NC State 78 – Queens 47
We keep saying that there are loads and loads of unanswered questions coming into this season. In tonight’s preseason opener against Queens, a lot of those questions began to get answered.
The Pack really ran away with this game in the second half, but we really weren’t watching the score. Instead we were watching the substitution patterns, the chemistry and the freshmen. Sure, it was nice to get a 78-47 win in an exhibition game, but there were much more important things going on out there tonight. Here’s what we’ve got.
Making Money On Defense
I don’t think we know enough yet to say that this team isn’t going to be a great offensive team, however on paper you’d have to believe that there will be night when they struggle to score it. That’s going to be ok if they can defend like they showed they can tonight. This was a different type of Mark Gottfried basketball. These guys were really getting into their guys, hassling ball handlers, playing great help defense, owning the glass and altering nearly any shot put up in the lane. Now, I know this was a small, undermanned Queens team but it was the hustle, the want-to and the desire that really caught my eye. Barber and Dez Lee were hounding ball handlers as soon as they crossed half court. They were in passing lanes and jumping point-to-point passes. I was seriously impressed with the showing on that end of the floor. State forced 30 TO’s as their offense fed off of their defense all night. If that is going to be this team identity then it’s fine by me.
Freshmen Lead the Way
Early on the offense looked a little disjointed. The Pack was forcing shots, dribbling into trouble and just bumbling around a lot over the first 8 minutes. It actually was the freshmen who came in and kind of settled things down. First you had Caleb Martin. I know this was just one game, but this kid brings a different dimension to this offense. He was red hot tonight, finishing with team high 16 points on 6-10 shooting and 4-6 from 3pt range (he also added 3 steals, 2 blocks and 4 boards). He’s got a pretty stroke from long range, but he’s not a one dimensional player by any means. Caleb showed his ability to take the ball into traffic, as well as finishing on the break. He’s going to have his ups and downs like anyone else this season, but in the long run this kid is going to be special. This was quite a way to start a career.
Another freshmen who had a big showing was Abdul-Malik Abu who finished with 14 points and 5 boards. Abu showcased an all around game that should have Pack fans pretty excited. He was very active in the paint, very physical on both ends of the floor and even showed off a nice 15 foot jumper. Abu had some drives to the hoop that made it seem as if he’s been here a while. His body control and physical nature are going to be big pluses for this team. He was the second leading scorer in this one and will be certainly getting a nice chunk of minutes come season time.
Lacey Struggles Again
Trevor Lacey is going to be good. There’s no debating that fact, but just how good is still up in the air. So far he really hasn’t had much success in front of the Wolfpack faithful. In the red/white scrimmage he was more of a distributor and did not score and tonight he just couldn’t find his touch. Lacey finished 3-12 shooting, notching only 7 points. I think it might be another game or two before he gets in the groove, but when he does this team is going to start kicking into gear.
Anya As Advertised
Although he didn’t start the game, Beejay Anya really made a big impact in this one. He only played 20 minutes, but in those minutes he scored 7 point (2 dunks), had 6 blocks and pulled down 4 boards. The big man is going to be a big factor for State on defense this season. Queens wasn’t able to get a many clean shots off inside the arc with Anya patrolling the paint. His length and now his ability to get off the floor makes anyone driving into the lane think twice.
State went zone in the second half and I really thought it was a good look for them. This team is very long and if they can learn positioning and to not fall asleep when in the zone, then they’ll be able to really shut some teams down with this defense. With the quickness of Barber and Lee, the length and quickness of the Martin twins and the sheer size of Anya in the middle, there isn’t much room to work the ball inside the zone without having it deflected, or being met with a big body when you do catch it. It will be interesting to see how often Gottfried employs that zone.
Barber Still Settling In
When Barber pushes the issue too much the team suffers. They just lose rhythm and the offense gets out of whack. But when Cat lets the game come to him and plays within the flow, the gears start turning for these guys. Early on Barber was pressing, but in the second half he really settled into his PG role and started looking more like the guy that could end up being a true threat in this league. Barber finished shooting only 2-9 but he did add 5 assists and only had 1 TO. Cat needs to just stop thinking about scoring and become a true distributor first. The scoring is a given and there will be times when he has to create his own shot, but right now I think he’d be best served trying to average double digit assists by getting into the lane and looking to dump it off or kick it out for a wide open 3.
