In what was probably the ugliest game of their season, NC State fell to Pitt 74-62 after having an early 15 point lead. Here are some of our observations from the game.
Turnovers killed NC State. 16 turnovers, 9 of which came in the first half. This was about as lackadaisical with the basketball as you could look. Cat Barber and Dez Lee combined for half of those 16 turnovers, while Turner and Warren both added 2. This was huge because it led to easy run outs and lots of transition buckets for the Panthers.
NC State’s turnovers led to a lot of breaks for Pitt, but the Wolfpack’s transition D was no where to be found in this one. Usually it’s NC State making a living off the break, but Pitt dominated this category, scoring 24 points on the break and 19 points of turnovers. This killed the Pack.
Rebounding was surprisingly good against the stronger Panther front line. We’ll talk later about lack of effort in some areas, but that wasn’t the case on the boards where the Pack used a team effort to really take it to Pitt. State dominated rebounds 35-29 and it was really a team effort. Warren had 8, Barber had 6, Vandy 5, Freeman 4 Washington 3 and Anya added 3. This was surprising because Pitt is very physical and more mature than State right now. However, Gottfried’s group of young bigs really held their own and fought for rebounds.
This is where we’re going to talk about effort. I think State came out with great effort. They were feeding off the crowd and making plays, but it looked like they simply forgot the game plan in the second half. State held Pitt to 33% shooting through the first 20 mins but allowed them to really get out in transition and score some easy buckets in the second half, on the way to allowing the Panthers to shoot 62% in the second half. One of the keys was Lama Patterson, who was really held in check in the first half. Give credit to Pitt for finding new ways to get him the ball and get him going in the second half. He finished with 22, but 17 came in the 2nd half.
We’ve got to remember that this is still young team. If we get one more facebook or tweet telling us to stop using the “this team is young” excuse, I’m going to explode. Do you think just because this team played 1 non-conference slate that they’re all of the sudden veterans? The fact is, State is running a ton of underclassmen and those that aren’t have no ACC experience outside of Vandenberg. I understand fans getting frustrated with this team because they’re coming so close to winning big games, and they’re showing glimpses of greatness, but remember that is what young players/teams do. The biggest things that young players lack is consistency and poise. Those come with time, so please enjoy this team but be patient with them, they are still learning.
TJ Warren struggled in the 2nd half of this one. After coming out red-hot, he only managed 3 FGs in the 2nd half. He did finish with 23 points and 8 boards, so that is positive. The thing you are starting to see, however, is that Warren isn’t as consitent when State is forcing things to him. He is a guy who scores in the flow of the game. He’s not as good when you just give him the ball and clear out. This has been State’s problem of late. Teams are taking Warren away with physical play and double teams, but State still wants to go to him. The only answer is for other guys to score within the flow of the offense and make it hard to just focus on Warren. One thing this team can’t do is start going one on one. As soon as things start going bad, Barber starts forcing the issue, Dez starts forcing the issue, Warren and Turner are taking off balance, poor shots. This team needs poise and understanding of the situation. When the opposition makes a run, it’s not time to answer by driving one on one. It’s time to slow it down and get a good look at the basket.
Speaking of the offense, this team is struggling because the offense is way too guard/wing oriented. There is no threat in the post at all. Now, a lot of that is because the guys State has down there aren’t all that polished offensively, but you have to at least feed the post and make it seem like you want the ball down there. Very rarely do you see a two-man-game where the guard dumps it down, relocates, the big kicks it back out, and re-seals. This at least makes the defense work and makes them pay attention to the bigs. State, right now, is way too one dimensional on offense.