Offseason Positional Analysis (PG)

As we wait for football to heat up, it’s as good a time as any to analyze the coming basketball season. Over the next few weeks, we will analyze the logical rotation and depth chart, based on position. First up is what should be the Pack’s second-weakest position – point guard.

State had lots of problems last year, any one of which could have destroyed the season. If problem 1(a) was team chemistry (and no, we’re not talking about JJ envy), then problem 1(b) was PG play. I remember attending the Red/White game last fall, and feeling very optimistic about the coming season. Ben, Fells, Grant, and BC were a bit rusty (I didn’t worry about that at the time – big mistake), but I was really impressed by JJ Hickson and Farnold Degand. Degand was a fireball, speeding past defenders, running the floor, and finishing in the lane. He also played defense, which almost brought on tears of joy.

In retrospect, the Red/White game said more about our other players’ poor offseason conditioning and complete inability to play perimeter defense or stop dribble penetration than anything else. But you know what? Farnold wasn’t half bad running the offense. He did push the ball, confidently bring it up court, and play solid defense. He gave good effort when other players seemed to quit (see Michigan State debacle), and showed flashes of being a plus offensive player (see narrow win against South Carolina, when Farnold saved our bacon). Then he blew out his knee against Cincinnati, and a complete horror show followed.

Marques Johnson was a deer in headlights on offense, but at least played marginal defense. Javi Gonzalez could bring the ball past half-court adequately, but had trouble getting the offense initiated. He was also smaller and slower than almost every opposing PG, which meant he didn’t usually score much, and was absolutely abused on defense. One notable exception – he whipped Greg Paulus’ ass. Too bad most ACC point guards aren’t that small and slow. Combined, MJ and Javi were as bad (if not worse) than the “avert your eyes” combo of Fells and Grant, when Atsur was hurt the previous year.

Who should start? Farnold Degand, obviously. Some folks have suggested a “quick” lineup with Javi at PG, and Degand at SG (with Degand bringing the ball up on offense). To me, this seems absolutely insane. Sure, Degand shot a great percentage from 3 last year, but let me introduce you to the concept of sample size. Most of Degand’s shots were also of the wide open variety, given that scouting reports pegged him as a speedy penetrator who couldn’t shoot. Plus, I would rather have one very weak position (SG) than spread it out and being weak at both the 1 and the 2. Leave Degand at the point, and maybe we’ll get adequate production.

What should the rotation be? This is the million dollar question. Ideally, we would get 30-35 mpg from Farnold. Coming back off ACL surgery, that would risk burning him out. We would be completely sunk without a 90-100% Farnold for ACC play. Perhaps Javi (and to a lesser extent, freshman Julius Mays) can hold up against lesser competition enough to limit Farnold to a maximum of 25 mpg until January. I doubt Julius Mays will be strong enough with the ball (or fast enough defensively) to log minutes at the point against decent foes, absent injury or foul trouble. We have to find another position for MJ – he’s simply not a PG in any way, shape, or form.

Position Grade: C-

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.

08-09 Basketball

90 Responses to Offseason Positional Analysis (PG)

  1. Southbeachstyle 07/11/2008 at 10:49 AM #

    I agree that without Farnold at nearly full strength, it will be another fuster cluck this year at the point. Hopefully, Javi will have progressed from last year – he seemed to come on a little stronger at the end of last season.

    I would love to hears someone’s thoughts on how Javi’s game and Julius Mays’ game compare or are different? From the looks of the stats, Mays appears to be more of a scorer and Javi more of a point (if you even call him that yet)?

  2. phillypacker 07/11/2008 at 10:50 AM #

    Is Julius Mays this much of a project? I know he was lightly recruited but I had thought he seemed like more of a solid PG, even given the steep learning curve of playing in the ACC.

  3. choppack1 07/11/2008 at 10:55 AM #

    BJD – I for one am hoping that Mays can at least spell the PG position and can play the 2 spot. If for whatever reason – Mays isn’t quick or strong enough to play the 2 spot, then we should probably fire Lowe at the end of the year (barring a miraculous recruiting class).

