Sunday: #2 of 6


We discussed the importance of the remainder of the Wolfpack’s non-conference in this great entry that you should read if you haven’t.

In the piece we discuss that the Pack has an opportunity to run the table against a nice stretch of six opponents that would produce an 11-3 record (and a Top 50 RPI) heading into ACC play. (I projected 11-3 as the most likely scenario before the season began; of course I projected losses to different teams than we have experienced thus far).

As you probably don’t want to remember, State lost at Cincinnati by nine points last year in a game that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate as the Pack was struggling to adjust to life without Engin Atsur. You can click here to peak at last year’s nightmare.

This was, by far, the worst effort we have seen from NC State in the Sidney Lowe era. Aside from the continued offensive excellence of Ben McCauley, there isn’t much nice to say. The Pack finished just 3 shy of its all-time record for turnovers, set in 1972 vs. UNC.

Despite Cincinnati’s name recognition, the Bearcats are currently 4-6 with a miserable RPI of #250. They lost to Belmont by 11 points, beat Western Carolina by only 2 points at home and have struggled in other games that you would expect them to have won more impressively.

BUT…beware this superficial view of their performance to this point of the season. This blog entry from the Cincinnati newspaper this week discusses the improvement in the ‘new’ UC.

Of course, the bottom line is that UC is still 4-6 and has lost four straight. But since the final nine minutes of that Illinois State game Dec. 8, UC has played with more purpose and passion. Players seem to be very much listening to and believing in Mick Cronin; they wouldn’t sacrifice their personal well-being for overtly physical play otherwise.

In the long run, no matter how bad Cincinnati looks on paper, if State can tonight then this ‘name program’ in a major conference won’t optically hurt the Wolfpack’s resume if we are on the NCAA Tournament bubble in March.

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07-08 Basketball

34 Responses to Sunday: #2 of 6

  1. Trip 12/23/2007 at 12:43 PM #

    Since we tend to like to keep the score close at home, give me NC State by 5 with nail biters all around.

    Things to look for:

    Marques Johnson to make an appearance. I’m DVRing this game to watch him and i’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t get atleast a few minutes. Since he didn’t play against Davidson, I’m hoping that its because: A: Sidney wants to develop Degand/Javi into useful backups come ACC time, because MJ can already handle it. B: Pressure situation, didn’t want to throw MJ into the fire and cost us the game. C: Could be about match ups, since Javi/Degand are faster than MJ and Davidson’s back court is really quick. But, there’s also the fourth option, the one that I’m hoping isn’t the case, D: MJ Just isn’t that much better than Degand/Javi, or even, he’s worse.

    A lot of people on here have speculated that it’s D, but I’m really trying to remain optimistic, because if that IS the case, then we’re screwed. Javi needs another year, and Degand, while I love that he plays hard, just isn’t performing at the level we need him to come ACC time and I cringe every time he goes for a layup. Unless we see some serious progression from Javi or Degand, if MJ isn’t atleast slightly better than them, then we’re in some trouble.

    I’ve posted his stats from high school before in tournaments, and he seems to be a decent 3p shooter (40-43%), have a high assist rate (4-5 per game I believe), and doesn’t turn it over, but all of those stats were collected while he was playing out of position as a small forward, possibly due to injury. Which means that if he’s giving out that many assists at the 3 spot, then he should be able to do it better at the 1.

    Other things to look for:
    Another night of outrebounding our opponent. If we can make this a tradition it’d be outstanding.
    Lots of free throws for us, Cincy has a high FTR allowed (38.1), and we’re good at drawing fouls. The charity stripe will once again decide the game.

    Cool stat concerning FT’s:
    Free Throw Rate: (Offense) 34.8 ( 7) (Defense) 21.6 ( 5)
    Yeah that’s right, we take more FT’s than 350 other D1 schools, and we don’t let anyone have free shots either. While that may speculate that we play terrible defense, our numbers for defense don’t line up for that.
    2-Point FG% : (offense) 52.8 ( 54 ) (Defense) 39.5 ( 7)
    If we’re playing terrible defense then we shouldn’t be #7 in the nation for 2-point FG% allowed. Our 3P% defense is worse, but if you’re fouling people out there, then you have issues anyway.

    Us Fouling John Williamson: If theres one guy that can shoot FT’s almost as bad as Tracy Smith right now, it’s him at 45%. He doesn’t turn it over a lot, but he sucks at the line.

