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Nitpicking the negatives from NC State’s 49 point season-opening win over Austin Peay

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I just slobbed all over this team in my last piece, going so far as to predict that they make or flirt with the Top 25 this season. But any good coach knows no game is perfect, and there are always things to work on.

Look, this was a 49-point win over a team that is going to be middle of the pack in the ASUN conference. But NC State hadn’t beaten a team by 50 since 2018-19 when they smoked St. Mary’s in the season opener 105-55.

That year they started off 13-1, but soon lost Markell Johnson to injury. The wheels fell off there for a bit as they were forced to rely on Braxton Beverly at the point with the only true backup being Blake Harris. They also had a thin front court with Funderburk and Wyatt Walker as the only two true bigs. Meanwhile, Devon Daniels hadn’t really figured it out yet, so they were forced to rely on CJ Bryce and Torin Dorn as their go-to scorer.

That team finished 22-11, 9-9 in the ACC, and in my opinion, was snubbed from the NCAA Tournament. They went on to win 2 games in the NIT before dropping a 1 point heartbreaker to Lipscomb.

This year’s Wolfpack is deeper, has more talent, has better guards, has better bigs, has more height, and has more athleticism. So I think any excitement you’re feeling is warranted and pointing out negatives in win this huge may seem petty, but real competition is right around the corner and there a few things I think can be cleaned up before then.

Jarkel Joiner got a little dribble happy at times
Joiner filled up the state sheet. The guy looked absolutely dominant and his skill set is going to play well even against the top guards in the conference. That said, there were times last night when he was pounding the ball a little too much.

This is likely a habit for him because he played on an Ole Miss team where he was asked to shoulder most of the scoring load. He didn’t have a ton of talent around him, but it’s different now. You have 4 other guys on the floor who can put it in the bucket.

That said, I’d like to see these dribble-happy possessions go away. He had so much success finding the open man (he had 8 assists) and even when he did isolate and attack one on one, most of the time positive things happened (he hit a contested jumper on one of these possessions), but when you face a UNC or a Kansas every possession matters and as a PG, keeping your team in a rhythm and moving the basketball is going to be important.

Now, you can argue that NC State was already up by 30+ when he started doing this and maybe he was trying to get his stats, and if so, that’s fine by me. However, I’m pointing it out because as the competition gets fierce, this type of basketball can get poisonous. But I dont have to tell you that, that’s how NC State has played over the past few seasons, and one of the reasons they’ve struggled.

Early in the game, when possessions mattered, Joiner was a true PG, slashing, probing and finding the open man. Shooting shots within the offense. I think that’s how he’s going to be. He’s a 5th year senior so he knows the ropes, but as a State fan who has seen that type of basketball ruin team rhythm, I want to point it out as something that COULD be a problem if it happens too much.

 

Breon Pass struggled to get it going
Pass is going to need to be a solid backup PG for the Pack. Joiner will obviously get the bulk of the minutes, but Pass has a role here too and last night it just looked like he was trying too hard.

At this point in his career, Pass needs to pick and choose his moments. He needs to get in there, make the simple play and knock down open shots. He’s super talented and was one of NC’s top scorers in HS, so eventually it’ll come, but in this one, he didn’t have it.

Pass finished with zero points, 1 assist, and 1 turnover in 14 minutes. He also fouled out.

It appeared that he was really wanting to make a play. Everyone had it going last night and clicking on all cylinders, so it makes sense that Pass wanted to get in on the action. I’ve seen enough of him to know that he’s capable of coming in and being a positive contributor, but he’s going to need to play within himself this season if he wants to really solidify his role. There is so much talent around him that all he needs to do is find his teammates, run the offense and defend. Anything more is icing on the cake in his year 2.

Ernest Ross wasn’t who he’s going to be
I’ve told you over and over, Ross is going to be a big-time player in this league. It’s not if, it’s when. Last night in 11 minutes he scored 6 points on 3-5 shooting, but he never really got into a groove. Most of the problem was his early 2 fouls sending him to the bench and when he got his minutes he seems to be forcing the issue. I don’t think he played great, but he played ok and had flashes, but I am expecting a lot more out of him this season.

Ross gives Keatts the ability to have 2 bigs on the floor, but not become slow and plodding. He allows NC State to have a true shot blocker on the floor. When they face strong, better bigs, they’ll have muscle up front to bang with them (Burns/Mahorcic). These physical bigs will create a lot of contact, likely keeping the offensive big man anchored to the floor on shots. This is going to have Ross’ mouth watering. He’s going to have the ability to block a lot of shots from help side, so having him able to stay on the floor and provide positive minutes is key. I think we see a better showing this Friday from Ernest.
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Ok, so there you have it. The negatives. Honestly, I’m grasping at straws here because this team played amazingly last night. If these things are our worst problems then NC State is going to have a huge season. However, this was game 1 and there is always room for improvement. These are the areas I’ll be focusing on this Friday when they take on Campbell at 7pm in Raleigh.

