Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So it's gonna be like that, is it.

When Towson hit a couple of NBA threes in the first few possessions of the game, you could tell it was going to be one of those halves. Their zone defense is awful, though, so I'm not sure they'll have enough in the second half even if they don't cool off. Which they had damn well better.

Tracy Smith: all he does is catch touchdowns.

I'm heading out the door to begin a long day of drinking, so, if you could, make sure the Pack starts boxing out in the second half. Happy new year, everybody!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Previewing Towson

2009 Scouting / 2009 Game Plan / 2008 Scouting Report
2009 Schedule / 2009 Stats
2009 Roster

Towson Offense 07-08
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate17.316
Off Reb Rate28.4301
Towson Offense 08-09
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate19.9117
Off Reb Rate34.8123

I feel like I've written the same preview 10 times this season. There are only so many different ways I can say, "man, look at all this suck-ass," and at this point it's just tiresome. Fortunately the parade of cupcakes is about finished.


Troy Franklin (5-11, 160) -- Good assist rate, solid free throw and steal rates, so he's probably pretty quick. About 65% of his shots come from outside, which is probably for the best since he's only marginally better from two (37.8%) than he is from three (34.3%).

Brian Morris (6-6, 185) -- Not much of a factor offensively, as he's taking a paltry 13.4% of the shots. When he does attempt to contribute, he'll either dribble the ball off his knee or miss a three pointer.

Jarrel Smith (6-7, 210) -- Not an efficient scorer; doesn't rebound, get to the line, or block shots.

Junior Hairston (6-8, 205) -- Hairston is one of the Tigers to watch; he takes about 25% of the shots and leads the team in scoring with 15.1 points per game. He will shoot from outside, but he prefers to score inside the arc, where he's shooting about 47% over the last two years. For some reason, his rebounding at both ends is way down this year.

Robert Nwankwo (6-8, 220) -- Completely uninvolved at the offensive end, and with good reason--he's yet to find any sort of scoring touch, and he's terrible from the FT line. He's an excellent offensive rebounder who'll block his share of shots, but that's about it as far as positive contributions go. Nwankwo averages 5.7 fouls per 40 minutes, so don't be surprised if McCauley gets him in trouble quickly.


Josh Thornton (6-2, 175) could end up starting, but will be a significant factor regardless. He's good for exactly one thing--threes--and he is not shy about taking them.

Calvin Lee (6-8, 215) and David Brewster (6-6, 205) are the other notable reserves. Lee is a low-post scorer struggling to find his shot, but he sports a nice OR% and takes care of the basketball. Brewster is turnover-prone and shoots too much. Both average more than 5 fouls/40.

Towson Defense 07-08
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate20.5185
Off Reb Rate32.3140
Towson Defense 08-09
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate20.0221
Off Reb Rate40.9333

Between the graduation of Jonathan Pease and the precipitous decline of Junior Hairston's numbers, the Tigers are essentially without their two best defensive rebounders from 2008, which has led to the disaster that is their defensive rebounding percentage in 2009. Hairston leads the team with a 13.5 DR%, which is just sad.

Despite a few disruptive shot-blockers, their 2FG% defense has not been good--always a positive sign for the Wolfpack.

The Pomeroy Predictor thinks NC State is 18 points better than the Tigers.

NC State 62, Loyola 60

Box Score

NC State
Four Factors
Turnover Rate21.6
Off Reb Rate39.4
Four Factors
Turnover Rate13.3
Off Reb Rate28.6

          Pts   Poss    Off_Eff   Def_Eff
LC 60 60.1 99.9 103.2
NCSU 62 60.1 103.2 99.9

I picked the wrong year to quit smoking.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Aw Crap

*Winces, rips off headset.*

"You goin' in?"

"I don't know. All I heard was my name and
a stream of unintelligible profanity."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Talking Rutgers With Bleed Scarlet

Jon @ Bleed Scarlet answered a few of my questions below; I've answered a few for him at his place.

1.) What changed for Rutgers in the second half of the season? It almost seems like they flipped a switch and decided to start killing everybody.

