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.
NC State is a Slight Underdog in ACC Opener vs. Boston College
NC State (4-2) will play their first ACC game of the 2023-24 season tomorrow on the road against Boston College (5-2), and they enter the game as slight underdogs. The Wolfpack are 1.5-point underdogs, and the Total is 150.5.
- NC State is 0-2 Straight Up as underdogs
- BC is 4-1 Straight Up as favorites.
- NC State is 2-4 Against the Spread.
- BC is 4-3 Against the Spread
- The Total has gone Under in 2 games for NC State, Over in 3 and Pushed in 1.
- The Total has gone Under in 3 games for Boston College and Over in 4.
- NC State is 6-4 in their last 10 games against BC Straight Up.
- NC State is 4–6 Against the Spread in their last 10 games against BC.
- The Total has gone Under in 5 games, and Under in the other 5.
#5 NC State 70 Vanderbilt 62: BOX SCORE (with notes)
The 5th ranked NC State Women’s Basketball team improved to 8-0 tonight, defeating Vanderbilt 70-62 in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge.
- Saniya Rivers scored 20+ points for the 2nd time this season, scoring 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting. She also chipped in 8 rebounds and 2 steals.
- River Baldwin posted her first double-double of the season. She scored 12 points and grabbed 10 boards.
- Aziaha James has now scored in double figures in 7 of 8 games, scoring 14 points tonight, shooting 6 of 10 from the field and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
- Freshman Zoe Brooks led the Pack in steals (4) and assists (4).
- NC State didn’t shoot well, making only 39% of their shots. Fortunately, they held Vandy to 34.3% shooting.
The Wolfpack will host Illinois State on Sunday at 2pm.
NC State Stat Leaders Heading into the ACC Opener vs Boston College
This Saturday, NC State heads to Boston College for the now-annual early ACC opener. The Pack will face off against the Eagles at 4pm on ACC Network. Here is where the team is statistically after 6 games.
- Casey Morsell leads NC State in scoring with 14.5 ppg.
- The Pack has 4 double-digit scorers this season. Morsell (14.5), Jayden Taylor (13.3), DJ Burns (13) and DJ Horne (11.2)
(Last season State had 4 double-digit scorers as well. Terquavion (17.9), Joiner (17), Burns (12.5) and Morsell (11.8))
- After their top 4 scorers there is a big dip. Parker comes in at 6.8, O’Connell at 6.3, and Middlebrooks at 5.5 ppg.
(Last season Jack Clark was 5th on the team in scoring at 9 points and Mahorcic was at 8.7. However, both guys missed a large chunk of the season.)
- Burns is leading NC State in rebounding this year at 5.3 per game. Diarra is next with 5.3 (but is currently hampered by an ankle injury.)
- O’Connell is leading NC State in assists with 3.3 per game, and Burns is up next with 2.5. PG DJ Horne is only averaging 2.
- LJ Thomas and Mike O’Connell are tied in leading the team at .15 assists per minute.
- Jayden Taylor is leading NC State in 3pt %, shooting an outstanding 45.8%, while Morsell is up next at 34.6%. Horne is close behind at 33%.
(LJ Thomas is shooting 50% from 3, but only has 2 attempts.)
- Burns is leading the bigs, shooting 56.5% from the floor, while Middlebrooks is close behind at 54.2%. Dennis Parker Jr is coming in at 45.2%.
- For the guards, it’s Casey Morsell leading the way at 44.6% from the floor, while O’Connell is next up at 43.4%. Taylor is shooting 42.4%, and DJ Horne is struggling a bit, shooting just 34.8% from the field.
- Jayden Taylor is turning the ball over the most at 1.8 times per game, while Burns is next at 1.7. Morsell is at 1.5 and O’Connell is at 1.2. DJ Horne has been doing a good job of protecting the basketball, turning it over just .3 times per game.
NC State 52 Ole Miss 72: Box Score (with notes)
NC State’s Men’s Basketball team lost it’s second straight game tonight, losing 52-72 on the road at Ole Miss in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge. Below is the Box Score with some notes below.
- Ben Middlebrooks posted a double-double, with 13 points and 12 boards. To be honest, Middlebrooks was the only bright spot in this game.
- Casey Morsell was the only other player to score in double figures (12 points), but it wasn’t pretty, shooting 5 of 14 from the field.
- One of the poorest statistical shooting performance I can remember.
- NC State shot 31.8% from the field and 12% from three (3-25).
- The Wolfpack’s DNA on defense is turning over their opponent, and they were unable to do so tonight, turning over the Rebels only 7 times.
- For comparison, the Wolfpack turned it over 13 times, giving them a Turnover Margin tonight of -6.
- Heading into tonight, they averaged a Turnover Margin of +7.8.
- Ole Miss scored 13 points off of turnovers, compared to NC State’s 4.
- This is the first time this season that NC State failed to force their opponent to commit at least 10 turovers.
- NC State was -25 when D.J. Burns was on the court, which was the worst on the team.
- NC State was +3 when L.J. Thomas was on the court, and +2 when Ben Middlebrooks were on the court. They were the only two players in the positive.
- Thomas and Middlebrooks should have earned themselves some more playing time going forward.
- Ole Miss’ length was problematic for the Wolfpack, blocking 9 of their shots.
There will be more analysis on this game coming tomorrow.