    IMHO, it’s critical for this team to get Fells to the 3 spot. Also, regarding Javi – he looked to me like he was favoring one leg or the other a good part of last year. I’m hoping that this year we see more quickness and strength from him.

    The worst news in all of this is that in his post-season interviews, Lowe has placed many eggs in the Degand basket. This worries me because Degand’s best assets were here his quickness, his cutting ability and strength. In essence, all of these skills will be diminished. In addition, he’ll probably be a worse shooter, and it’s likely he won’t be able to make those nice moves to the basket he made at a few key moments last year. I’d feel better about this injury of Farnold had a great handle and was a great passer – those skills don’t seem to leave.

    Finally, the fact that Lowe is putting so much on Degand being healthy makes me wonder just what’s going on w/ Javi. I saw some good things from Javi last year – and I’m hoping that the weaknesses will be lessened by an extra summer of strength and conditioning. However, if our Coach doesn’t even mention him for the upcoming season…

  4. WolftownVA81 07/11/2008 at 11:07 AM #

    I’m a Javi fan due to the guts and determination he displayed last year. He’s one of the few players that I never saw give up no matter how badly we were doing. Hopefully, that internal drive helped him improve his game over the off season and he’ll come back with even more confidence. I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss his ability to log a significant amount of minutes at the PG spot. Go Javi and go Wolfpack.

  5. packbackr04 07/11/2008 at 11:25 AM #

    agreed, Fells HAS TO GOT TO GO TO THE 3 spot this year.

    Degand will have to start, and Javi and Mays will need to spell him. HOpefully Mays can shoot b/c we def need an outside scoring threat. And i Will repeat what others have said, there was some fire in Javi towards the end of the year, if his game has grown a little he can contribute as well.

    MJ can pack his bags, he should never play another possession as PG of NC State. And as far as MJ playing the 2G- his stroke from outside is one that only his mother could love. IT IS U G L Y! So i just dont see how he should get any PT at the 2 either.

    ALso, is Quentin gone yet? why hasnt Sid pulled the trigger on his boy yet? Cmon Foulup, put some pressure on Sid

  6. BJD95 07/11/2008 at 11:28 AM #

    Chop – you are going to approve of the next 2 installments. We won’t have Fells anywhere near the rotation at SG.

    IMHO, Lowe is putting all of his eggs in Farnold’s basket because he has no choice. Javi is not, and will never be, ACC starter-caliber material. He’s just too slow and too tentative distributing the ball. He’s a tough, scrappy kid – which makes him a fan favorite of sorts. But he’s really just a smaller version of Fergie, with more dribbling skills and less shooting ability.

    I share Chop’s concerns re Degand’s health. His game is/was based almost entirely on spped. If he’s not back at 90% capacity or better, he could be completely worthless to us. But if he’s not, we’re simply fucked. There’s no real reason to be looking for a Plan B, because they all lead to sucking.

    As a PG, Mays can be expected to be a slightly taller version of what Javi was last year. Since he is taller and a bit better shooter, Mays has a chance to get some minutes at the 2 (see next installment), although he’s not really the caliber of recruit you should count on as an underclassman.

  7. vtpackfan 07/11/2008 at 11:30 AM #

    “Position Grade: C-”

    Since no position should sniff an 80%, shouldn’t we just go ahead and curve this exam?

    Oh, no! Wait, you already have.

    IMO Javi will play a substantial role from the mid-season on. I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays close to half the minutes in each contest and probably finishes a fair share of games.

    Sid wants Degand to take the reigns, he really does, and so do alot of people following the program. But I’m afaraid that you just can’t build a PG out of a foundation of “he’s a blur on the court”, and he tries to play good man-to-man defense.

    Either you have “it” or you don’t when it comes being a pure PG, and Javi has “it”. Sid just has to be patient with him and learn to deal with the problem areas he posses because of his physical stature.

  8. JeremyH 07/11/2008 at 11:33 AM #

    yea, this position is one big question mark. will Javi’s progression carry over to the next season? What will Degand be able to do on that knee? How good is Mays? (because we really need him to be good). I see a point guard by committee until someone emerges, which was kind of the case until the Degand injury.

