NC State Wolfpack vs. Northwestern Wildcats
Dec 4 (tonight) | 7:30 PM | Raleigh, NC | ESPNU
*This game is part of the ACC/Big Ten challenge
The Pack takes on Northwestern tonight at the PNC Arena at 7:30pm as they look to extend their winning streak to a season high 3 games in this ACC/Big Ten matchup.
It seems like State is starting to round into form over the past two games. They’ve made adjustments, gotten Vandy back from injury and have transitioned Cat Barber into the starting rotation. These things have definitely helped take this team to the next level and they’ll look to build on that tonight vs the Wildcats.
Get to know Northwestern
The Wildcats come into this game at 4-4. So far they’ve struggled with quality opponents taking losses to Mizzou, UCLA and Stanford, but this isn’t really a bad team. Their head coach is long time Duke assistant, Chris Collins. He’s in his first season as HC and is still trying to change the mindset of his team. Collins was the favorite to take over for Coach K when he retired, but the old rat is still lurking the sidelines of Cameron Indoor and it doesn’t look like he’s leaving anytime soon. Collins, who’s not getting any younger, decided to bolt, get some head coaching experience in hopes of building his resume for when K does decide to retire. As for his team this year, they’re ok but the Wildcats are really focused on the future. That being said, this team has a few really nice pieces and this will be no walk in the park for the Pack.
Northwestern Players to Watch:
Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb are two guys that the Wolfpack need to key on. Crawford is really their go-to scorer…or at least he was supposed to be. A season ago, Crawford led the Wildcats at 13 PPG and was supposed to lead them again this year, but the emergence of JerShon Cobb has been a pleasant surprise for Collins and company. Cobb is averaging 15ppg and is currently up on Crawford (but only by a point). These two can really score it. Both are guards who can create their own shot and knock it down from distance. State will need to keep a close eye on these two, because after them there aren’t any true stars. The offensive system has changed some from the typical Northwestern 5-out spread offense that relied heavily on 3s. They still shoot the 3 at a nice clip, but this is a team that’s learning physicality and trying to get more of a fighter’s mentality. Right now they are still searching, but they’re not to be taken lightly.
Can the Wolfpack pull off the win?
Yes, in fact they SHOULD win this one. State is quicker, stronger and has talent than Northwestern, but defense will be key. State will need to use their D to not only shut down the Wildcat guards, but also to crank up the pace. Barber will be a huge piece to this puzzle. He’s likely going to matchup with either Cobb or Crawford and be asked to lock them down. With Dez Lee taking whoever Barber does not take, State has two really good defenders against two really good scorers. This is the first time in a long time that I can remember the Pack really having two good lock down guys on defense.
State also needs to control the boards. Northwestern has struggled in this area while the Pack has started to get it going. The return of Jordan Vandenberg has been monumental in this shift. The big Aussie has been the key cog in NC State recent uptick in productivity. He’s scoring, blocking shots and grabbing boards. Tonight he’ll face another 7 footer in sophomore Alex Olah. This kid is a lot like Vandy. He’s raw but he’s a pretty skilled 7 footer. While this could be a good matchup, I think Jordan (if he keeps playing the way he has been) will dominate it.
Player to Watch for NC State:
I’m going to go with a no-brainer on this one. The key guy for State tonight is Warren. Northwestern doesn’t have anyone who can really matchup with him and he’s been on fire lately. Now, Cat Barber and Dez Lee will be huge as well, especially on the defensive end, but when it comes down to it, Warren is the key tonight.
Zone or No Zone?
The scouting report against State is to go zone. They haven’t shot well and they’ve looked sluggish at times against 2-3s. It will be interesting to see what Northwestern does. Chris Collins is a Dukie and if we know the Blue Devils, we know they will almost NEVER go zone. Is Collins as ‘man-to-man’ stubborn as K? We’ll see, but it would certainly help him, especially since his team isn’t 100% bought in on the defensive end.
For State, I think the more zone they see the better. They need work against it and last time out they really seemed to turn a corner with Warren and Barber in attack mode, dicing it up. If they keep standing around the perimeter and jacking up 3s they’re going to lose a lot of games, but if they can learn to really attack the gaps then they’ll be fine. They need more work against it, but I’m doubting they see much of it tonight.
NC State’s 2023-23 Men’s Basketball Schedule Has Arrived
NC State’s 2023-24 Men’s Basketball schedule has arrived!
