Stat of the Day – 51 point differential in 80 minutes

The numbers at the bottom of this entry serve as a statistical look at a broader issue that partly entails the need for our coach staff to work to push the right buttons at the right time with the right combination of players. Unfortunately, some of you are going to think that this entry is about ‘Trevor Ferguson’. It genuinely is NOT designed to be about ‘Fergie’.

Additionally, we fully recognize that Ferguson’s minutes have been distributed very closely with minutes for Javi Gonzalez and Dennis Horner this season. But, Horner – and other players who have statistically struggled in our first two games – proved during last season that they have the ability to make significantly positive impacts in real games and not just practice. Conversely, Ferguson does not have that track record upon which to rely as he saw his playing time deteriorate to nothing last season even with the opportunity to take the reigns at point guard when Atsur was injured.

Again, the point of these numbers are not designed to call out Ferguson; the point is to use some FACTS to discuss the optimal distribution of the limited minutes that exist for this basketball team.

Therefore, it is probably time for Coach Lowe to re-assess his evolving substitution pattern. Perhaps the proportional difference between a minute of playing time in a 40 minute college game and a 48 minute NBA game is much larger than it looks on paper? BJD made an excellent point about the substitution rotation in the previous entry when he said:

The problem with Lowe’s rotation is that it seems like a true “wave” pattern. Logically, the 6th and 7th men should get more time than the other reserves, but that isn’t really happening.

Some have speculated that Coach Lowe has created his current substitution pattern with Ferguson essentially ‘holding/playing’ the minutes set aside for Marques Johnson once the transfer from Tennessee becomes eligible in December. It sounds good; but, I have no idea if that is actually going to be the case.

As we wait to see the potential impact of Marques Johnson on this team, I would advocate Dennis Horner absorbing some of Ferguson’s minutes to help us achieve a little more continuity and chemistry with the rest of the guys on the court. Even though Horner seems to be struggling a little to this point of the season, he proved an ability to contribute last season. His physical stature (height and weight) along with his ability to get shots off – even creating some of his own – make him a candidate to have the opportunity to step up some.

As was stated in the previous entry – What is the point of playing 10 men if the players don’t play hard enough to get tired when they are out there? Hell, you could play your 7 or 8 best players and have a much better opportunity of winning games if you aren’t pressing and playing a high pressure defense.

After reading this entry, the following is a quick statistical extract through the first two games of the season.

Scoring with Trevor Ferguson playing 22 minutes:
NC State 19 (0.86 points per minute)
Opponents 36 (1.64 points per minute)
Difference -17

Scoring with Trevor Ferguson not playing 58 minutes:
NC State 110 (1.90 points per minute)
Opponents 76 (1.31 points per minute)
Difference +34


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07-08 Basketball Stat of the Day

54 Responses to Stat of the Day – 51 point differential in 80 minutes

  1. pakfanistan 11/19/2007 at 1:15 AM #

    I don’t get why Horner and Fells aren’t taking some of the heat for this. Fells played 31 minutes, had four fouls, and was 1-4 shooting.

    Horner played 11 minutes and was 0-3.

    If I remember correctly, Horner was on the floor most of the time that Ferguson was.

    There were so many bigger problems other than Ferguson, I don’t see why you’re focusing on him.

    SFN: (1) because Horner and Fells played a lot last year and produced. (2) Please re-read the entry.

  2. one00_proof 11/19/2007 at 1:23 AM #

    It’s two fold, Ferg doesn’t make shots + his lack of defensive effort suffers. Horner and Fells can at least play defense and rebound decently, Fergs a liability on the defensive end and if he doesn’t even that with offense, the team suffers.

    While it’s not nice to “get” on him about it, remember the kid is going to school for free, a luxury I sure don’t get. And if what my friend says who’s in his class is true, he’s not even taking advantage of that much.

    Sure he’s just a kid, but then we shouldn’t adore them when they win. The expectations there this year and when you come to State to play bball, if you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen.

  3. pakfanistan 11/19/2007 at 1:40 AM #

    Ferg’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t MAKE shots, it’s that he doesn’t TAKE shots. He was only 0-1 and I think he was fouled on that attempt. I watched him stand wide open asking for the ball on multiple possessions. Granted, he is lacking defensively.