    And on the thinking that “Lowe needs to bring in his own guys before he can be really judged” the one impact recruit he had is gone, and it seems all the talent is coming two years from now. (What is going on with the ’09 recruiting class anyway?) We may need a strong showing in order to keep those verbals.

  9. packbackr04 07/11/2008 at 11:35 AM #

    VT- sure Javi is a traditional PG, but he is 3-4 inches too short and bout 15-20 lbs too small to be a true starting caliber PG in the ACC… in the SOCON, or the WAC sure he could probably be a good starter, but not when you have to play Ty Lawson and Grevious Vasquez night in night out.

  10. vtpackfan 07/11/2008 at 11:45 AM #

    “He’s just too slow and too tentative distributing the ball. He’s a tough, scrappy kid – which makes him a fan favorite of sorts. But he’s really just a smaller version of Fergie, with more dribbling skills and less shooting ability.”

    Don’t go too far to the radio host of 850 here on us.

    1st: Too slow is code speak for: Big time conference teams don’t take chances on guys who don’t fit their physical specifications.

    They would rather take a chiselded, lanky athlete over a “tough, scrappy kid” virtually every time. Funny thing is that every year we see more and more small conference teams knocking off the big boys come NCAA, which shouldn’t hardly ever happen since it is a “guards game” now and the conferences like the ACC always get the highest caliber gaurds, right?

    2nd: Any discussion of Fergie should include some kind of description about how EVERYONE ripped his head off around here. The pack your bags, never let him dress comments could have doubled as his wikopedia bio as far as we were concerned.

    I will give it to RedFred though, he beleived the TF could improve. Which in for irony sake makes the comparison of TF=”taller Javi” not so bad after all.

  11. Afterglow 07/11/2008 at 12:15 PM #

    I hope the fact that so much emphasis on Degand by Lowe means that Lowe saw something in him last year before the injury and feels Degand can reprise that vision this year with his eventual recovery.

    Every coach has a method and I think ideally most good coaches know when to pat a kid on the back or kick a kid in the @$$. Perhaps Javi feeds better off of no expectations or maybe, Lowe simply doesn’t see “it” in Javi or feel that he has “it”. We’ll see soon enough.

    Excuse my blogjacking but… I found it sort of peculiar that John Wall’s collegiate interest shifted dramatically from being Memphis and I think Kentucky to now Baylor and Oklahoma State. I suppose any speculation based off of these internet recruiting portals is dangerous but… Baylor and Oklahoma; what’s the attraction? Anyone know? I know his father seemed real high on Memphis and mom wants him to stay close.

  12. BJD95 07/11/2008 at 12:19 PM #

    Uh, it’s not just size. Javi isn’t especially fast OR quick, either. That’s the problem. If he was more of an asset in those areas, it would help compensate for his size.

    On offense, Billy Packer diagnosed it best in the ACC quarters, when he noted that the ball spent too much time in the hands of players who can’t really do anything with it.

    Look back at the last 10 or so games last season. Opposing guards REPEATEDLY had career games against us – especially when guarded by Javi.

    You can have a few “tough, scrappy kids” on the roster. They can play valuable SUPPORTING roles. But when you ask them to do too much, they get exposed (like a 4th OF playing every day). And when you count on them as a lynchpin of your team, you won’t win very often. At least not in the ACC.

  13. choppack1 07/11/2008 at 12:35 PM #

    One thing I’d like to point out – there were times last year when Javi was our 2nd or 3rd leading rebounder. If that doesn’t tell you how miserable both our rebounding and Team D was – I don’t know what does.

    BJD – I’m holding out hope that Javi was slowed by an injury which impacted his quickness. I really was surprised by his combination of lack of size and lack of blazing speed. I really think that when you coupled that w/a freshman’s natural lack of comparative strength – he was easy to back down and shoot over. I’ll be interested to see if his stronger and quicker this time around – if he is, I think he’ll be much more effective.

