NC State 86, UNCA 56; or, The Omar Collington Story
What a total rip off. If you have ungainly seven-footers on your roster, then, dammit, you better deliver said ungainly seven-footers. Where were CJ Walker and Kenny George? Not in the building, that's for sure. I don't think it's asking too much to see those guys shoot during warmups.
|"What'd I do?"|
With no Walker or George to provide the unintentional comedy, the spotlight quickly shifted to poor Omar Collington. Every time he touched the ball, he was greeted with an assault of "Omar! Hey, Omar! Omar!!!" He was also told in no uncertain terms that he appeared to lack talent. You know, just because.
During the second half, after Oliver Holmes shot an airball, Holmes of course became "Air-ball!" every time he touched the ball. Whenever he passed the ball to Collington, the chant merely changed words: from "air-ball!" to "O-mar!"
Moving on to game notes:
-- Yeah, so remember that bit about Oliver Holmes shooting terribly from the field but making over 90% of his free throws? I now understand why this discrepancy exists. The fact that Holmes played 32 minutes is a sad commentary on what Eddie Biedenbach has to work with.
-- Joe Barber got a bunch of open looks early in the game and used those shots to score a quick eight points. Once he was actually being guarded, the points were a little harder to come by. I can see why he's their leading scorer, though.
-- Asheville played zone defense for the majority of the game, and we of course obliged them with plenty of jumpers. Nearly every time a Wolfpack player received the ball in the post--be he Cedric Simmons or Ben McCauley--the Bulldogs responded with double and triple teams. Fortunately, the Pack had plenty of open shots from behind the arc (from those double teams in the post and from Asheville's propensity to go underneath screens rather than follow Wolfpack shooters over the top), and they were falling. State shot 67.5% (eFG) for the game.
-- Because there was so little interior offense, neither team did much on the offensive glass and there were just 18 FTAs.
-- It's nice to see Cam shoot well for the second-straight game. He had a pair of pretty dunks. I also thought Tony Bethel looked healthy.
-- It occurred to me during the second half that we were clearly making an effort to speed up the pace. I could hear the coaches encouraging the players: "push it!" And with good reason: when we did push the ball, UNCA had a tough time stopping the ball. From the AP recap:
North Carolina State even started pushing the ball upcourt more after the break, getting several transition scores to fuel a 23-4 run that turned a 15-point halftime lead to 30 midway through the period. The Wolfpack ended up with a 20-3 edge in fast-break points, quite a change from their offensive struggles in the 45-42 loss to Iowa on Nov. 30.
When asked about his team's transition attack, coach Herb Sendek responded with a sarcastic smile.
"It's just a component of our Princeton offense," he said.
-- Next up: a conference game?! Preview forthcoming.