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Bball Gameday: 3 Things To Look For vs. Campbell

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NC State Wolfpack vs. Campbell Camels
PNC Arena | 7PM | ESPN3

I’m not sure what the fan base as a whole was expecting this season, but two games in we’re feeling pretty optimistic about this ball club. Sure, they couldn’t hold off a veteran and physical Cincinnati team in a hostile environment, but they showed a lot of guts in that one. Again, this is a very, very young team with only 2 returners in uniform right now from last years team (Vandy is still hurt). While there is definitely a lot to improve on, we think the foundation is there for a solid season. This team hustles, they play together and they play with heart. Those 3 things will take you further than you’d think.   Here are 3 things we’re going to watch for tonight when the Pack comes home to take on Campbell.

1) State must establish an inside game
Two games in and there really has been no sign of any true post play. Against Cincy there was some early foul trouble and guys might not have been used to the type of physical play they were facing, but this is important going forward. On defense I think they are where they should be. Yes, they have to move their feet a lot more and stay on their feet when teams shot fake, but the concern is on offense. You’re not going to beat a lot of teams if you have no real factor in the paint. Vandy’s return in a few games will be big, but Kyle Washington, Lennard Freeman and Beejay Anya NEED to start producing. Freeman and Anya are more raw right now. Freeman is a banger and Anya is still finding his way, but Washington has what it takes to be a scorer right now. I’m not talking about a go-to guy that this team is going to rely on, but I am talking about a guy who can put up 8-12 points per game down low and at least make the opposition respect State’s post game. If they don’t focus on this now and start building on this early, then teams are going to be playing one on one in the middle and will be able to harass and face guard the guards all night long.

 

2) Handle Pressure / Get in the offense
I’m putting these together because they kind of have the same remedy. These young guys need to start getting used to contact and physical play. It’s always hard early on when you play a few games against some lightweights and then are thrown into a game against a team of real men (like Cincy). All of the sudden you’re getting bumped on the dribble, they’re getting handsy and it’s not getting called and they’re riding your back when you’re sealing off for a pass or boxing out for a rebound. It’s understandable that right now this is all new to them, but they have to get tough and get used to this contact soon. State never looked comfortable breaking the press against Cincy and they never really got into a rhythm offensively because the guard were scared to dump the ball to the high post to initiate the offense. If Lewis or Barber have a hard time making that first pass to the high post, or if those initial wing passes are denied, then you see a lot of what you saw last game. The guard were just dribbling at the top with no where to go with the ball as the shot clock ticked down. This was because the Bearcats were denying the corner passes and were able to get around the seal from the guy at the high post.

To fix this you need to simply work harder. The guys on the wings need to cut harder, change speeds and make sure they can get open. They need to walk their guy down then explode out to the wing just to get this pass. It seems like hard work just to get a pass but they’ll start to see that just getting the ball to the wing can initiate the entire offensive set.

The same thing goes for the bigs who are at the high post. Cincy was cheating over top of them. If this happens you can do one of two things. You can get physical, really get a wide base and give your guard confidence that you’re not giving up position at the high post, allowing him to make that pass with ease. However, if the defender is really overplaying and cheating up over the seal off, and onto the side, then the high post man can slip to the rim on the backdoor cut.

Neither of these things were happening against Cincinnati.  The bigs were sealing soft and the guard were nervous to make the pass to them because they feared the defender would get around the seal and pick off the pass. They were also forced to make contested passes to the wing because the receivers over there weren’t making hard enough cuts. This was causing the offense to stand still and go stagnant.

 

3. Continue getting Dez Lee the rock…getting him acclimated
The biggest surprise so far for me this season has been Dez Lee. I’m not saying I haven’t been impressed with Ralston Turner, TJ Warren or Tyler Lewis, because I have. I just am saying that Lee has a lot of talent and it certainly translates to this level. This team needs him. They need a slasher who can shoot and pass. Warren and Lewis are a given for what they’ll give you, and State is heavily counting on them. However, those two guys aren’t going to win a lot of games by themselves. They need help and Dez Lee, in my eyes, is a guy who can be that help. He can be this team’s second leading scorer, he can be that guy at the end of games who has the ball in his hands. He can be that lock down defender.

At this point in the season it’s important to start grooming him for these roles. He needs to continue to get acclimated to this level and he needs to keep having the trust from his teammates. Sure, he’ll have off games as he gets used to high competition, but I think he is a true key to this team’s success and I’d love to see Gottfried nurture his maturation process.

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NC State Basketball

NC State Men’s Basketball is Tied for the 20th Most NCAAT Wins Since 2020

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According to College Basketball Report, NC State’s Men’s Basketball team is tied for the 20th most NCAA Tournament wins since 2020.

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Yes, I’m fully aware that all 4 of those wins took place in this years NCAA Tournament, but I don’t care. STATS ARE STATS!

ACC Teams with the Most NCAAT Wins Since 2020

1. Duke – 8
2. UNC – 7
2. Miami – 7
4. NC State – 4
5. Clemson – 3

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NC State’s Men’s Basketball Team Produced 2 of the MOST Watched Games of 2023-24, College or Pro

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The Basketball season is officially over, collegiately and professionally. Looking back at the data of viewers for Men’s & Women’s Basketball, as well as the NBA, the NC State Men’s Basketball team played in two of the Top-10 most watched games of the 2023-24 basketball season.

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NC State vs. Duke in the Elite 8 was the 2nd most watched basketball game of the year with 15.1 million viewers, trailing only Iowa vs. South Carolina in the Women’s College National Championship game. The Wolfpack’s game vs. the Boilermakers in the Final 4 ranked 9th, with 11.5 million viewers.

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NC State Basketball

DJ Burns talks keys to recent weight loss during Pre-Draft Workout with Pacers

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Pack fans have been wondering how after 2 years in Raleigh, DJ Burns finally figured out how to drop weight, and keep it off. He spoke to reporters during his pre-draft workout with the Pacers.

“Playing at the pace we played today. Doing the work we did today. I probably would have left out with a full body cramp a couple months ago.”

“Keep on improving my pace. Adjusting to the level and speed I’m going to have to play at, at all times.”

“Lots of running. Lots of figuring out which foods I can no longer have, which were almost all of them that I liked. So, just finding new ones that I do like that go along with the plan.”

“This is the third (workout), and I actually travel to Milwaukee tomorrow to workout with the Bucks. And then some more stuff being confirmed that I won’t speak on just yet.”

Burns has worked out for the Lakers, Pacers and Hornets up to this point.

Plus more…

Listen to the full interview above.

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NC State Basketball

DJ Horne reads his new children’s book “Why Not Me? Why Not Us?” to Wake County Students

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DJ Horne was a huge reason NC State overcame the odds to win the ACC Tournament this past season. Now he’s trying to pass on the ‘Why not us!?” psyche to elementary school kids.

Horne was at Jones Dairy Elementary to read his new children’s book “Why not me? Why not us?” to students yesterday.

This is a pretty cool moment for Horne, who attended elementary school in Wake County (Reedy Creek Elementary School). He now gets to go back and tell his story, in hopes of inspiring the next generation.

The book is based loosely on his life growing up, and the adversity he overcame to become a champion.

Pick up the book today at Amazon.

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