7-5 Ain't So Bad
NC State 14, More-To-The-Middle-Really Florida 0
I'll have additional pictures plus comments posted on Sunday...
Happy New Year!
Cheering For Anyone Else Is For Quitters
College Hoops Links
Basketball Stats Primers & Info
Other Hugely Important Destinations
Saturday, December 31, 2005
7-5 Ain't So Bad
NC State 14, More-To-The-Middle-Really Florida 0
I'll have additional pictures plus comments posted on Sunday...
Happy New Year!
Friday, December 30, 2005
Game report and photos from my trip to Charlotte will be up later this weekend.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Previewing George Washington
The Colonials have cruised through an easy schedule to an 8-0 start. That schedule, which currently ranks 307th in the country, has allowed pretty much everyone on the GW roster to look good, so I would advise taking the numbers below with a grain of salt.
For instance, the Colonials' raw defensive numbers indicate they have one of the best defenses in the country. After adjusting for competition, however, the defense suddenly becomes pedestrian.
On the other hand, the George Washington offense doesn't suffer very much from adjusting for competition. It's just good, period.
While George Washington has eight players who average 10+ minutes per game, the box score from GW's game against Maryland suggests they're really only six- or seven-deep. I'd expect a similarly tight rotation from GW on Friday.
They like to up the tempo, which means NC State will--as it usually does against faster teams--make a point to play methodically and control the pace.
Danilo Pinnock (6-5, 207) -- Leading the team in scoring and minutes played. Pinnock averages 21.1 pts/40 min and 6.5 rebs/40.
Carl Elliot (6-4, 220) -- Elliot has been GW's best three-point shooter this season (11-19, .579). Leads the team with 5.8 ast/40 and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.8. With the lowest usage of all the George Washington starters, Elliot appears to be more of an opportunistic scorer.
Mike Hall (6-8, 230) -- Hall is having a good ol' time beating up on GW's crappy competition. He leads the team in eFG% (.672) and averages 19.2 pts/40 and 10.1 rebs/40. He's also second on the team in three-point attempts.
Pops Mensa-Bonsu (6-9, 240) -- Missed the first three games of the season; averaging 19.2 points, 12.5 boards and 4.8 blocks per 40 minutes since returning. Mensa-Bonsu is another in a string of good rebounding forwards the Pack has seen lately, with the difference being that he possesses the best offensive game of all of them. Pops is, among other things, good at getting FTAs (but not so much good at making them).
Omar Williams (6-9, 190) -- Not a major scoring threat, and one of the few GW players with an eFG% below .500. Mediocre rebounder.
Maureece Rice (6-1, 215) will play a lot of minutes off the bench (he logged 32 against Maryland). And despite being the sixth man, Rice is second on the team in field goal attempts. He's averaging an impressive 21.1 pts/40, so he's giving the Colonials a huge scoring punch off of the bench.
Montrell McDonald (6-7, 290) will also see some time but shouldn't be much of a factor in GW's offense.
Against Maryland (I'm leaning heavily on the box from this game since the Terps are the only decent team GW has faced), Hall, Pinnock and Rice combined to take 47 of the Colonials' 65 shots.
Although the Colonials don't rely on the three-pointer, they have several guys who'll shoot it from beyond the arc. Pinnock, Hall, Rice and Elliot will take 'em when they've got 'em.
George Washington has done a great job forcing turnovers (Maryland committed 25), though they're not quite as good on the defensive glass as they are on the offensive glass. And as you can see from that FTA/FGA ratio, they can be foul-prone.
OFF EFF / DEF EFF / DIFF
GWU: 112.4 / 97 / 15.4
NCSU: 111.2 / 91.8 / 19.4
Decent interior defense and a good defensive rebounding effort should be the keys to a Wolfpack victory. The Colonials didn't adjust particularly well to Maryland's defense (and by that I mean GW shot poorly), and hopefully they'll have similar difficulties against us. Of course, Maryland's frontcourt matched up well with George Washington's; I can't say the same for the Pack's forwards.
Air Force Moves Into First Place In ACC
The Falcons improved to 2-0 in conference play with a 54-46 win over Georgia Tech.
NC State 81, New Hampshire 62
Woulda been nice if we'd played defense in the second half, but it's not a big deal.
This, though, is embarrassing:
UNH's OFF EFF:
NC State allowed one of the worst 20-30 offenses in the country to play efficiently, and it happened despite the fact that Blagoj Janev was a nonfactor.
The Wildcats rebounded from an 18-point, 39%-shooting (eFG%) performance in the first half with a 44-point, 69.6%-shooting performance in the second half. The Wildcats are terrible shooters...they just forgot about it for twenty minutes. Even with the good shooting, NC State had a 32-point lead with 5:42 left in the game.
Chris Vetrano led the way with 6 threes in the second half, four of which came in the last four minutes. And wouldn't you know it, after I singled out Mike Christensen in the preview, he made me look like a liar. Needless to say, I will have nothing but good things to say about George Washington players in the preview of that game.
Kudos to New Hampshire for playing well in the second half. It didn't matter, of course.
-- NC State had its best offensive rebounding performance of the season. UNH went to the zone early and really had problems blocking out. The Pack's OR% was 47%. The Wolfpack were not nearly as good on the defensive glass, however. New Hampshire rebounded 35.7% of its misses, well above its season average (26.8%).
-- Janev had as many turnovers as points (7). UNH finished the game with a turnover rate of 25.5%; NC State's was just 8.5% (!).
-- Since the ghastly showing at Iowa, NC State's offense has been extremely effective--it's lowest OFF EFF since then is 118.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Previewing New Hampshire
Yeah, so we're all looking ahead to George Washington, but there is still a pounding to be administered in the meantime.
