When will things start to fall NC State’s way? Ever? The Pack fought hard and freshman Tyler Lewis had a great coming out part in the absence of Lorenzo Brown, but once again the Wolfpack goes home heartbroken after they make a defensive stop on the final play of the game, only to have someone tip it in with less than a second to play. It’s like, we all knew what was going to happen. Something strange that would lead to some weird garbage bucket by Miami as time expired. Low and behold, it happened and the Pack now find themselves at 5-4, sitting in the middle of the Pack in the ACC.
‘Our Take’ on the loss:
- Without Lorenzo Brown, arguably NC State’s most important player, it looked as if the Wolfpack would be doomed against Miami, but that wasn’t the case. Freshman point guard Tyler Lewis stepped up huge with 16 points and 5 assists. Lewis looked like a veteran out there and showed just why he was one of the top 50 recruits coming out of high school. I can’t stress enough how important it is to not doubt Tyler Lewis. He’s proved people wrong at EVERY level and he did it again against Miami. His basketball IQ, understanding of the game and court vision are outstanding for a freshman and he will certainly be a part of what happens from here on out with NC State.
- Lewis controlled this game and I think he showed the fans, his coach and his teammates that he’s ready to contribute. After a rough patch early in the season, Lewis really found his groove against one of the best teams in the ACC. This is really going to help the Pack going forward. This is a team that really hurts for depth. They have no one to give Lorenzo Brown a blow and really don’t give Gottfried much creativity in substitution patterns or lineups. With Lewis you now how a fully capable point guard who can play extended minutes with no drop-off. You can now move Brown to the 2 spot for short periods or give him extended breathers. This will help NC State a ton moving forward.
- I thought the effort was great from State. This is a very big Miami team with a very good guards and the Pack played them well. They outrebounded Miami 29-26, they out-shot them 53% to 49%, they hit 44% of their 3s to Miami’s 19% and they knocked down 85% of their FTs. So why did NC State lose? Miami did have 10 steals in this one and the Pack had 12 turnovers, but really it seemed like NC State outplayed Miami most of this game and just lost by a lucky tip in at the end.
- The combo of Tyler Lewis and Rodney Purvis should really give State fans a good feeling moving forward. And not just for this season, for next as well. These two guys played great in the absence of Brown. With Lewis taking over the PG duties, Purvis was able to play his natural 2 position and he really was able to score it from a lot of different places. He finished with 13, hit a big 3 and also started to get his runner in the lane to fall.
- Enough about the freshman, the Wolfpack big men showed up against Miami. Richard Howell was absolutely dominant early on and when he cooled off it was Leslie taking control. Howell finished with 15 point and 8 board and Leslie added 18 points and 12 boards, coming off the bench.
- One problem I’m seeing, and it’s starting to be glaring in the second half, is that when State is really taking their leads in the first half, they are very versatile and everyone is touching the basketball. In the second half you’re seeing State really rely too much on Leslie. They’ve done this in every second half collapse and it’s not because of Leslie. He’s getting doubled and tripled, and he’s usually making the right play, but teams expect this. They’re ready for it and it causes State to go stagnant. Why is the Pack not relying more on Howell in the second half? He’s had monster first halfs all season, but the deeper you go into a ball game, the less you see Howell touch the basketball. I think this is just one thing that’s being missed by a lot of people. Howell, not only score, but he can pass. He gets to the line and he can also bury the 15 footer. Why NC State chooses to become so one dimensional late in the game is beyond me. They are so easy to guard because they get so predictable. They look for Wood or they go to Leslie, that’s it. Tyler Lewis added a go-to guy late in this game, but still no plays for Howell to be isolated. I’m not saying you go to Howell every time, but I am saying that you work him into the game plan a little more in the second half.
- Turnovers against the Miami press were what cost State the game and that was just freshmen being freshmen. This is where you’d love to have Lorenzo. As hard as it is to say it, this game was a great learning experience for a lot of guys. They didn’t have their leader on the floor and they were forced to step up. I think they did a good job and will learn from their few mistakes.
-Now it’s time to get real. This loss hurts. This loss sends NC State right into the middle of the pack in the ACC with a road game at Duke on the way. This COULD mean that NC State is 5-5 heading into a road game at Clemson. This team is better than that and although they are very close to being 8-2 with the ball bouncing different a few times, they’re not. This means they need to start getting real. It’s not play time anymore, it’s time to really get it together and make a run. They have to suck it up and put teams away or they’ll find themselves on the bubble once again in March.
On The Game Overall:
“It’s hard. It’s tough. I feel bad for our players right now because I feel like they competed really hard. Different guys had to step up at different times and they did. I thought our effort was phenomenal and sometimes it just comes down to the bounce of the ball, they made a great tip-in. You have to give Reggie Johnson credit for that. Rodney (Purvis) played really good defense that last possession. (Shane) Larkin got a tough shot up. It just sometimes comes down to the bounce of the ball in the game of basketball. The ball comes right off the front of the rim and it’s right there for Johnson and he makes a nice play. Our guys’ effort was unbelievable. I’m proud of our effort and one thing I told our team was if they compete like that every night this thing will turn. We’ve lost four conference games now by 1, 1, 2 and 3. Sometimes it’s just a play and now we’ve got to bounce back and get ready to play next week. I loved our effort tonight.”
On Playing Zone Defense:
“I really liked it. I thought it helped us. The only problem with it was that late in the game Larkin was able to come off of some of those high ball screens and it’s tough to help off of those, but our zone was good there was no question about it. We changed our defense a lot and I thought that helped us. They got comfortable going against our man defense and they went right inside to Johnson, (Julian) Gamble and (Kenny) Kadji. We had a little trouble with that, but our guys did a good job. We kept adjusting and our players were able to stay right with a lot of things that we wanted to do. We came back and put ourselves in position to win, we just have to be better with the lead.”
On Back-To-Back Turnovers At The End Of The Game:
“They hurt and we just have to be a little better there. We actually did a pretty good job during the second half of not turning the ball over until those at the end and they cost us. Those were turnovers that led to fastbreaks. There were a lot of things that happened throughout the game and we’re certainly not going to put the loss on one or two plays.”
On Tyler Lewis:
“I said before the game, I have a lot of confidence in Tyler and I thought he played terrific. The way he distributed the basketball, making foul shots and coming off of ball screens. That’s why we put the ball in his hands late in the game. I thought he made a lot of great decisions throughout the day, he did a nice job defensively and I’m very proud of him.”
On C.J. Leslie:
“He did a great job there in the second half, defensively getting rebounds. He played hard and I like that in all of our guys. It’s tough when you come up short like that as to a game like today. We have to bounce back and build on the fact that we are right there. We have to be a little better and the end of the game, sharper not make so many mistakes. Get some stops, keep scoring and those four losses could easily be four wins.”