NC STATE BASKETBALL
Joe Giglio (N&O)
NC State’s Tyler Lewis: ‘I know I can play at this level’
Lewis’ best talent is making other players better, which is difficult to do in limited minutes. He made State’s offense go on Saturday with a variety of drives and creative passes. It was the type of performance Lewis produced regularly in high school for Forsyth Country Day and Oak Hill.
“It felt good to get out there and get into the flow game,” Lewis said. “I know I can play at this level, just proving a lot of people wrong was a great opportunity.”
The question now is how will Gottfried use Lewis going forward? Brown hasn’t practiced since Tuesday but warmed up on Saturday and tried to play. He’ll get another four days of rest before N.C. State goes to Duke.
The preseason hope and plan was to plug Lewis into Alex Johnson’s backup role from last season. Johnson played both guard spots and could be effective in spurts. Lewis plays better with more leeway; something Gottfried hasn’t been reluctant to give him. Gottfried sounded as if he would re-evaluate the rotation once Brown returns to the lineup.
“I think maybe the positive from this is we learned something, too, that he’s ready to go,” Gottfried said.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Lewis’ inspired play provides silver lining to frustrating Wolfpack loss
It took a few possessions for the Wolfpack’s offense to establish a flow, but once it did the entire complexion of the game changed. The pace picked up, the ball began finding its way into the right people’s hands in the right places and the crowd and on the strength of a 17-5 run, State turned a nine-point deficit into a three-point.
And Lewis was the catalyst.
“He did really good controlling the game and controlling the tempo and filling the shoes of Lorenzo,” Purvis said.
“He played extremely well for us,” teammate Scott Wood added. “We all knew he was capable of that.”
Lewis was so effective in running the offense that he never came out of the game again. His 36 minutes Saturday were just two fewer than he had logged in his team’s first eight ACC games combined.
Gottfried had so much confidence in Lewis that by his team’s final possession, with State nursing a one-point lead, he actually called a play that resulted in the freshman taking a 15-foot jumper. Even though Lewis missed, Gottfried said it was a shot with which he was “comfortable.”
“It was fun because I knew what I had to do out there,” Lewis said. “I had to prove to all the people that haven’t seen me play because I haven’t played a lot of minutes. After this I think I proved a lot of people wrong.”
In the process, Lewis may have earned some more playing time from here on out. – even if Brown his healthy and back in the lineup starting with Thursday’s game against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“Sometimes it’s not what a player isn’t doing is the reason why they’re not playing, it’s just that somebody else is playing pretty well – which Lorenzo has been playing, maybe at the top of his game,” Gottfried said. “Maybe we learned today, now we’ve learned Tyler can play more, maybe rest Zo more. Maybe there’s a positive in there for us.”
THE AFTERMATH: Takeaways from NC State’s loss to Miami
When will things start to fall NC State’s way? Ever? The Pack fought hard and freshman Tyler Lewis had a great coming out part in the absence of Lorenzo Brown, but once again the Wolfpack goes home heartbroken after they make a defensive stop on the final play of the game, only to have someone tip it in with less than a second to play. It’s like, we all knew what was going to happen. Something strange that would lead to some weird garbage bucket by Miami as time expired. Low and behold, it happened and the Pack now find themselves at 5-4, sitting in the middle of the Pack in the ACC.
‘Our Take’ on the loss:
- One problem I’m seeing, and it’s starting to be glaring in the second half, is that when State is really taking their leads in the first half, they are very versatile and everyone is touching the basketball. In the second half you’re seeing State really rely too much on Leslie. They’ve done this in every second half collapse and it’s not because of Leslie. He’s getting doubled and tripled, and he’s usually making the right play, but teams expect this. They’re ready for it and it causes State to go stagnant. Why is the Pack not relying more on Howell in the second half? He’s had monster first halfs all season, but the deeper you go into a ball game, the less you see Howell touch the basketball. I think this is just one thing that’s being missed by a lot of people. Howell, not only score, but he can pass. He gets to the line and he can also bury the 15 footer. Why NC State chooses to become so one dimensional late in the game is beyond me. They are so easy to guard because they get so predictable. They look for Wood or they go to Leslie, that’s it. Tyler Lewis added a go-to guy late in this game, but still no plays for Howell to be isolated. I’m not saying you go to Howell every time, but I am saying that you work him into the game plan a little more in the second half.
-Now it’s time to get real. This loss hurts. This loss sends NC State right into the middle of the pack in the ACC with a road game at Duke on the way. This COULD mean that NC State is 5-5 heading into a road game at Clemson. This team is better than that and although they are very close to being 8-2 with the ball bouncing different a few times, they’re not. This means they need to start getting real. It’s not play time anymore, it’s time to really get it together and make a run. They have to suck it up and put teams away or they’ll find themselves on the bubble once again in March.
