Hoops: The Young Pack Faces Its First Road Test Early Against Cincinnati

Basketball season has just begun, and the Wolfpack has played but one game so far in its 2013-14 campaign, but tomorrow they are leaving the friendly confines of the PNC Center and their home floor for a game against the Cincinnati in the Bearcats’ arena.

Not only is it a road game, it’s also a game that will be nationally televised,  it’s a game that will be well attended and it promises to be an affair that will be the sort of pressure cooker that is rare for November 13th in any college basketball year.  To be only the road so early is quite different than many other major programs, some of whom might not venture beyond a neutral court until conference play starts in the new year — and for NC State, despite the difficulties and challenges a road game so early poses, it’s a very good idea and perhaps exactly what the team needs as it gels for the season.

Catch him if you can: Wolfpack freshman Cat Barber

Catch him if you can: Wolfpack freshman Cat Barber

The opener against Appalachian State was encouraging, given that the bulk of NC State’s core from last season has left the program: starters C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood and Richard Howell are gone, leaving head coach Mark Gottfried to replace five of its top six scorers from a 24-11, NCAA tournament team.  While those departures may leave the Wolfpack looking weak and vulnerable on paper, anyone who watched the opener last Friday had to leave a bit encouraged: after shaking off first-game jitters, the new players meshed with returning team members Tyler Lewis and TJ Warren quite well when they were on offense, and on defense, despite a decided lack of height on the floor that they weren’t going to wave a red cape and cry out “ole!” to the opposition.

That’s not to say that State is by any means a top 25 program right now, but it also fair to say that Mark Gottfried’s cupboard is not exactly bare either.  We saw that Cat Barber is indeed as fast as lightning and that if he gets a lane to the basket, he can score as quickly as anyone we’ve seen in Raleigh in quite some time.  We saw that transfer Dez Lee is also dangerous with the rock and that he is a persistent scoring threat, the kind that will draw defensive attention and generally give other teams headaches.  We saw glimpses of Raulston Turner’s outside shooting, despite scoring only seven points. We saw that free throws were not necessarily going to be a misadventure the way they often were last season.  And again, we saw glimpses of cohesive defense.

But that was against Appalachian State, and that’s not the sort of team you measure yourself against effectively if you are an ACC team.  Tomorrow’s game will give us a much better picture.

Cincinnati is a team that prides itself on defense, and that is what they use to win.  Obviously, that will be a challenge, especially for inexperienced and not-fully-grown freshman players who are going to find out that the next level is not as easy as their AAU and shoe camp circuit days.  And while Cincinnati is not anyone’s idea of a 100+ point averaging squad, Sean Kilpatrick Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles can give defensive nightmares to the Wolfpack, especially given its height and experience deficiencies.

Add to that challenge will be the fact that it is a road game coming at a time when the young Wolfpack players are just starting to form their in-game personality.  Cincinnati has a pretty raucous student section, and they are looking at this game as a national showcase for themselves.  The 5pm game is the appetizer for the highly anticipated #Kentucky versus #2 Michigan State and the Kansas – Duke affairs, and it is fairly rare air for the American Athletic Conference team that’s not often in such a favored timeslot by ESPN.  In short, this will be a hostile atmosphere, and it almost certainly won’t resemble a first round holiday tournament game where the loudest sounds are squeaking sneakers and players yelling to one another.

All in all, that makes this a tough contest for the Wolfpack, make no mistake about it.  Win or lose, however, it will serve as one of the best object lessons that Mark Gottfried could possibly give his young squad.  Young teams need to be seasoned in cauldrons like this to know first-hand what to expect at Cameron Indoor Stadium, or Smith Center, or at the Carrier Dome — all places they will visit later on.  Young players used to having their way against prep ballers need to learn what it is like to face older, stronger and more experienced players intent on stopping them from getting to the hole.  On the other end of the floor, they need to know what it takes to keep those same older, stronger and more experienced players from scoring.