New Hampshire likes to shoot the three a little bit. The Wildcats are scoring 37.2% of their points from behind the arc, which is the 14th-highest proportion in the country. They're kinda like Appalachian State, except without any discernable threats.
Three New Hampshire players have more than 50 three-point attempts this season, and just about everyone who plays is willing to shoot the three.
The problem, as is usually the case with these really bad teams, is that the Wildcats are poor shooters:
Remove the adjustment for threes and New Hampshire is shooting 38.8% this season. This is what one of the worst offenses in the country looks like: New Hampshire misses a lot of shots, doesn't generate any second chances from those misses, doesn't get to the line, and turns the ball over too much.
So it's no secret why the Wildcats are one of the slowest-paced teams in the country. NC State will push the tempo every chance it gets.
Blagoj Janev (6-8, 220) -- Team's leading scorer (16.9 pts/40) and its best shooter. Janev is 20-52 (.385) from behind the arc and has an eFG% of .565. He should be the Pack's main concern, as we definitely want his inefficient teammates shooting the ball
Mike Christensen (6-8, 215) -- NC State's unofficial sixth man. Trust me, you will like Mike Christensen. You will like Mike Christensen a lot. Dig it:
3FG%: .255 (13-51)
And he's second on the team in minutes. Mike may take a few breaks from being terrible, but he's still going to waste a ton of UNH possessions.
Tyrece Gibbs (6-2, 205) -- This season, Gibbs has been a better rebounder than both Janov and Christensen. Averages about 12 pts/40.
Jermaine Anderson (6-1, 175) -- Meh.
Jamaal Caterina (6-6, 210) -- Easily the team's best rebounder, averaging 8.6 rebs/40. Second-best PPFGA on the team, but only plays about 18 minutes per game. Listed as a Forward/Center despite his height.
There are several guys on the UNH who will see playing time. Ten Wildcats have started a game this season. Chris Vetrano (5-8, 165) has been averaging 27 minutes/game and I wouldn't be surprised if he starts in place of Gibbs or Anderson. Vetrano is the other UNH player with more than 50 3PAs (17-50).
Brandon Odom (6-5, 220) is averaging about 21 minutes/game. Watch out for Ioannis Karalis (6-4, 200) and Branimir Zeko (6-8, 220) as well. Neither Karalis nor Zeko will factor into the UNH offense much.
As for the defense...
Friday, December 23, 2005
Friday notes: Clark Kellogg talks efficiency
In his rundown of teams that missed his Preseason Sweet Sixteen, Clark Kellogg offers a few points about the Wolfpack:
In its recent win over Miami, the Wolfpack scored 81 points on 73 total shots. That's 1.11 points per shot. Anything over one is considered excellent – it's one way to chart a team's offensive efficiency (a statistical tidbit for you folks).Start discussing points-per-possession, Clark, and you'll really be on your way. Little by little, these statistics are seeping into the MSM. It's nice to see.
By the way, as of the time of this posting, the Pack is on the front page of the Yahoo! college basketball section.
-- Atsur clutch as State hangs on:
In the second half, Evtimov and center Cedric Simmons were playing with four fouls each, and Brackman, Atsur and Tony Bethel all had three. Sendek continually reminded the referees about the growing discrepancy in fouls, sometimes angrily.Nothing like a win to make the holidays a little happier.
NC State 68, Alabama 64
Now that I've watched the game for a second time (yay 3:00 AM replays) and had several hours to chill out, it's time for some game notes.
In order to keep the proper perspective, I think it's important to remember that Alabama is one of the better teams at not sending opponents to the free throw line (see preview for their FTA/FGA and corresponding national ranks). Alabama played a lot of zone, which limited State's opportunities close to the basket and led to 30 three-point attempts. Do those two things fully explain the lack of FTAs for the Pack tonight? Of course not. Just understand that there is some basis for Alabama opponents shooting a low number of free throws.
While some might also argue that NC State is a perimeter-oriented team that doesn't normally draw a lot of fouls anyway, this is not accurate. Last season, for instance, NC State was 5th in the ACC in the FTA/FGA category. By no means is NC State a team that typically struggles to generate free throw attempts.
I suppose my frustration isn't with the no-calls themselves, but rather with the inconsistency shown by the officials. I accept that a good portion of the fouls called on NC State were legitimate, but there were also several calls of the ticky tack variety, and these calls were not being administered at both ends.
If the referees decide they want to call a game especially tight or especially loose, that's fine.
As long as there is consistency.
Circumstances being what they were, I found the game painful to watch. I could only watch about 5-6 minutes of game time before my frustration level became such that I had to turn it off. I probably missed 20% of the game because of this, but I was able to keep my sanity and not break anything, so I think I came out ahead. I did sit through it all during my second viewing, though.
-- I noted in the preview that Alabama's defense wasn't very good at causing turnovers, and that proved true tonight. NC State only turned it over nine times, which amounted to a turnover rate of 15.6%. Unfortunately, the Pack had no advantage in this category--Alabama also had nine turnovers.
-- Three-pointers saved the day. NC State's eFG%: .560. Bama's eFG%: .480.
-- NC State had its best offensive rebounding performance since the Appalachain State game, grabbing 34.4% of available offensive boards. The Tide grabbed 40%.
-- This is the slowest-paced game NC State has played all season. Each team only had about 58 possessions. Both teams posted OFF EFFs above 110.
-- Evtimov continues to shoot brilliantly from behind the arc. I wonder: has the fact that his knees are finally healthy made for an improved jump shot?
