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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.

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7 years ago

I’m a NC State Graduate, class of ’75, I played football at State.I’m a diehard fan ever since my dad, also a State graduate, had me sit next to the radio with him starting about 4 years old and listen to Wolfpack football and basketball games.Since Valvano left in early ’90’s the State basketball program has never been able to win an ACC basketball championship.I am a retired Army Colonel and I believe for any organization to be successful it needs good leadership, but leadership is not enough.In sports you have to be able to recruit the quality players year… Read more »

7 years ago

I respectively disagree with ThatWiggaJigga from the standpoint that the offensive scheme presently used sucks and does not fit this group of players.  Bigs can’t score or create therefore we are left with shooting the three and hoping that works.  We need Henderson to come back and Kirk to get more playing time.  Our only chance of going to the post season is to win the ACC tournament.  With what we have on the court right now, no way in hell we are going anywhere this year or next. We have to have bigs that can create and score.  Get… Read more »

7 years ago

My biggest reason on wanting Cody over Caleb, besides the shot selection of course, is the flow of the offense when he is in.  Caleb seems unable to see more than 1 pass ahead.  Often catching the ball and looking to shoot or drive.  That is fine at times, but it must be there.  Many times, especially the other night against a zone, you need to catch and pass, moving the ball quickly to beat  the movement of a zone.  Cody did a good job of moving the ball quickly, all be it because he is not a great scorer,… Read more »

NC State Basketball

Wolferetti: Feed me my crow. NC State lost to Creighton and I’m here to break it down (and admit I was wrong)



I was wrong.

I thought this matchup was a good one for NC State. I watched a lot of Creighton this year and to me, they looked like a team that NC State could roll over. Let me explain why.

I knew a few things. I knew Nembhard was a PG that could get a little out of control if sped up. I knew with a little defense and physicality, Sheierman could be made uncomfortable. I knew Kalkbrenner was a good defender but was going to sink on the pick-and-roll to protect the basket.

Joiner’s pull up just wouldn’t fall

I figured that Joiner, the pull-up king would be taking that DJ Burns screen, getting to the middle, and pulling up as Kalkbrenner sank. I figured Smith would exploit this as well. Well, turns out Joiner was off and couldn’t get his pull-up game going and Smith, well yeah Smith did exploit this pretty well.

Burns didn’t look like Burns

The other thing I’d figure would happen is that I thought DJ Burns would really frustrate Kalkbrenner. If you’ve looked at games where Kalkbrenner had to face a really good, physical back-to-the-basket big man, those bigs usually had pretty good games in the scoring column.  I honestly don’t understand what happened to Burns in this one. Sure he got a few stupid early fouls, but before he even picked up a foul he looked out of it. With no double teams coming, Burns is usually calculated, slowly backing you down and hitting you with a flurry of head fakes, pump fakes or spins. If the big doesn’t bite, Burns can fade away, go with a contested hook shot, or pass out.

In this game, Burns looked sped up for some reason. The first time he got the ball he quickly backed in and threw up a hook that rattled out. Not awful, but usually you see him probe a little more. Then the next time he didn’t even look for contact, instead, he threw up a little floater that didn’t fall. While neither were awful shots, both were uncharacteristic of Burns. On top of those things, he looked absolutely gassed within minutes of coming in. My guess is that it was the altitude, but either way, it took a toll on him.

Whatever it was, it had him frustrated and he had two really bad fouls where he just shoved Kalkbrenner (he also had a phantom foul that was ridiculous). That said, it just wasn’t his night and this made NC State a lot more one-dimensional.

Casey Morsell came to play, but this NC State roster just wasn’t built to get a guy like him going, which is a shame. Jarkel Joiner was a huge reason why NC State got to where they got. His scoring ability, his speed and his toughness and leadership skill were huge. But Joiner is a scoring guard, and great basketball teams need POINT guards.

What is a point guard, and why can’t we have one?

A point guard isn’t just a guy who dribbles it down. It’s a guy who understands the games within the games. Guys who dictate pace, call plays (sets) and are essentially coaches on the floor. NC State and Kevin Keatts never had that this season, and while you can get a long way with scoring guards and good big men, you’ll never compete for anything of worth until you prioritize the skill set of a true point guard. I think that has been NC State’s problem for years, and I find it kind of insane that coach after coach falls into this idea of having a scoring guard play as a PG for more offense to get on the court.

This is no shot at Jarkel, either. The guy was one of my favorite players to watch on this team, but it just is what it is. He is a scoring guard who happens to be slotting in at PG. When you see Keatts bring in a guy whose priority is getting his guys open and dictating pace, then you can start to believe that this program may be close to arriving. Until then, sneaking into the tournament and hoping guys get hot hands is as good as it gets.

Look at Kihei Clark (Virginia’s PG). I know it’s not a great time to be talking about Clark, whose errant pass ended up losing the game for Virginia on Thursday, but look at Clark’s build.5’10, 170lbs. Look at his stats. Mid-30s shooting % from 3. Hight 70s from the FT line. The guy is nothing special when it comes to the numbers, but he’s a leader and he distributes the basketball to the right guys at the right time. Tony Bennett has started Clark for 4 years despite the fact that he’s coaching a team that is always in the running to win the ACC and won a national championship less than 5 years ago.  He could replace Clark with an elite, tall, athlete at any moment. But he doesn’t. Why? Because he understands what I’m talking about. It’s a puzzle that coaches need to put together, and one piece of that puzzle is a guy like this.

