“Must Win” Redux

We told you unequivocally that Saturday’s home tilt against Miami was a “must win” – and tonight’s matchup with Georgia Tech is no less so. The Pack doesn’t want to hit the road for contests at Florida State and Duke with a 1-3 conference record – especially considering that no way in hell can we beat the Devils in Durham. If you require substantiation, consider the combination of these factors: (i) Duke’s ability to force turnovers, coupled with our willingness to commit them; and (ii) the league’s best (and deepest) perimeter offense, coupled with arguably the league’s worst perimeter defense. That means that a tough game in Tallahassee is all that would stand between NC State and a 1-5 ACC mark. That sound like a recipe for diaster to you? It sure does to me.

On the flip side, the Pack can be significantly more relaxed hitting the road at 2-2. Now, State is playing with house money, knowing that a split puts us at 3-3 with favorable home matchups (Wake, Virginia Tech) to wrap up the first half of ACC play. Even if the Pack loses to the Noles, 4-4 is the most likely scenario. The team’s psyche never is damaged by falling more than 2 games below .500, or by falling into the ACC cellar.

In terms of match-ups, I think NC State is in a favorable position. The Jackets do not have mutliple, dynamic guards – Anthony Morrow is the one man the Pack really has to shut down. Yes, Mr. Fells, that means that you have to show up tonight, and remain fully awake for all 40 minutes. When Morrow comes out for a rest, so should Fells. Back in the spring (see comments), three players in the McDonald’s AA game really impressed me – Beasley, Hickson, and Lawal. So far, Beasley has matched all the hype, but Hickson and Lawal have yet to register a dominant performance in an ACC game. NC State needs to prevent a coming out party tonight, and whoever is willing and able to play tough defense on (and box out) Lawal should garner most of the minutes at the 4.

Here are your links to other previews: Section Six, N&O.

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.

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44 Responses to “Must Win” Redux

  1. packgrad2000 01/23/2008 at 11:01 AM #

    Box out? What’s that??? If I see another State player watching the ball as the shot goes up I’m gonna kick my TV. One of the first things I was taught in 7th grade playing basketball for my junior high team was to look around and get your rearend on somebody instead of watching the ball. Some (not all) of our guys apparently have never been taught that.

  2. packbackr04 01/23/2008 at 11:10 AM #

    lets see some more of Simon Harris tonight! And will the real Javi please stand up! GO PACK

  3. TNCSU 01/23/2008 at 11:10 AM #

    FYI, although generally we haven’t boxed out well, I DID notice McCauley boxing out in the Miami game. That is also the reason he stayed in at the end of the game, and during the overtime.

  4. RAWFS 01/23/2008 at 11:10 AM #

    Agreed it is a must win tonight.

    But I wouldn’t go so far as to say “no way in hell can we beat the Devils in Durham.” Winning there may be as unlikely as a lottery ticket win or perhaps a telephone call from Keira Knightley, but I do hope that the team goes in without that thought in their heads. They have to believe that they can win every game they play or they won’t win that game, period.

    That statement reminds me of the one that The Big Lead made yesterday that I took to task on RAWFS: “NC State has no shot at the NCAA. None.” 8-5 the rest of the regular season, State’s in. Period.

    Never say never. Unless it’s never you want.

  5. Sam92 01/23/2008 at 11:22 AM #

    yes – it is a must win tonight.

    right now we are still attempting to stave off disaster and if we don’t do it again tonight our prospects look grim indeed

  6. haze 01/23/2008 at 11:22 AM #

    FWIW, Tracy Smith blocked a couple of guys right out and off the floor during the Clemson game. Javi did it at least once against Miami. Naturally, we need everyone doing it but there’s some progress.

    Big game against GT. Toss up, IMO.

    Agree with RAWFS that you never say never b/c we can win at Duke. That said, they look like a pretty bad match-up for us.

  7. primacyone 01/23/2008 at 11:26 AM #

    “Beasley has matched all the hype, but Hickson and Lawal have yet to register a dominant performance in an ACC game.”