-- Alabama has some pretty glaring depth issues. Gottfried was forced to lean on most of his starters because the bench is sketchy once you get past Richard Hendrix. And Hendrix offers depth in the one place they don't need it--the frontcourt.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Swallowing a whistle must make breathing difficult
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
On any given December day, Alabama's athletics website looks kinda like this:
"Tide Football Practices For Bowl Game; Brodie Croyle Seen Applying Butter To Toast During Breakfast"
"Basketball Team Something Something Whatever"
Alabama lost its two leading scorers from a year ago (Kennedy Winston and Earnest Shelton), but returns its other three starters and--so far, at least--has adjusted to the losses pretty well. While their production from the free throw line has remained consistent, the Tide have become less perimeter-oriented. Last season, they scored about 30% of their points from threes; this season, they're scoring about 25% of their points from threes.
Last year's Tide team was excellent at the line because its best offensive players also happened to be good free throw shooters. Winston, Shelton and Chuck Davis shot 436 of 736 Alabama free throws in 2005, making 78.9% of them. With Davis the only one of the three returning, Alabama has endured some regression--they're hitting 68.1% as a team compared to 73.6% last year.
Despite losing Winston and Shelton, the Tide aren't having too much trouble scoring, and they've maintained a good offense. In looking at Alabama's personnel, I think NC State is going to have a little more trouble creating matchup problems than it usually does. Quickness should be to State's advantage, but height definitely won't be.
Likely Starters (* = returning starter):
(Go here to read about any unfamiliar statistics you see below.)
Ronald Steele* (6-2, 185) -- The only starter listed as a guard. Not a big factor in the offense; boasts a good turnover rate for a point guard (15%). Steele is not shooting the ball well this season. His eFG% is .423, down from .595 a year ago. Will definitely shoot the three.
Alonzo Gee (6-6, 205) -- Scores at a solid rate (17.5 pts/40) but eats way too many possessions (over 25% while on the court). He's been one of the team's worst FT shooters (10-21, 47.6%).
Chuck Davis* (6-7, 230) -- Alabama's leading scorer and focal point. Along with Davidson and Steele, Davis started all 32 games in 2005. Davis is having a great season so far, averaging 22.7 pts, 7.1 rebs and 2.7 blks per 40 minutes. His PPFGA is a team-high 1.27. It also appears that Davis has improved his range: in 2005 he attempted 15 threes (making two) in 1055 minutes; this season, he's already attempted 12 threes (and made five of them) in just 255 minutes. Not a great rebounder.
Jermareo Davidson* (6-11, 200) -- Jermareo (or, as I now prefer, "Oreo") has also seen his shooting percentage drop significantly this season (down about 10%). The most noteworthy thing about Davidson is his rebounding: he's averaging 13.3 rebs/40 and has an excellent rebounding percentage (18.9%). He presents a big challenge on the glass for Cedric Simmons and I suspect that Bama will get him the ball in an attempt to get Ced into early foul trouble. Davidson shoots pretty well from the line (77.8% this year) and averages 3.2 blks/40.
Jean Felix (6-7, 205) -- Hit 34-75 (45.3%) from behind the arc last season; this year, just 9-34 (26.5%). Felix is not a post player, as the majority of his field goal attempts over the last two years have been three-pointers. Has been turnover-prone this season.
Richard Hendrix (6-9, 250) has been Bama's best bench player. Hendrix is only playing 16.4 minutes per game, but when he's on the court, he gobbles up rebounds like it's nothing. His rebs/40 (15.6) and rebounding percentage (22.1%) are both team-highs. Chuck Davis is averaging fewer rebounds per game despite playing almost twice as many minutes. Hendrix is a pure post player, so he's stuck behind Davis and Oreo. I don't know how often Bama goes with the three of them at the same time, but I doubt we'll see much of that on Thursday.
Justin Jonus (6-5, 210) has hit over 50% of this threes this season, but his 2005 statistics suggest he's been shooting way over his head (as if a 3-pt percentage above 50% didn't suggest that already).
Evan Brock (6-8, 205) and Brandon Hollinger (5-11, 170; holy crap, a short dude!) may also see some time.
They've remained pretty consistent with 2005, though they are allowing about 4 pts/100 possessions more than they did last season. I think we can safely say that the Crimson Tide are not very good at forcing turnovers, so that bodes well for us. Assuming we don't shoot ourselves in the foot too often, we'll get shots at the goal on a big portion of our possessions--a good thing for any team, and an especially advantageous thing for a good shooting team like the Pack.
OFF EFF / DEF EFF / Difference:
NC State: 107 / 86.8 / 20.2
Alabama: 112.8 / 96.2 / 16.6
We're better, but not significantly so. I'm not optimistic simply because I've seen too many games against OOC opponents like Bama. A Wolfpack win will be a pleasant surprise and an early Christmas gift--and I put this on my list, so Santa knows I want it.
Alabama has lost two of three, including a home loss to Notre Dame.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
More on Trevor Ferguson
Ferguson didn't enroll in Pittsburgh because he said he was homesick. It's not surprising, then, that the Florida-native's decision to attend NC State has some Pittsburgh fans scratching their heads.
In the Charlotte Observer blurb, which I linked yesterday and which also appears in the above link, Ferguson's coach says that Ferguson didn't realize that he was a poor fit for Pittsburgh's "rugged, half-court" offense. My initial reaction was, aren't Pittsburgh and NC State somewhat similar? In fact, if you employ Ken Pomeroy's Basketball Shrink (patent pending!) on NC State, Pittsburgh is one of the Wolfpack's closest comparables. But this is a comparison of output, not style. If you make the comparison based on point distribution (i.e., how a team scores its points), it becomes apparent that the teams are not closely-related (you'll have to scroll for a while to find Pitt). Pittsburgh isn't perimeter-oriented (and thus is "rugged"?); NC State is. Similar tempos, different methods.
Or maybe Pittsburgh's players like to herd cattle, scale large mountains, wear Wranglers and smoke Marlboros. Y'know, the kinds of things that make you rugged.
