WOW!Â I canâ€™t believe the time is already here for exhibition basketball.Â Section Six actually has a preview of what appears to be a pretty bad Fort Valley State team with whom we will do battle tonight in Reynolds Coliseum.
NC State opens its 2009 season with an exhibition game against Div-II Fort Valley State on Thursday, and this looks like the perfect opportunity to get out and run. Not only did the Wildcats turn the ball over a metric shit ton, they also averaged 83 possessions per 40 minutes (no doubt a bit TO-inflated) in 2008. They neither shoot nor rebound well offensively, so there are going to be plenty of transition opportunities for the Wolfpack.
Generally speaking, three primary questions/issues surround the Wolfpack as we head into Coach Sidney Loweâ€™s third season:
(1) The primary issue surrounding NC State Basketball will be point guard until the point guard position is settled.Â You know what they say — â€˜if youâ€™ve got to have THREE point guards then you really donâ€™t have a point guard.â€™
â€œWe have three, to start off, which we havenâ€™t had in my three years back here,â€ coach Sidney Lowe said. â€œI just hope we will stay healthy at that position. We will need all three point guards as the season goes along. We canâ€™t do it with just two.â€
- We have discussed and tracked the point guard situation for a while now and you can see related posts by clicking on this tag.Â This particular entry will take you through some of the broader conversations with a focus more on Farnold Degand and his rehabilitation back to health.
As you painfully recall, NC Stateâ€™s starting point guard, Farnold Degand, tore his ACL last year during a win over Cincinnati in 10th game of the season. Although the Wolfpack definitely had some struggles prior to Degandâ€™s injury, it is impossible to argue that both Degand and the Wolfpack were creating positive momentum and developing nicely when he was injured. At the time of the injury, Degandâ€™s production was trending upward and he was averaging almost 7.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 28.6 minutes per game while leading the team in assists (2.9 per game) and three-point shooting (.500, 8-16). Defensively, the quickness he possessed in his 6â€²4 frame proved to be much more valuable than anyone realized until Marques Johnson and Javi Gonzalez attempted to replace Degand after the injury.
Although State was only 7-3, the Pack had picked-up some key wins against South Carolina, an under-rated Rider team, Cincinnati, Villanova and on the road at Seton Hall to produce a strong RPI and be sitting in a strong position â€˜if the NCAA Tournament were to startâ€™ at that time.
(2) Another big question this year will focus on the â€˜return to formâ€™ for some of the Wolfpackers.Â More specifically â€“ can Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner regain the form they showed two years ago?
- Similarly, we had a great entry on October 14th regarding Costner that can be read by clicking here.
- Costnerâ€™s star shone bright during the Wolfpackâ€™s trip to Canada a couple of months ago; but McCauley was not allowed on the trip for breaking a team rule. (Link to blog entry)
- Since then, McCauley has taken a very active leadership role within the program â€“ both on the court and off the court.
- He was highlighted as the MVP of the Red-White game a couple of weeks ago.Â (Link to story)
Senior Ben McCauley looked more like Ben McCauley the sophomore Saturday night at Reynolds Coliseum.
And thatâ€™s a positive sign for N.C. Stateâ€™s basketball team. After experiencing a demise last season, the 6-9 center/forward was battling on the boards, setting screens, and aggressivelyÂ posting up, his hands hungry for the ball.
He got it often enough to score a game-high 17 points and help his Red team edge the White 47-44 in a 32-minute intra-squad duel.
- He sounded like a leader in this recent Q&A with Ken Tysiac that provided some insight into some of the personnel developments and potential rotations for this yearâ€™s squad.
(3) Similar to the play at the point guard position, another question that will remain a question is the tempo that the team chooses to play.Â To be very frank with you, I could care less what tempo the team plays as long as they win.Â Iâ€™ve held true to this philosophy for 30 years and I am not going to change.Â Just win.
Did anyone really care that we were running a deliberate style dominated with half court sets in March of 2007?Â Of course not.Â We werenâ€™t running an up tempo offense, we were simply executing our existing offense with extreme precision and efficiency.
However, over the long-term the teams with the best players typically out perform teams with weaker players; and to be positioned to attract the top talent, coaches need to offer a system and style that appeals to the best players and can help propel young stars into the National Basketball Association.
With this said, the Wolfpack is going up tempo this year.
On the court, Lowe has committed to a tactical change after N.C. State ranked last in the ACC in scoring (67.3 ppg) en route to the conference tournament’s 12th and final seed in 2007-08.
After two years of preaching a methodical, half-court style on offense, Lowe wants the team to fast break more. Moving athletic wing Courtney Fells from shooting guard to small forward could aid that change.
I look at the change to uptempo more as an investment in the future than a tactical change of what is needed this season.Â To be fair, this team is probably not built to optimally succeed by running and gunning.Â BUT, Coach Lowe has got to institute the fundamental shift at some pointâ€¦so, it might as well be now so that he can show it off to potential recruits while also building the foundation with the young kids on this team for the future.
As usual, S6 is the place to turn for a look at some statistical analysis on the topic.