    Deonta Vaughn. (Their PG) He’s got a high assist rate, but an almost equally high turnover rate matching up with Costner’s bad boy self.

    Ben McNasty. Here’s hoping he continues his tradition of excellence.
    Tracy Smith. Please make free throws… please? (.167% FT shooter)
    Simon Harris. Holy cow, I saw him go after Curry last game and thought “Oh )#*% here comes the 3 point bombardment.” But wow, that kid’s actually quick for a bodybuilder of his size in short bursts. I want to see more of him.
    Costner. Continue your 3 point groove, but remember that you weigh 240 pounds and should probably bull your way inside from time to time to keep it fresh.
    Grant. Just keep doing whatever your doing, I’m starting to think that in the Bronx if you missed game winning free throws that you’d get shot.
    Hickson. Getting better at the double team, but still needs improvement, there’s a stark difference between 2 dwarfs double teaming you, and Hansbro/Thompson double teaming you.

  2. bTHEredterror 12/23/2007 at 1:29 PM #

    Good points. That Cincy game was a train wreck, I felt for Gavin and Courtney. I understand the optimism with MJ, Trip. But I can’t imagine he’s better than either of the other PGs, or he would have played in the 1st half or early in the 2nd, even if Sid was concerned about his game shape. Unless there was an undisclosed reason he didn’t play, I fear its T Ferg the sequel. While Smith has some shooting issues, I like his energy level. I haven’t done the research, but I bet he is averaging a rebound a minute. He is tough in the lane on D.

    I picked up this article, and had to discuss it momentarily. Not intended as a thread jack, I’m hurt by all the media jokes and had to speak.

    I feel the reason we get so many no shows is obvious. We are compelled to buy tickets, and seem to sell out or season tickets. But this year in particlular almost all the home ganes have been during student breaks! The first couple were right before thanksgiving, and these few coming up are during winter break. Top that off with less than intriguing games and there you have it. We show up when the team plays good competition, and since we have purchased the seats anyway, the administration is not forced to make changes to scheduling. Lee F has already shown he’s not concerned with public perception, and I along with others cannot figure out his plan for improvement if he indeed has one.

  3. choppack1 12/23/2007 at 1:31 PM #

    Agreed w/ Simon Harris on Curry.

    Regarding our defense – if you compare it to a football D, our D is all about not letting someone get an easy – first look. Our guys are long and lanky – and we contest those initial shots. However, where we run into trouble is after the penetration occurs/after the shot goes up. Typically, we’ve got at least one man out of position – and we’re vulnerable on the offensive boards.

    Also, you’ll see that we don’t force a lot of TO’s. As you’ve noted, we don’t foul alot. I think this is more of a reflection of our passive D…we don’t try to deny the ball, and our guys are usually bigger than the guy they are defending so when the opponent goes up for a shot – we’re trying to block it – but aren’t in danger of making contact w/ the shooter. Also, I don’t think we are “switching” on D. This is OK – I’m not a big fan of it as this often ends up w/ a PG trying to stop a center or your Center or PF trying to stop dribble penetration from a smaller and faster oppoent…However, as we saw on Curry’s last basket, that split second is sometimes just enough to give a dead-eye shooter a good look.

  4. StateFans 12/23/2007 at 1:38 PM #

    We ask that folks don’t spend too much time on the RBC article in the N&O today. We will be running more on that in the future.

  5. Trip 12/23/2007 at 2:09 PM #


    Yeah, I generally side with optimism when it comes to our basketball team, although I believe it’s slightly different than Tferg, because Tferg was taken out of his game by breaking both wrists, which for a shooter is HUGE. MJ has only had time to improve from a 4 star recruit out of high school. We’ll all find out (hopefully) tonight if he’s a tferg or not though. If he doesn’t play tonight then I will start worrying about his ability.

    I really like Smith, don’t let my criticism of his FT shooting reflect that, I believe he’s extremely energetic and a hard rebounder. He’s a strong recruit for Sidney and I think in the coming years will be a force. He just needs to shoot free throws until it’s natural.


    Yeah, we don’t force a lot of turnovers at all, but I think Sidney is just playing to the team’s strength at the moment since Javi is the only person who seems able to create turnovers. I think as our rebounding gets better (As it seems to be) then our passive D will only improve as we’ll be able to grab misses better and not allow those 2nd shots. As long as our passive D can continue to hold opponents to below 40% shooting, we’ll be fine.