To me, the strangest aspect of the Ferguson story is the fact that he didn't visit Pittsburgh before committing. Regardless of how much one likes a particular coach, it is usually good practice to ask such questions as Will I like attending this school and enjoy its surrounding area? and Does the team's philosophy match up with my skills? Visits can be enlightening in those ways and others. For instance, Ferguson might have learned that when Pitt's coaches said the school was in Pennsylvania, they weren't kidding.
Items regarding Ferguson from the Pitt Sports Blather archive:
Basketball Notes (4/6/05)
Signed and Sealed (4/18/05)
...Or Maybe Not (8/31/05)
Joking aside, welcome to Raleigh, Trevor.
[* -- Did you get it?]
Monday, December 19, 2005
Monday Notes: Did you read the Cam redemption story? Plus: For some reason, Pack's bowl not exciting the masses.
-- One conference game into the season, and Caulton Tudor says the Wolfpack looks like a lock to improve on last season's 7-9 record.
When Bethel cooled, Cameron Bennerman thawed. Then, in the second half, Andrew Brackman and Ilian Evtimov combined to score 20 points.
It's not even January and already I'm tired of reading about (1) our scoring balance and (2) how we're replacing Julius Hodge with a collective effort. This is not to call out Tudor specifically, though his column does dance around these increasingly-lame storylines.
As for whether or not NC State is certain to improve on its 2005 conference record...talk to me after the next three games. Alabama and George Washington will tell us a lot about where this team is heading. I am dyin' for a breakthrough win on the road against a tough OOC opponent (Notre Dame doesn't count).
Later in the Tudor piece, we discover that Anthony Harris--when he's not busy bricking a jumper--likes to lend an analytical eye to the game:
"Once we got them into a half-court set, we pretty much stopped them," Miami guard Anthony Harris said.
Fast break points-MIAMI 6, NCSU 3
This doesn't mean NC State scored 78 points out of its halfcourt offense, but it doesn't provide any support for the idea that Miami "pretty much stopped" NC State in the halfcourt. If we weren't scoring in the halfcourt, we'd've had to have had a lot of transition buckets, right? And no, Anthony, fouling the crap out of someone does not equate to a stop.
-- Chip Alexander and Ken Tysiac wrote basically the same story. Props to the W-S Journal's Bill Cole for not going that route.
-- Can't get enough wings. I was surprised today to discover that Wolfpack hoops picked up a commitment from 6-6 wingman Trevor Ferguson. Judging from his highlights, he'll fit in very well here. Can't say much for his competition, but he shows good range and pretty solid passing skills. Ferguson was all set to go to Pittsburgh before deciding to come here.
-- Today in useless bowl game rankings... Charlotte Bowl ranked 25th out of 28 bowls by Yahoo!. Last week, Sportsline ranked the bowl in the same spot (ht: Georgia Sports). I'm sure there is a compelling reason for catching the game which outweighs the fact that NC State's football team is totally unwatchable...I'm sure there is.
NC State Football 2005: Like Golf Except With Tackling
-- Unrelated to NC State but worth checking out: some of college basketball's individual stat leaders, courtesy of Ken Pomeroy.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
NC State 81, Miami 69
We're on the board in conference play.
From the preview:
Miami is not a particularly good defensive team, despite its big reboundy guys. One of the culprits is perimeter defense. In 2005, Hurricanes opponents scored 35% of their points from behind the arc. Only nine teams allowed opponents to score a higher proportion of their points via the three-pointer.
We definitely saw the Pack take advantage of Miami's suspect perimeter defense again, and the rebounding--while not great--was an improvement over last year's game against the Hurricanes.
Last season the Canes managed to grab 48.6% of available offensive boards; tonight, they "only" grabbed 38.6%.
Tonight's game provides a great example with regards to rebounding numbers. Both teams had 33 rebounds, but if you compare Miami's offensive and defensive rebound rates (38.6% and 72.7%) to NC State's rates (27.3% and 61.4%), you can see that Miami in fact had a marked rebounding advantage.
-- Ced Simmons: 8 points, 9 rebounds, 7 blocks. It is way too much fun watching him swat the hell out of opponents' shots. Simmons is now averaging 4.7 blocks/40 minutes. He was less impressive at the offensive end; from watching the game I thought that he had 4-5 turnovers, but the box says he only had two.
-- Cam! Tony! Is this what a healthy Tony Bethel looks like? He has been shooting really well over the last couple of games, and for that matter, so has Cam. These guys are especially important on nights (like tonight) when Atsur and Evtimov have trouble scoring. Evtimov didn't really get involved until the last 7-8 minutes, while Atsur only managed three field goal attempts.
-- Last year, these two teams combined for 22 FTAs. Tonight: 54.
-- I am no longer skeptical about Anthony King's role in the UM offense. He was a big factor for them tonight, and it looked like he was a significant part of Miami's gameplan.
-- Anthony Harris and Denis Clemente combined to shoot 5-20 from the field. Bless them.
-- The game featured 65 possessions. NC State's OFF EFF (81/65 x 100) = 125. Miami's OFF EFF = 106. So Miami actually played better at the offensive end than I had thought. The Hurricanes were aided by good offensive rebounding, good free throw shooting, and a low turnover rate.
-- Combined Wolfpack shooting in two games against Miami: 45-91 (24-42 3FG). That's an eFG of 62.6%.
-- Gavin Grant's versatility is extremely valuable, so I hope that he'll get better at taking care of the ball as the season progresses. The team will improve a lot when he stops acting as a drain on the offense. We need him on the court.
Friday, December 16, 2005
I didn't write much in the immediate aftermath of NC State's loss to Miami last season, what with it being a defeat of the we-really-should-have-won-this-game variety. After those types of games, my disgust is such that I'm usually unable to accomplish anything constructive--unless you count cursing.
This year's Miami team is essentially unchanged from the team we saw last January. Guillermo Diaz, Robert Hite and Anthony Harris are back and leading the 'Canes guard-oriented offense (though Harris has missed seven games because of injury). Anthony King and Gary Hamilton are still grabbing a lot of rebounds.
