Offseason Positional Analysis (SG)

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. We analyzed the point guard position last week. Next is what should be the Pack’s weakest position (unless Degand isn’t healthy) – shooting guard.

At first glance, this might seem a bit counterintuitive – after all, NC State returns a senior who has started almost every game at the position for the last two seasons (absent a few dreadful games trying to run the point in Atsur’s absence). But Courtney Fells is most definitely not a guard – at least at the ACC level.

I don’t believe it’s hyperbole to label Fells as the worst passing guard that I have ever seen start at the ACC level (outside of senior day pity starts – and maybe not even then). His passes are lazy, and his instincts are horrendous. Making matters worse, he has a tendency to get into a mental fog and completely stop moving without the ball. Especially with poor creators like Javi and MJ at the point, this ground the offense to a standstill. Even Fells’ defense started to slip – although he often shut down the opponent’s top guard for 15-20 minutes, he would just as frequently lose focus and allow his man to explode late in the game.

So, we have to make some strategic decisions. We have already dictated that we will leave Farnold Degand at the position where he can have the most success – PG. Now, we do the same with Fells, treating him solely as a forward. That’s the easy part. What’s hard is finding another credible option at the 2.

As the Pack’s season swirled down the toilet last February, Trevor Ferguson started to play. It was perhaps an act of desperation, but certainly called for. And Trevor responded by busting his ass every minute he was on the court. Sometimes he was good, sometimes he was bad. But he always gave max effort, and showed flashes of a reliable outside shot. He has trouble creating shots for himself, but perhaps he could feed off the chaos created by Degand’s speed. Ferguson’s lack of quickness is a significant defensive limitation, and he is not a good secondary ballhandler. However, with Degand on the court (who is a plus defender and doesn’t need help bringing the ball up the court), Trevor’s liabilities could be minimized. Ferguson is tall enough to at least get a hand in a shooter’s face, which is better than nothing. More importantly, his passing (which had been on the Fells level) has significantly improved with added confidence and experience. Because of his effort, he also runs the floor reasonably well (and I don’t think speed is a problem for him – just quickness).

Julius Mays is the other possible candidate to start – but it is very dangerous to rely on a fringy “high major” recruit to contribute much as an underclassman. One only needs to look at Javi’s uneven performance last year for proof. [NOTE: Yes, I know you all just love Javi – but how many games did we win with him playing a significant role?] In any event, I would prefer to see Mays paired with Javi, as Mays hopefully will be steadier as a secondary ballhandler (which Javi needs). CJ Williams is more of a combo swingman (that sound like Fells to anyone?), and is at least as fringy as Mays. MJ has a slow, awkward shot, and is a disaster with the ball. I suppose Simon Harris could at least go in and hit people, but he’s even more of a forward than Fells.

Still, Sidney Lowe and staff must resist the temptation to play Fells at guard, even for a minute. The SG position will be weak no matter what, and shifting Fells or Degand would cause a chain reaction weakening the team elsewhere – without solving the problem.

Who should start? Trevor Ferguson, by default. He has experience, and seems to best complement Degand’s game. It’s hard to imagine a limited athlete like Ferguson playing such a significant role on an NCAAT-caliber team, but he’s the Pack’s best option (and we are not an NCAAT-caliber team). It also sends a message to the more “attitude challenged” that effort will be recognized and rewarded at NC State.

What should the rotation be? Based on his defense, Trevor could log anywhere from 20-30 mpg, with 25 being the likely outcome. Backup SG is anyone’s guess. We imagine that Julius Mays would get the first crack at it (especially when Javi runs the point), but he might not be ready. CJ Williams is a similar unknown, but probably even less likely to be ready, especially considering the obligations required as a secondary ballhandler. The default choice would be Marques Johnson, who would at least be able to play passable defense. One would expect him to be a complete cipher on offense, though – and it’s hard to produce offensively with a black hole at the 2.

Position Grade: D-

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

73 Responses to Offseason Positional Analysis (SG)

  1. redfred2 07/15/2008 at 7:50 PM #

    WHOA NOW, slow down there hball57! You’re sounding like this team might be Final 4 material or something. I know it’s summer, and today was a nice day and all, but let’s not start getting too OVERLY excited about BB just yet. 😉

  2. redfred2 07/15/2008 at 8:08 PM #

    So, which is it tonight, the mild mannered Afterglow, or the risk taker, the take no prisoner’s, AfterglowXP!!!

