NC State played what was probably their most impressive game offensively, but it wasn’t enough as Syracuse exposed the Wolfpack’s weakness on defense in their 100-93 OT win.
Dennis Smith logged his second career triple-double (13pts, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds), Mav Rowan scored a career-high 31 on 8 three pointers, Henderson added 16, Abu pitched in a very loud 19 and Yurtseven even dropped 10. So how in the world, with those stats did NC State lose this game.
Well, you guess it. Defense. John Gillon, who averages 9ppg, decided to drop 43 on NC State. Let’s clear two things up. Maybe ‘decide’ is the wrong word. NC State, specifically Dennis Smith, let him drop 43, and while the defense was extremely poor, we shouldn’t take away from the fact that Gillon put on an amazing performance (9-10 from 3pt range and 14-14 from the FT line.)
No communication on switches…Who takes the blame, Smith Jr. or Gottfried?
Not sure who gets the blame here. At a high level, it should be Gottfried because he should have a gameplan and have his guys stick with it until he changes it. There is too much inconsistency on ball screens. Sometimes they switch and sometimes Dennis Smith goes over top and most of the time he goes underneath.
You could argue that they have matchups that they are willing to switch and ones they are not, but that can’t be the case because often they allowed a switch on a big, putting Abu on Gillom and Smith on their big. No coach in their right mind would gameplan a switch like that. So that makes it very probable that Dennis Smith is calling for switch when he feels like it, and then staying with his man when he feels like it.
Who is allowing this? Gottfried? You are 2/3 of the way through the season and your team has shown a very apparent lack of communication and lack of ability to adjust by themselves on defense. So it’s one of two things. It’s either Gottfried giving them the green light to call switches when they want and this is causing confusion and disruption defensively, leading to wide open men and complete collapse of the defense. Or, the only other thing it could be, is that Gottfried is giving them a game plan (for instance. Never switch, bigs need to hedge, defender needs to recover) and Dennis Smith Jr is simply not following it.
So to be clear. This problem here is either on Gottfried or Smith Jr depending on what the established gameplan was, but Gottfried gets the most blame because if Smith Jr is going against his game plan defensively then he’s allowing it by keeping him on the floor. Tonight proves that everything Smith adds to this team offensively is pretty much made up for by his lack of defense. This is a major, major flaw in the NC State defense.
Over or under the ball screen? Smith choosing under way too often.
If you were not aware, going under the ball screen is for two situations. 1) You’re lazy on defense or 2) You are guarding a guy who is not a threat from 3pt range and you want him taking 3s. That’s it.
So when John Gillom is dripping wet from 3pt range and is single-handedly killing your team, you have to ask why you would ever go underneath a ball screen on him. The only excuse is laziness or being tired. And if it’s that Dennis Smith Jr is too tired to defend someone, then he should simply not be on the court. That is on Gottfried. If Smith is taking breaks on defense then that is a problem, and Gottfried needs to get him some more breathers because it’s already proven that no matter how good you are offensively, when NC State plays no defense, they lose.
The point is, even Syracuse’s Andrew White couldn’t believe how bad the Wolfpack’s defense was.
“The hedge was kind of soft and his man (Smith) was going under the screen. So you know, in the ACC that’s easy pickings. he took advantage of that. But I was surprised to watch them keep going under his screens, especially after he’s hitting 3 after 3.”
If Mark Gottfried does not get more strict with his team’s defense and his team fails to hold focus and communication on the defensive end then this season is done, over, and probably the biggest waste of talent NC State fans have ever seen.
Too many blow-bys but Helpside is either too much, or not at all
During NC State’s run, they were helping and recovering. They were getting shot clock violations and making it tough to find good shots. But why did that only last for a few minutes?
For one, why is NC State guards getting beat so easily off the bounce? Well, rewatch the tape and see how often they are chest to chest, pressed up on someone way beyond the 3pt arch. What is the point? If a team is going to beat you by shooting deep threes over an outstretched arm, then fine. Lose that way. But not many teams are going to be able to consistently knock down those shots. That is how Virginia is so successful. When you get within the 3pt arch, you get physical man to man, chest to chest defense. When you are at the 3pt line you are within arms length, and beyond that you are 4 feet off the guy. How hard is this to understand. NC State chooses to exert their defensive effort on the ball, 40 ft away from the basket.
When there is a blow-by, especially a baseline blow-by, there almost never is a big ready to drop down and beat the man to the block and stop his drive. They are nearly always late. Why? How? Are bigs not taught to see man and ball at all times. Isn’t that literally the first thing every coach teaches his players? This is one reason the bigs pick up so many fouls. They are never beating the ball to a spot in help. They are late, still moving and easy targets for fouls.