The starters (reference for some of the numbers found below):
Guillermo Diaz (6-2, 192) -- Diaz made his skills painfully evident in last season's game, scoring 26 points on 9-17 shooting. He's off to a great start this season and has not had to carry as much of the scoring load as he did in '05.
Robert Hite (6-2, 190) -- Shooting the ball really well this season (PPFGA = 1.35). Like Diaz, Hite's usage level (i.e., the number of possessions he uses) is down, and perhaps he is enjoying the benefits.
Denis Clemente (6-0, 165) -- Look, it's the new Anthony Harris! Clemente is a freshman who's been thrown right into the action, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised at his inefficiency. In what has otherwise been a good shooting group of starters, Clemente has been the glaring exception. He's the only Miami starter with a PPFGA under 1.10 (his is 0.94). As Anthony Harris gets back into game shape, he will steal more and more of Clemente's minutes. Let's all thank Denis in advance for his (presumably) poor shot selection.
Anthony King (6-9, 235) -- King was a big reason why the U bludgeoned the Wolfpack on the offensive boards last season (he had 6 OR by himself). Through nine games this season, King is one of the ACC's most prolific rebounders. He's averaging 12.8 rebs/40 and has a rebounding percentage over 19%. He's also become a bigger part of the offense, using 20.5% of his team's possessions compared to a meager 13% in 2005. King wasn't much of a scoring factor against Michigan or Temple, so I'm still skeptical about how much he'll be involved against the Pack. He sprained his ankle against Michigan about three weeks ago and I don't know to what degree that's bothering him (if it is at all).
Jimmy Graham (6-8, 245) -- Another freshman. Despite starting, Graham doesn't see a lot of playing time. His rebounding is meh and he turns the ball over too much to be a consistent scoring threat.
At the forward spot, we should also see plenty of Raymond Hicks and Gary Hamilton, both of whom have been playing as much as Graham has. Hamilton is King's partner in rebounding crime, and his rebounding numbers are every bit as good as King's.
Anthony Harris is back from a fractured right foot, but Frank Haith is easing him into games from the bench. I wouldn't be surprised if that changes for Sunday's game. Regardless of whether or not Harris starts, he should see the most minutes he's seen all season.
Miami is not a particularly good defensive team, despite its big reboundy guys. One of the culprits is perimeter defense. In 2005, Hurricanes opponents scored 35% of their points from behind the arc. Only nine teams allowed opponents to score a higher proportion of their points via the three-pointer.
In last year's meeting, NC State took full advantage of that perimeter defense, hitting 12-24 threes (it is still amazing to me that we lost despite hitting so many threes at such a high percentage).
I expect more of the same this Sunday, and I also expect the Wolfpack to rebound better at the defensive end. NC State wins, 68-60.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
It's hard to title these things sometimes.
Just a few short notes...
-- Basketball game against Gee Dubya moved from 12/31 to 12/30. Excellent news for those of us who are attending the bowl game. Many thanks to George Washington and Fox Sports for being flexible.
-- Over at EDSBS, Orson and Stranko have decided which teams they're rooting for this bowl season. On the Meineke Bowl:
Meineke Car Care Bowl: South Florida vs. NC State.
-- ESPN has nabbed another great college hoops blogger. ESPN.com's Insider service just became more compelling, as it now offers the musings of both John Hollinger and Ken Pomeroy. There are some exciting tidbits in Ken's post, like the revelation that he's working on a stats page for individual players. And the news (via Big Ten Wonk) that a Division II conference is keeping official possession-based statistics. Very cool.
-- Angry googlers from Kentucky: I believe you are looking for this.
-- A preview of the Wolfpack's conference opener will be posted on Friday.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
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.
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.
-- Next up: a conference game?! Preview forthcoming.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
UNC-Asheville: At least they're tall
Eddie Biedenbach brings his stiffs to the RBC Center on Wednesday night.
I remember CJ Walker from a game against the Bulldogs two years ago. He was probably the skinniest basketball player I'd ever seen, so I hope he's put on a few pounds in the meantime. But Walker is no longer the main attraction. The Bulldogs also feature Kenny George, who is 7' 6". According to his bio, Kenny averaged nine blocks per game as a senior in high school.
Alas, we probably won't get to see Kenny in action. He hasn't logged any playing time so far this season.
UNC-A has already played two road games against ACC foes: GT 80, UNCA 52; Wake Forest 79, UNCA 63.
The UNC-A starters (just call them the anti-Stetson):
Omar Collington (6'1", 195) -- Decent shooter and the team's second-leading scorer.
Chad Mohn (6'8", 225) -- Averaging 9.6 rebs/40 through five games.
Brett Warner (6'10", 235) -- Starts but doesn't play a whole lot (94 minutes in 5 games). Averaging a respectable 16.2 pts/40 and 8.9 rebs/40.
Oliver Holmes (6'6", 205) -- Would that every one of his shot attempts could come from the line. Holmes is 20-21 (95%) from the free throw line and 8-31 (26%) from the field. Nice FTA/FGA, though, holmes.
Joe Barber (6'9", 235) -- Off to a good start this season, Barber is the team's leading scorer. Averages 21.5 pts/40, but unlike Clank!, Barber does so with good shooting (63.6% eFG).
Monday, December 12, 2005
Hoops Notes: New Polls Released, Terps Beat BC, Virginia Guards Seek Chiropractor
-- Movin' up. I was surprised to see us remain in the polls after the Iowa loss, and now we're back on the way up. In the Coaches Poll, UNC is surrounded by two packs of wolves.
