Terquavion Smith stepped up in a big way
With Morsell Out, we noted on Twitter that T. Smith was going to have to step up for this team to compete. And oh, did he ever. The freshman guard finished with 17 points on 7-11 shooting and 3-5 from long range. He also had 3 boards and 2 blocks. The more he plays, the more comfortable he’s going to feel out there, and the more the Pack will be able to rely on him as a scorer. He’s the best bucket-getter this team has, and it seems like he’s starting to come into his own.
Cam Hayes played great, but still struggling to create for others
Hayes can score it, but as we’ve mentioned, he’s being asked to run the point, where most of his shots are shots he has to create. It would be nice to move Cam off the ball for longer stretches. He finished with 15 points and 3 boards, but only 1 assist. Again, he didn’t turn it over, so he’s really protecting the ball, but that is coming at a cost. He’s playing conservatively as a PG and not pushing the issue on drives and dishes. We’ll continue to say it, but Cam Hayes is going to be a big-time player for this team, it’s just likely not going to be at the PG position.
Breon Pass will play a major role at PG for this team at some point this season
That brings us to our next point. Breon Pass didn’t have much of a stat line (0 points, 0 assists, 3 rebounds in 13 minutes), but watching the game we noticed something. Pass is playing with more confidence game by game. He had a spring in his step vs. Louisville and was looking a lot more confident than he has in previous outings. Once the shots start to fall (and they will, he was a high-end scorer in HS), you’re going to see a new player. Once Pass forces defenders to play up on him and defend the shot, he’s going to be able to get into the lane, find open men, and start to create the havoc that this Wolfpack offense has been missing.
Dereon Seabron continues to dominate all competition
Not much we need to say here. Seabron played great again, and most of his highlights came down the stretch when NC State needed him most. He only finished with 11 points, but he also added 9 rebounds (just missing ANOTHER double-double). You could see that it took him a while to get a feel for a stronger, more prepared defense. Louisville was keying on him every time down, but as the game wore one he started to see windows where he could attack, and that he did. This kid is going to continue to have a big season.
Dowuona’s progression continues
We can’t say enough about Dowuona. He is looking more and more comfortable out there. Sure, he only had 7 points, 3 boards, and 2 blocks, but he altered a ton of shots and even showed signs of some offense on the blocks. This was his first big test, having to guard a veteran big with talent and protect the rim from athletic ACC-level guards. If he can keep this improvement up then the Pack can compete night in and night out against most teams.
Long scoreless stretches plaguing the Pack
State is still going through these long stretches where they can’t score. That’s always going to happen when you have a team that is extremely reliant on jump shots. The problem isn’t the strategy, it’s the personnel. Without Bates, State doesn’t have a ton of confidence in clearing the lane and letting Dowuona work, but if they want to win, they need balance, and if they want balance they’re going to have to get SOMEONE who can at least try to score with their back to the basket. This will slow things down for them, and let them get to the line a little more when shots aren’t falling.
Only 6 turnovers. Amazing for a young team
This is an amazing number. Most of these were first-half turnovers. In fact, we believe only one of those turnovers happened in the second half. This isn’t just a low number for a team full of underclassmen, it’s a low number for any ACC team.
Killed on the boards
As much as we hyped Dowuona, he still only had 3 boards. Seabron again led the team with 9. But this team needs more. They were smoked on the boards 46-30. Without Bates, this is likely to continue to be a problem. Hellems did chip in with 5 which is good, but they need their center to gobble up at least 6 rebounds per game or this will be an outcome that we get used to seeing.