A “Better” Close Win

Although I think it’s early to pronounce NC State’s midseason lull over, I was more heartened by today’s 62-58 win over Maryland than similarly close wins against Clemson and Virginia. Today, I saw much more defensive effort, offensive rebounding, and overall effort and energy. It still shouldn’t have been this close against an overmatched Terps squad, but the Wolfpack’s focus was much better today. So, even if the lull hasn’t lifted, the Wolfpack showed signs of emerging.

Sorry for the late blog posting. Enjoy the second half of the Super Bowl, and best of luck to proud NC State alumnus Bill Cowher.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

General NCS Basketball

19 Responses to A “Better” Close Win

  1. VaWolf82 02/05/2006 at 8:23 PM #

    UMd fans better prepare for the worst from this point on out. I thought that State played pretty poorly in the first half, and UMd could only manage a one point lead at half.

    One trend that is encouraging is that State seems to frequently start the second-half red hot. Has anyone else noticed this?

    State seemed to quit running their normal offense with about three minutes to go in the game and let UMd close the gap instead of putting them away. I would like to see the lead widen as the time winds down…not turn into a nail biter.

  2. lumberpack 02/05/2006 at 8:33 PM #

    I’m happy to see a win and not a collapse.

  3. JeremyHyatt 02/05/2006 at 9:23 PM #

    game was not televised here (Bos) but was able to listen to it for $5 courtesy of yahoo sports. good to hear about the rebounding, but from what I gather Maryland is poor in this category also. Hopefully the poster saw something that I did not hear, it seemed like another flat (start), and doing enough to pull it out against a weaker opponent. But if they showed teeth, then they showed teeth, and that’s a step. Seemed to mirror the Wake Forrest game with the strong 2nd half start.

    Positive, Tony Bethel continues his tear, negative, Atsur continues to struggle. It doesn’t hurt to have 4 guys shooting around 40% beyond the arc, but 5 shots made all day inside the arc? Oh my. You can say “live and die by the three” in Turkish. I was hearing about a lot of dropped passes by Ced in the low post. Hmm..

    Gavin Grant continues to contribute, Brackman’s minutes continue to dwindle. Does he have to attend baseball practice now also? (Not that it has anything to do with it, just curious.)

    As long as they know what they need to work on to get better. Another test Wednesday. Every game is huge now.

  4. JSIMON 02/05/2006 at 10:02 PM #

    Despite the terrible shooting (the last time we shot that poorly and won was in 1991) I thought there were some real positives too. Bethel’s been quietly playing great. He leads the ACC in conference play shooting better than 56% from three-point range.

    Maryland’s been terrible defeding the three-point shot — leaving us plenty of opportunities from long range — and they were really digging in and making it difficult for Simmons. I also thought the officiating was good but they certainly let them play — leading to the poor field-goal percentage inside the arc. 17 offensive boards was our best of the season. Of course, 38 missed shots gives you more chances to hit the boards. 🙂

    Another shameless plug … I wrote some more about the game on my blog.

  5. class of '74 02/06/2006 at 6:36 AM #

    ^I think the ref’s have been as bad this year as ever and that’s with John Clougherty’s changes! Apparently the job is too tough for humans! Way too much hands on defense allowed both inside and outside.

    Maryland is no different than WF and GT, all three need a point guard. GW is getting about as much as anyone could out of that group I believe. They are a bubble team that could go either way as the season concludes.

    How does that old saying go about good teams winning without their best stuff? Since the Duke game we haven’t looked really good yet they keep finding a way. I’d love to see a complete game soon out of our guys.

  6. Mr. O 02/06/2006 at 8:08 AM #

    I thought we played pretty poorly offensively. We are such a good three point shooting team that we can stay in games and win games even when we aren’t playing well.

    Cedric Simmons has really been struggling. He is having trouble making moves in the post.

    I will never be unhappy with a win, but we obviously have some issues to work out. We played so well for such a long stretch to start the year that maybe having these problems now is a positive.

