Gottfried Press Conference Audio
This NC State team is really starting to gel. After a few bumps in the road early on, Gottfried has finally gotten his guys to settle in to their roles and play good basketball. All of this was apparent last night when the Pack took down a pretty decent Chris Collins coached Northwestern team, 69-48.
Sure, it’s nice to see them beat a Big 10 team by 21, but the real thing to focus on is how they won. For the first time since the Hodge, Atsur, Evtimov days NC State is playing as a team. They’re playing together. There is no ego or jealously. There is no one hunting points or trying to do too much. Watch after great passes or made baskets. For the first time in a long time we’re seeing genuine teamwork. Guys pointing at other guys, telling them nice pass, or great shot. I know team chemistry is a much debated topic on the forums. Is chemistry that important or does it come down to talent? Well, we’ve seen first hand for the past 10 years that talent without teamwork is worthless. This year is different, and it was on display last night.
Here are a few of our takeaways from last night:
– State looked amazing in almost every aspect of the game. They locked down on defense, playing great help and recover, they denied passes and they didn’t give up many open looks, holding the Wildcats to 25% shooting (they also forced 11 turnovers). They attacked the glass and won the battle of the boards 39-37. They took good shots and knocked down open looks on their way to a 46% shooting night. They took care of the basketball, turning it over only 5 times. It was a very nice all around win and wonderful team showing by NC State.
– TJ Warren has taken it to the next level. Last year we saw him start to understand that he could really score on this stage. Then this year, early on, he showed that he had added to his arsenal, trimmed down his body and still could score at the same clip. Now, he’s taken it up a notch. Warren has become State’s leader. He’s become their go-to guy and he’s embracing that role. He’s looking more and more comfortable attacking when the team needs him to. But, the real key here is not how many points Warren is putting up, but it’s how he’s doing it. He’s not an ego maniac who’s worried about keeping his average up or making sure he’s the guy on Sportscenter the next day. Warren is picking up his guys, sharing the ball, and making everyone feel comfortable playing with him. He’s playing hard, smart and team basketball and it’s trickling down to the rest of the guys. If Warren keeps playing this way, this team could be special.
– Cat Barber and Tyler Lewis showed us that they can coexist. This was one major area of concern for me coming in. I wasn’t sure how Lewis would take the fact that Barber had won the starting job over him. Early on, and even early in last night’s game, Lewis was trying to prove his worth by trying to score a little more. He has been taking a few questionable shots and kind of altering his game a little bit. Lewis is not and never will be a ‘force the issue’ scorer. He’s more of a ‘take what you give me scorer.’ I think Lewis realized last night how to earn major minutes and co-exist with Barber. He needs to create havoc off the dribble and find the open man. That’s his strength. It might not be the most exciting role, but it’s a very important one and one Lewis is very good at. Lewis was on point once he started doing this last night. He was an assist machine, dealing out 7 on the game in only 16 minutes. Barber also played well. He had 7 points and 5 assists. He’s going to play a lot of minutes and he’s a guy that has really won his PT with his defense and his athleticism. If he keeps playing smart ball he’s going to keep the starting job, but Lewis is a major player for State as well. If both guys can embrace their roles, State becomes that much harder to beat. I think last night was a huge step forward.
– Lennard Freeman is a pleasant surprise. This kid has come in without much fanfare and simply earned minutes. He’s slowly but surely coming around offensively, but that’s not why Gott runs him out there. The kid put up his first double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. He is battling so hard every minute of every game. I’m not going to say he’s replaced the gap left by Richard Howell, but he’s the youngest guy on the team. He has a lot of time to grow and if he keeps on his current trajectory he might become Richard Howell with more athleticism.
–Ralston Turner is starting to find his place as well. He’s becoming a shooter/defender type role player who has the skills to really impact a game if he’s hitting. Last night he was hitting. Turner 4-8 and 3-7 from 3 point range for 13 points. Add in the fact that he can defend and you have yourself a really good piece of the puzzle. Turner is going to be huge against the zone for State. In the 2nd half last night he really came in and ruined everything NW was trying to do.
