BBall: Last Bytes of the Year; +21 in 20 Minutes

Despite the holidays, we’ve posted a ton of stuff to the site in recent days…so, if you haven’t been visiting a lot then we ask that you don’t overlook some of our entries like the ACC expansion pieces and our comprehensive “BC fans” piece.

===> We obviously followed the Wolfpack’s win over Western Carolina closely. (See link) Pack Pride has a lot of links in their Web Run, including a link to Andrew Jones’ report card that includes the following grade on intangibles:

State intangibles: At some point State is going to be humbled enough to understand it just can’t walk onto the floor and beat teams, even ones like Western Carolina. Coach Sidney Lowe said his club was tired, that some players are playing a lot of minutes, etc. Ben McCauley – who never made such excuses a year ago when nearly 40 minutes was the norm for State’s top players – said coming off a (quick) trip to Seton Hall and playing two days later affected the team. There’s no excuse to only lead WCU by a point with 3:27 left, especially when you’ve already lost to New Orleans and ECU and have been pushed by several other mediocre-to-bad teams. The Wolfpack notched the victory and it required some toughness and smart play on offense to do so. For that, it deserves credit. But there’s just no reason this team should ever take anyone lightly. That’s on the staff and the players. Grade: F.

===>I know that a lot of fans are very frustrated with the Wolfpack’s tendancy to play ‘down’ to their competition as highlighted in Andrew Jones’ previous comments. I don’t criticize anyone for feeling this way as it obviously frustrating. However, as it relates to yesterday’s game I am going to make two mitigating points:

(1) State outscored Western by 21 points in the second half. 21 points in 20 minutes. I don’t have a problem if you were frustrated by the effort in the first half. However, you may be choosing to be just a little too negative if you allow the negative to define your perspective of the entire afternoon. As bad as the first half was, the second half was equally good.

(2) State was playing only our second game without starting point guard, Farnold Degand. Fans looking for blowouts need to remember that the point guard has the ball in his hand more than any other player on the court and therefore dictates the direction of the game. Even with Degand we aren’t built for blowouts like some teams.

===>Seaking of ^point guard, I was doing the math on Farnold Degand’s knee injury the other day. I am very happy to see that Coach Lowe has requested a medical redshirt from the NCAA in light of Farnold’s circumstances.

===>With ^that said, I am going to say something that those of you who like to keep your head buried in the sand won’t like and those of you who come to SFN for honest and accurate conversation with appreciate – especially if Degand gets an extra year of eligibility, I foresee a significant log jam at the point guard position in the future that can only be fixed by the transfer of more than one player currently on the team. During the year when we will be recruiting all-everything point guard, John Wall from Raleigh’s Word of God High School, the Wolfpack’s roster is projected to include FIVE (of 13) scholarship players who project to play the point: Trevor Ferguson (R-Jr); Marques Johnson (Jr); Farnold Degand (potentially a R-So); Javi Gonzalez (So); and Julius Mays (Fr).

===>For overall scholarship distribution and for the talent distribution of the point guard position while trying to recruit John Wall, I would expect that Trevor Ferguson has little to no future of playing time at NC State. Additionally, if Javi Gonzalez continues to project behind both Farnold Degand and Marques Johnson while NC State tries to land John Wall, then one has to wonder if Gonzalez will want to stick around Raleigh for all four years?

===>Few teams have been as pleasantly surprising this year as the University of Miami Hurricanes. Heading into the weekend the Hurricanes were ranked in the Top 20 with an 11-0 record and had seen the RPI as high as #2 in the country! But, to the detriment of the ACC, the Canes lost at home to previously 6-5 Winthrop. No word from the NCAA if the game counts when no fans show up to watch.

===>Speaking of RPIs, NC State fans will be happy know that Wolfpack is currently at a very solid #38 with two cupcakes ahead before entering ACC play. As I previously commented, as long as we can get out of the out of conference at 11-3 then the strength of the ACC will solidify our RPI and create a situation where the Wolfpack can secure an NCAA Tournament berth (before the ACC Tournament) with an 8-8 conference record.