Bottom line: this is a tough ask for the NC State team. It’s too early to expect them to win, but it’s never to early to hope that they do and to support them no matter the shape of the scoreboard.  Win or lose, this is exactly what the doctor ordered and win or lose, it is the sort of game that will pay dividends this year and beyond.

Gametime: 5pm

Coverage: ESPN

13-14 Basketball NCS Basketball

322 Responses to Hoops: The Young Pack Faces Its First Road Test Early Against Cincinnati

  1. Texpack 11/12/2013 at 11:26 PM #

    Just finished watching the DVR with no knowledge of the outcome before watching. The muggings of Dez Lee followed by the touch fouls on Lewis 30 feet from the basket drive me nuts. Way too many fouls called overall for my taste. If I wanted to watch rasslin then I’d go WWE not ACC.

    I think our best team is Lee Lewis, Barber, Warren, and Washington. We will struggle to rebound unless Vandy gives us a boost when he returns. We don’t have a lot of offensive options which makes the 75 offensive rebounds we gave up even more of a problem.

    Cincy is also the worst type team for us to play, physical inside and able to keep us from running. UVa and Pitt will be awful games to watch as well. You never know how good Cincy will end up being so it’s too early to judge how long our season will be. I do think we will get better just due to our extreme inexperience at this point.

  2. choppack1 11/13/2013 at 12:06 AM #

    After reading these posts I am sure of one thing: I hate basketball officiating. That is all and it has gotten to the point where I cannot watch a game due to the inconsistencies and subjectivity that has become part of the game.

  3. xphoenix87 11/13/2013 at 12:25 AM #

    I think that the officiating changes this year are, generally speaking, a good idea. The college game has become far too much of a physical brawl, and it needs to change. In order to do that, you’re going to have to have games where a ton of fouls are called. That’s the price to get back to a reasonably called type of basketball, and players are going to adjust to it eventually.

    So I agree with the emphasis this year in theory, but the way it is playing out in the games I’ve watched today is that the pendulum has swung WAY too far in the opposite direction. The Duke/Kansas game has become comical here at the end. Every slightest bit of contact is being called, and everything is going against the defensive player. Offensive players are initiating contact right into the chest of defenders who are staying vertical, and they’re getting the call every time. You have to find a happy medium, and they haven’t done that yet.

  4. Wulfpack 11/13/2013 at 8:07 AM #

    It is going to take some time for players to adjust to the officiating. But i agree in spirit with the changes. Good point on Cincy being exactly the kind of team that we struggle against. That is definitely true. Look a lot like UVA actually.

  5. smile102 11/13/2013 at 8:20 AM #

    “Bill: Having played bball for twenty years and coached ten seasons, I do look hard at the Coaches on “those” nights.”

    Good to know you have a bball background- I’ll pay attention to your posts. Most of us here don’t really understand the game (though I’ve watched a 1000’s of them) so we blame the refs and the conference and the weather…. To me, those comments really detract from this board. I have trouble following some of them: did the ACC refs really want an ACC team to lose, so much so they make intentionally wrong calls? ITS SWOFFORDS FAULT!!! I have trouble believing college educated people could believe, much less publicly post such nonsense. Anyway, I enjoy and learn from the astute and knowledgeable ones of you out there, so, thanks to you folks, and we ignorant ones with delusions of conspiracy need to read and learn- and not so proudly show our ignorance.

  6. Fastback68 11/13/2013 at 8:36 AM #

    UVA loses another bludgeon ball contest even with the new officiating rules. Refs will make it interesting and maddening this year. Same as it ever was.

  7. Deacon Blues 11/13/2013 at 8:48 AM #

    What I saw last night is that Purvis screwed us for this year.

    Randal is amazing and would have rounded out our bigs nicely.

    Thanks Rodney, enjoy practice this year.

  8. triadwolf 11/13/2013 at 8:53 AM #

    Last nights game was simply an older, more experienced team out playing a young, inexperienced team down the stretch. That is the way it should be against a good team whether we like the result or not.