  3. Afterglow 07/15/2008 at 8:22 PM #

    Unfortunately, both are going to have to go to bed. I… ah, we, have an early day tomorrow.

  4. AfterglowXP 07/15/2008 at 8:22 PM #


  5. Afterglow 07/15/2008 at 8:24 PM #


  6. redfred2 07/15/2008 at 8:28 PM #

    LOL AG or AGXP, whoever typed that!!!

  7. howlie 07/15/2008 at 8:43 PM #

    Herb[sorry for saying his name]’s offense was ‘counter-intuitive’ with all players playing ‘inside-out’: guards posting up, and big men acting as primary ball-handlers and shooters away from the basket.

    A number of pro teams take the ‘counter’ approach, and we still have the ‘counter’ players in our system. It’s not a liability, just an opportunity to ‘blend’ the ‘old’ and ‘new’ system back and forth while we’re in ‘transition’ to Sid’s style… and something Sid did well with the high post O in Year 1.

    Which is all to say, IFFFF Degand is healthy and really ready to go, PERHAPS we must wipe out the notion of ‘shooting guard’ from of our mind for a year.
    IFFFF Degand can get it up quickly, alot of O is generated instantly there.
    IFFFF the other team gets back [& they always do in the ACC] then Degand can get it to bigs Ben & Brandon [Smith, Harris, etc.] to initiate the O… and the other players can clear out to the weak side, with Degand running pick and roll with those two bigs. That leaves two weakside players to crash-rebound and receive the ball for ‘spot-up’ shots that don’t require them to either do alot of dribbling or to create their own shots [assuming their defender is forced to double to shut down the O on the ‘strong’ side of the court].

    THEREFORE, perhaps we need to ‘conceive’ of this ‘transition year O’ as having a speed-demon PG; twin wings; & twin bigs. ^I think the above analysis proclaims as much^.
    That’s O.

    ——–Now, the D….

    THEN, the question is which of the wings can guard the opponent’s two guard? I think Fells can take that on… and our other many combo ‘unguards’ can be on a competitive learning curve to see which wants to assume that D-specialist role [or we do it by committee].

    That’s our only hope, as I now see it.

  8. hball57 07/16/2008 at 5:43 AM #


    It’s summer … why not? I refused to have negative thoughts in the summer!

    I think we will be (1) better than last year and (2) competitive. I always go back to this: if we split our last 8 regular season games instead of going on the losing streak, we would have been 19-12 coming out of the tournament. My point is that it doesn’t take a lot to have a much better season.

  9. Afterglow 07/16/2008 at 7:41 AM #

    hball57-one thing we have going for us is-I think in general, we have lowered our expectation so much that any improvement is going to seem great.

    Hopefully last year left such a bad taste in every player and coaches mouth that all are working much harder in the off season on the things that were lacking last year.

    As much as I’d hate to say it, it was and probably still is a learning experience for Coach Lowe which shouldn’t EVER be the case on an elite level. This probably affected everyone on the team in one fashion or another. But it’s the reality and maybe Coach Lowe will pull it together; after all, everyone has to learn somewhere-you just hope it’s not YOUR team.

    In any regard, I do believe you’re right that we will be better. I have a degree of reserved optimism and think our team will do well and believe (maybe I’m becoming a Kool Aid drinker) that a player like Ferguson will turn some heads. You can’t ever tell what motivates someone or causes them to turn that proverbial corner. Some come out of nowhere, flooring the nation. Others, like Atsur who are blessed with a high basketball IQ develop their game through refinement and perfecting fundamentals. Other’s are just freak of nature phenoms!

    By default, Fergy is probably going to be the SG and by default, the team will probably play better and who knows, perhaps by default, we’ll kick some ass and take some names.

    Either we’re (we as fans) are either insane (or) are imbued by V’s spirit in that we don’t ever give up.

  10. Luke12321 07/16/2008 at 8:30 AM #

    I think Mays will get the start over Fergie. From everything we know, the kid is a combo guard who moves well without the ball. A SG that can get open without the ball???? Novel concept indeed! Also, a SG that can help Degand handle it is much needed. No hate on Fergie, but is not the short term and for sure not the long term answer. Mays gets the start as a freshmen and I wish him luck! He has a long ways to go but we are due for nice suprise!

