only seven in the second, without a shot.
“It might be from the dead lifts I’ve been doing,” he said of the cramps. “I might have to ease up on those a little bit.”
Hopefully, Wood will get past this muscle injury sooner rather than later. State really needs him and his scoring ability if it plans to escape the ACC cellar.