Here we go folks. The two-time defending ACC Champs and nationally ranked State women’s basketball team is BACK. We’re taking the One Word concept for a spin, to ask the four biggest questions on what this Wolfpack team all has in store.
Who is you breakout candidate of the year?
Vonwolf: Diamond Johnson
As if this team needed more firepower, in walks Rutgers transfer Johnson. I don’t know the last time I thought a State transfer was going to play this big a role in a team’s success right off the bat. She has a killer’s scoring mentality, while also excelling on defense. When asked, “Well, how does she fit in?”, the answer is actually very easy. Look at the comparison to Crutchfield;
Crutchfield: 34 minute average, .445 FG% (.473 from three), .947 FT%, 3.2 rebounds, 27 total steals (State leader in 3FG% and Steals)
Johnson: 34 minute average, .512 FG% (.455 from three), .902 FT%, 4.2 rebounds, 44 total steals
Pretty even across the board. The difference? Johnson had double the shot opportunities. So while Crutchfield put up 8 a game, Johnson was pushing 18. Same efficiency, slightly better defense, but over twice as many points. That’s HUGE.
Wolferetti: Jakia Brown-Turner
I know she’s already getting honors left and right, but her ceiling still has a ways to go. If this was MVP, I’d pick Cunane because she might end up being State’s best player ever, but this is about breakout potential. Keep coming back to the two games last year that got her ACC Player of the Week;
@ Wake Forest – 21 pts | 64.3 FG% | 66.7 3FG% | 5 Rebs
UNC – 25 pts | 62.5 FG% | 80 3FG% | 6 Rebs
Took on the task of being an elite scorer and did it. She ended the season averaging 13.5 pts | 5 rebs. While there are a whole lot of mouths to feed offensively, I think 15 pts | 8 rebs with solid number of double-double performances is going to take her to the next level.
Who is going to struggle this year?
Vonwolf: Wes Moore
Is this a cop out? Haha, I had to say it. I think this season is going to be quite the task balancing everything out. Boyd out early, who steps in? Do you give more time to a senior like Crutchfield or a transfer like Hayes? Do you worry about Cunane’s workload, thinking ahead about the ultimate goal?
With great talent, comes great responsibility…or something like that…but Wes Moore is the man. While everyone talks about how State doesn’t have big time coaches, there sits Moore doing EVERYTHING right. I just wonder how he plays this roster to ensure big wins, while keeping folks content with playing time and rested for a big stretch run in March.
Wolferetti: Genesis Bryant
This girl has swagger. Love watching the behind the scenes film and seeing her just being herself out on the court. The problem is, I think she’s kinda the fifth wheel of this team. She’ll get playing time, but I just don’t know how much. There were times this offseason I thought she’d leave for playing time elsewhere. It’s tough being on the bench and then trying to produce at a level that State is now expected to be at.
It’s harsh to list her, but when this team is this good, someone has to get the short end of the stick.
Biggest game this year?
Vonwolf: South Carolina
THIS IS WHY YOU PICK FIRST! Last year, State went out on the road and beat South Carolina. Now the number one team in the country comes to Raleighwood. This is masssssssssssssssiiivvvveeeee. Primetime on ESPN, first game of a hopeful season. If they lose, you refocus and go on a tear. But if you win? All the momentum in the world is with State. Wouldn’t be surprised if State moves up to #1 in the country and holds out until their first loss.
Wolferetti: Louisville (1/20) followed by VT (1/23)
Vonwolf is a jerk…the SC game is a no brainer and he still went there. So I’m going to turn the table and pick two games. Louisville is easily the other contender in the ACC, as they are picked to finish second this year. Virginia Tech gave State problems last year, albeit without Cunane. To have these games in back-to-backs is tough. It’s also that weird late January timeframe where the wear and tear of the season starts to show.
If State can win both, at home, then it could be assumed the first half of the season went well and they’ve positioned themselves to be a number one seed come March.
What does State end up doing this season?
Vonwolf: ACC Champs, Final Four
I just don’t know how anything less won’t be a major, major disappointment. While I believe in Wes Moore, I don’t know if State will ever have THIS talented of a roster. They’ve proved they can win the ACC tournament, now let’s just win the whole damn thing, regular season and all. Last year’s game against Indiana in the NCAAT was brutal. Team looked tired at moments and Indiana was all about physicality. Let’s see them get to the Final Four and have a go at this thing.
Wolferetti: ACC Champs, Final Four
Yeah, I’ll make it short and sweet. They need to find a way into the Final Four. In fact, I’d even trade an ACC Championship for a Final Four birth. You can continue to build this program regardless, but a deep tourney run will fast-track everything.