I was wrong about this game. I thought things would play out differently. They didn’t. I’m not blaming anyone in particular, but the makeup of this team vs. the makeup of teams that play deep into March are different. Maybe this is step one to getting there. We’ll have to see how the roster shapes up next season.

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NC State Basketball

VIDEO: NC State falls to Creighton 72-63 in first round of NCAA Tournament | Extended Highlights & Box Score

NC State came out flat, DJ Burns looked gassed, and for the most part, the Pack looked shell-shocked vs. Creighton from the opening tip. However, Terquavion Smith is excluded from all of that. He was amazing and in what was likely his final game at NC State, he kept the Pack afloat, dropping 32 points on 12-25 shooting. In the end, it wasn’t enough as their big man, 7’1 Ryan Kalkbrenner went for 31.



NC State came out flat, DJ Burns looked gassed, and for the most part, the Pack looked shell-shocked vs. Creighton from the opening tip. However, Terquavion Smith is excluded from all of that. He was amazing and in what was likely his final game at NC State, he kept the Pack afloat, dropping 32 points on 12-25 shooting. In the end, it wasn’t enough as their big man, 7’1 Ryan Kalkbrenner went for 31.

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NC State Basketball

VIDEO: Smith, Joiner and Keatts talk in postgame press conference

Terquavion Smith, Jarkel Joiner and Kevin Keatts meet with the media after 72-63 loss to Creighton in the NCAA Tournament.



Terquavion Smith, Jarkel Joiner and Kevin Keatts meet with the media after 72-63 loss to Creighton in the NCAA Tournament.

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NC State Basketball

Wolferetti: 3 reasons why NC State is going to win today



God bless these guys over here at PI. I submitted this article to them this morning and got this back.

“Joey, this is a good piece, but are you sure you want to come out and say that NC State is going to win? Why not just do a ‘keys to the game.’ or something? Hedge your bets. Why are you always wanting to put your reputation on the line?”

To that I say, “Nah, I’m good. I want my reputation on the line. What fun is this if I’m not callin’ it like I see it?”

Look, they’ve been worried about me stating outlandish opinions before. Like when I said after game #1, after I first laid eye on this team, that it was going to be a team that will flirt with or get into the Top 25? I got hammered for that, but was I right? And today I’m back on my prediction tip, telling you that NC State will survive and advance. And here are my 3 reasons why.

1. Creighton hasn’t fared well against teams with great Turnover Margins.

If Creighton has a glaring weakness, it’s turnover margin.

NC State’s turnover margin ranks 16th in the NCAA. Creighton’s is a miserable 291st. This means Creighton turns the ball over a lot and doesn’t create many turnovers. Meanwhile, NC State is the exact opposite. They create a lot of turnovers and really protect the basketball. This statistic right here is going to play a major role. The Creighton guards, especially Nembhard, can get sped up, and when they do, they can get sloppy and out of control. Meanwhile, Joiner and Smith flourish at top speed.

Let’s look at the one team that Creighton lost to every time they played them (and played them multiple times). That team is Marquette.

What do Marquette and NC State have in common? Well, they are both Top 20 in the nation in Turnover Margin. Marquette ranks #3 in the NCAA while the Pack is 16th. Creighton turned it over 18 times in their first meeting at Marquette. The second time these two teams met, Creighton turned it over 15 times.

The other teams they faced in the Top 50 of Turnover Margin in the nation?

#39 Arizona State
#10 Texas

That’s it. And guess what, Creighton lost every single one of those games. They have yet to beat a team in the Top 50 in Turnover Margin.

Reminder. NC State ranks 16th.

2. Large, back-to-the-basket bigs have fared well against Creighton

6’9, 245lb, Adama Sanogo from UConn dropped 17 against them in a win.

6’9, 215lb, Oso Ighodaro from Marquette dropped 16 on them in their first meeting, and then 18 in their second.

6’7, 220lb, Bryce Hopkins from Providence scored 20 on them in both meetings. One of which was a win.

All of these guys are big, strong, back-to-the-basket bigs and all of them bullied their way to huge games again Creighton.

In all 3 instances, Creighton refused to double-team on most possessions and the big men ate. So how will they deal with a big that is bigger than any of these guys?

DJ Burns is 6’9, 275lbs and he’s going to be a focal point for NC State in this game. If Creighton opts to play Burns straight up, history says they are going to have a long night and Burn is going to have a big game.

3. Creighton hasn’t seen guards like Joiner and Smith

Sure Creighton has quick guards. Nembhard, the 6’0 PG rarely gets a matchup where he doesn’t have a quickness advantage. Today, against Joiner, he won’t have one. There is so much talk about Creighton’s guards bottling up their opponents, but watch them play and you’ll see that they simply haven’t had to face guys like Joiner or Smith. Creighton will allow the floor to be spread and will not fight against playing this game at a fast pace, and those are the types of games we’ve seen the NC State guards feast.

Creighton is a very good team. They have some very good pieces, but I just think they’ve found themselves in a matchup that isn’t very good for them despite being data-darlings. I could be wrong, but to me, this looks like a game where people are reading off statistics and making assumptions without watching film. Without looking at each team’s Achilles heel. And without really breaking down the matchups.

I think this is a really good matchup for the Pack and I think I’ll be back talking to you in about 24 hours looking at who the guys will play on Sunday.

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