  6. chilly water 12/23/2007 at 4:03 PM #

    “I’m starting to think that in the Bronx if you missed game winning free throws that you’d get shot.”

    Nice one

  7. bTHEredterror 12/23/2007 at 4:35 PM #

    I saw Cincy against Xavier and Memphis, and they could give us some serious problems on the offensive end. But they can’t score, its like watching the first Sendek team before they got to the ACCT. Improved effort last game needs to meet improved execution this game, and we should be able to hold them off, five points is smart. Grant is a leader, and he is doing a good job of picking guys up, This game should be a good opportunity to test Johnson.

    I’m sorry for the earlier off-topic post, guys. Now I’m off to the game to do my part! Go Pack!

  8. Wulfpack 12/23/2007 at 4:48 PM #

    Anyone else having major issues with the feed from Fox Sports? Hope it gets corrected!

  9. Wulfpack 12/23/2007 at 4:56 PM #

    “Top that off with less than intriguing games and there you have it.”

    Anybody that follows college basketball would be able to figure out that Davidson is a worthy, NCAA calibre opponent. I do not know why there were 10,000 empty seats the other night. Don’t say the “students” were on break.

  10. burnbarn 12/23/2007 at 5:12 PM #

    On Fox, I had to re-boot my DVR 4 times during that Davidson game..let’s hope for better tonight.

  11. turnoffthetv 12/23/2007 at 5:52 PM #

    “and Degand, while I love that he plays hard, just isn’t performing at the level we need him to come ACC time and I cringe every time he goes for a layup.”

    I feel the same way. So maybe he should take a few 3’s instead.

    Although he hasn’t tried many times the guy leads the team in 3pt pct. 7-15 (.457)

    Might be good to pull it from 3 instead of drive for a layup. I was thinking maybe he might get fouled on the way to the hoop.

    His FT pct. 11-22 (.500) The only guy shooting worse than that from the foul line is Tracy Smith which you also noted above. go figure.

  12. Packster 12/23/2007 at 7:33 PM #

    Good first half against Cincy. Costner looks like he is starting to get his old game back. Defense was a little lax at times but we are looking really good on offense and rebounding has been a lot better too.

  13. DT44 12/23/2007 at 7:45 PM #

    Not giving the ball away has helped a lot too…

  14. Sweet jumper 12/23/2007 at 7:47 PM #

    Good effort in the first half. The offense is more in sync, and the movement is much better than the last 8 minutes of the Davidson game. I like the quicker pace. We are getting more easy baskets and missing several slashing drives to the basket that we would normally convert. I like the aggressiveness on offense and our defensive rebounding. I think that we are coming together as a team now. I hope we can show the killer instinct in the second half and stretch this lead. In the past we have let people hang around too long which resulted in wins much closer than they should have been and losses that should have been victories. Stretching this lead would be a major improvement for this team. Go Pack!

  15. Packster 12/23/2007 at 7:47 PM #

    DT44…glad to see someone is here besides me. We played well in the first half but I am far from comfortable about the 2nd half which has just started.

  16. MrPlywood 12/23/2007 at 8:11 PM #

    I’m here, looking for a radio feed, just in time to see the lead cut to 5… 😛

  17. Packster 12/23/2007 at 8:14 PM #

    We are still doing okay. We are getting to the line a lot and making most of them.

  18. Packster 12/23/2007 at 8:21 PM #

    Horrible free throw shooting by Cincy.

  19. wolfpack n da house 12/23/2007 at 8:24 PM #

    For some reason i’m beginning to like javi

  20. Packster 12/23/2007 at 8:25 PM #

    Javi got just smashed on the pick. That was brutal. I can’t believe he kept going.

  21. Packster 12/23/2007 at 8:37 PM #

    This is too close for comfort. Cincy has been hitting everything of late. If it wasn’t for fouls we would be in trouble.

  22. Astral Rain2 12/23/2007 at 8:39 PM #

    Degand just got hurt. This is not good.

  23. wolfpack n da house 12/23/2007 at 8:49 PM #

    i better start liking javi. hope degands alright

  24. 1.21 Jigawatts 12/23/2007 at 8:50 PM #’s a sprained knee. That could possibly hinder him all season.

  25. chilly water 12/23/2007 at 8:52 PM #

    Why do we always allow the other team to hang around. I wish we would buryy people when we have the lead.

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