===>The following are few RPI’s of interest now that we are about 35% to 40% through the season:

(5) UNC-CH
(10) Michigan State
(18) Duke
(32) Villanova
(36) Florida State
(38) NC State
(40) Clemson
(49) Seton Hall
(50) Indiana
(52) Miami (FL)
(54) UCLA
(57) Boston College
(60) Virginia
(62) Georgetown
(72) Georgia Tech
(79) Wake Forest
(96) Virginia Tech
(104) Arizona State
(107) South Carolina
(128) Florida
(143) New Orleans
(151) Rider
(157) Davidson
(170) UNC-Asheville
(171) East Carolina (thanks NC State)
(172) Maryland

07-08 Basketball

68 Responses to BBall: Last Bytes of the Year; +21 in 20 Minutes

  1. zahadum 12/31/2007 at 9:06 AM #

    Also, pray I’m wrong, but watching Costner so far this year reminds me of Andrew Brackman’s soph. year. Sure hope he doesn’t have some nagging injury that’s not been made public.

  2. Rick 12/31/2007 at 9:34 AM #

    “Is WOG an accredited school that can send athletes into NCAA programs? I thought it was on the NCAA’s list a few years back. ”

    You are mixing them up with another school. They have very high academic standards.

    For what its worth, Wall told a friend of mine Memphis and Kentucky lead.

  3. burnbarn 12/31/2007 at 9:36 AM #

    BC did have a knee injury in the summer and he is just starting to get over it.
    If you read all the quotes from the players, they are fully aware of our thoughts on the team’s weaknesses. I suspect we will see a complete game next Saturday for the first time.

  4. Dr. BadgerPack 12/31/2007 at 9:38 AM #

    A PG logjam may not necessarily be bad if several of them develop– especially the 3 pt. shot. With the plethora of PG experience on the coaching staff and looking at the recruiting situation, one might wonder whether Sidney may eventually go with a 3 guard offense, which would certainly open up minutes. This would in theory allow for more running (which should excite many readers here) and more pressing (ditto). Just something to consider when glancing over the projected roster down the road.

  5. vtpackfan 12/31/2007 at 9:43 AM #

    We need to play better defense and/or make some perimenter shots to even remotely come close to realizing this teams true potential.

    The defense has been good at times, ghastly in stretch’s, but never really excellent. The best is to hope for some consitency and more timely zone looks (triangle/box). Some sort of full court pressure at key moments would be exciting IMO. Could you imagine CF, or GG as a center fielder?

    The perimenter shooting could not get much worse, we have to be at or near rock bottom as a unit. I don’t know any cause/ or cure alls for this epidemic. CF, BC, DH, and Javy have all missed many WIDE open looks this season. The misses a so bad that they are barely reboundable (is that a new word I just came up with?). Like I said, how to get better is anyone’s guess since it’s just a matter of catch a shoot. These players have been practicing it their whole lives and why they all decided to suck at it at the same time is baffling.

  6. gopack968 12/31/2007 at 9:53 AM #

    “Is WOG an accredited school that can send athletes into NCAA programs? I thought it was on the NCAA’s list a few years back. ”

    You are mixing them up with another school. They have very high academic standards.”

    Rick – Are you sure about that? Word of God was on the NCAA no-go list in 2006, I just wondered if anyone knew if that has changed.

    “Officials at Raleigh’s Word of God Christian Academy were stunned Thursday that they were on the list of schools from which transcripts would not be accepted for NCAA play. A Word of God student could be admitted to college but would not be eligible for NCAA competition.”

  7. vtpackfan 12/31/2007 at 9:53 AM #

    Good point Doc ^,
    MJ could fill in at the three just as easily as the two in a couple years in this type of scheme. Just looking at possible returning letterman for the ’09 campaign,
    PG: Javy, Mays
    SG: Degand, Fergy
    SF: MJ, Cj
    PF: JT, Horner
    C: BC, TS

  8. Rick 12/31/2007 at 9:58 AM #

    That would be news to me.

  9. pakfanistan 12/31/2007 at 10:33 AM #

    vtpackfan, Tracy Smith is way too short to be a center. If you’ve ever seen him on the court, he’s shorter than Grant. I’d be surprised if he was over 6’6″ (no matter what the roster says).

  10. RickJ 12/31/2007 at 10:59 AM #

    Here is a positive that represents a real change in our program – we are currently second behind UNC in free throws attempted per game at 27.8 (28.3 for UNC). We lead the league by a very wide margin in terms of free throws per possession. Obviously, Hickson has a lot to do with this having attempted 90 free throws. Grant is also fouled a lot because of his strength in taking the ball to the basket. If we can just get stabilized at the point, turn the ball over a little less & get a little better outside shooting we are going to put extreme half court pressure on our opponent’s defense.