A pasta eatin', Wolfpack lovin' loudmouth from Raleigh by way of New Jersey. Jimmy V and Chuck Amato fanboy. All opinions are my own and you're gonna hear'em.

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Papajohn
Papajohn
1 year ago

Hadn’t thought about Joiner over dribbling. As you said, it’s a new role for him and we’ve got at least 30 more games. It’s not a coincidence that our two sophomores accumulated 9 of the teams 20 fouls. With experience, you figure that stuff out. Breon averaged 9 minutes a game last year, it’s time he stopped playing basketball like a football player so he can give us 15 mins a game this season. He’s got skills, need to coach him up.1 assist, 2 TO, and no points is not the way to earn minutes. Ross, on the other hand,… Read more »

Dof87
Dof87
1 year ago

Agree on Joiner, he used up early shot clock trying to find a hole to penetrate, if its not there pass the ball. There was lots of glowing talk during the summer about Pass. He may do better in games that aren’t quite as fast paced. As long as he’s playing good D and not making bad turnovers out high, he shouldn’t really need to do a lot as there are scorers and playmakers all around. The fact that he might be a drop off from Jarkel shouldn’t be seen as a negative toward him.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dof87

NC State Basketball

Bowling Green Transfer Guard Marcus Hill is on a Visit to NC State

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Bowling Green Transfer Guard Marcus Hill (6’4″/185) confirmed with me that he is currently on a visit at NC State.

Hill averaged 20.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game for the Falcons this season. He earned 1st Team All-MAC honors. Even though he was only at Bowling Green one season, he had one of the best seasons in school history, scoring 698 points, which ranks 5th all-time in program history for a single season.

For his first two years of collegiate ball, Hill played for Southern Union State College (JUCO) in Alabama. In 2022-23, Hill earned 3rd Team NJCAA All-American honors, and ranked as the #32 overall Junior College prospect.

247Sports ranks Hill as a 4-Star Transfer Prospect, and the #78 overall player in the Transfer Portal, and the #11 Shooting Guard.

According to a source, the NC State Coaching Staff is extremely high on Hill, and they are recruiting him as a Point Guard.

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NC State Basketball

What did an ACC Title & Final Four Mean to NC State Legend Dennis Smith Jr.?

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What did an ACC Title & Final Four mean to NC State Legend Dennis Smith Jr.? The man who won the ACC Rookie of the Year Award in 2017 gave me a statement.

It means a lot. It means a lot to the university, the state of North Carolina and a lot more to my dad, grandma, and myself. They have been NC State fans since forever, so their excitement level was though the roof when they saw BOTH of our basketball teams shining like that. It was a great feeling!

2017 was Smith Jr.’s only year of College ball, averaging 18.1 points, 6.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals. He earned 2nd Team All-ACC honors, and obviously, he earned a spot on the ACC All-Freshman Team.

DSJ was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the 9th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Smith Jr. just wrapped up his 7th season in the NBA. This was his 1st season with Brooklyn, playing in 56 games for the Nets. He averaged 6.6 points, 3.6 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, averaging 18.9 minutes per contest.

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NC State Basketball

NC State’s DJ Horne Named to Portsmouth Invitational All-Tournament Team

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NC State’s DJ Horne played in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament this weekend, and he was named to the All-Tournament Team.

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In 3 games, Horne averaged 14.3 points, shooting 41.5% from the field, and 30% from three.

Horne’s Portsmouth Partnership team made it to the finals, but lost to Jani-King 68-75.

The Portsmouth Invitational is an annual pre-draft camp that has been showcasing College Seniors to professional scouts since 1953.

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NC State Basketball

NC State Has Shown Interest in Utah Guard Transfer Deivon Smith

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NC State has reached out to Utah Transfer Guard Deivon Smith (6’0″/173).

Smith filled up the stat sheet every game this year, averaging 13.3 points, 7.1 assists and 6.3 rebounds, shooting 46.7% from the field and 40.8% from three for Utah. He earned All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention this season. Smith had 8 double-doubles and 1 triple-double this year.

Wherever Smith lands, this will be his 4th college. He started at Mississippi St., starting in 8 of the 33 games he played in, averaging 22.5 minutes per game. Smith went on to spend his next two seasons at Georgia Tech. Year 1 in Atlanta, Smith started in 5 of the 24 games he played in, averaging 19.7 minutes per game. In Year 2, he carved out more of a role, starting in 13 of the 24 games he played in for the Yellow Jackets, averaging a career high 24.8 minutes per game.

At Utah this year, Smith broke out and had a career year in every possible way.

NC State is familiar with Smith, offering him back when he was a 4-Star prospect out of Grayson High School in Loganville, Georgia. Rivals ranked Smith as the #53 overall player nationally in the 2020 recruiting class. ESPN ranked him as the #5 player in the state of Georgia. 247Sports ranked him as the #11 Point Guard in his class.

 

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