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5 Takeaways from PrimeTime With The Pack



‘Primetime with the Pack’ Box Score

1.) Tyler Lewis is going to be a superstar, a team leader, and the engine of this Wolfpack team

Unbelievable game by Tyler Lewis. The official boxscore has him down for 16 points and 5 assists (in 20 minutes, mind you) but I’m pretty sure they’re on the low end with that assist total. Lewis put on the best red/white game performance I’ve ever seen. He was in control, he was getting his teammates involved, he was dictating, not only what his players would be doing, but what the defenders would be doing as well. For example: Lewis and Vandenberg were pushing the pace on the break, but it was a 2 on 3. They didnt have  numbers and the three defenders were very aware of Vandenberg streaking down the floor. It seemed as if Lewis had no where to go. To his left was a trailing Ralston Turner. Lewis drove in, but when Vandy was covered and he had a man in front of him, he turned out like he was going to pull it back out and kick it to Turner. Out of the corner of his eye he watched the defenders drift out just a bit and relax when Lewis turned his back to them…that’s when Tyler shot a quick behind the head pass to Vandenberg for a dunk.

There are few players like Tyler Lewis in college basketball today that can control the flow, the spacing, and the pace like he can. It’s that coupled by the fact that he just looks like your everyday high school player at the YMCA that really throw defenders off. You could tell that Cat Barber was visibly frustrated at times when guarding Lewis. He was really ratcheting up the defense only to see Lewis use a hesitation move to turn the corner and knock down a floater. You could almost see it in Cat’s body language. He’s a McDonald’s All-American and he’s made a name for himself by thrashing kids like this, but Lewis is a different animal altogether. This isn’t at all a knock on Barber. It’s a compliment to Lewis.  As long as his body can withstand the rigors of a full season of 37 minutes per game, this kid is going to lead this team further than many think possible.
2. TJ Warren has trimmed up and has advanced aspects of his game

We all knew TJ was going to be a leading scorer in this one ( he lead his team with 13 points) but if you really watched Warren you saw a different player. He was quicker, more active on defense and more physical in the paint. Warren didn’t dominate the boards or anything (he had 2 rebounds), but he did a little of everything. He finished with 3 steals and 2 blocks in 20 minutes. These are the things that State needs out of Warren. The scoring is his bread and butter, but this team also needs him to be an all-around star. The knock last year was that he was uninterested in those aspects of the game, but tonight he showed differently. He was active on defense, he threw around his weight, and he defended the goal well (with 2 blocks). On offense it was more of the same. His crafty scoring is back and he hit some amazing little floaters, including one where he adjusted his body in the air to get it over Vandenberg. He also took a page out of Paul Pierce’s book when he hit a step back fade away from the elbow over his defender. Warren seems to have taken the necessary steps to become a true All-ACC player.
3. Jordan Vandenberg might finally be coming around

Now, I’m not trying to be  negative, but I’ve just been burned by writing columns like this in the past and hyping the Big V, but I feel like I shouldn’t be this excited about the big time game Vandy put up last night. First off, I’m a huge Jordan Vandenberg fan. The reason is that I think there is some massive potential in the kid. I think if he really start realizing his role of defender, rebounder, and cleanup man around the rim, then NC State might strike gold during his senior year. The question is, when will he get serious and take what he wants?

Maybe that time is now. Last night Vandenberg was a man amongst boys, and although that is both figurative and literal Vandy was overall impressive. He finished with 12 points and 7 boards and completely overshadowed his competition for playing time, Beejay Anya.

Vandenberg can be a huge factor for NC State if he performs like he did last night. He played pretty decent defense, he was very aggressive and physical on the boards and he ran the floor well with Tyler Lewis and got a slew of his famous Australian power dunks. I think he’s going to carve out some real playing time for himself if he can keep that up. Anya simply isn’t ready physically or mentally just yet, so now is the time for Jordan to step up.
4. Dez Lee is going to be a bigtime player

This was my first time seeing Lee play live and upon first glance he was a little smaller than I initially thought he’d be. That being said, this kid has major game. His handle, his speed, his confidence and his physicality would have you believe he’s been an ACC star for a while, when in fact he hasn’t even tasted the league yet. Dez has everything a coach wants out of a 2 guard. He attacks the rim with hunger and reckless abandon (he’s going to draw a lot of fouls going to the hoop this season). He knows when to pull up and can knock down the jumper and most importantly he wanted the ball in his hands with the time winding down. With the game close at the end it was Lee, not Warren who was intent on taking the big shots. Lee knocked down a contested 3 to tie the game with 20 seconds left and then after 2 free throws by Tyler Lewis, it was him who went right at the basket, took the contact and got to the free throw line. Having Lewis, Warren and Lee who are willing to take and make big shots is going to be big during ACC play this year.