  11. wufpup76 12/31/2007 at 11:02 AM #

    ^speaking of tracy smith, his body type and stature really remind me of greg buckner from clemson … if smith could have that type of career here that would be awesome

    i always liked how buckner played while at clemson (of course smith is a forward and not a great shooter, but their body types are similar to me)

  12. Sweet jumper 12/31/2007 at 11:02 AM #

    Off the topic but about one of our own–Dereck Whittenburg received a contract extension through the 2012-13 season at Fordham in eary November of 2007 according to ESPN.

    SFN: ^ We know. We ran an article about it at the time. Link. Not being saracstic – but we do have a search function on the site as well as a new “Archive” tab that allows people to peruse by dates. In the future, we will also be using “tags” to help with site organizaiton.

  13. Sweet jumper 12/31/2007 at 11:31 AM #

    Sorry, I missed that. I just ran across it and thought it might be of interest.

  14. hball57 12/31/2007 at 11:35 AM #

    Word of God has been cleared by the NCAA:

    The whole story is quite interesting. The NCAA put them on the list without any communication from the school. When the NCAA received a letter requesting the reason for their inclusion on the list or the school would begin legal action, the NCAA removed them from the list.

  15. haze 12/31/2007 at 11:53 AM #

    Despite this team’s struggles, it is evident that they are improving. Cases in point…
    JJ- Now responding much better to double-teams. His moves are quicker and his outlets more sure.
    BC- Playing with much more energy and contributing with RB’s, assists and D instead of just sulking over his (continuing) struggles on O.
    GG- A better leader by the day and starting to impose his will at times.
    DH- Putting out real defensive energy now. Needs to shoot more readily but he’s back in the rotation.
    Mac- Back to his high IQ game (mostly) and no longer sulking.
    D- MUCH better effort, posture and a willingness to pressure the ball far out on the perimeter. Rebounding has gotten WAY better.
    O- Better flow and ball movement with a lot less of the ineffective 2-man game from early in the season.

    So, we’re getting there but still have a ways to go. To me, the biggest issue is that we just aren’t shooting particularly well. In particular, neither Costner nor Horner have been very sharp and Mac did not add much range during the off season (would have been a HUGE positive for his minutes). Since we are not a pressing or trapping team and we don’t play with Duke-like defensive intensity, we simply cannot be “explosive” if we cannot hit a high percentage from the perimeter. Eventually, the zones will come. Unfortunately, there is every indication that MJ, despite encouraging support play, isn’t going to improve matters (in fact, Degand was clearly stronger & more willing from the perimeter) and Javy has shown no indication of gaining shooting confidence.

    In the end, our best hope for optimal performance seems to be increasingly effective D and better showings from Costner and Horner.

  16. pakfanistan 12/31/2007 at 2:55 PM #

    I would like to see more consistency on offense from Fells personally.

  17. ShootingGuard 12/31/2007 at 5:19 PM #

    A few super quick thoughts before closing down shop and starting New Year’s festivities…

    First, this SFN entry is SPOT ON on all points…

    I understand that many fans will wonder openly why “We lack the killer insinct of our 2 close neighbors. For some reason we are unable to extend leads and put people away.”

    But, as SFN as pointed out, until we have ELITE talent at the point guard slot or at least EXPERIENCED top 100 talent at the point guard slot, we are ALWAYS going to be inconsistent in games, not be able to blow people’s doors off, and be forced to grind games out for wins. HOF Roy said as much the other day.

    Gavin and the boys want to blow people out just like UNC and Duke do, but we don’t have Ty Lawson talent running the show like UNC does or have dagger 3-pt bombers like Duke does. We had no ELITE point and only set shooters under Herb which ultimately undermined him and kept fans frustrated, and that’s where Sid has had to start. Until Sid can correct those deficiencies with recruiting, we will be a grind it out team who has to show up every game, play D, hit the boards, and be efficient on offense without making too many costly turnovers. In football, they used to call that a “3 yards and a cloud of dust” team if they were good or a “just don’t make mistakes” team if the offense was less than good. That’s us right now. We have Trent Dilfer at quarterback, not Joe Montana, and the only way we are going to have much success this year and next is if the boys step up and play D and the boards like Ray Lewis and the Ravens did. The wins that come will be ugly most times and you need a lot of luck too to go along way with such small margin for error.