    KSU has built the whole offense around MB. Lowe got hounded for even thinking about it with Hickson.

    Anyway, should be a good game tonight, and the pack should prevail. As usual, we need to make some outside shots. I know Lowe keeps getting hounded for saying “we just need to make some shots”. But that is an enitirely accurate statement. We just need to make some shots fromm the outside, and we go a long ways. His plays are are generating open looks, we just have to knock them down. And play with enerey I might add.

  8. Sweet jumper 01/23/2008 at 11:27 AM #

    I think all of our home games are must wins. Some are going to be harder than others, but we have to find a way to win them as we did Saturday. We need to feed off of the energy of the home crowd and put ourselves in a position to win during the last 4 minutes(sorry about the V channelling!). No game is a gimme in the ACC–witness Wake taking Clemson to OT at Clemson and Maryland beating UNX in Chapel Hill. I want to see more of Tracy Smith tonight. I think he could be a big plus on the boards against GA Tech. GO PACK!

  9. Ismael 01/23/2008 at 11:32 AM #

    Haven’t gotten to see that much of State this year, but i will say that i was able to watch the Miami game on espn360 on replay. Towards the end of the game, i’ll give McCauley the benefit of the doubt, but man on some of these looseball rebounds, he was getting beat like he was standing still.

    These guys have got to play with more intensity as a team.

    But honestly though, i like the offense, it exploits weaknesses, and once those guys learn it we’ll be fine. We weren’t gonna be undefeated this year, they still have to not only learn their roles but accept them. What I can’ accept though is crappy team-defense. It’s like, if you have legs and arms, team-defense beats speed and size so when you are getting beat on the defensive end, you are not playing it.

  10. haze 01/23/2008 at 11:54 AM #

    Beasley can make his own shot much more than a classic post guy like JJ. That’s going to make for more production on most teams.

    Plus, JJ has a bit of a production catch 22 in that we aren’t a great perimeter shooting team (i.e. he gets zones/doubles) and he isn’t a great passer (i.e. doesn’t punish zones/doubles).

  11. pacman23 01/23/2008 at 11:54 AM #

    It’s all about “bringing the energy” tonight. Can we make sure a case of Red Bull gets delivered to the locker room before the game, please.

  12. zahadum 01/23/2008 at 11:55 AM #

    This is a hard one to figure. Tech may be the most Jeckle/Hyde team in the country. If anything, they play to the level of their comp even worse than we do.

    Don’t know that I’d call this a “must win”, but more of a “would sure make things a heck of a lot easier win”. I still think we could start 1-5 and finish 8-8. But certainly hope we don’t have to do it that way.

  13. VaWolf82 01/23/2008 at 12:18 PM #

    If State wants to stay out of the bottom-half of the conference, then it must beat teams in the bottom-half (and some of the others as well)….especially when they are home games. Conversely, the easiest way to stay out of the NCAAT is to lose home games to teams in the bottom-half of the conference.

  14. wufpup76 01/23/2008 at 12:35 PM #

    can’t wait for tonight’s game! i’m hoping the team will ride the emotional upswing of how they won the game on saturday night and come out with bounding energy and maintain it throughout …

    if we could just play defense like we did in the first half of saturday’s night game – with energy and purpose – it would go a long way … the defensive intensity also ratcheted up at the end of the game and in overtime … play like that for an entire game and you’re going to be tough to beat …

    of course it also helps when you’re moving w/out the ball on offense and have crisp ball movement … and perhaps most importantly – IMPROVED POINT GUARD PLAY like we saw saturday night!

    play with energy, get in a rhythm and knock down some open shots 🙂

    anyway –

    go wolfpack!

  15. highonlowe 01/23/2008 at 12:39 PM #

    fwiw, vegas has GT as a 2pt underdog

  16. STLPACK 01/23/2008 at 12:50 PM #

    McCauley, Harris, and Smith should get significan minutes. They play hard, and hustle.