Mark Gottfried Quotes
On The Game Overall:
“It’s hard. It’s tough. I feel bad for our players right now because I feel like they competed really hard. Different guys had to step up at different times and they did. I thought our effort was phenomenal and sometimes it just comes down to the bounce of the ball, they made a great tip-in. You have to give Reggie Johnson credit for that. Rodney (Purvis) played really good defense that last possession. (Shane) Larkin got a tough shot up. It just sometimes comes down to the bounce of the ball in the game of basketball. The ball comes right off the front of the rim and it’s right there for Johnson and he makes a nice play. Our guys’ effort was unbelievable. I’m proud of our effort and one thing I told our team was if they compete like that every night this thing will turn. We’ve lost four conference games now by 1, 1, 2 and 3. Sometimes it’s just a play and now we’ve got to bounce back and get ready to play next week. I loved our effort tonight.”
On Playing Zone Defense:
“I really liked it. I thought it helped us. The only problem with it was that late in the game Larkin was able to come off of some of those high ball screens and it’s tough to help off of those, but our zone was good there was no question about it. We changed our defense a lot and I thought that helped us. They got comfortable going against our man defense and they went right inside to Johnson, (Julian) Gamble and (Kenny) Kadji. We had a little trouble with that, but our guys did a good job. We kept adjusting and our players were able to stay right with a lot of things that we wanted to do. We came back and put ourselves in position to win, we just have to be better with the lead.”
Adam Gold (WRALSportsfan.com)
Even in a loss, there is a win
The Wolfpack were stunned near the buzzer by Miami, 79-78 at PNC Arena in the finale of the Triangle Triple-header. Let’s channel the words and thoughts of Sidney Lowe for a second and recognize that there are days when basketball truly is a game of runs. The Hurricanes led 17-8 after a little more than six minutes were gone. State then countered with a 24-9 surge over the next 9:33 to lead 32-26. Then, with 14 minutes left, freshman guard Tyler Lewis completed a 3-point play giving the Wolfpack a 54-44 lead and PNC Arena was vibrating. But, the Canes hit six of their next seven shots and responded with a 24-8 run over a seven-minute span that had Miami ahead, 68-62 with 7:09 left in the game.
Stay with me, people. The roller coaster ride isn’t over.
State, behind Rodney Purvis and Calvin Leslie, outscored the Hurricanes 14-3 over the next five minutes and led by five with just over two minutes to play. Unfortunately, the last burst belonged to The U, and when Reggie Johnson tipped home Shane Larkin’s miss with 0.8 seconds on the clock, NC State was left wanting with their second last-second loss in conference play. In fact, the Wolfpack’s four losses in the ACC have come by a combined seven points. Still, at 5-4, NC State isn’t close to where this team needed to be heading to Cameron Indoor Stadium where Duke will be seeking revenge from their loss in Raleigh, but more-importantly trying to maintain contact with 8-0 Miami in the standings.
At the start, I mentioned that in a way, even though all three locals didn’t win, I could argue that all three were winners. Here’s why…Thanks to Lorenzo Brown’s ankle injury — and the Wolfpack’s slow start with Rodney Purvis trying handle point guard duties — Mark Gottfried was forced to use Tyler Lewis for 36 minutes. Quickly though, the term “forced” became inaccurate, because it was obvious that with Lewis on the floor NC State looked once again like a formidable offensive team. Lewis just knows how to play the point, and while he still got himself in trouble with over aggressive play at times, he made a lot more positive plays than negative ones. In the end, his line looked impressive with 16 points, five assists and just one turnover, but the most important gain was the amount of confidence in him that his head coach realized over the 36-minute performance that nearly produced a win in a great college basketball environment.
Lewis’ afternoon, even in a loss, and even with the knowledge that he’s got a lot of work to do on the defensive end of the court, should expand State’s bench rotation to seven serious contributors. Lewis’ emergence should also allow Gottfried to play him alongside Brown and allow Brown to play off the ball some to take advantage of his offensive creativity from the wing. Even in the loss, and the loss hurts, Lewis’ play should give Wolfpack fans a little silver lining to take forward.
It won’t completely mask the fact that they’re potentially staring at a .500 conference record with eight games left to play — a situation that they have only themselves and their focus-free play on too many nights to blame — but, when you project ahead, it just might be the difference between ending the season in March or April. Every once in a while the one step back allows you to take two steps forward.
Barry Jacobs (accsports.com)
ACC Down, Or On The Rebound?
Here’s where a long view brings a bit of solace, even if you stipulate the ACC is not enjoying a vintage season and hasn’t really been the same since expanding a decade ago.
The region’s sports media began clamoring for an upgrade in coaches about the time the ACC started losing its annual challenge series with the Big 10.
No doubt it was a coincidence, but that’s when athletic directors began purging ACC coaching ranks. Since 2009-10, nine of 12 conference programs brought in new coaches.
Most have been impressive.
From Steve Dohanue at Boston College to Brad Brownell at Clemson, Jim Larranaga at Miami to Mark Gottfried at N.C. State, newcomers immediately won with inherited talent.
To sustain success, a coach needs to install his own system and to populate his roster with players who fit his preferred style. That usually takes a full cycle of recruits; only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, UNC’s Roy Williams, and FSU’s Leonard Hamilton have been at their present posts even four full seasons.
Given time, then, the recent influx of coaches promises better results across the board for the ACC. Meanwhile an immediate boost is on the near horizon, thanks to the league’s football-centric expansionism.
Next season nationally prominent Pittsburgh and Syracuse join the ACC. Louisville and Notre Dame are waiting in the wings, even as Maryland is poised to fly the coop.