    The people not making shots are Fells and Horner. The shots that Fells took were down right bad.

    I want to download this game and watch it again so I can really analyze what’s going on here.

  4. McPete 11/19/2007 at 1:41 AM #

    fells doesn’t not play defense any better than fergeson. at least he wasn’t tonight. fells is a better rebounder. but that’s about it. fergeson showed some intensity while out there, but in the long run i’d expect the other transfer, Johnson, to spell fells once he’s eligible.

    oh, and neither guy could knock down a shot all night.

    but i don’t see the point in calling out Fergeson. who else should come in for Fells and play the two right now. Grant? Gonzalez?

  5. StateFans 11/19/2007 at 1:51 AM #

    Fells and Horner have proven an ability to make a difference in the past. See 2006-2007. Ferguson has not – even when the oppt to take the reigns at point guard last year existed with Atsur injured.

    So, there is a distinct historical difference and reason why it would be a mistake to focus the numbers on the likes of Horner and Fells.

    Point is not about calling out Ferguson. Point is about trying to distribute the limited minutes as optimally as possible.

    If you want to argue that the facts presented support Ferguson playing 10 minutes a game then go right ahead.

  6. wallacepark 11/19/2007 at 2:18 AM #

    That 51 point differential is astounding, and what it really shows is just how much this team depends on Courtney Fells. We have absolutely no replacement for him when he comes out of the game and we have no one to come in for him if he’s having an off night. He is our most talented and experienced guard (possibly the only ACC caliber guard we have) and this team and this season depend on his performance more so than they depend on anyone else’s on the roster, including our point guards, because we just don’t have any replacement for him this year. Hopefully Marques Johnson can come in and give us some help at the 2 when he’s elligible, but he’s going to be green and it will take him time to learn. Mr. Fells is the key and I hope he gets it together this season or we are in for a long ride.

  7. PurplePeopleEaters 11/19/2007 at 2:40 AM #

    That’s really scary to look at on paper.. Hopefully your prediction is correct and Marques Johnson becomes fills in for the Fergie minutes once he is eligible.

  8. Ismael 11/19/2007 at 3:43 AM #

    what the hell are you guys talking about Fells not playing Defense??? The guy was a defensive stopper last year.

  9. LRM 11/19/2007 at 9:00 AM #

    If Sid absolutely insists that Trevor is on the floor 10 mins per game, then I’m perfectly ok with him finding a corner and standing there so he’s not in the way.

    Perhaps we should also spend some time working on fast breaks. I was at the game so maybe it was a perception issue, but Degand seemed to outrun his trailers every time

  10. jbpackfan 11/19/2007 at 9:19 AM #

    The problem (other than lack of intensity) is so clearly the rotation, I don’t see how Lowe doesn’t realize it. We start the game well, up 13-4. Seven minutes into the game we have 5 new players on the floor. We don’t get in a rythm the rest of the half. We start the second half well, 41-30. Here come the mass substitutions. We never get in a rythm.

    We’ve got to reduce the rotation to 8 players, or there will continue to be no flow or continuity to the game. Its very simple really:

    Hickson, Costner, McCauley- 2 of these are always on the floor. Just rotate them in.

    Grant, Fells Horner: 2 of these are always on the floor (except in specific situation such as need a small lineup where we bring in another 2 guard)

    Degand, Gonzalez: Looked about right, with Degand getting the bulk of the minutes.

    Never sub more than 2 guys at once. Very simple rotation, allows the players to get a feel for the game and creates continuity.

  11. LRM 11/19/2007 at 9:42 AM #

    I trust Lowe fully to fix this — he knows a helluva lot more about basketball than I could ever dream to know so Sid “realizes” it no doubt — but I still plan on complaining about all the things we did so horribly wrong last night. Because as dreafully awful as we played, we still should have won a game like that.

    Good teams lose early games they shouldn’t lose. But what worries me is that not so good teams lose games early, too.