5. The freshman have talent, but still need some work

Probably the most impressive freshman to me was Lennard Freeman. Yeah, I know, it surprised me too. I was thinking this kid was going to be the least ready of any of the young guys, but Freeman looked the most ready, the least scared and the most polished. He’s got good footwork in the post, a nice touch and he’s very physical. Now, if he wants to really earn PT he’s going to have to learn to knock down FTs (1-7 on the night), but that should come in time. Freeman finished with only 5 points, but he led his team in rebounding and was 2-2 from the floor. He also got to the line 7 times which was a game high. Defensively he was also good. He made things tough for fellow freshman Kyle Washington and wasn’t afraid to mix it up in the paint with anyone.

As for Washington, he is what was expected. He’s a high motor guy who really plays hard on both ends of the floor. He finished with 4 points (2-5) and 7 boards. There’s no doubt that Washington is more versatile than Freeman, but Freeman is obviously the one more comfortable on the block getting physical. This provides Gottfried a nice change of pace based on the competition. If you have a team with a more versatile 4, then Washington is your guy. If you got a team with big bruisers down low then Freeman can slot in. I was impressed with both guys.

Now onto the most talented freshman, Cat Barber. He’s got the speed, he’s got the quickness, but last night Barber just was taken out of his game by Lewis. Barber is going to be really good, so let’s get that out of the way. He’s got everything you want a young PG to have. He just needs to learn the college game. Before everyone jumps all over me here, I’m not saying I was expecting him to be ACC ready in his first scrimmage, but being a McDonald’s All-American and coming in as highly touted as he was, makes you watch him a little closer. I think Barber played outstanding defense and was really, really active on the ball. Lewis is just super crafty and that led to 7 fouls for the freshman. He just couldn’t really stop Tyler and that’s ok, because there might not be a PG in the ACC than can. Barber did let that visibly frustrate him and it took him out of his game. As he grows and continues to compete and learn, he’ll be fine and will be a great 1-2 punch with Lewis.

At the end of the day it actually was a nice game for Barber. He finished with 8 points on 2-4 shooting. He didn’t have an assist and he did commit 7 fouls, but he also was turnover free. Barber didn’t play bad at all, it was just that his competition on this night was just that good.

Oh, I almost forgot about Beejay Anya, which is probably because there really isn’t much to say. Anya is, as expected, a giant. He’s tall, long, and thick, but he just wasn’t able to do much on this night. He finished with 3 points and 3 boards. I think part of it was the fact that Vandenberg was kind of dominant on this night and the other part was that the pace was pretty fast and that doesn’t really lend itself to Anya’s strengths right now. Gottfried is going to have to get Anya to pull a Richard Howell if he wants to be a star, because right now he just didn’t look ready for ACC play (again, not that I was expecting him to, but some of these freshman are going to have to be thrown in the fire).


6 (bonus observation) – Didn’t get a great read on Ralston Turner

Maybe it was the offseason hype around Turner from Pack fans, or maybe it just wasn’t his game, but I didn’t really get a good read on Turner. I can see that he’s a good shooter, he likes to drift to the 3 point line, and that Gott is running Wood’s old plays with him, but is that what he is? Turner has a great frame and seems semi-athletic, but I didn’t really see him attack the rim at all in this one. I’m going to have to watch him more to see what kind of game he’s really bringing to the table. He finished with 5 points, 3 boards and 2 steals. He was 2-3 from the floor and 1-2 from beyond the arc. As of last night he reminds me a lot of junior year Courtney Fells (which is definitely not a bad thing). A guy who seems like he’d be a dominant all-around player, but he’s mainly just a shooter at this point. I could be wrong, and like I said, I need to see more of him before I can give you a real good rundown of what to expect.

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NC State Basketball

Wolferetti: Feed me my crow. NC State lost to Creighton and I’m here to break it down (and admit I was wrong)



I was wrong.

I thought this matchup was a good one for NC State. I watched a lot of Creighton this year and to me, they looked like a team that NC State could roll over. Let me explain why.

I knew a few things. I knew Nembhard was a PG that could get a little out of control if sped up. I knew with a little defense and physicality, Sheierman could be made uncomfortable. I knew Kalkbrenner was a good defender but was going to sink on the pick-and-roll to protect the basket.