-- Maryland 73, Boston College 71. It doesn't take much more than a glance to realize how important free throws were. So far this season, the Eagles have relied on the free throw line for a good portion of their offense--they're near the top of the ACC in both the FTA/FGA and FTM/FGA categories. Maryland beat them handily in both categories last night, and that helped the Terps eke out a close win.
-- The Virginia Cavaliers have posted some interesting numbers through six games. And by interesting, I mostly mean funny-awful. Not surprisingly, Singletary and Reynolds are having to carry this team, and already they're crying uncle.
Singletary has used 32.2% of his team's possessions, while Reynolds has used 27%. The results are terrifying.
[Side note: eFG% is effective field goal percentage, which is the same thing as AdjFG%. I'm calling it eFG% from here on out because everyone else does and I don't want to create unnecessary confusion. Definition here if you need it.]
Singletary manages 21 pts-per-40-minutes via the saturation bombing technique. Gotta shoot to score, right?
Led by Clank! and Thud!, Virginia has produced the worst offense in the ACC to this point. They're among the worst shooting teams in the country, hitting 40% from the field (43.5% eFG%). Plus, they're turning the ball over on nearly a quarter or their possessions.
Mamadi Diane (41.1% eFG), Adrian Joseph (44.0 eFG) and Jason Cain (45.0 eFG) aren't helping the cause.
Tunji Soroye and Laurynas Mikalauska both average more than 20 minutes per game, and have, between them, 31 field goal attempts in 6 games. In 159 minutes, Soroye has scored a whopping 19 points. These two men are but innocent bystanders to the horrific destruction wrought by the Singletary-Reynolds-Diane brick brigade.
There is a bright spot, however: Virginia has been pounding the crap out of people on the boards (it won't last, of course, but it's interesting while it does). Even when looking at rebounding percentages--which compensate for the advantages in raw rebounding numbers given to a team that misses a lot of shots--the Cavs are impressive. Jason Cain in particular seems to have found his inner Dennis Rodman. His rebounding percentage (20%) ranks second among ACC players. In his last two games, he has 16 offensive rebounds (7 against Georgia Tech, 9 against Fordham).
Last season, the Cavs were both a bad shooting team and a bad rebounding team. Imagine how they'd look if that were the case this season...
Sunday, December 11, 2005
NCSU 92, Appalachian State 68
NC State followed up its worst offensive performance of the season with its best.
at Iowa: 69 possessions, 42 points
vs ASU: 67 possessions, 92 points
The Wolfpack were out-rebounded, had a poor turnover rate, and didn't play particularly good defense. But none of that matters when you shoot 79% (adjusted) from the floor.
The only thing that bothered me about today's game was rebounding. That's nothing new, though.
One more warmup to go before we open conference play...
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Toney Baker, Blogger
Sort of. Check out the journal he's been keeping for the NC State Alumni Association.
There will be something familiar about Appalachain State when we see them this weekend. ASU is a POT. A very serious POT. Through seven games this season, 46% of ASU's field goal attempts have been three-point attempts. They even rely on the triple more than the Wolfpack...
With their shooting, the Mountaineers put a scare into Tennessee, but they couldn't handle Wake Forest. They attempted 37 threes against the Deacs.
ASU's statistical profile smacks of perimeter-oriented team as much as its 3PA/FGA ratio does...
Decent at shooting the ball and avoiding turnovers, not so much good at rebounding and getting to the free throw line.
I included '04-'05 because this season is still young, but the Mountaineers haven't changed much over the summer. Not that I should be surprised: five guys who played big minutes in '05 are back this season.
The probable starters:
DJ Thompson (5'8") -- The team's leading scorer. Averages 21.6 pts/40 min and is lauded for his defense because he averaged nearly three steals per game last season. I'm sure he'll pick a few pockets on Saturday, but I'm also sure that Wolfpack guards will be enjoying their unobstructed view of the basket. Thompson's the one guy on the team who can draw some fouls, and he already has 40 FTAs this season.
Nathan Cranford (6'2") -- Cranford doesn't bother with two-pointers: 87% of his field goal attempts this season are threes. But why should he venture inside of the arc? He's 20-46 from outside (43.5%). He contributes nothing aside from three-pointers, so if he's cold, he's liable to disappear.
Demetrius Scott (6'2") -- Averaging 10.5 pts/40. Not as interested in the three-pointer as his teammates are.
Doug McLaughlin-Williams (6'8", 220) -- Third scoring option, will definitely shoot threes, grabs rebounds prolifically by ASU standards (7.1/40 min).
PL Henderson (6'7", 210) -- I'm guessing here. Since Jeremy Clayton got hurt, three different guys have started games in his place. Henderson is one of 'em. Henderson has zero 3FGA in 119 minutes, and averages better than 9 rebs/40.
Off the bench, Tyler Webb (6'9" 225) is probably the only other forward who will get playing time, unless Clayton is back.
NC State will no doubt try to get the ball to Cedric Simmons in the post as much as possible...that is, if App decides it doesn't want to play zone defense all night.
Limiting Thompson is important not just because he's their best player, but also because--judging from the statistics--he doesn't have much help. Cranford is utterly one-dimensional, while McLaughlin-Williams averages a modest 12.5 pts/40. And their inability to rebound should limit their second chances.
I think we'll see a lot of Jarvis Jackson off the bench. ASU doesn't have a problem with playing four guards, and Jackson has been good in limited minutes. He's also coming off a game in which he played 25 minutes. Jackson has a scoring punch that I think the Mountaineers need.
Wake Forest used its low post offense and its rebounding to help generate 37 free throw attempts against Appalachian State. Hopefully the Wolfpack can do the same.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
BlogPoll Roundtable #12
Texas A&M and Baseball in No Particular Order hosts the final BlogPoll Roundtable of the regular season.
1. Why your school? Did you go to school there? Were you legacy, did you pick it for academics, for the football team, the party reputation?
[By the way, I'd be interested to hear other Wolfpackers' answers to this question...]