    I think this team will grow up significantly and be a pretty good basketball team come February. Whether that will be good enough to make the tourney remains to be seen, but at this point I don’t see 9 teams in the ACC being better than us unless the dreaded NC State injury gremlins makes their annual appearance..

    I also agree with the “intent” of the officiating changes this year, but right now the emphasis has gone overboard. Hopefully this is the officiating preseason and things will settle out by the time conference play begins.

    ^ No, Purvis screwed us last year. He can’t play point, he’s not a good shooter so he can’t play the two, and he’s too small and not a good enough defender to play the three. On top of all that he was a cancer in locker room. We will be a better team this year in his absence.

  9. Wulfpack 11/13/2013 at 8:58 AM #

    Cincy stepped it up the last 10 or so minutes of the game. They are known for their hard nosed defense and it showed. They were much morr physical and active down the stretch and we didn’t respond well. It wasn’t for a lack of effort or coaching. The more seasoned team just won it. Chalk it up as a great learning experience for this young squad. These are good games for the Pack, win or lose. It will serve us well in the months ahead.

  10. Deacon Blues 11/13/2013 at 9:08 AM #

    Triad, your right, but his cancer spread to run Randal off as well getting s this year too.

  11. bill.onthebeach 11/13/2013 at 9:16 AM #

    Thanks Chop… neither Coach or the radio guys on WSN did not mention that. That makes me feel a little better.

    I did a little research and thought you guys might like this….


    Personal Fouls called in ACC, B10, && SEC games —
    Tuesday November 12, 2013 —
    with margin of victory of 13 points or less….

    Winner *
    Visitor-Fouls -Home– Fouls-Total-Fouled Out

    SCar – 29 … Bay* – 26 => 55 – 0
    Ohio – 34 … OSU* – 21 => 55 – 1
    LSU – 29 … UMass*-25 => 54 -0
    Kan* – 24 … Duke – 29 => 53 – 1
    WVA – 28 … VT* – 25 => 53 -3
    VCU* – 27 … UVa – 21 => 48 -0

    NCSU- 23 … CIN* – 23 => 46 -0

    MSU* – 27 … UK – 19 => 46 -0
    Tenn – 25 … Xav* – 19 => 44 -1
    LIU – 19 … IND* – 22 => 41 – 0
    GSU – 19 … Vandy*-20 => 39 -0
    SoIll – 21 … MO* – 18 => 39 -0
    Fla – 18 … Wisc* – 17 => 35 – 1

    Mean = 46.7

    Now if that sounds like a high number… think of it this way…that’s a foul every 51 seconds.

    IIRC…there were some similar numbers posted here last year where the range was 25 to 40 with the mean somewhere around 32-34 for all games in top conferences, not just those that were ‘competitive to the end’.

    So the early numbers suggest that we can count on at least 10-12 more fouls called per gamee….if the refs do what they say they are going to do. That said, I watched three games last night… I didn’t see that many ‘hand checks’ and the number of charge/block controversies was minimal. From here, the extra fouls appeared to be mostly other kinds of fouls.

    A closer look at the early numbers shows that no more players fouled out, if not less, than did under the more relaxed rules of previous seasons. In thirteen games last night, only 7 players fouled out. So it may be that what the refs are really doing is calling it close until the player gets four fouls and then only call the fifth if it’s blatantly obvious.

    In any case, it’s safe to say that last night — more fouls did not take more players off the court.

    Nevertheless, how will Coaches adjust?

    Some teams with depth have less to worry about.
    Some teams with no depth have a lot more to worry about.
    Some teams may play more zone.
    Some teams may try to slow the game down.

    But the zone and a slower pace won’t get the job done when the whistle blows every 51 seconds. More creative coaches will find more creative solutions.