    As for Degand, I just can’t expect too much. I was really suprised how well he played, but we may never see him play that way again. Basketball players seem to have a lot more problems w/ those injuries than football players.

  14. StateFans 07/11/2008 at 12:49 PM #

    Javi’s defense was a real sore spot for us last year. A major problem for his playing time.

    On the positive side, he had flashes of showing a decent stroke from the outside that we had heard he had but was slow to develop early in the year because of his pre-season hand injury.

    Put together some improved defense with a healthy shooting hand and a year of experience and he should be able to provide adequate time off the bench at both guard spots.

    If Julius Mays is as ‘smart’ of a player as we hear…then between the two of them and Trevor Ferguson you at least have some bodies to rotate at both back court positions that theoretically should be better than we were last season.

  15. stormin norman 07/11/2008 at 12:50 PM #

    This day and age, you have 1 PG, 2 Wings, and 2 Bigger Posts. With that said, I think you will see Degand and Javi at point exclusively. Javi will be much improved this year. I hope Degand can recover. People forget how poorly Del Negro and Quentin looked as freshmen, yet won an ACC Championship in the end – happens to be our last. At the wings – you see Courtney, Trevor, Mays, Williams, and Johnson. At the bigs, Horner, Smith, Costner, and McCauley. Have a little faith. I think PG is our biggest question mark because of injuries to both of them last year; however, the wings are area for either success or bust. Fells needs to step up and learn to handle the ball. Trevor needs to improve on defense. MJ – enough said. Mays and Williams are freshmen. By the way, one huge question is Thomas. I understand he would have brought the nastyness we needed last year.

  16. choppack1 07/11/2008 at 1:05 PM #

    stormin – We’ll be lucky of Thomas ever plays any kind of significant role for us. His knee injury was very bad and there’s no guarantee he’ll ever see the floor again.

  17. BJD95 07/11/2008 at 1:07 PM #

    With both Trevor and Javi, I think their athleticism (relative to typical ACC starters) is a limiting factor on defense. They both try hard already (i.e., its not like when Fells plays poor defense). I’m not sure how much they physically CAN improve in that area. I worry that the same will be the case with Mays – but we haven’t seen him play yet.

    I think Javi will always be a backup PG, but by his junior and senior years, he can develop into a GOOD backup.

    I don’t know how in the world Javi will ever guard an opposing 2G.

  18. b 07/11/2008 at 1:51 PM #

    I think Javi will be just fine. His on ball defense was spotty, but off the ball and in zones he was getting to spots to cause TO’s and pick up loose balls. I felt he had a feel for the game, but wasn’t exposed to that level of competition before. If he is the gritty type, his offseason will improve his physical shortcomings and his year of seasoning should make him more than just a stop gap this year.

    Sid is high on Farnold because he wants an uptempo team, and I don’t see Javi being as effective in that role. Mays should be the 2 guard, but if he isn’t ready we will have to use Fells. Ferg and Williams also should be able to carry some of those minutes.

    I see the PG fiasco as a plus at this point (you know, forward ever). We got a project player some valuable experience, and found out our 3rd PG is likely better suited as a defensive stopper at the three. MJ had a decent mid range game, and would benefit from covering slower players.

    As a fan I will be pleasantly surprised by any improvemnet in the play, and the team should be in the right state of mind after the debacle. I’m cautiously optimistic about our improvement this season. After all, can it get much worse?

  19. vtpackfan 07/11/2008 at 2:01 PM #

    Atsur was not fleet of foot (strenght & hands a huge plus,) but he could recover so well and guide his man away from the driving lane and into weakside help. Part of it was raw ability but another huge aspect was coaching.

    I’m not a Herb supporter in the least bit, but coupled with the quickness we have lost on defense there hasbeen a complete and thorough dismantleing of defensive rotating and weakside help.

    Sendeks true saving grace that I don’t think many here ever admired was his foundamental teaching of team defense. We lost many games because of poor offensive strategy/excecution, but never got blown out by 40 in games because of defense, never.

  20. choppack1 07/11/2008 at 2:12 PM #

    vtpackfan – Sendek had the benefit of extensive experience. He learned from one of the best and was on a staff that would include 2 assistants who would go on to win national championships.