It sounds perverse, but I would only be lying if I suggested anything else: athletics were totally behind my decision to attend NC State. Mind you, it didn't have anything to do with the success of Wolfpack athletics (seein' as how there wasn't much to speak of during the 1990s).
I couldn't help it--I was brainwashed before I knew any better. My dad (and all three of his brothers) attended NC State. They were sports fans, so my childhood featured a lot of Wolfpack sporting events. In fact, I think my earliest sports-related memory is of NC State's painful loss to ECU in an early '90s bowl game (1992?). By the time I hit high school, I was too passionate about NC State to seriously consider going anywhere else.
It didn't matter that I grew up in a terrible era for Wolfpack sports. It didn't matter that I had no intention of becoming an engineer; I could find something. Going somewhere else, cheering for some other home team would have been...weird.
Maybe if I'd known what I was getting myself into, I could've convinced myself otherwise.
2. Name a player or two who had "THE GAME" against your school. I'm talking about a guy who simply dominated your team and all you could do was tip your cap and say, "Wow."
I'll just quote from this game recap:
Duke appeared down and out midway through the second half, but rallied from a 15-point deficit as Redick had 23 points over the final 10:05, giving the Blue Devils their fifth straight ACC title in stunning fashion.
I thought I was over this one, but reading the recap today still induces a cringe.
On the football field, Clemson's Woodrow Dantzler had an epic performance against the Wolfpack in 2001. Clemson won 45-37. In addition to his impressive passing performance--23-27, 333 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs--Dantzler ran for 184 yards on 23 carries, and, as if the passing TDs weren't sufficient, scored two more touchdowns on the ground.
On the third play of the game, Dantzler broke a tackle and dodged defenders on his way to a 55-yard touchdown run. Such a helpless feeling in Raleigh that day. Laugh, shake your head, and move on. That's all you could do.
3. There are games that I have no interest in but I watch simply to see a certain guy play. What players from this season do you do the same for?
Reggie Bush is a given. In the ACC, there aren't a lot of players who I make a point of seeing, although I do try to catch Marcus Vick whenever the Hokies are on television. I would have watched more of Maryland if the Terps had gotten the ball to Vernon Davis more than 5-6 times a game. It's fascinating to watch how many guys it takes to bring Davis down.
4. A few weeks ago we were asked who the best player to suit up for our school was. I'm curious who your favorite player to ever suit up for your school is? Certainly doesn't have to be a superstar, or even a starter.
Without a doubt, it's Jamie Barnette. Jamie threw for over 9000 yards and ran the Wolfpack offense for more than three years, but that isn't why I liked him so much. He was competitive, tough, and a great leader--the kind of player you're thrilled to have representing your school on the field.
Along with Torry Holt, Barnette helped restore the program to respectability after a pair of crappy 3-8 seasons. His senior year was a disappointment (aside from beating Texas), and he never beat North Carolina, but the team's shortcomings could never be attributed to a lack of effort from Jamie.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Da Bulls: Quick Glance
I'll have more on South Florida in the next day or two. For now, here's a quick look at some numbers. It would appear that (sigh) USF's defense has a pulse.
It's never too early for some predictions:
BlogPoll Ballot -- Week 15
The final ballot of the regular season. Week 14 here.
Dropped Out: Fresno State
Games Viewed: Prit much all of 'em.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Wolfpack Hoops Stats Through Six Games
Ken Pomeroy has released his 2005-2006 numbers, which are up-to-date through Friday. Of note, NC State's offense ranks 10th in the ACC while its defense ranks 3rd. Nothing very surprising about that.
By clicking on "Offense Summary," you can look at the offense broken into the Four Factors. This shows us which areas have been problematic for the Wolfpack's offense this season.
Conference ranks: 10th in AdjFG% (same thing as Effective FG%, or eFG% for short), 4th in Turnover Rate, 12th in Offensive Rebounding Percentage, 2nd in FTM/FGA.
The shooting percentage should come around since it is a typical strength of the Wolfpack offense. I'd like to point out that this is one area in which the value of the NC State offense is often masked. NCSU's field goal percentage is lowered by the high volume of three pointers it attempts, because those are lower-percentage shots (duh). But those threes have more value than twos--value that FG% doesn't account for. That's why you have to adjust field goal percentages in order to understand a team's true shooting ability. Last year, for example, both NC State and Boston College shot about 45.5% from the field. Unadjusted, the teams look even. When you compensate for three pointers [AdjFG% = (FGM + (0.5 x 3FGM)) / FGA ], however, the better shooting team becomes clear. NCSU's adjusted percentage was 53.2%, while BC's was 49.3%.
A good adjusted shooting percentage is one the reasons why NC State usually has one of the most effecient (and thus best) offenses in the country. Just thought I'd toss this out there since Sendek's scheme is coming under a lot of undeserved-but-typical criticism in the wake of the Iowa game.
Anyway, what I really want to talk about here are the individuals, not the whole. Below are two tables listing some up-to-date statistics for each player. I've used many of these numbers before, but you may be a little fuzzy, or you may be encountering them for the first time. For definitions, see the following:
PPFGA (aka PPWS)
Reb%, TO%, O Rtg
%Poss = The percentage of the team's possessions a player uses when he is on the court. An average player would use 20% (100% divided by 5 players) while in the game. Higher percentage reflects more involvement in the offense.
%Min = Simply the percentage of team minutes the player has played. NC State has played six games (6 games x 40 minutes = 240 team minutes). Evtimov has logged 171 minutes, and thus has played 71.3% of the team's minutes (171/240).
Pts/40, Rebs/40, etc. = Points, rebounds, etc. per 40 minutes.
AdjFG% = See the above paragraphs.
Got all that? All right, then...