  11. primacyone 07/16/2008 at 10:31 AM #

    Moving Fells to the 3 has the potential to be a COMPLETE DISASTER!.


  12. vtpackfan 07/16/2008 at 11:56 AM #

    Minutes per game @ SG

    CF: 22 min.
    MJ: 9 min.
    TF: 6
    Mays/CJ mop up 3 minutes on avg.

    My reasoning is simple. Whether Fells is at the 2/3 spot is moot. They are one and the same position with the collection we have right now and the offense we are forced to run (The best bulk of the minutes that will play small forward opposite Fells fall under another day).

    There is this myth that floats around that we will become more of a “up-tempo team” under Sidney Lowe. Until he gets team defense concepts (and/or players) that create TO’s, block shots and clean the boards then you will never have an up-tempo team.

    Fells has the most to offer at the position nite in and nite out. Degand is a combo guard and should slide over part of the time when JG or Mays play PG, but Lowe will play it safe and give all of his minutes strictly at PG.

    MJ should be given another chance to step up again at this level and will at SG I believe. He was too solid a player as a prep, someone Bruce Pearl saw potential in, to give up on him like we so often do in these parts.

    I’m not discounting TF, but I think we need a player in the half court who is physical and confident in his mid-range game. With GG gone we need to have our SG take the dribble at the defense, period. CF looked like he was on the verge of making the commitment towards this last season but fell(s) in love with the 3 pointer after he started getting hot.

    With Fells playing SG we obviously get an improvement on the grade of D-. Bump it to C- so we can stay Acadmeically Eligible.

  13. wufpup76 07/16/2008 at 12:23 PM #

    “Moving Fells to the 3 has the potential to be a COMPLETE DISASTER!.

    It could be, but we’re gonna see a lot of “3-guard” line-ups for us on the floor next season … I think Fergs should get a lot of those minutes, but we’ll see how it plays out

  14. primacyone 07/16/2008 at 1:16 PM #

    Moving Fells to 3 creates an opportunity for both the 2 and the 3 positions to be worse than they have been. If you leave Fells at the 2 at least that position is the same or better than last year.

    We need a summary thread at the end of this “positional analysis” topic to talk about all the postions at once. Talking about moving Fells to the 3 makes me want to talk about the 3 and the 4.

    In my opinion, you play your best 2 guy at the 2 spot. Our best 2 guy is Fells. Not to mention he’s the best defensive guy we have. Then have T Ferg play backup.

    This thought line not taking into acccount any freshman contribution.

  15. JeremyH 07/16/2008 at 9:47 PM #

    there is no way Fells plays less than 30 minutes a game.

  16. happypackdad 07/17/2008 at 1:50 PM #

    be patient on the ’09 class, things look great with several top players.

    Howell, Favors, Kelly, Brown, etc…

  17. vtpackfan 07/18/2008 at 6:28 AM #

    Landing Kelley would be so sweet. It could really bolster our position in recruiting in three major areas.

    1: We get the local big. Randolph stung some I have to admit (getting Walker for ’08 would have totally changed our outlook this year), and there have been others. Ced aside, we have failed more times then succeeded in landing the big in (or anyone position that matter) our back yard. Got to do better!

    2: He looks skills ready, not a project like Baciu or other bigs landing elsewhere in the ACC. Best of all he will stick around and be a pillar for a team to build around

    3: He could send a message that State is a great academic institution, which we all know. Even the bumbling bureacracy cannot stop the fantastic professors and academic drive of the majority of students here. Kelley has been thought to lean towards the Davidsons and WF of the spectrum because of the academics; if he chose here it would send a nice message!

    Back to the topic, sort of. Can we pencil in Lo Brown at SG for ’09? (I know, verbal, LOI, test scores, ect.) With TF, Mays, and CJ coming back it will be increbrible to see the team take the transition in stride, allowing a gifted athlete to start from the get go w/o all this baby talk of feelings hurt.

  18. Afterglow 07/18/2008 at 7:26 AM #

    I think we’ll know when Brown says. People we’re surprised when we landed JJ Hickson (I think everyone thought he was going to Georgia-I’m not certain on that). Personally, my gut says we’ll land Brown. If I had to bet on it, I would NOT say our odds are good with Wall-my belief all along is that he will choose Memphis. As for Kelly, I don’t have good feelings their either but, it would be sweet. When it comes right down to it, nothing is for certain and speculating too much could result in depression.