Joiner’s pull up just wouldn’t fall

I figured that Joiner, the pull-up king would be taking that DJ Burns screen, getting to the middle, and pulling up as Kalkbrenner sank. I figured Smith would exploit this as well. Well, turns out Joiner was off and couldn’t get his pull-up game going and Smith, well yeah Smith did exploit this pretty well.

Burns didn’t look like Burns

The other thing I’d figure would happen is that I thought DJ Burns would really frustrate Kalkbrenner. If you’ve looked at games where Kalkbrenner had to face a really good, physical back-to-the-basket big man, those bigs usually had pretty good games in the scoring column.  I honestly don’t understand what happened to Burns in this one. Sure he got a few stupid early fouls, but before he even picked up a foul he looked out of it. With no double teams coming, Burns is usually calculated, slowly backing you down and hitting you with a flurry of head fakes, pump fakes or spins. If the big doesn’t bite, Burns can fade away, go with a contested hook shot, or pass out.

In this game, Burns looked sped up for some reason. The first time he got the ball he quickly backed in and threw up a hook that rattled out. Not awful, but usually you see him probe a little more. Then the next time he didn’t even look for contact, instead, he threw up a little floater that didn’t fall. While neither were awful shots, both were uncharacteristic of Burns. On top of those things, he looked absolutely gassed within minutes of coming in. My guess is that it was the altitude, but either way, it took a toll on him.

Whatever it was, it had him frustrated and he had two really bad fouls where he just shoved Kalkbrenner (he also had a phantom foul that was ridiculous). That said, it just wasn’t his night and this made NC State a lot more one-dimensional.

Casey Morsell came to play, but this NC State roster just wasn’t built to get a guy like him going, which is a shame. Jarkel Joiner was a huge reason why NC State got to where they got. His scoring ability, his speed and his toughness and leadership skill were huge. But Joiner is a scoring guard, and great basketball teams need POINT guards.

What is a point guard, and why can’t we have one?

A point guard isn’t just a guy who dribbles it down. It’s a guy who understands the games within the games. Guys who dictate pace, call plays (sets) and are essentially coaches on the floor. NC State and Kevin Keatts never had that this season, and while you can get a long way with scoring guards and good big men, you’ll never compete for anything of worth until you prioritize the skill set of a true point guard. I think that has been NC State’s problem for years, and I find it kind of insane that coach after coach falls into this idea of having a scoring guard play as a PG for more offense to get on the court.

This is no shot at Jarkel, either. The guy was one of my favorite players to watch on this team, but it just is what it is. He is a scoring guard who happens to be slotting in at PG. When you see Keatts bring in a guy whose priority is getting his guys open and dictating pace, then you can start to believe that this program may be close to arriving. Until then, sneaking into the tournament and hoping guys get hot hands is as good as it gets.

Look at Kihei Clark (Virginia’s PG). I know it’s not a great time to be talking about Clark, whose errant pass ended up losing the game for Virginia on Thursday, but look at Clark’s build.5’10, 170lbs. Look at his stats. Mid-30s shooting % from 3. Hight 70s from the FT line. The guy is nothing special when it comes to the numbers, but he’s a leader and he distributes the basketball to the right guys at the right time. Tony Bennett has started Clark for 4 years despite the fact that he’s coaching a team that is always in the running to win the ACC and won a national championship less than 5 years ago.  He could replace Clark with an elite, tall, athlete at any moment. But he doesn’t. Why? Because he understands what I’m talking about. It’s a puzzle that coaches need to put together, and one piece of that puzzle is a guy like this.

I was wrong about this game. I thought things would play out differently. They didn’t. I’m not blaming anyone in particular, but the makeup of this team vs. the makeup of teams that play deep into March are different. Maybe this is step one to getting there. We’ll have to see how the roster shapes up next season.

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NC State Basketball

VIDEO: NC State falls to Creighton 72-63 in first round of NCAA Tournament | Extended Highlights & Box Score

NC State came out flat, DJ Burns looked gassed, and for the most part, the Pack looked shell-shocked vs. Creighton from the opening tip. However, Terquavion Smith is excluded from all of that. He was amazing and in what was likely his final game at NC State, he kept the Pack afloat, dropping 32 points on 12-25 shooting. In the end, it wasn’t enough as their big man, 7’1 Ryan Kalkbrenner went for 31.