– Vandenberg is king. I’m so happy for this kid. He’s worked his tail off and been so loyal to this program and he’s finally reaping the rewards. Look, face the facts, Vandy has the chance to be one of the ACC’s best bigs. He’s scoring on the break, scoring a bit on the blocks, but his real worth has been on defense in the middle. He’s altering a ton of shots, blocking some and throwing around his weight on the boards. He finished with 12 points, 3 boards, but added 5 blocks last night. He’s been the key piece in State’s surge over the past 3 games since his return.
Next up is a struggling Long Beach State team who has played a really tough schedule up to this point. That game is Saturday at 2pm on ESPN3.
NC State’s Wes Moore is 1 of 15 on the Late Season Watchlist for the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year Award
NC State Women’s Basketball Head Coach Wes Moore is 1 of 15 on the Naismith Late Season Watchlist for the Coach of the Year Award.
The leader of our Pack 🐺🐺
— NC State WBB 🐺🏀 (@PackWomensBball) February 21, 2024
Currently, Moore has led NC State from being unranked in the preseason polls, to #6 currently. The Wolfpack are 23-3, and numerous publications project them to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Moore was a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award in 2020-21 and a Semifinalist in 2015-16.
NC State NET Rankings Report After Syracuse Loss
NC State lost to Syracuse 83-87 last night, and as a result, the Wolfpack fell 5 spots in the NET Rankings to #80. The Orange moved up 6 spots to #84.
NC State is now 9th in the ACC in the NET rankings.
For a refresher on how the NET Rankings are calculated:
Using the quadrant system, which was in its fourth season in 2020-21, the quality of wins and losses will be organized based on game location and the opponent’s NET ranking.
Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353
The number of Quadrant 1 wins and Quadrant 3/4 losses will be incredibly important when it comes time for NCAA tournament selection and seeding. (NCAA)
Thoughts on NC State’s 83-87 Loss to Syracuse
NC State’s (16-10/8-7) 83-87 loss to Syracuse this evening might have been the nail-in-the-coffin when it comes to the Wolfpack’s NCAA Tournament aspirations. They were barely on the bubble as it was, but this game and the next two games against Boston College and Florida State were “must wins.” On top of that, the Wolfpack probably needed to beat Pitt in the regular season finale, and beat either Duke or UNC.
With this loss, NC State will need a miracle. They will need to win the rest of their regular season games, which concludes with 3 consecutive Quad 1 games.
In regards to this evenings game, it’s hard to beat a team when you allow them to shoot 61.3% in the first half, and allow a guy who averages 11.3 points per game (Chris Bell) to sink 8 of 9 three’s at the halfway mark. Sure, you could make the excuse that they were just hitting everything they threw up, but the defense was lackluster, and they failed to adjust to a player with a hot hand.
What I’m about to say isn’t meant to describe a moral victory for NC State. With that being said, this team didn’t give up, and clawed back from a 15-point halftime deficit (16-point at one point in the 2nd half), to take a 1-point lead with 3:15 left in the game. That was the first time the Wolfpack had led since it was 2-0.
Senior DJ Horne was sensational once again, scoring 25+ points for the 5th straight game, matching what Cat Barber did back in 2015-16. Horne finished with 32 points, hitting 11 of his 20 field goal attempts, and an insane 6 of 8 from three.
Could you argue that Horne was fouled on the last play? I guess, but I wouldn’t have called it.
Three other Wolfpack players scored in double figures: Ben Middlebrooks (12), DJ Burns (12) and Jayden Taylor (10). Honestly, they all shot well. Middlebrooks had a double-double, with 10 rebounds.
Mohamed Diarra was solid with 7 points (3-6) and 8 boards.
Syracuse came back to reality in the second half, and ended up shooting 51% from the field, but the Wolfpack shot 47%. Both teams shot well. In fact, NC State actually scored more points off of turnovers, had more second chance points and had more free throws.
You simply can’t put yourself in a position to dig yourself out of a 16-point deficit. You can’t allow a guy to make 8 of 9 three’s in the opening half, with 6 of them being practically uncontested.
The Wolfpack have lost 3 of the last 4, and all 3 losses have been by 4 points or less. I wouldn’t say the Pack lost any of those three games due to a lack of effort. Rather, I would say it was primarily due to inconsistency, a lack of discipline and poor decisions in timely moments (Jayden Taylor’s TO with 1:13 left with the game tied).
With Wake Forest beating Pitt tonight, a Wolfpack win would have put them in 4th place in the ACC.
A big missed opportunity for the Pack this evening.