  19. Afterglow 07/18/2008 at 7:43 AM #

    Actually, it was Favor’s I was thinking about, not Kelly.

  20. vtpackfan 07/18/2008 at 8:26 AM #

    Obviously we favor the Hot’lanta blue chip. He seems as near a can’t miss first year player as they come (maybe even more then Wall since there is a outside shooting question there). We can disuss that more when the frontline analysis comes along, and like you said recruiting is only self depreciating in witnessing at the fan level.

    On topic, what are the thougts of the SG position in ’08 specifically on the D end. It is perimeter defense that we need to improve in fathoms if we are to get our hopes up on consistently seeing quality basketball. If our dribble prevent defense were a deep sea diver we would get the benz if we ascended to “average” depth.

    I’m crossed on whether Fells’ length poses more problems to shoot over or if he can create more havoc contesting shots in the lane and attacking the defensive glass. This is one area that I think I could completely agree with the author; that as a “forward” Fells may give us help in getting a bigger, stronger frontcourt.

    Still, if the guards keep getting blown past it really doesn’t matter who is around the hoop. Whether it’s Fells, Hickson, Favors or Shaq, you need atleast a little help preventing the dribble drive.

  21. happypackdad 07/18/2008 at 8:27 AM #

    I’m 99% Brown is coming. Favors is 50/50. Wall, probably not. Kelly, probably not. Howell, looking very good so far. In good shape with Braswell, Robinson, Wilson, & others. Could be a 4-5 man class.

  22. redfred2 07/18/2008 at 8:43 AM #

    I still say that Lowe, or whoever took the job, still needs to be given time to reload all around, and at every position. I think where he needs to be extremely careful though, and where he’ll possibly either make or break his program, is in having a proper balance of players who come in to play and win collegiate level, and those kids who see it simply as a way to showcase their skills for the next level.

    I’ve said it before, I don’t think that Simmons would have gone if he had been involved with a better program, and I also think Brackman would have probably played if he thought he had gained something positive from his earlier experiences as a Wolfpack BB player. To go further, I don’t think that any of the unc players that are coming back, would have, if they were playing at a program that is comparable to NC State’s current condition. My point is, that Sidney Lowe has to build a PROGRAM once again at NC State. A family if you will, and something that means much more to these kids than what was here when he first stepped into the position. That is an extremely tall order for Sidney Lowe, or anyone, but everything is here, and has ALWAYS been here, even over the past two decades of settling for less. It’s just a matter of having a leader with the skills to draw upon all of the positives, and a confidence that doesn’t allow any excuses or intimidation simply because the alignment in the ACC has been askew for so long.

    We’ll see what happens, or whether it can be translated decades later, but that was the very definition of Sidney Lowe as a player.

  23. redfred2 07/18/2008 at 10:22 AM #

    Here is a list of some of the names I saw in the mix for the recruiting class of 2009…

    Mouptadu Tarou
    Latavious Williams
    Abdul Gaddy
    Mfon Udofia
    Malik Wayns
    Ferrakohn Hall

    And thus far, we have signed…

    Scott Wood

    There was also another guy named…

    Fred Gulley

    But it looks like OSU swooped in and signed him before we ever even had a chance.

  24. redfred2 07/18/2008 at 10:40 AM #

    happypackdad, I haven’t been looking at recruiting like I usually do, but you listed some names that I’m not familiar with and can’t find on 2009 recruiting databases? Please enlighten me.

  25. partialqualifier 07/18/2008 at 10:47 AM #

    I can always tell when we are talking basketball, cause I see references to future players and recruiting classes that might make us better 2 and 3 years from now! LOL!

    The problem with positional analysis is we suck at every position. I tend to agree that Fells would be better at 3, and the argument made hear is a good one…but does anyone actually think Lowe is going to put hime anywhere other than 2? I personally do not. I think he will put Fells at 2 with Ferg playing some and Fells moving to 3 when Ferg comes in.

    Given Lowe’s love for Degand (altho he continues to recruit over him), I am thinking he is going to hope Degand can do what Corchiani did his first 3 years. If you remember….Monroe was a very poor ballhandler/passer (altho admittedly much, much better than Fells) his first 2 1/2 + seasons, and Corch had to handle the ball 95% of the time with no help.

    Either way…we are staring at another dreadfull basketball season.

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