    We have a lot of upside to our play IMO. The difference this year is that we can say that sitting with almost 20 wins and at 7-2 in the conference with 7 ACC games to go. Two tough games this week.

  7. Mr. O 02/06/2006 at 8:24 AM #

    Most interesting statistic from the game was on our shooting:

    2 pt FGs: 18.5% (5-27)
    3 pt FGs: 42.9% (12-28) which equates to 64.35% from inside the arc.

  8. RickJ 02/06/2006 at 8:32 AM #

    Bethel’s line for the last 3 games with Clemson, UVA & Maryland:

    121 minutes played out of 130;
    16 – 32 on all shots & 12 – 24 on 3’s;
    3 – 3 on free throws;
    18 rebounds;
    15 assists; and
    5 turnovers.

    Maryland came into this game with a totally new approach – they started Ledbetter at the point and Gist at center. The move of Strawberry from point to the three seemed to really help him. In the past, we have not always responded well in this type of situation. Remember Virginia last year when they completely changed their style of play beginning with our game at the RBC?

    I thought Brackman gave us a huge lift in the 16 minutes he played.

  9. choppack 02/06/2006 at 8:43 AM #

    It was good to see Brack come out of his funk. One thing about Atsur – who may be struggling offensively, but he made some huge stops out there. He continues to be a factor even those his O struggles.

    We had several chances to put this one away, but failed to do so. OTOH, we had plenty of chances to blow the game, but we didn’t.

    One thing I found encouraging was Gary Williams’ comments post game. He basically said that his team would be fine w/ this type of effort going forward. This is from a coach who in the past hasn’t always been generous w/ his praise after losses.

  10. Fred 02/06/2006 at 9:09 AM #

    I haven’t had access to the last several games on TV, so the rebounding performance yesterday was a pleasant surprise. Defenses have adjusted to Cedric. We will have to nail a lot of 3’s to get them to stop doubling down on him. This is why all of the leaving for the NBA talk was very premature. Cedric needs to learn how to be effective against the double team as the next stage of his development. The only negative for this team is that we seem to be weak with the ball. It doesn’t take very much for the opposition to dislodge the ball from us. I’d still like to see the rotation expanded. We are going to have a lot of tired guys if the minutes don’t get spread out a bit more.

  11. Sammy Kent 02/06/2006 at 9:11 AM #

    2 pt FGs: 18.5% (5-27)
    3 pt FGs: 42.9% (12-28) which equates to 64.35% from inside the arc.

    Mr O, I guess we will debate this one to the end of time. A possession where you don’t score is the same as a turnover. If you’re going to extrapolate shooting percentages that way, you also have to add more turnovers to the equation for an accurate reflection of total effect on the game. With the way Maryland played if we had actually shot 64% from the field, even if it’s all two pointers, we would have killed them yesterday because of the way that considerably fewer missed shots and rebounding opportunites affect the flow and play of the game. When all other factors are figured in, that 43% from three land translates to about 50% shooting from inside, not 64%…usually good enough to win. Yesterday, it was, but only by four against a team that played fairly weakly. This strategy of living and dying by the three is a thin layer of ice that’s destined to break.

  12. TVP 02/06/2006 at 9:27 AM #

    If you are effective from three and totally ineffective from two, then I would think you would need to continue shooting threes. Good thing we did or we would have lost.

    Sort of a backwards game for us. Our normally effective offense was largely ineffective, but we got a ton of unexpected offensive boards to help out.

    Ced isn’t getting very good position in the post right now. When he posts up, he is often too far away to do anything positive with it.

    Echo on Bethel and Brack, and Grant deserves some props as well. He played well off the bench on both ends. He gives us a strong defensive and rebounding presence as well as the ability to attack the basket when he is in the game.

    After we made the 12-0 run sandwiching halftime, the game never really seemed in doubt. I think we can all agree that a better effort will be needed against a red hot Miami team on Wednesday. A road win there would put serious space between us and the other challengers for the #2 spot.