    I think Sendek could coach certain kids up and he knew how to prepare for a college team…especially by the time he’d been here a while. However, I wonder what we’d be saying about Sendek’s coaching style if we had a thread going into his 5th year. I doubt there’d be a lot of positive things being said.

  21. wufpup76 07/11/2008 at 2:15 PM #

    As much as I love Javi, and I do, BJD and SFN are right about him being in support role unless/until his defense improves dramatically … He was a bit of a ballhawk at times and had a few nice steals, but other than that he was abused defensively for the most part …

    I felt really bad for Javi too, b/c he’s such a competitor and you could physically see the frustration on his face in almost any game last season … but that passion he plays with is something I will cherish for as long as he is at NC State … There is NOTHING I HATE more than rolling over, quitting, giving up, etc … I have seen TOO MANY State teams do this over the past decade or so … give me more players who think/play like Javi any day of the week

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I should give Coach Lowe credit here … I think he handled Javi being thrown into the fire really well … I can’t recall Coach singling out Javi for many things last season, aside from the occasional call-out on defensive play/lapses

    … I’m not a big fan of saying certain players are starters “no matter what” (or pigeon-holing anyone), but Farnold does appear to be our best option when/if healthy … I think/hope Javi can really improve this season and give us valuable minutes … I guess we’ll see at times what the freshmen look like

    Also, put me in the redfred camp when it comes to Trevor … another entirely likable kid who really gave some nice contributions last season … We all want a winner, but sometimes a lot of us are ready to throw away people/players at the slightest of things … A lot of the criticisms aimed at Brandon last season were deserved, but the piling on started early – really early – and never let up …

    We could do a lot better w/ this as fans I think, because believe or not some of our drivel really does get back to the players … There are fair criticisms, and then there is just hateful piling on – so try not to forget these guys still play for our team and we will need them at some point (and love them when they do well) … If you’ve got to be ultra-critical, don’t forget to put the blame where it should go – our coaches and athletics administrators are paid a LOT of money and are representatives of the University and the faces of the teams they represent … If a kid is put into a position that he/she can’t handle or does not perform to expectations, then the “faces” w/ a lot of money should catch the heat … Ok, sorry – stepping off the soap box now 🙁

    go pack

  22. Sw0rdf1sh 07/11/2008 at 2:41 PM #

    If Farnold is healthy, he should be our guy.

    However, I’m big on both Javi and TFerg. Guys who seem to get constant bashing, but have shown determination and effort. Javi was thrown to the fire and did pretty well, although not to the level that we all would have wanted…or at least with the results.

    TFerg came on strong when given the chance and hopefully will continue to open peoples eyes this year.

    MJ, he is the one who looks like he might need to step it up some.

  23. Rick 07/11/2008 at 3:08 PM #

    “stormin – We’ll be lucky of Thomas ever plays any kind of significant role for us. His knee injury was very bad and there’s no guarantee he’ll ever see the floor again.”

    After seeing him limp this summer I beleive it.

    As for Wall, the more I read about him the less I want him to come here. I get scared about thes “street agents”. And the quick switch of colleges does nothing to comfort me.

  24. Afterglow 07/11/2008 at 3:22 PM #

    Well, according to a decision on Wall is coming soon-whatever that means… although last I read, he was going to all but significantly narrow down his list come August.

    I don’t know about the shady undertows of John Wall with “street agents” and such but I’ve had my doubts all along. I think Memphis will win out somehow.

    As for a decision coming soon, my world religion teacher in College said the bible spoke of Jesus returning soon-I speak strictly of the ambivalence of the word SOON and not John Wall being the second coming of Christ.

  25. b 07/11/2008 at 3:41 PM #

    I just hope he is the second coming of Derrick Rose, and he goes to State. But, I tend to agree with you he will end up somewhere he is the not the savior (sorry) like Memphis. Perhaps the develpoment of our PG’s will be part of his decision making process. If they don’t improve, he would not be wrong to assume he won’t either. 1-and-Doner or not.

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