    As far as recruiting goes, you can bet your arse that Sid is recruiting hard for the point guard slot—among any and all ELITE talents that they think they can get that “fit.” And, sadly, as SFN has pointed out, that will likely mean the eventual exit of a player or two. Everyone on the team has been given a fair shot by Sid. Some guys remain as insurance. When insurance is not needed, then it is what is best for both parties. It is not personal. Fortunately or unfortunately, that is life. If you don’t accept that reality, don’t expect an upgrade in talent or results. You are not going to beat teams of Grade A ELITE talents like Ty Lawson very often or blow other teams doors off very often if all you have to counter with is Grade C talent—especially in a guards’ game like college basketball is. As the old saying goes, “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight”…unless you enjoy pain and misery…because you are not going to win many of those.

  18. redfred2 12/31/2007 at 5:36 PM #

    ^I don’t know if you were at the game on Saturday, but Fells did come in from the left side ONCE like he was going to slam on anybody and everybody in his way. He was fouled in the act and didn’t make the shot, but I asked the guys sitting around me why in the hell Fells doesn’t do that every other time down the court.

    I mean, besides just being fun as hell to have that physical ability and try to take straight up on taller players, why can’t he see that if he challenges inside he would greatly help the team by opening up the middle, or least get a chance to score from the free throw line. He says his dreams are to be NBA player, well Corey, you maight have some of the necessary physical gifts required for that level, but what good are they if you’re afraid to use them.

    I’d love to have that ability for one game, I’d be forcing it inside just to see who thought they could get high enough to block my shot. Anyway, Fells is a mystery to me.

  19. redfred2 12/31/2007 at 5:44 PM #

    I’ll say on other thing about Saturday, the players were no less “tired” than the fans/crowd of people in the RBC. I could have taken a nap if it wasn’t for a screaming WCU fan up above me in the nose bleed section.

  20. redfred2 12/31/2007 at 6:06 PM #

    I’ll say ONE more thing about Saturday in the RBC, they had a great opening with Jimmy V up on the jumbotron. Lee Fowler, or whoever decided it was OK to put Jimmy V up there in Raleigh again, it was emotional and great see. I commend whoever put that together.

  21. werncstate 12/31/2007 at 6:49 PM #

    Redfred, they have had that intro with Jimmy V for every game I’ve attended this year. I agree it is great. Now if they would only change the intro music to Lunatic Fringe it would be perfect.
    That screaming WCU fan was about 5 sections over from me. Too bad our guys were playing so bad. There was nothing to cheer about on our side for the first 3/4’s of the game to drown him out.

  22. Packster 12/31/2007 at 9:06 PM #

    The screaming WCU fans were in section 314 or so. I could see them out of the periphery of my oxygen mask from 316. Another point I would make about the Jumbotrons is that they put WAY too many ads up and not enough useful stat info like FG% etc. I only saw that up at the half.

  23. Cardiac95 01/01/2008 at 12:29 PM #

    This team reminds me of several of V’s teams… capable of beating or losing to just about anyone at any time. Maybe that bodes well come March.

    If we don’t see some significant improvement though, I could see as few as 6 ACC wins based on our schedule this year. If Johnson picks it up and the team gels, 10 is not out of the question.

    Perimeter shooting bothers me as much as PG play though.

  24. Sweet jumper 01/01/2008 at 1:03 PM #

    While a 5 star point guard is great, it is not all that is necessary for a team to have a killer instinct and put teams away. Concentration, committment and going full throttle when you have a 9 point lead with 14 minutes to go are vital in order to extend that lead to 20-30 points by the end of the game against lesser opponents. Everyone has to buy into this attitude, not just the point guard. UNX puts lesser teams away not just because of Lawson but also because Hops-borough, Ginyard, Ellington, Green, etc. refuse to let up no matter who they are playing. They refuse to let an easy game be close 98+% of the time. That is what I was trying to say earlier. I think Sid will build this into our program over the next few years. People will graduate/leave/play out their eligibility over the next few years with links to the prior system, and soon Sid will have a team consisting entirely of his recruits. These guys will be indoctrinated into Sid’s system from Day one, and they theoretically should give a much more consistent, high level effort no matter the opponent. Happy New Year!

  25. redfred2 01/01/2008 at 3:13 PM #

    You can call it “killer instinct” or whatever, but there is some kind of funk hanging on this team right now that makes them pretty much all seem as if they’re totally content with just getting by. There is one exception but we all know that riding that one dimensional horse is only going to ruin the rest of the team.

    I had a long post about the individual players, what the press was saying earlier, and so on. But what it all boils down to is that I thought I saw a mentality that was in place and established late last season. Right now I am wondering just what it is going to take, or IF, and how much longer it will be before these kids really start playing like they have something to prove again.

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