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OUR TAKE: On NC State season opening win over Mt. Saint Mary’s

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The was quite the roller coaster of a season opener for NC State.

It had the excitement of getting to see all these new guys playing together in a real game for the first time. It had early struggles that made you wonder if this team isn’t as good as you first thought. It had the veterans stepping up when the team needed a bucket. And it had a mega-run to end the game that made it clear that this team is going to be pretty darn good. Let’s talk specifics.

First game jitters happen every year
While the fans are keyed in to watching the game and sizing up the team immediately, you have to remember to give these guys a little time to settle in. They’re excited, most of them are they’re playing their first meaningful game in front of State fans at the PNC and they all want to show what they can do. You saw all of that early on in this one. There were a lot of overplays defensively, a lot of quick, poor shots on offense and just a lot of guys forcing the issue. But again, these were all byproducts of this being the first half of game one. In the second half the team really settled in and you saw what they can do when they’re clicking.

The veterans (Dorn and Johnson) are going to be huge for NC State
Coming into this season, most of the discussion has been around the newcomers, but don’t let that fool you. It’s the veterans Markell Johnson and Torin Dorn who are going to be the engines that make this thing go. The duo finished with 45 points on 17-28 shooting (61%) and even hit went 7-11 from 3.

I think Dorn looked like Dorn. He did all the things you’d expect and got hot from 3 in the second half. He’s physical, he’s versatile, he’s a smart player, and he goes 100% all the time. If he’s going to add a decent 3 ball to the mix then team’s aren’t going to know what to do with him.

Meanwhile, Markell Johnson seemed a bit more aggressive offensively. He hunted his shot a bit in this one and all the work on his 3-ball this off-season seems to have paid off. So did anything change to help him start feeling comfortable scoring more? (That’s our segway to the next section…)

Blake Harris is the spark plug
There was a question of where Missouri transfer Blake Harris would fit in with this team. They already have one of the best PGs in the nation and he’s being backed up by Braxton Beverly, who led the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio. So where does a PG like Harris fit?

He showed us all tonight.

NC State couldn’t pull away from Mt. Saint Mary’s, and it was partly because NC State’s on-ball defense wasn’t great and they just couldn’t get their offense going against the zone. That’s when Harris checked in. At around the 15-minute mark, Harris entered and kind of took over PG duties. He started bringing the ball up and pushing Markell to the wing. The led to Johnson playing more of a scorer’s role. He knocked down some 3’s and drove with intentions to score. All while Harris was playing the distributor.

Harris didn’t only change the game on offense, he also stepped up the pressure on D. His ability to pester the Mt Saint Mary’s ball handlers led to a ton of quick shots on their end and helped NC State really start pulling away. His stat line might night jump out at you, but Harris was a major catalyst in NC State’s 51-14 run they used to finish off the game.

 

Funderburk is better than we all thought
I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect from Funderburk. The 6’9 sophomore is getting his first D-1 action after getting dismissed from OSU and playing a year of junior college.

What we are seeing is a versatile, long, hard-working big who plays within the offense and doesn’t try to do too much. That’s a recipe for success right there. Funderburk went 7-7 in the exhibition game (20 pts) and kept up the perfection in this one, going 4-4 for 9 points. He also added 6 boards and 2 blocks in his 21 minutes of play.

One of the big questions about this team was how they were going to replace a guy like Yurtseven. Well, Funderburk definitely showed that he’s going to play a major role in this team. His ability to make plays on both ends in transition, as well as his patience on offense and willingness to share the basketball, make it clear that he’s a perfect fit for this basketball team

We haven’t seen the real Devon Daniels…yet
After the game, Keatts remarked that he didn’t think Daniels ever hit his stride. We agree. Daniels is probably the best built to lead this team in scoring. He’s got that Al Freeman-esque 3-level scoring capability that you can’t teach. In this game, however, Daniels was just forcing it a bit too much. Quick, off-balance shots and not enough ball movement made it clear that he was pressing to get things going. Keatts also talked about how Al Freeman really settled in last season when he focused on sharing the ball and started understanding what a good shot was. He said Daniels will likely be in the same boat.

Beverly will complete this team
Watching this game, I couldn’t help but feel that getting Beverly back would be a big moment for this basketball team. What this group lacked at times was the ability to shoot it from deep and a guy who can really settle them down and control the pace for a bit.

Beverly is this team’s best shooter and also a smart, controlled PG who can slow things down if things start getting too crazy. When teams go zone Beverly will become even more important. He’s the perfect compliment to this group of uber-athletic guards.

 

You’ll see more Steere
We keep hearing it, Freshman Ian Steere will eventually be good. He needs more polish. He needs some time. Well, he only logged a few minutes at the end of this one, but it was enough to convince me that he’ll be playing a bigger role for this team sooner rather than later.

This team is going to get in situations where they just don’t have enough muscle in the middle. That’s where Ian Steere will carve out his role. If Funderburk is getting pushed around and Walker isn’t getting it done on the boards, Steere will get his chance. I believe when he gets his chance, as he did last night, it will become apparent that this team has a true need a big with some nasty, and that’s what Ian Steere brings to the table.

