NC State opens the season tonight at 7pm against Georgia Southern, and while there is much anticipation, there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Here are 5 things that we will be watching in tonight’s opener.
1) What does NC State’s frontcourt look like without Yurtseven
Without the 7 foot, 5-star freshman on the floor for the first 9 games (due to NCAA’s ruling), Gottfried will have to figure out how to use his existing frontcourt pieces. What he has to work with is Beejay Anya, Malik Abu and Darius Hicks. Ted Kapita has still not been cleared and it’s looking less and less likely as they continue to hold off on a decision.
So what route will Gottfried take? I think it will go game by game. Sometimes Gott will run out his 4 guard lineup with Abu in the middle, in an attempt to out-athlete his opponents. There will also be times where we see a more traditional lineup with both Anya and Abu in there.
What to pay attention to tonight is how and when he decides to go with certain lineups and how those lineups produce. Is Anya going to slow the team down on the break? Will they get outrebounded with only Abu in the paint? These are things to watch for in the Wolfpack frontcourt.
2) Does team chemistry look good?
The talent is there for this team, and barring injury, the only thing that we feel could stop them is some sort of chemistry issue. Now, we definitely don’t think this team will suffer from that. Smith, Henderson and Dorn spent much of last year on the bench, plotting this upcoming season, and by the early looks of things, this team is clicking unlike any we’ve seen before (this early in the season.) They are sharing the ball, they are on the same page, and they look like they are having a blast out there. Sure, we only saw two exhibition games, but we will be watching if they can transition that type of attitude and teamwork into the regular season.
3) What does Dennis Smith Jr look like at 100%?
We’ve seen Smith in the red and white game and we’ve seen him in these early season exhibition games, but watching him closely, you could tell that he was holding back just a bit. Not yet ready to go all out for games that don’t matter. So, what does Dennis Smith Jr look like when he’s full throttle and taking no prisoners? Tonight we will get our first glimpse.
4) How disciplined is this team defensively?
This is a very fast-paced, athletic team, and they are going to do a lot of their damage on the break. But being a team that dominates on the break means you have to get stops on the defensive end. Is this team able to create turnovers, and if so, can they do it without gambling too much defensively? The one thing you worry about is a team that wants to get out on the break so bad that they become obsessed with reaching for a steal or jumping the passing lane too quickly. Can this team sit and a stance and defend? Can they stay in the passing lanes to disrupt offensively flow without jumping out of position on pass fakes? Can they stay in front of their man without reaching, leading to blowbys and defensive rotations? Will they switch on high screens instead of hedging and recovering, now that they have a more versatile group?
This is a young team, so discipline on defense might still be a work in progress, but if this team is going to contend for any hardware, they are going to need to learn to harness that athleticism into become shut down defenders. Tonight we’ll try to guage where they are and how far they need to go.
5) How many highlight reel dunks will we see?
This is less about scouting the team and more about pure entertainment, but with Smith, Kirk, Dorn, Johnson and Abu, you’re sure to get your fill of highlights. This is one reason that this team is going to be very fun to watch. The athleticism is just off the charts and there could be an ESPN Top 10 moment at any time.
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.