    Off the top of my head I would say maybe half of the fouls committed by defensive players are not committed by the primary defender but by the ‘help defender’. So we may see less emphasis on strong ‘help’ defense by some teams resulting in more easy

    If so, watch for this on the same play, a backside guard or wing cheating down the floor for the quick-long-pass-in for a layup. Coaches may see that as a viable strategy over the course of the game as this works two ways… the baskets offset each other but
    as important, the probability of defensive foul on a contested fast break is greater than the probability of a defensive foul on a set play so if you get the old fashioned three point play on that fast break you’re one point ahead on the trade. Do that 3 or 4 times a game and you might win one you otherwise would have lost.

    A lot of fouls are called when missed shots are rebounded and immediately thereafter. Some coaches may not have their offensive teams hit the boards as hard so as to not make these kinds of fouls. Instead we may find one guard or wing cheating back on
    defense and the rest following quickly resulting in fewer fast breaks which should mean fewer defensive fouls.

    Another of the more interesting things to watch may be if and how long coaches ‘rest’ key players when they commit fouls.

    For example… we may see coaches resting a key player after just one foul for two to four minutes in the first half. Same in the second half after every foul. The reverse strategy may be even more interesting. We may also see more coaches using ‘hackers’ (aka our own Dirty Dan Wells) to entice key players into committing more fouls.

    I’m sure everybody remembers the Duke game in Durham last year where Coach Rat recovered from a 20 point deficit by pulling his first team, using his third team to foul the sh&t out of us under the basket until our front line was out of the game, put the first team back in and won by a couple of points in the last minute. (There’s a reason many call him Coach Rat.)

    All told, while teams with better benches may hold an slight advantage early in the season, that won’t last long as coaches and teams adjust. At the rate of one foul every 51 seconds, every team is going to have three guys on the bench with two fouls by halftime.

    Moreover, there’s nothing visible in the early numbers to suggest that the additional fouls called significantly favors the better team or the home team.

    Then again, these are “early numbers”.

  12. Adventuroo 11/13/2013 at 9:21 AM #

    Couple of observations…..as I OD’ed too much on hoops and am just getting awake.

    Rodney Purvis comment….will be interesting to see how HIS career fares…..Ryan Harrow’s little jaunt to Kentucky land did not seem to work out. Maybe Harrow “will” redeem himself playing at the JC or whatever level where he went. But he was NOT playing for Cal last night. Purvis might want to keep step back and analyze that and take note… Question is, would Randle and CJL’s head fit into the same locker room?

    The UVA v. VCU was a real brawl and very enjoyable. Shaka done (fill in the blank….this one is wide open) the Hooooo’s and Mr. Bennett….but it was a good game.

    Interesting headlines on the Duke and State game in the N&O. State FOLDS and Duke FADES or maybe it was Cincy DOMINATES and KU “Pulled away”. I fell asleep about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way into the second half and Duke seemed to be dominant. Maybe I need to call Mikey and start getting a “payment” from his boosters to stay awake as they were doing MUCH better when I was watching. Having said that, I am still a little amazed that Mikey can get such talent so that his prized freshman WAS (after 30 or so minutes) the leading scorer. As Jimmy V said in his Reynolds Speech (about starting the Fight Song), “Now, that’s POWER”.

    With the new interpretations of the old rules this year….I will NOT be paranoid to say that Karl and his subordinates (lackies come to mind….or maybe lickies) will feel MORE empowered to enhance their name and face recognition…..HOWEVER, I think that their inconsistency will reach new heights….

    NOW remember that you READ IT HERE…..we (the Pack) did not Draw (assign, be scheduled, etc.) King Karl even ONCE last year. Karl has only had ONE season where he was NOT assigned to ALL the ACC Schools….and that was in a time long, long ago. SO, you gotta think that KK was red circled as far as NCSU goes last year.

    HE will be back….probably with renewed zeal….

  13. triadwolf 11/13/2013 at 10:18 AM #

    Yeah, I see the point you were making now.