NC State opens up their season this Friday at 7pm against Jacksonville at the PNC Arena.
NC State 84 BC 78: BOX SCORE
NC State is a Slight Underdog in ACC Opener vs. Boston College
NC State (4-2) will play their first ACC game of the 2023-24 season tomorrow on the road against Boston College (5-2), and they enter the game as slight underdogs. The Wolfpack are 1.5-point underdogs, and the Total is 150.5.
- NC State is 0-2 Straight Up as underdogs
- BC is 4-1 Straight Up as favorites.
- NC State is 2-4 Against the Spread.
- BC is 4-3 Against the Spread
- The Total has gone Under in 2 games for NC State, Over in 3 and Pushed in 1.
- The Total has gone Under in 3 games for Boston College and Over in 4.
- NC State is 6-4 in their last 10 games against BC Straight Up.
- NC State is 4–6 Against the Spread in their last 10 games against BC.
- The Total has gone Under in 5 games, and Under in the other 5.
#5 NC State 70 Vanderbilt 62: BOX SCORE (with notes)
The 5th ranked NC State Women’s Basketball team improved to 8-0 tonight, defeating Vanderbilt 70-62 in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge.
- Saniya Rivers scored 20+ points for the 2nd time this season, scoring 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting. She also chipped in 8 rebounds and 2 steals.
- River Baldwin posted her first double-double of the season. She scored 12 points and grabbed 10 boards.
- Aziaha James has now scored in double figures in 7 of 8 games, scoring 14 points tonight, shooting 6 of 10 from the field and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
- Freshman Zoe Brooks led the Pack in steals (4) and assists (4).
- NC State didn’t shoot well, making only 39% of their shots. Fortunately, they held Vandy to 34.3% shooting.
The Wolfpack will host Illinois State on Sunday at 2pm.
NC State Stat Leaders Heading into the ACC Opener vs Boston College
This Saturday, NC State heads to Boston College for the now-annual early ACC opener. The Pack will face off against the Eagles at 4pm on ACC Network. Here is where the team is statistically after 6 games.
- Casey Morsell leads NC State in scoring with 14.5 ppg.
- The Pack has 4 double-digit scorers this season. Morsell (14.5), Jayden Taylor (13.3), DJ Burns (13) and DJ Horne (11.2)
(Last season State had 4 double-digit scorers as well. Terquavion (17.9), Joiner (17), Burns (12.5) and Morsell (11.8))
- After their top 4 scorers there is a big dip. Parker comes in at 6.8, O’Connell at 6.3, and Middlebrooks at 5.5 ppg.
(Last season Jack Clark was 5th on the team in scoring at 9 points and Mahorcic was at 8.7. However, both guys missed a large chunk of the season.)
- Burns is leading NC State in rebounding this year at 5.3 per game. Diarra is next with 5.3 (but is currently hampered by an ankle injury.)
- O’Connell is leading NC State in assists with 3.3 per game, and Burns is up next with 2.5. PG DJ Horne is only averaging 2.
- LJ Thomas and Mike O’Connell are tied in leading the team at .15 assists per minute.
- Jayden Taylor is leading NC State in 3pt %, shooting an outstanding 45.8%, while Morsell is up next at 34.6%. Horne is close behind at 33%.
(LJ Thomas is shooting 50% from 3, but only has 2 attempts.)
- Burns is leading the bigs, shooting 56.5% from the floor, while Middlebrooks is close behind at 54.2%. Dennis Parker Jr is coming in at 45.2%.
- For the guards, it’s Casey Morsell leading the way at 44.6% from the floor, while O’Connell is next up at 43.4%. Taylor is shooting 42.4%, and DJ Horne is struggling a bit, shooting just 34.8% from the field.
- Jayden Taylor is turning the ball over the most at 1.8 times per game, while Burns is next at 1.7. Morsell is at 1.5 and O’Connell is at 1.2. DJ Horne has been doing a good job of protecting the basketball, turning it over just .3 times per game.