NC State vs. NC Central
7PM | RSN | Raleigh, NC
The Wolfpack may not have blown out Campbell last week, but they continued to improve and answered serious questions on who and what they’ll be.
Tonight vs. Central they’ll need to keep that up. TJ Warren and Tyler Lewis have been as advertised, so there is only so much we can say about them. They’ve been great, the heart and foundation of the team this season. However, after those two there was nothing but questions coming into the season.
Dez Lee was the first to step up and make a stand. The Juco transfer has made it absolutely clear that he’s going to be a factor this season. His ability to score in transition, create his own shot and defend the opponent’s top scorer has him locked in as one of Gottfried’s top guys. Then you have Cat Barber who took a big step forward against Campbell. He has continued to improve on shot selection, game management and decision making and will soon be a superstar for this team. Ralston Turner is also a guy who we’ve seen inching closer and closer to being ready. He’s scoring ability is there and his defense is pretty good, however Gottfried is teaching him shot selection and how to know when a good time is to just pull up during an offensive set.
Then there are the bigs. This is an area currently under construction. Who will step up, who will get minutes? So many questions. As of now we know that Freeman is in the rotation. The guy is a ball of energy on the blocks. He may not be polished but he is strong and he fights. The battle for minutes is heating up between Beejay Anya and Kyle Washington. Early on it looked like Washington had the gig won out, but an inability to rebound and defend on a high level has opened the door for Anya who seized the opportunity against Campbell. His lane presence was phenomenal and he’s slowly but surely rounding into shape.
With that said…here is what we’re looking for in today game:
1) Can Barber continue to show floor leadership?
I’d like to see State get a big lead and sit Lewis for a bit. Lewis is the starting PG and State is only going as far as he and Warren will take them, but they need Cat badly and they need him ready. The more time he can get with training wheels off (Lewis out of the game), the better he’ll be. He needs to learn how to run this team when Lewis is in foul trouble or out for any reason.
2) Who is the real Beejay Anya?
Is it the slow guy who seemed lost in the first few games or the dominant rim defender from last time out. I think he’s coming around and I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg, but I guess we’ll learn more tonight.
3) Will we see the defense take a step up?
The first few games are for comfort. Start to get a feel for this big stage, get back in the rhythm of the season, learn your roles. All that happens, but after a while it becomes business time. No more playing around with lineups, no more flashy highlights, no more taking plays off. It’s starting to get to that point and NC State needs to show their identity. With the scrappy bunch they have I think you may see this team morph into a defensive team. They have the athletes, the have the on the ball defenders, they just need to learn to play team defense. I’ll be watching tonight to see if they get this concept. Is everyone either on the ball, in deny or in help defense? Are they talking/communicating? Are they taking pride in that part of the game? It’s time to start focusing on where you’re going to make your money. Who is this team and what will they be known for? I’ll be looking to get that answer sometime soon.
Notes on Central: They are 2-1 with a win over Campbell (by 19) and a loss to Cincy by 13.