  14. vtpackfan 11/13/2013 at 10:32 AM #

    The ghost foul on Turner was one bad call-a slap to face-but I can live with Refs totaling butchering a call because I think that over the course of a season those things equal out.

    That official was in terrible position so oh well, whatever. There is no excuse for the the bed wetting player control foul called on Anya when we had to inbounds the ball under the basket. Anyone who has it DVR’d you don’t have to watch the whole game, just this play under the basket to see that the officiating got totally out of hand at the end.

    It was one of the ALL TIME greatest flops. The frontline of the Bearcats had played powerful and rugged for almost 40 minutes and then on one play you see there big man sprawl backwards when Anya made contact against only the shoulder of the player.

    If by then a ref hasn’t figured out the the nature and flow of the game then there are ridiculously under qualified for the job. It reeked of before game tendencies that NC State have big men that are newbies and must not know anything about basketball yet.

    BTW, haven’t noticed yet, but are folks aware of how crews are picked for non conference games on one teams home court? For as long as I remember it is always the visiting teams conference that assigns the crew. That way it can be “fair”.

  15. Adventuroo 11/13/2013 at 10:52 AM #

    I had a post that was lost in cyberspace….I think that the NSA got it or it got lost in the ObamaCare clean-up….so it pops up….I am SORRY for the double.

    Comments this am….

    Purvis. He ought to keep up with Ryan Harrow’s stellar career…..


    My only question would be….”How much renovation would have been required at the PNC and the Case Center so accommodate Randal(sp?) and CJL’s ego (heads)? Granted we got the shaft….but that is a WHAT IF…

    I watched at least 4 games yesterday. Shaka pulled it out….we did not….and theirs was much closer.

    I set the timer last night on the Duke – KU game and dozed off around the 8 minute mark (left) in the second half. Duke was IN CONTROL and I thought….How does Mikey get a freshman that is the leading scorer?

    But, this AM, I found the following TWO headlines.

    Kansas pulls away from Duke in second half to win 94-83

    NC State stumbles down the stretch in 68-57 loss to Cincinnati

    SO, KU just “OVERPOWERED” the Dukies and we stopped playing. Maybe it was THAT obvious, but the headlines are a little, IMHO, opinion, deceiving.

    As to the Officiating. NOTE….we did NOT have King Karl or any of his PERSONAL following (Lackeys or maybe LICKIES) last year. KK has only had, after an extensive search, ONE other season where he was, seemingly, Red Circled for ONE team. In all the OTHER years, he officiated at least ONE game for every school and had multiples for the majority of them.

    KK WILL be back…..and the new “Interpretation” will be interesting….all this will do is to empower KK and the ilk so that their own “personalities” are noted by the fans.

    I wonder what DD and Gott will have to say tonight on their back-to-back radio shows…..DD was MUCH relaxed on Monday. Gott will have to comment on the 6 man offense that he tried…

  16. MattN 11/13/2013 at 11:45 AM #

    I’ve not read all 13 pages so I have no idea if I’m in the majority or minority on this, but I was encouraged by what I saw last night. UC returns 9 players from an NCAA team and added the #18 class. We played 5 guys who played their 2nd Div 1 game ever. On the road. And it was a 2 possession game until late. It was not very long ago that we would have gone in there with a veteran team and been down 15 at the half on the way to a 20+ point rout.

    Absolutely encouraged. We should be a whole lot better in February than we are in November.

    What could have been if we landed Jefferson and Randle…

  17. Tuffy2 11/13/2013 at 11:59 AM #

    We have only played one game and I am reading that we do not match up with teams like the bearcats. How do we even know what we can and cannot do yet? We stayed right there with them for most of the game with youth. We were hitting the boards hard for a period and that looks good for the future.

    Is it just amazing that we know what the expectations are in FB and BB at this time in the program and yet we have the short memory. Oh yes! Then there is always the refs to talk about.

  18. vtpackfan 11/13/2013 at 12:48 PM #


    I sounded discouraged just because I didn’t think we had a shot at this road win but then we were right there and it slipped away. Frustrated a little (more right at the end of regulation).

