Like we said in our pregame, if NC State doesn’t defend, then all bets are off.
Well, guess what? …NC State didn’t defend and they ended up losing by 2 to an undermanned, young Wake team that had no business walking away with that victory 86-84. The Wolfpack allowed the Deacs, who usually shoot around 40% to hit 50% of their FGs and score 86 points. Here are some takeaways from the game:
- Call it ‘tired legs,’ say that the Pack was cautious with foul trouble…those are just excuses. NC State isn’t defending. That’s nothing more than a ‘heart’ issue. It’simply a lack of ‘want to.’ I’m hearing people blame the refs, and say State gets unlucky when opposing players pick to have their career days against the Pack. That’s denial speaking. We pride ourselves on being the a positive voice for Wolfpack basketball here at PackInsider.com, but sometimes you just need to be blunt about what you’re seeing and I’m seeing a lack of heart, a lack of will and a great lack of focus on the defensive end.
- So where are the breakdowns happening? For one, you’re seeing way too much penetration from opposing guards and I’m not sure what to say about it. Brown and Wood simply aren’t playing defense. When their man drives, they only need to throw one fake at them and they’re lost. It may seem very fundamental to say this, but just watch the State guards on defense. They’re nearly upright almost all the time. You can’t defend a quick guard unless you’re as low or lower than he is, and that is not happening.
- You’re also seeing a lack of post defense from NC State. Playing the Pack should be every PF’s dream lately. Just drop in to the post, back it down a bit and then shoot over the 6’9 bigs, who outside of Howell are too afraid of foul trouble to get physical. Now, there might not be much State can do to stop that. They don’t have anyone over 6’9 in the post, and they’re not a very deep team, but it’s becoming too easy. The main reason is position defense. Again, working to keep an opposing post player from getting good position takes a lot of effort and a constant focus, something no one on NC State is giving right now on the defensive end. Something has got to be done…and fast. Last night Devin Thomas joined the ranks of traditionally low scoring forwards who drop 20+ on the Pack as he finished with 25.
- State shot 48% and wasn’t outrebounded. So really, there is no reason you should lose a game like that, but again it comes down to defense. On offense I think they were alright. In all of NC State’s losses they’ve had trouble getting to the line. In this one, they got there, they just missed. They only shot 56% from the stripe, which is awful considering they left 11 free points out there. They missed 3 of 4 in the final 26 seconds.
-After rewatching the game this morning, I’d have to say that State played well offensively. They missed their 3s and they couldn’t hit their FTs, but they had 5 guys in double figures, Leslie was nearly unstoppable late in the game and Purvis was a huge spark in their late game comeback as well. There really is no reason to talk about offense when it’s clear that NC State’s achilles heel is their defense. They have the bodies, they have the talent, but for some reason they are lacking the fire, the focus and the tenacity on the defensive end that great teams have. When will they start to understand this? Good question…
- The Pack played well early on and I thought they were in control of the pace the entire first half. They led by 16 and were up by 12 at the break. I think the only thing you can say about that first 20 minutes is that they were in foul trouble. Brown and Leslie especially. Leslie barely had any minutes in this one (18), and that can’t happen. I think Gottfried hit it on the head when he said his team needs to learn to play through these types of things. Leslie and Howell get real caught up in the ‘ref game’ and need to keep their concentration on the task at hand. I thought this game was called very evenly along the way, however it’s hard to understand how the ref swallowed his whistle when Leslie had his arm pulled down as clear as day on his final shot.
-In the second half it was just a lack of focus. A lack of passion. What it really is, is just a lack of a killer instinct. When they smell blood, instead of going in for the kill, State gets a bit squeamish. When their prey is laying down with nothing left to give, State toys with them, pokes at them, just begging them to get back up. Basically, NC State has been like those villains that we all hate from the Bond movies, this season. You have your target right where you want them, you’re whole agenda is to take out your target, but instead you waste time, go into a monologue about your plan, and before you know it, your target gets away.
- Gottfied better get his guys ready for Saturday because UNC is coming in hungry and the Pack better learn to start matching this hunger that other teams get when see that ranked number before their name. It’s only late January, but at the same time, it’s ALREADY late January and this team needs to look in the mirror before squaring off against their rivals on Saturday night.
Stay tuned as we’ll have a deep statistical breakdown coming soon….