NC State to Honor David Thompson with Statue Outside Reynolds Coliseum
RALEIGH – NC State University will pay tribute to three-time All-American David Thompson with a statue sculpted in his honor that will be placed outside of Reynolds Coliseum.
The unveiling will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, the day of the Wolfpack men’s basketball team’s annual Heritage Game at Reynolds Coliseum, and will be open to the public.
“This is such a deserved honor for the greatest basketball player to ever wear an NC State jersey,” NC State Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan said. “He is one of the most iconic players to ever play in the ACC and our hope is that this statue will ensure that generations of NC State students and fans will always remember the legacy and contributions of David Thompson.”
Thompson is widely recognized as one of the greatest players in college basketball history. A 2008 ESPN story ranked him as one of the ten best college basketball players of all-time, and he is regarded as one of greatest athletes in Atlantic Coast Conference history.
The Boiling Spring, N.C., native played three seasons at NC State from 1972-75 and was a unanimous first-team All-American at the conclusion of all three seasons. He was also named the ACC Player of the Year all three seasons.
He was named the Associated Press National Player of the Year in 1974 and 1975 and remains one of just five players in college basketball history to win multiple AP National Player of the Year honors.
Thompson immediately made his mark on the Pack, helping lead NC State to an undefeated season (27-0) in 1973. The Pack dominated the 1972-73 season and was at the top or near the top of the polls all season as Thompson averaged 24.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Thompson returned in the 1973-74 season and led the Wolfpack to a 30-1 record and the school’s first NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball National Title.
In the Final Four, Thompson and the Wolfpack met up with UCLA, the seven-time reigning National Champions and the only team to have defeated NC State that season. The Pack trailed 74-67 in the second overtime when Thompson’s heroics helped lead NC State back. Thompson pulled down a defensive rebound and made the go-ahead basket with under one minute remaining and then made two free throws with 38 seconds to go to give the Pack a 78-75 double overtime win in a game that is still considered one of the greatest Final Four games ever played.
Thompson finished the game with 28 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Bill Walton and the Bruins.
Two nights later, the Pack won the National Title over Marquette, 76-64, behind 21 points from Thompson. Thompson was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
To make it into the NCAA Tournament, the Pack defeated fourth-ranked Maryland, 103-100, in overtime in the 1974 ACC Championship, in a game that is routinely considered one of the best games in college basketball history.
As a senior, Thompson averaged 29.9 points, still the highest single season average in NC State history. He scored an NC State and ACC record 57 points in an early season win over Buffalo State. The Pack started the season ranked No. 1 in the nation and never fell out of the top-10, but lost in the ACC Championship game to end its season. The Pack finished the season ranked seventh in the nation but because the NCAA Tournament at that time only allowed the conference champion into the tournament its season was over.
Thompson closed his career with 2,309 points in 86 career games. He led the ACC in scoring all three seasons and was NC State and the ACC’s career scoring leader when he graduated.
Former NC State Basketball Player Torin Dorn Joins Coaching Staff of G-League SLC Stars
Former NC State basketball player Torin Dorn has joined the staff of the Salt Lake City Stars, the G-League team for the Utah Jazz. Dorn’s title is Player Development Associate/Assistant Coach.
After playing 3 seasons at NC State, Dorn went on to play professionally overseas in Poland and Czech Republic, before joining the Wolfpack coaching staff last season as a Graduate Manager.
Dorn will be working under newly appointed head coach Steve Wojciechowski (former Duke PG), who was the head coach at Marquette the past 7 seasons.
NC State Guard MJ Rice Will Be Returning Soon After Stepping Away for a Period of Time
NC State Guard MJ Rice (6’5″/215) announced yesterday that due to personal reasons, he had to step away from the basketball program, but was excited to be back with his teammates soon. He was clear that his commitment to NC State hasn’t wavered.
Life is much bigger than sports. These young men are human beings first and foremost, and as we all know, this life is never simple and easy.
Rice transferred to NC State this offseason from Kansas with three years of eligibility remaining. The former High School McDonald’s All-American didn’t get a lot of playing time in his Freshman season at Kansas, averaging 7.6 minutes per game in only 23 games played.
Coming out of Prolific Prep in California, Rice averaged 20.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a Senior. Rivals ranked him as a 5-star prospect, ON3 ranked him 24th nationally, and ESPN ranked him as the #1 player in the state of North Carolina.
Whatever Rice is working through, we value him as a person more than we do a player.