NC State came out flat, DJ Burns looked gassed, and for the most part, the Pack looked shell-shocked vs. Creighton from the opening tip. However, Terquavion Smith is excluded from all of that. He was amazing and in what was likely his final game at NC State, he kept the Pack afloat, dropping 32 points on 12-25 shooting. In the end, it wasn’t enough as their big man, 7’1 Ryan Kalkbrenner went for 31.

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VIDEO: Smith, Joiner and Keatts talk in postgame press conference

Terquavion Smith, Jarkel Joiner and Kevin Keatts meet with the media after 72-63 loss to Creighton in the NCAA Tournament.



Terquavion Smith, Jarkel Joiner and Kevin Keatts meet with the media after 72-63 loss to Creighton in the NCAA Tournament.

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NC State Basketball

Wolferetti: 3 reasons why NC State is going to win today



God bless these guys over here at PI. I submitted this article to them this morning and got this back.

“Joey, this is a good piece, but are you sure you want to come out and say that NC State is going to win? Why not just do a ‘keys to the game.’ or something? Hedge your bets. Why are you always wanting to put your reputation on the line?”

To that I say, “Nah, I’m good. I want my reputation on the line. What fun is this if I’m not callin’ it like I see it?”

Look, they’ve been worried about me stating outlandish opinions before. Like when I said after game #1, after I first laid eye on this team, that it was going to be a team that will flirt with or get into the Top 25? I got hammered for that, but was I right? And today I’m back on my prediction tip, telling you that NC State will survive and advance. And here are my 3 reasons why.

1. Creighton hasn’t fared well against teams with great Turnover Margins.

If Creighton has a glaring weakness, it’s turnover margin.

NC State’s turnover margin ranks 16th in the NCAA. Creighton’s is a miserable 291st. This means Creighton turns the ball over a lot and doesn’t create many turnovers. Meanwhile, NC State is the exact opposite. They create a lot of turnovers and really protect the basketball. This statistic right here is going to play a major role. The Creighton guards, especially Nembhard, can get sped up, and when they do, they can get sloppy and out of control. Meanwhile, Joiner and Smith flourish at top speed.

Let’s look at the one team that Creighton lost to every time they played them (and played them multiple times). That team is Marquette.

What do Marquette and NC State have in common? Well, they are both Top 20 in the nation in Turnover Margin. Marquette ranks #3 in the NCAA while the Pack is 16th. Creighton turned it over 18 times in their first meeting at Marquette. The second time these two teams met, Creighton turned it over 15 times.

The other teams they faced in the Top 50 of Turnover Margin in the nation?

#39 Arizona State
#10 Texas

That’s it. And guess what, Creighton lost every single one of those games. They have yet to beat a team in the Top 50 in Turnover Margin.

Reminder. NC State ranks 16th.

2. Large, back-to-the-basket bigs have fared well against Creighton

6’9, 245lb, Adama Sanogo from UConn dropped 17 against them in a win.

6’9, 215lb, Oso Ighodaro from Marquette dropped 16 on them in their first meeting, and then 18 in their second.

6’7, 220lb, Bryce Hopkins from Providence scored 20 on them in both meetings. One of which was a win.

All of these guys are big, strong, back-to-the-basket bigs and all of them bullied their way to huge games again Creighton.

In all 3 instances, Creighton refused to double-team on most possessions and the big men ate. So how will they deal with a big that is bigger than any of these guys?

DJ Burns is 6’9, 275lbs and he’s going to be a focal point for NC State in this game. If Creighton opts to play Burns straight up, history says they are going to have a long night and Burn is going to have a big game.

3. Creighton hasn’t seen guards like Joiner and Smith

Sure Creighton has quick guards. Nembhard, the 6’0 PG rarely gets a matchup where he doesn’t have a quickness advantage. Today, against Joiner, he won’t have one. There is so much talk about Creighton’s guards bottling up their opponents, but watch them play and you’ll see that they simply haven’t had to face guys like Joiner or Smith. Creighton will allow the floor to be spread and will not fight against playing this game at a fast pace, and those are the types of games we’ve seen the NC State guards feast.

Creighton is a very good team. They have some very good pieces, but I just think they’ve found themselves in a matchup that isn’t very good for them despite being data-darlings. I could be wrong, but to me, this looks like a game where people are reading off statistics and making assumptions without watching film. Without looking at each team’s Achilles heel. And without really breaking down the matchups.

I think this is a really good matchup for the Pack and I think I’ll be back talking to you in about 24 hours looking at who the guys will play on Sunday.

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