    Totally impressed by the overall effort and will of this bunch. A few less prime players on this squad but depth in guys who can play on this level and be effective. Just need a little patience that’s all.

    ….and Freeman is one of the best incoming recruits this staff has for so far. It’s easy to forget that he is about a year younger then an average Freshman. A summer of AAU and this season at Oak Hill would have placed him higher on the national radar recruiting scene.

  19. tractor57 11/13/2013 at 2:18 PM #

    Once again I was happy to see a team rather than a group of individuals. As long as they keep in that mode I see them getting better as the season progresses.

  20. vtpackfan 11/13/2013 at 11:20 PM #

    Second half…
    It started out kind of harmless, about 2 minutes in and the Bearcats turned up the full court pressure. Just after crossing the Lewis throws a sideline pass intended for Lee. It clearly deflected off the Cincy player guarding Lewis and went clean out. Official standing right in front signals the other way and pointed at Lee who looked stunned by it.

    Soon after Gott went with a bigger lineup with two bigs and Warren playing with Cat and Ralston. We settle down Ralston starts hitting from long range and we are playing better on the boards. Then at 12:28 picks up his third when his man drove across the key and slipped while Ralston slid his feet well. No hands on and no feet tangle. The guy just straight slipped on some sweat.

    No big deal, keep pressing..Warren makes the sic behind the back, knife down the lane, sweet finish at the rim. We go up by two and have got some Mo on our side for the first time all half.

    But then….

    Cincy immediately inbounds it out down the length to there star shooting guard who proceeds to loose it out of bounds. But No!! Turner who is in the vicinity when ball was mishandled gets tooted for his 4th!! In just over minute he picks up two ghost fouls (note this were not touch foul variety) right on the heels of him making to threes.

    Well he’s done , just keep on keepin on. A few possessions later Freeman takes his man on the dribble to the rim a flushes it. Change of possessions and a Cincy player drives the lane misses the shot ball out of bounds. Should be State ball if it weren’t for a late whistle to call a block on Freeman. His feet were planted and square before the Cincy player even picked up his dribble much less started in the act of shooting. Cincy ball Freeman to the bench with 4 fouls.

    Another highly questionable call against Cat about a minute later but who cares at this point. The point is that we may have played poorly down the stretch but the friggin’ game had gotten out of hand. We’re on the road, a young inexperienced group, second game and welcome to your life NC State newbie players. Enjoy it because it only gets more f’ed up from here.

    And yes the head official was ACC’s Gary Maxwell.

  21. Texpack 11/14/2013 at 8:28 AM #

    “We have only played one game and I am reading that we do not match up with teams like the bearcats. How do we even know what we can and cannot do yet?”

    Here is how I arrived at that conclusion.
    Lewis, Barber, Lee, Turner, and Warren are clearly our best five players. That’s two PGs, two SGs (one of whom is undersized) and a 3-4 combo forward. Our inside game consists of Vandy, who if he plays as well as Craig Watts, Cozell McQueen, or Chuck Nevitt (as a senior), I’d be shocked. Next you have a couple of skinny freshman (Washington & Freeman) who don’t look to have good strong hands yet. They lost multiple rebounds that they got their hands on and couldn’t keep. After that it’s Baby Huey. All three of the freshman can get better this year. I’m pretty sure they can form a very intimidating inside rotation by the time they are Jrs. Right now they are like most freshmen big men I’ve seen over the years. They need a year or two to get stronger and improve their hands and touch. This year they will likely get abused by upperclassmen on a regular basis. You just hope that Gott and staff can do with them what they did with Howell. If so we will be bad ass in two years.

  22. Wulfpack 11/14/2013 at 1:02 PM #

    Not so much about matching up but rather style of play. Clearly, we would prefer to go up and down the floor than be dragged into an ugly halfcourt slugfest where points are tough to come by.

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