  12. RickJ 11/19/2007 at 9:50 AM #

    “As we wait to see the potential impact of Marques Johnson on this team, I would advocate Dennis Horner absorbing some of Ferguson’s minutes to help us achieve a little more continuity and chemistry with the rest of the guys on the court.”

    It sounds like Ferguson has been playing great in practice and Lowe has wanted to reward his efforts. Unfortunately, he has been unable to produce in the minutes he has replaced Fells; 7 minutes for Ferguson were played when Fells (33 minutes) went to the bench. However, I don’t get the idea of Horner taking these minutes. Horner is slow for the 3 position – there is no way he can play the 2, especially against an undersized team like New Orleans. If Horner is going to play more, it is probably going to have to come from Grant’s minutes (39 last night).

    Excluding the last minute meltdown, I actually thought we got decent play at point guard. All forty minutes were played by Degand (34 minutes) and Gonzalez (6 minutes). There combined line was 8 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 turnovers.

    Fells made a colossal blunder with the intentional foul. However, his overall defensive effort was actually pretty good. He had to chase McCalebb through a thousand screens and he only shot 5 – 19 from the floor. I have heard that Johnson is a good defender – it definitely makes sense that he will be the best choice to take Ferguson’s minutes.

    It is the morale issues that have me the most concerned.

  13. crackdog 11/19/2007 at 9:50 AM #

    Fells has got to defend better THIS YEAR. So far his play has been a disappointment. He has all the tools to be a great player, but it looks like he’s moping around the court this year.

    I love seeing all the blocks. They’re fun, exciting, and really energize the crowd. But the bigs are blocking maybe 20% of the shots that they swing at, and on the rest they’re getting out of position for rebounding. A team with a legit inside presence is going to eat us up if the guys don’t break that bad habit and start keeping their feet on defense.

  14. redfred2 11/19/2007 at 10:14 AM #

    I have company in for our annual fishing weekend so I didn’t see either game. 🙁 or actually 🙂 it was probably better that way.

    I hate to disagree with the header, but I don’t think that a Trevor Ferguson can impact any game(s) that much. Sounds like his playing time is a symptom of others not doing what they’re capable of. It is also apparent that at least a few members of the “iron five” from last season aren’t too hip on the new focus of their freshman teammate. If this isn’t corrected promptly and those players don’t step up and force their will, or aren’t at least given the opportunity to do so, then our coach has a huge problem on his hands.

    I hate hearing about the loss, especially the reports of flat footed play combined with a lack of effort, but overall though, I really don’t see this one game as a barometer for the season. Again, this is a huge line up adjustment for the players and coaches alike, hopefully everyone just needs time to put the pieces together.

  15. waxhaw 11/19/2007 at 10:15 AM #

    Maybe Horner and Fells played better last year than they have played so far this year. I don’t think it’s fair to give them a pass just because they have played well in the past. If their play doesnt’ pick up, we are in trouble.

    IMO, the reason Ferguson is playing is because we need outside shooting. He is our best outside shooting guard. Maybe we are trying to get him some confidence in the early games to see if he can provide that shooting.

    We have several questions that we thought would be answered positively which so far have been liabilities.

    1) distribution of minutes/chemistry
    2) more tenacious defense due to ability to play harder and disregard fouls
    3) outside shooting
    4) ability to stop dribble penetration
    5) rebounding

  16. StateFans 11/19/2007 at 10:26 AM #


    The comments re: Horner absorbing Ferguson’s minutes does not mean that they have to be directly with Horner playing the 2 position. With DeGand, Gonzalez, Fells and even Grant – there are plenty of guys of that can technically be the 1 and 2 guards while Horner ‘technically’ fills the other wing position.

  17. Stoner 11/19/2007 at 10:32 AM #

    Degand is an upgrade at point guard over a combo of Fells / Grant, but he wasn’t super highly rated coming out of high school, same with Johnson (he wasn’t any more highly ranked than Horner, I think), so to think the people we have coming in are going to be difference makers can only be attributed to being homers.

    Johnson played a few games at UT, and wasn’t spectacular. He’ll probably be better than Ferguson, but I don’t know if he’ll be the kind of impact player off the bench we are hoping for.