A quick note about usage (%Poss): a general rule of thumb is that the more possessions a player uses, the less efficient he is. Only very good players can maintain efficiency at high usage levels (like Julius Hodge, for instance). I consider high usage to be over 25% of possessions, but most players will not approach that mark. In the very rarest of instances, a player will use over 30% of his team's possessions. Last year, Julius Hodge used 28.3% of NC State's possessions while he was on the court, which is the basketball equivalent of carrying a piano on your back. Julius worked well under the circumstances, wouldn't you say?
It goes without saying that you don't want your more average players using too many possessions, because the more they use, the more their lackings are exposed. Guys like Hodge make the players around them better because they allow those players to use fewer possessions, which increases their efficiency and keeps them from being stretched past their limits.
Now that Hodge has moved on, the others have to pick up the slack, perhaps more than they feel comfortable picking up. Ignoring the fact that just six games have been played this season, we can use Engin Atsur as an example. Last year, Atsur used 15% of NCSU's possessions and had a solid Offensive Rating of 113. This year--with Hodge gone and more possessions up for grabs--Atsur's usage is up to 19.5%, and his O Rtg has fallen to 106. So he's using more possessions and has become less efficient as a result.
Though it is hard to determine anything after six games, Hodge's absense is probably a big part of the Pack's early--and continuing?--struggles. Gavin Grant is picking up much of the slack, and while his skill set is similar to Hodge's, Gavin is not nearly as efficient (indicated by his O Rtg; I consider an "average" O Rtg to be 100). It doesn't help that Bethel and Brackman are each playing poorly so far.
The PPFGA illustrates who's been shooting well and who's been shooting poorly. Anything near or below 1.0 is bad; above 1.2 is good.
To get a feel for Rebounding Percentage, check out this list of the Big Ten's best rebounders from a year ago. Evtimov continues to rebound at a pathetic rate for a forward. Cedric's percentage was down around 11% prior to the Iowa game--that's how much of an impact his performance against the Hawkeyes had on his rebounding numbers.
Let's move on to per-minute numbers.
Per-minute numbers are preferable to per-game numbers, though I did include points/game in the first table.
You might be a little surprised by Evtimov's low Assists/40 number, but actually this isn't much lower than his '04-'05 number. For all the recognition he gets for his passing, he really doesn't dish out a lot of assists. It's an early-season quirk, but it's still funny to see that Ced has been dishing assists more prolifically than Evtimov.
This chart does a good job of illustrating Grant's well-rounded game. In addition to points/rebs/asts, Gavin also gets to the line at a good rate (FTA/FGA). Gavin is an important player because he can do so much, but he needs to play with more restraint (use fewer possessions, take better shots). As he gets more efficient, so too will the offense.
Like the team figure, individual TO% is simply turnovers divided by possessions. A team's point guard often has a higher TO% because he has the ball in his hands more. For example, Jarrett Jack had a TO% of 25% last season.
Fresh off terrible performances, Bethel and Atsur have high turnover rates. Those should come down considerably as the season goes on (I hope).
It's just 49 minutes of work, but Ben McCauley's numbers suggest he deserves more action. I like that he's been more interested than Costner in scoring inside the arc, which is reflected by his 3FGA and FTA ratios, as well as his Reb%.
So that is what's doing through six games. I'll be tracking these and other numbers all season for every ACC team. I'm happy to provide a copy of my spreadsheet to anyone who wants it. You can leave a comment or shoot me an email.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
NCSU at Iowa: not just a bad dream
-- Who was that team in red? It definitely wasn't the patient, ball-secure team I know. Iowa's defense made points hard to come by in the post, and I think the Hawkeyes' big guards also gave us problems. Between the press, man-to-man, and zone, they mixed things up nicely.
-- In general, NC State wasn't able to use its quickness at forward to its advantage.
-- Atsur and Grant were terrible. Grant was out of control on several occasions and forced too many bad shots. How can we tell Atsur played poorly? He only logged 25 minutes. ESPN2 misspelled his name as Estur when they were displaying the starting lineups, and he went on to play like Aunt Esther. Herb Sendek doesn't have a problem with leaning on Atsur (who averaged almost 33 min/g last season) because he tends to be error-free. Not last night. Between the turnovers and lack of field goal attempts, Atsur was almost invisible. Tony Bethel wasn't any better.
-- How to not score: turn the ball over on 35% of your possesions, shoot 37% (adjusted) from the floor. For the game, NC State had an offensive efficiency (though I hesitate to use efficiency anywhere when talking about this game) of 60. Believe it or not, each team had nearly 70 possessions.
-- On the bright side, NC State wasn't out-rebounded as badly as I thought it would be. Iowa rebounded 29.2% of its missed shots--not very good, but still better than the Wolfpack's percentage, which was 24.3%.
-- A big part of the Wolfpack's rebounding effort--and the lone individual bright spot--was Cedric Simmons. Ken Pomeroy noted Ced's effort, as well. Simmons's progress continues to be encouraging. He showed a lot of promise as a freshman last season, but his offensive skills were so raw that I thought it might take him a long time to become a valuable contributor. While he is still far from polished, his post play has clearly improved, and he's way ahead of where I thought he'd be.
-- No PT for Costner or McCauley. It wasn't the performances of Brackman and Evtimov that kept the freshmen on the bench, that's for sure.
-- I don't want to alarm anyone, but NC State hasn't had a good showing at the offensive end since the Citadel game. The last four games have been mediocre (or worse).
-- Let's move on. For the love of god, let's move on.
Bartender! Stiff drink, please.
That's two hours I can't get back.
Top five things less painful than watching tonight's quote-unquote basketball game:
1) Getting kicked in the junk every five minutes.
2) Stabbing one's self in the eye with a fork.
3) Belly-flopping onto pavement from an overpass.
4) Eating an assortment of metallic shards.
5) Driving into a large tree at 65 MPH.