  13. Eric 02/06/2006 at 9:35 AM #

    Brackman’s scoring 5 points at the beginning of the second half was really encouraging. His drive from the top of the key and layup was a great recognition that he could beat Gist off the dribble. The Foxsports announcers brought up his surge in the second half of last season and said State’s coaches hope that happens again this year. There were some major scrums inside with Gist and Strawberry. Even if Brack wasn’t getting boards he was in there banging around making good things happen.

  14. Mr. O 02/06/2006 at 9:49 AM #

    Sammy Kent: Yesterday, we had 17 offensive rebounds. I don’t know how many, but a portion of these came on our 3 pt. misses. Typically, when a 3 point shot is missed you have long rebounds which gives you a great chance for offensive rebounds.

    A missed shot when your opponent gets the rebound and a made shot have the same result – the other team gets the ball. The other team isn’t getting additional possesions. They are in fact getting the same number of opportunities. The one advantage on a made shot is that you typically get to set your defense so you won’t give up as many easy quick baskets. So maybe taking a lot of three pointers will give the other team a few more transition opportunities, so getting back on defense is important. However, taking a lot of 3 point shots should also give you more offensive rebounding opportunities, so IMO it pretty much evens out.

    43% from the line equates to a much higher than 50% average from inside the arc. And of course, based on our shooting percentages inside the arc yesterday it certainly made sense to take a lot of 3 point shots.

    I don’t think we live and die by the three. We have been really consistent from the arc this year. It is a part of our game and one of things we do best. Scoring inside the arc is where we are struggling right now. If we can get Cedric going again, then we are going to be a tough team come March.

  15. BJD95 02/06/2006 at 9:50 AM #

    Brack was alot more assertive and effective yesterday. I also liked seeing him on the court with Simmons for decent stretches of time. That’s an effective rebounding (and interior defensive) lineup.

  16. Clarksa 02/06/2006 at 10:49 AM #

    “I think the ref’s have been as bad this year as ever and that’s with John Clougherty’s changes!”

    As bad as the officiating has been over the past decade, I think it might take more than half a season to change the culture of the ACC refs.

    Maryland did a good job of putting a double team on Ced when he got the ball. He also worked hard on a lot of our posession to get positioned on the blocks and we didn’t get him the ball.

  17. SaccoV 02/06/2006 at 11:06 AM #

    The real plus for this team was a sense among them and the fans that this game, although close late in the second half, seemed to be State’s all the way. Despite Maryland keeping close, I never felt as if State would make some of those mistakes that it has made in the past when the margin was small. Free throws were a problem, especially from Cam. A win is always nice but this team still appears to be a few steps away from really stepping up and being a #3 seed in the Tourney.

  18. choppack 02/06/2006 at 11:13 AM #

    Agree SaccoV – After the GW and BC games, I wondered if we could play any better. The good news is that we aren’t playing our best ball.

    I see our b’ball team like my golf game. When I’m driving well, I can’t putt, if I’m putting well, I’m not driving well. If I’m driving and putting well – I’m probably not chipping and hitting my irons well…Of course, the difference is, that even if just for a short amount of time – this team has put it together. I think defensively, we have been much more solid recently.

  19. Sammy Kent 02/07/2006 at 11:14 PM #

    quote: A missed shot when your opponent gets the rebound and a made shot have the same result – the other team gets the ball. The other team isn’t getting additional possesions. They are in fact getting the same number of opportunities. quote

    A missed shot where your opponent gets the rebound, a made shot, and a turnover all have the same result–the other team gets the ball. So are you suggesting that turnovers are inconsequential because the only result is that the other team gets the ball? It’s not an additional possession. Are you really suggesting that, because that’s where your logic leads. The truth is that a missed shot with a defensive rebound and a turnover have the same result–the other team gets the ball AFTER YOU DIDN’T SCORE. Scoring a two pointer is still more effective than missing a three any way you turn it.

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