NC State Basketball

Previewing NC State’s Opponent: Maine

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Maine is bad at basketball.

In fact, they are one of the worst teams in college basketball.

KenPom ranks them 335th out of 353 teams.

The Black Bears have started the 2018 season 0-3.

Maine is shooting 36.5% from the field (332nd), 27% from three (310th) and 63.3% from the free throw line (269th).

The Black Bears return 3 starters from last year:

JR Forward Andrew Fleming
SR Forward Ilija Stojiljkovic
JR Guard Isaiah White

White and Fleming are the only players scoring in double digits, averaging 13.3 and 9.7 respectively. Sophomore Vilgot Larsson leads the team in rebounding (6.7).

Richard Barron is the new head coach of the Black Bears. He previously served as the Maine Women’s Basketball Coach. He inherits a program that is 24-100 over the past 4 seasons.

NC State has beat their 1st three opponents by an average of 49 points, and I wouldn’t be shocked in the least if they did so once again against Maine.

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NC State vs. Mercer Tip-off Time Moved Back

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RALEIGH, NC – The NC State men’s basketball game against Mercer on Saturday, Nov. 24 will now tipoff at 5:30 pm.

The game originally scheduled for 2:00 pm was moved to allow fans the opportunity to attend the NC State football game at UNC-Chapel Hill. The football game against the Tar Heels will kickoff at 12:20.

The basketball game will still be shown on ACC Network Extra.

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NC State Women’s Basketball Signs #7 Class in the Nation

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It was a good day for the NC State Women’s Basketball program yesterday. A really good day.

6th-year head coach Wes Moore celebrated four 2019 prospects signing their letter of intent to run with the Pack yesterday.

Currently, ESPN ranks the NC State’s 2019 recruiting class 7th nationally.

5-Star Wing Jakia Brown-Turner (6’0″) is the #17 overall player in the 2019 class according to ESPN. She averaged 19.7 points per game for Bishop McNamara High School (Oxon Hill, Maryland) as a Junior.

Wes Moore: “Jakia is a big-time scoring threat. She can really stroke the three, is explosive, and has the size to take people off the bounce to get to the rim and finish against contact. She is used to winning, both in high school and with Team Takeover during travel ball. She’s someone who we are really excited about from the standpoint of being able to count on her as a consistent scorer. She scores in so many ways. She has good size, good athleticism, and is someone who can really fill up a scoresheet.” (GoPack)

5-Star Forward Jada Boyd (6’2″) is the #32 overall player in the 2019 class according to ESPN. She averaged a gaudy 35.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, 8.5 blocks, and 4.1 steals per game as a junior for Appomattox County High School (Petersberg, Virginia). Boyd was the Virginia Class 1 Player of the Year last season.

Wes Moore: “Jada Boyd is a strong forward who is a relentless rebounder on both ends of the floor. She is strong inside and can also step out and shoot the three. She’s going to create matchup problems for people because of her ability to score inside and out. She brings a toughness and a presence out there and we feel like she will be able to be a double-double type player, much like (former NC State 1,000-point scorer) Chelsea Nelson. Having played a major role for a strong BooWilliams program, she too is used to success.” (GoPack)

3-Star Camille Hobby (6’1″) is the #18 post-player in the 2019 class according to ESPN. She averaged 14.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game as a junior for Nease High School (Jacksonville, Florida).

Wes Moore: “Camille has good strength on the block and plays extremely hard. She can score in a variety of ways, whether it be inside with post moves or from the trail position with a soft touch on the three. She’s someone who works hard on the court, works hard in preparation, and puts in the time that it takes to play at the ACC level. Consequently, she’ll keep getting better.” (GoPack)

3-Star Kendal Moore (5’6″) is the #27 point guard in the 2019 class according to ESPN. She averaged 21.2 points, 6.3 assists, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game as a junior for Northwood Temple Academy (Fayetteville, North Carolina).

Wes Moore: “Kendal has a high motor and is someone who is going to get the ball and push it in transition. She can be a facilitator at the point position, much like a quarterback running the team, but can also put up some points. She takes people off the bounce and either creates her own shot or sets up teammates. She can also knock down the three, and competes on every play. She will lead by example, much as she did with a good Carolina Flames team.” (GoPack)

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NC State’s Opening 3-Game Dominance Breaks ACC Record

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The NC State Men’s Basketball team has started off the season 3-0 It’s not the record that’s most noteworthy, but the way in which they have won.

The Wolfpack have defeated their opponents by an average of 49 points.

Mount Saint Mary’s – 105-55 – 50 points
Maryland Eastern Shore – 95-49 – 46 point
UNC-Asheville – 100-49 – 51 points.

They became the 1st team in ACC history to win their opening 3 games by 46+ points.

This has come as a result of an offensive explosion, and a defensive onslaught.

The last time the Wolfpack scored 90+ points in three consecutive games was back in 1995-96. Also, NC State has held their opponents to 33.3% or lower shooting from the field through three games. The Wolfpack didn’t hold a single opponent to that poor of shooting all last season.

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