At this point, we literally have no clue why these things are still problems 3/4 of the way through the season. Why is a high-level ACC basketball team having so much trouble with simple foundations of team defense?
We just posed a bunch of questions on here. You have the believe that these are things that Gottfried is preaching to his kids. Right? So if that’s the case, then why isn’t it happening. Why are these problems still so obvious and so glaring?
That is probably the million dollar question whose answer is the key to NC State reaching their potential.
It’s Not Over Till It’s Over
Look…I know the odds of NC State’s Men’s Basketball team going to the NCAA Tournament is next to zero percent.
In fact, according to Bart Torvik, the Wolfpack have a 1.1% chance of making the Dance as an at-large bid.
Don’t accuse me of wearing rose colored glasses, because I’m not. The fact remains, it’s not over until it is over.
What would have to happen for NC State to make the NCAA Tournament?
More than likely, NC State would have to win out the rest of the way, in games against Boston College, @ FSU, @ UNC, Duke and @ Pitt.
Maybe there’s a scenario where the Wolfpack beats BC, FSU, Pitt and beats either Duke or UNC. In order for that to play out, I imagine the Wolfpack would have to make a splash in the ACC Tournament as well.
Or maybe NC State could earn a bid winning 4 of 5 if they all of a sudden put together astronomical offensive and defensive efficiency numbers, which thus far has killed their position in the NET Rankings.
Either way, you would need some legit Cardiac Pack vibes for this team to make the Dance.
Call me unrealistic, but I think NC State should be in the NCAA Tournament every single season. Historically speaking, heading into this season, NC State ranked 27th for the most wins in college basketball history. If I lowered the standard a bit to 75%, accounting for an off year every now and then, the program is still way off the mark.
Read into this what you will, but if the Wolfpack doesn’t go to the Big Dance this year, that means they will have only gone twice in the past 7 years, and in my opinion, that’s unacceptable.
With that being said…GO PACK!
#6 NC State 70 UNC 80: BOX SCORE (with notes)
#6 NC State was defeated by their rival UNC this evening, falling 70-80 to the Tar Heels. Below is the Box Score with notes underneath.
- This game came down to shooting.
- UNC shot 50.8% from the field and NC State shot 35.2%.
- The Tar Heels shot an insane 52.4% from three, hitting 11 from beyond the arc.
- The Wolfpack shot 9 of 27 from deep.
- Junior Guard Aziaha James led the Pack with 24 points (10-24), and also grabbed 9 rebounds.
- Senior Forward Mimi Collins had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
- The Pack needed to feed Collins. She was 3 of 6 from the field.
- Junior Guard Saniya Rivers had 13 points (4-13), and knocked down 4 three pointers (3-6).
- Senior Guard Madison Hayes had 11 points (4-12) and 9 boards.
- Senior Center River Baldwin struggled, hitting 2 of her 9 shots.
- The Wolfpack did manage to score 17 second chance points, compared to UNC’s 7.
- They also made 11 free throws, compared to UNC’s 5.
- UNC played extremely good defense, but NC State missed an obscene amount of shots around the rim.
- The Tar Heels looked like the better team tonight, leading for 3/4th of the game.
The Wolfpack will play at Duke on Sunday at 5:30pm on ACC Network.
#6 NC State Looks to Sweep Rival UNC This Evening
The 6th ranked NC State Women’s Basketball team is looking to sweep their rival UNC this evening at 8pm on ACC Network. Back on February 1st, the Wolfpack beat the Tar Heels 63-59. At the time NC State was ranked 5th, and UNC was ranked 24th.
Since arriving in Raleigh, Wolfpack Head Coach Wes Moore has led NC State to a 13-9 overall record against the Tar Heels, but they are 4-6 in Chapel Hill under his watch.
NC State lost to UNC the last time the game was played in enemy territory, falling 46-57 loss in Carmichael Arena on January 15th of last year. In that contest, the Wolfpack were ranked 11th and the Tar Heels were ranked 22nd.
If NC State wins tonight, it will mark the 4th time that Moore has led the Wolfpack to sweep UNC in the regular season.
Historically, NC State holds a 63-54 advantage in the series against UNC, but they are 20-30 on the road.
NC State’s Wes Moore is 1 of 15 on the Late Season Watchlist for the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year Award
NC State Women’s Basketball Head Coach Wes Moore is 1 of 15 on the Naismith Late Season Watchlist for the Coach of the Year Award.
The leader of our Pack 🐺🐺
— NC State WBB 🐺🏀 (@PackWomensBball) February 21, 2024
Currently, Moore has led NC State from being unranked in the preseason polls, to #6 currently. The Wolfpack are 23-3, and numerous publications project them to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Moore was a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award in 2020-21 and a Semifinalist in 2015-16.