    Big Ben is prob. playing the hardest and showing the most heart of anyone on the team right now. Can’t we get him on the high post feeding JJ down low?

    I’m not sure what to think about Costner right now. I put points on the board at miami, but he has not looked good in the two games previous (i didn’t get to watch the Miami game).

    Good post, and good comments RAWFS.

  17. Texpack 01/23/2008 at 12:51 PM #

    Winning the games you are supposed to win is the first thing you have to do to be an NCAA Tournament team. A home game against a sub .500 team certainly falls into that category. Next thing to do is pick up 2-3 road conference wins.

  18. RAWFS 01/23/2008 at 1:16 PM #

    Every game we lose to a lower-tier opponent is one that we must win from Duke, UNC or Clemson to make up for it. While I said above that the team should never say never, the reality of it is that those are difficult games and cannot be counted on as sure things. In other words, it will be easier to beat Wake in Raleigh, or GT in Raleigh than it will be to beat Duke in Cameron or even in Raleigh.

    I’ll have every finger and toe crossed from here on in, and hope that our team continues to grow together, grow as players and develops an almost-angry “us vs. the world” mentality. When the Wolfpack decides that it wants to be a good team, it is, despite all of its weaknesses. From here on in, they need to do that every night, and in IMO, that’s exactly what Coach Lowe meant when he said more or less exactly that after the UNC game.

  19. 82_furn_grad 01/23/2008 at 1:38 PM #

    Everything that can be said about tonight’s game has been said and is dead spot on. I hope that Javi will continue to improve and hit a couple of three’s tonight while running the offense. Our low post game will be much more effective with adequate outside shooting. If we don’t improve our outside shooting defenses will continue to double down and take away our inside game. Take care of the ball and bang some three’s. Our inside game will flourish.

  20. packbackr04 01/23/2008 at 1:55 PM #

    what are the odds on Sid busting out a plaid jacket ala Norm Sloan tonight? in the words of the ever so eloquent Wu-tang-clan, it seems as though Pearl and Purnell have bitten Sid’s shit. “all yall wack ass rappers out there, stop bitin’ our shit!” Sid def. needs to keep his look fresh and clean, and a nice plaid coat with about 18 buttons on it would do nicely.

  21. highonlowe 01/23/2008 at 2:04 PM #

    Something else I didn’t realize until now, we’re #2 in the nation in free throw rate (FTM/FGA) and #1 in the nation in keeping our opponents off the line. The latter is most likely due to our paper bag defense, but since S6 highlights that GT is one of the most foul-prone teams in the country, we may be getting to the line tonight even more than usual.

    Its also worth mentioning that GT has been pretty terrible when away with only 2 away wins, both against >200 rpi teams. (But they hung tough at home against Kansas and UNC. Good thing this game is in Raleigh.)

  22. bTHEredterror 01/23/2008 at 2:15 PM #

    /\”Wolfpack hoops ain’t nuttin to f@#k wit”

    We should pound it inside tonight, Peacock and Smith are foul hounds and we can develop an advantage at the end of both halves. PG play is key tonight, Tech likes to trap with pressure. I feel a light turned for Javi on Saturday and he was fearless. Its too much to expect him to play that way every night just yet, but PG is mostly mental, so how he plays is more important than the mistakes he WILL make this year.

  23. jbpackfan 01/23/2008 at 2:20 PM #

    A word on the PGs. Remember Justin Gainey at FSU his freshman year. Coach couldn’t get him off the court fast enough. (I don’t remember the amount of consecutive turnovers, but it was alot in just a couple minutes.) By the end of the season, we could not afford to take him out. Just something to think about when considering our PG play and development over a season.

  24. Rick 01/23/2008 at 3:03 PM #

    We are a better team with McCauley and Hickson in there. We play defense and rebound. Costner should not start IMO

  25. highonlowe 01/23/2008 at 3:28 PM #

    S6’s +/- analysis begs to differ on McCauley. His point differential is -12, the worst on the team.

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