    We don’t have so much talent that we can just show up and expect to dominate.

  18. Mr O 11/19/2007 at 10:38 AM #

    I don’t know that the distribution of minutes is a big deal at this point. The bigger deal right now is that Costner, Fells, McCauley, and Horner are playing horribly right now. They look nothing like they did last year.

  19. PackGirl 11/19/2007 at 10:45 AM #

    Degand has been playing a little better each game, IMO. He is definitely better than Javi – as would be expected at this point. I found myself getting a little nervous each time Javi got his hands on the ball – he didn’t look comfortable handling the ball.

  20. RickJ 11/19/2007 at 10:49 AM #

    “The comments re: Horner absorbing Ferguson’s minutes does not mean that they have to be directly with Horner playing the 2 position. With DeGand, Gonzalez, Fells and even Grant – there are plenty of guys of that can technically be the 1 and 2 guards while Horner ‘technically’ fills the other wing position.”

    Statefans – That makes sense – Thanks.

  21. Lunatic Fringe 11/19/2007 at 10:49 AM #

    Fells made 4 horrible decisions in the last 2 minutes of the UNO game. A returning starter and potential leader of the team has to do a better job making decisions in the clutch.

    (1) – 3-point shot he took in transition with 3 UNO guys under the basket (it went in, but that was a horrible decision to take the shot)

    (2) – Did not get back on defense…inexcusable for our most athletic guard on the team (a chronic problem for the whole team…the fact JJ beat down most of the other guys says a lot for our team’s overall hustle & determination)

    (3) – The Intentional Foul (obviously)

    (4) – The 3-point shot from the wing that he took in transition with basically no NCSU men in position to rebound (this one he missed)

    I do not believe Fells played better last year. On the contrary, I actually think he formed some really bad habits defensively last year that resulted from lack of depth. We (coaching staff and fans) let it go due to depth, but he has to understand that it is no longer an excuse this year.

    BTW…I think I am harder on Fells than any other player on the team, because I think physically he has all the tools to be a great defender. He needs to crank up the effort (that may mean less minutes for him), but ultimately they will be more productive minutes.

  22. LRM 11/19/2007 at 10:50 AM #

    Does anyone really think there isn’t dissention on this team right now?? There’s no way McCauley is ok with losing his PT to Hickson, regardless of how well Hickson is playing. With that said, he isn’t taking advantage of the opportunities he was getting in the few minutes he played last night; he missed several shots he normally makes.

  23. adchappe 11/19/2007 at 11:11 AM #

    What’s been going on with Costner and McCauley? Why hasn’t Ben had more playing time and been able to contribute more? I’ve only seen the past 2 games…but it’s been the JJ Hickson show. The guy is a monster…but why aren’t Costner and McCauley contributing more? Also, if Degand is supposed to be so fast, why aren’t we playing more transition basketball? I know we’ve got some big men in our lineup…but why not “run and gun” more when a smaller group with Grant and Fells are in?

    Seriously, we should see double digit contribution from Hickson, Costner, McCauley and Grant every night.

    With our talent this year, we should be a scoring machine. 65 points against New Orleans? Unacceptable.

  24. packbackr04 11/19/2007 at 11:14 AM #

    I though javi looked ok. he needs to stop dribbling between his legs every other dribble though… also, i noticed that jj and him seem to have a little chemistry. they were talking and gameplanning during a timeout.
    Also someone mentioned above about Johnson’s highschool ranking… wasnt he very highly rated 4 star. top 50 sprospect out of highschool?
    Fergie should not play at all!!! he stinks. period. jj, ben, and mccauley should all be getting the most minutes. and we should only be playing 7 or 8 players. K does it all the time even when he has 11 mcd’s AA’s on his squad. you dont need to play horner and fergie. you just dont. why is sid doing this?

    we had the best half court offense in the ACC last year, and last night we didnt call one set play? we just want to run n gun and play “street ball” what the hell is that? Sid needs to get these guys in line. terrible play last night from what appears to be a terribly coached team. if i want to watch “AND 1” id flip the channel to freakin BET and listen to that Jackinapes say HOT SAUCE like a dozen times.


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