NC State beat UNCP 96-85 in their first exhibition game. Here is a player by player breakdown of what we saw.
Tyler Lewis: Lewis, once again, looked like a star for the Wolfpack. He finished the game with 15 assists and really controlled the tempo all night. For the first 10 minutes of this game, Tyler Lewis WAS the offense. The thing with Tyler is that he knows what the team needs and he produces it. In this game other guards were scoring at a nice rate, so Lewis barely had to take a shot. He finished the game with 5 points on only 1-4 shooting. Another observation was how different the State offense looks with Lewis on the floor. There were a lot of times in this one where Gottfried wanted to test Barber and Lee together, without Lewis. This, for the most part, wasn’t pretty. To be honest, without Lewis in there it looked a lot like last year’s offense. There was a lot of standing, a lot of confusing and a lot of rushed, poor shots. Tyler better be ready to give this team 35 minutes per game, because without him it could get ugly.
TJ Warren: You kind of came into this game knowing what Warren was going to do, however, I think he actually exceeded expectations. The sophomore star finished with a double-double. 26 points (on 10-16 shooting) and 10 rebounds. With his new thinner frame Warren was able to beat his man off the bounce and get to the rim with ease. If he can do that it just makes scoring that much easier for a guy who was already almost a pro in that category. Even without the extra 20 pounds Warren was still physical and it almost seemed to help him with rebounding. He was more bouncy and quicker to the ball. If State is going to succeed they’re going to need Warren to do it all, and in this one he did.
Ralston Turner- Without seeing much of Turner before this game, I wasn’t really sure what to think. What was he going to bring to the table? Was he as good a scorer as people were hoping? I apologize for even wondering. Turner was outstanding in more ways than I would have imagined. He’s a high-IQ guy all around. He played smart position defense and really was active on and away from the ball. On offense he was on point, finishing with 20 points on 7-10 shooting. He also added 4 assists and 3 boards. Losing Scott Wood was going to hurt this team regardless of who they brought in, however Turner is going to add things that even Wood couldn’t. He can really help on defense and he’s not just a spot shooter. Most of Turner’s memorable points came off dribble pull-ups with defenders in his face. He’s definitely a more all-around player than Scott Wood was, but he’s not quite the shooter. Now, I’m not saying he can’t shoot because he has a nice stroke and went 7-10, but I’m saying Wood was a once in 20 years type guy from beyond the arc. Overall, however, Turner might end up being more valuable when all is said and done.
Dez Lee- This kid is impressive. Lee was the most surprising part of this exhibition in my eyes. He started off shaky with a few TOs, but once he got in the flow you could see that he is exactly the 2 guard that the Wolfpack has been lacking for so many years. Lee finished with 16 points on 6-8 shooting and was uber-aggressive on both ends of the floor. The most impressive thing, however, was not the fact that he scored well or handled the ball well, but that he was the best at both under pressure. Down the stretch when UNCP was making runs and within a bucket, it was nearly always Lee who wanted to take the big shot. We mentioned this tendency in the red/white scrimmage as something we loved, and we saw it again at the end of this one. Lee basically took over down the stretch, scoring on ever big shot he took. It’s going to be real nice to have another guy who wants the ball in his hands when the pressure is mounting. Lee is going to be a huge addition to this team.
Cat Barber- Barber flashed the talent everyone has been talking about and there is no doubt that he’s going to be a star at State, however you could really tell that he was a little nervous early on in this one. He finished with 14 points, but did so on 3-10 shooting and did lead the team with 4 turnovers. That being said, Barber was playing his first college game in front of a big crowd and most certainly will improve. Watching him closely though, you could see the talent just oozing. He can really handle it, is slippery in traffic and surprisingly has a nice little stroke on him. As he gets more minutes and gets used to the game at this speed, he’ll be a huge part of this team if he just understands that he’s a freshman and accepts the role he naturally falls into.
For a breakdown of the rest of the players….stay tuned for part 2 coming soon.