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What does the return of Vandenberg mean for State?

NC State Basketball

What does the return of Vandenberg mean for State?

After over a month of waiting, NC State could welcome back Jordan Vandenberg on Tuesday.

The 7’1 senior suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason and has missed the team’s first four games. His absence has meant that freshmen Kyle Washington, Lennard Freeman and Beejay Anya have been thrown into the fire and asked to bear the entire front court burden.

So far, it’s been a learning process. Washington has struggled with the strength and physicality of the college game. Freeman has been strong enough, but is not advanced enough offensively. Then you have Anya who can hold his own defensively, but again, isn’t there offensively or conditioning wise.

So that leaves the Wolfpack with a gaping front court hole. Their two losses have both come on games where they have been out-rebounded. Their guard play has been surprisingly good, so getting a guy like Vandenberg back is definitely going to help. Here are a few reasons we can’t wait to see JV suit back up for the Wolfpack.

Making it tougher in the paint – You can make any argument you want as to why State needs Vandy back in the lineup, however I think the strongest would be his mere presence in the lane. The guy is 7’1 and you put him in the middle of the lane, all of the sudden interior shot trajectories change and players need to be aware of where he at all times. I’m not saying Jordan is going to be a savior, but I’m saying that he’s going to plug a hole that is currently leaking. State’s front line is usually 6’6, 6’8, 6’9. Not awful, but not intimidating. Add a 7 footer in there and you might have something.

Rebounding – State has been killed on the boards by good teams so far. NCCU and Cincy both took the Pack to school in the rebounding category. It’s not that they’re not fighting – they are – it’s that they aren’t strong enough and aren’t seasoned enough to be good on the glass yet. Adding Vandenberg will most certainly help against bigger, stronger teams.

Second chance points- Here is somewhere that NC State has been bad. While they are rebounding off their own misses (52 offensive boards on the season) they aren’t scoring them. Sure, Warren is saving State’s stats in this category and making them decent, but outside of him, there isn’t much to speak of. Vandy is going to be a huge help with this. While he’s not completely polished offensively, he is a big body and he does work hard on the offensive glass. He’ll need to be careful because he does like to go over the back when trying to hard, but his ability to clean up some of State’s mess will be welcomed.

Scoring in transition- I know this might come as a surprise, but JV is really good at running the break for a big. If you watched early in the season, he was the recipient of a lot of Tyler Lewis highlight reel plays. Vandy is in pretty good shape this year and he really likes the transition game (because, oh how he loves his dunks), so watch out for the fast break points to tick up when Vandy returns.

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All in all, it will be nice to watch the Pack at full strength to get a real feel for their strengths and weaknesses. I guess the silver lining in all of this is that it has made State a deeper team. With Vandenberg down, Freeman stepped up, Washington played good minutes and Anya broke into the rotation. If he had never hurt himself, you may not have seen as much of these young guys. The minutes they received will certainly come back to to help State when foul trouble comes knocking during ACC season.

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