The problem Gottfried faces…
When Trevor Lacey decided to forego his senior season it left a gaping hole in the NC State offense. Lacey was supposed to be State’s go to scorer, best shooter and team leader. Without him they were left relying on transfer Terry Henderson. Henderson is an athletic 2 guard who can score off the bounce and also fill it up from 3 point range. He wasn’t supposed to totally fill Lacey’s shoes, but he was supposed to play his role.
Unfortunately for State, Henderson suffered a serious ankle injury in the first game of the season and has been sidelined ever since. This has forced Gottfried’s hand in relying on sophomore Caleb Martin and freshman Mav Rowan as his secondary scorers.
What has been the outcome?
While Caleb delivered some big games early on and looked to be a nice stop gap until Henderson returned, he’s since gone ice cold. This opened up the door for Mav Rowan to try his hand as State’s secondary scorer. While he’s had some great games himself, he’s a freshman and has been hurt by poor shot selection as he assimilates to the college game. With the Pack now 0-4 in ACC play and Caleb and Rowan struggling shooting the ball, they may be rethinking their plan of attack.
Statistically, NC State ranks dead last in effective FG% among power conference teams. Let me repeat…dead last. So there really is nowhere to go but up. That being said, allowing low percentage shooters to take a majority of your shots from the perimeter is not going to be the answer. Caleb and Mav are capable of being very good shooters if they can square up and get clean looks, but off-balance, often contested high-volume shooting is not going to solve any problems.
So what are the options?
Let’s take a closer look…
NC State needs to make adjustments. Caleb Martin and Mav Rowan are talented players, there is no doubt about it. They are going to be a big part of this basketball team’s future, but at 0-4 in the ACC you’d have to think that there is going to be some sort of reevaluation of how these guys are used.
The quagmire here is that Gottfried knows his team needs scoring. Early in the season it was Caleb and Rowan who backed up Cat in that category. Right now however, State is giving away too many possessions by settling for 3s from guys who simply aren’t really shooting it well. Instead of attacking the rim, getting to the line or dumping it down to the post and making the defense adjust, they are simply settling for 3’s off of perimeter passes (many of which are contested).
Watching the games and looking at the box score, Rowan and Caleb are producing at a very similar level. They are both streaky shooters who don’t have much success getting to the rim, and who don’t really put up great numbers across the board (outside of points). Right now Caleb gives you better defense, rebounding and slightly better assist numbers. But Rowan currently is shooting it better (especially since ACC play started.)
Over the last 9 games Caleb Martin is shooting 22-80 from the field. That is 27.5%. He’s hit 13-60 from beyond the arc, for 22%. He’s grabbed 45 rebounds in that span and has 12 assists. He’s also blocked 6 shots and 4 steals. All of that in 292 minutes of play.
Meanwhile, during that span, Mav Rowan is shooting 35-113. That is about 31% from the field. He’s hit 20-64 for 31% from 3 point range. Over that span he has 27 rebounds and has dished out 7 assists. He’s also tallied zero blocks and 2 steals. All of this in a total of 294 minutes.
With Terry Henderson out, it’s obvious that the Pack needs someone on the perimeter than can help score it, but it’s really hurting them that they have guys shooting in the high 20’s to low 30% range taking a total of 193 shots over the span we’re looking at. If you’re wondering about total percentage of shots taken over that span, that comes out to about 35%. That’s certainly too much.
So what are the options for Gottfried? He doesn’t really have another scorer to sub in.
One option is to split Caleb and Mavs minutes between the two. Which ever one is on that day gets the minutes. You then have the ability to play Cody at the 3. While he isn’t going to put up points, he is going to give you two things you desperately need: A guy who will be your best defender on the floor, and someone who is patient on offense and looks for high percentage scoring opportunities. Let’s look at Cody’s numbers over that 9 game span.
Cody is shooting 44%, going 15-34 from the field. He has 35 rebounds and 15 assists. Add in 6 blocks and 11 steals. He’s done all of that in only 199 minutes of play over those 9 games (almost 100 minutes less than Caleb or Mav).
So while he’s not scoring a ton, he’s also not shooting a ton. The shots he is taking are of a higher percentage. If you look at points per minute, Caleb comes in at .22 while Cody is right behind him at .21 over the aforementioned span. He’s rebounding, assisting, blocking and getting steals at a much better clip when you look at per minute production.
At this point you really are looking at 2 lines of thinking. Up until a few games ago, most fans were likely onboard with the idea that if you let Rowan and Caleb Martin shoot out their kinks, they’ll eventually become the go-to shooters you are looking for. But as State finds themselves in a deep hole at 0-4 in ACC play, you have to start questioning this strategy.
By allowing Cody Martin to step in at the 3 and have the 2 guard responsibilities shared between Mav and Caleb, you are losing a potential scoring threat on the perimeter. This would feel risky if these guys weren’t shooting a combined 25% from 3 point range since the team started playing stiffer competition.
The other factor to consider is that while shooting percentages from these guys are a worry, there are other problems that are causing NC State to come up short. Their defense has been less than stellar, they aren’t creating turnovers at the rate they could (considering their size, length and athleticism at numerous positions) and they are simply not being patient on offense. These are all areas that Cody could help if given more court time. With Abu seemingly turning the corner and showing signs of being able to become a consistent scorer from the block, you could see Gottfried transition into a team that relies on Cat and Abu, supplemented by either Mav or Caleb at the two.
Sidenote: Over that span of 9 games we’ve been talking about, Abu has gone 41-88 from the floor. That’s 47%.
With arch rival #5 UNC coming up on Saturday, these are certainly things NC State needs to consider if they are going to take the pieces that they have and try to make a run for it.
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.
NC State 52 Ole Miss 72: Box Score (with notes)
NC State’s Men’s Basketball team lost it’s second straight game tonight, losing 52-72 on the road at Ole Miss in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge. Below is the Box Score with some notes below.
- Ben Middlebrooks posted a double-double, with 13 points and 12 boards. To be honest, Middlebrooks was the only bright spot in this game.
- Casey Morsell was the only other player to score in double figures (12 points), but it wasn’t pretty, shooting 5 of 14 from the field.
- One of the poorest statistical shooting performance I can remember.
- NC State shot 31.8% from the field and 12% from three (3-25).
- The Wolfpack’s DNA on defense is turning over their opponent, and they were unable to do so tonight, turning over the Rebels only 7 times.
- For comparison, the Wolfpack turned it over 13 times, giving them a Turnover Margin tonight of -6.
- Heading into tonight, they averaged a Turnover Margin of +7.8.
- Ole Miss scored 13 points off of turnovers, compared to NC State’s 4.
- This is the first time this season that NC State failed to force their opponent to commit at least 10 turovers.
- NC State was -25 when D.J. Burns was on the court, which was the worst on the team.
- NC State was +3 when L.J. Thomas was on the court, and +2 when Ben Middlebrooks were on the court. They were the only two players in the positive.
- Thomas and Middlebrooks should have earned themselves some more playing time going forward.
- Ole Miss’ length was problematic for the Wolfpack, blocking 9 of their shots.
There will be more analysis on this game coming tomorrow.