Is it a cop out to say that the team is playing better in nearly every aspect? Specifically, the passing game is far more effective. Quarterback Mike Teel was terrible in the first half of the season, and receiver Tiquan Underwood had a major problem with drops. The young offensive line started to gel, which made the running game far more effective. The defense started forcing turnovers, and the secondary cut down on bad miscommunication errors that led to a lot of big plays through the air.

2.) With the way they're playing right now, are the Scarlet Knights the best team in the Big East?

I think Rutgers and Cincinnati are both playing at the same high level right now. Cincinnati has been strong all year, and I don't think they would have lost a game in conference play if they didn't suffer a rash of QB injuries all at the same time.

3.) Tell me about Rutgers' running game post-Ray Rice...have the Knights looked to pass a little more this season?

Rutgers has relied on the pass more this season, although they certainly aired it out much more in 2007 than a lot of people realize. Rutgers returned its starting quarterback and top three receivers from last year (one of whom, Kenny Britt, is among the best in the country). Reports out of fall camp indicated that the young offensive line was a lot better at pass blocking than run blocking; emphasizing the pass so much wasn't a big surprise.

I think the biggest problem this year in running the ball, at least until the last month of the season, was the lack of experience on the offensive line. The line lost three good senior starters. This year's offensive line has no senior starters, and had to break in three new starters, including two freshmen. They were ok in pass protection, but really struggled to get much push in the running game.

Rutgers has a bit of a committee approach at tailback this year. None of them are Ray Rice of course. They were thrown into the fire a bit this year, but they all have something to offer. Kordell Young saw the most snaps this season, even though he missed a few games due to injury. He's more of a smaller, shiftier type. He has good speed, and is good one-cut runner in RU's zone blocking scheme. The backups have varied a bit throughout the year, as the coaching staff has mostly played the hot hand. Second on the depth chart right now is Joe Martinek, who probably has the best all-around mix of speed and power of the backs. Third would be Jourdan Brooks. He's a big back, with good top end speed, but he runs a little tentatively, and needs to do a better job of finding holes. Mason Robinson has been lost in the shuffle a bit recently; he's similar to young in that he's another smaller back with a lot of speed.

It has been a learning effort this year, managing each back's strengths and weaknesses, and getting the line play to a point where Rutgers can consistently move the chains on the ground. Over the last month of the season, it started to come into place. That in turn helped the passing game, because now opposing defenses are less able to double and triple cover Kenny Britt, and they have to respect play action.

4.) When Greg Schiano turned down Michigan, was that sort of the point where you were able to breathe a sigh of relief and say "he's going to be here long-term"? Or are you still concerned about more prestigious programs stealing him away?

Most Rutgers fans believed, and still do, that Greg Schiano is going to be at Rutgers for a very long time. If Schiano's one thing, he's a stand up guy. His word is worth a lot, and he says that he wants to be at Rutgers for the long haul. It's his home stand, and he's really into the idea of being the face of a fledging program and building it up from the core foundation. I don't want to get into the sordid details of a recent series of articles in a local newspaper that (unfairly, I believe) portrayed the athletic department in a negative light. However, one important point to take from them is that Schiano and the outgoing athletic director had a great relationship. The A.D. essentially gave Schiano a blank check when he was hired, sparing no expense to bring every neglected aspect of the football program up to par.

The outgoing A.D. ended up being the fall guy, but all indications are that the university as a whole is still committed to fielding a winning football program. As long as the school remains committed to winning, Greg Schiano is going to be the head coach. Forget all the Penn State rumors; it's just hearsay and speculation. Greg Schiano is very happy at Rutgers, and the odds of a more appealing job opening up are very low. If Schiano is going to turn down Michigan, which is by far the most desirable job in the country, every Rutgers fan can rest easy at this point.

I think the slow start this year proved one thing - that while Greg Schiano is a good coach, and the right fit for Rutgers, he is not perfect. Rutgers is, historically, a mediocre program; we like to look at the recent extreme futility as an aberration caused by his very inept predecessor. That means that getting the program back to respectability, while impressive, is not the herculean task that some have portrayed it as. Schiano's biggest strength has been having the force of will to make necessary structural changes in the program. As a New Jersey native, he's done a good job of keeping more of the state's best players at home, and at making an effort to get the state as a whole behind Rutgers football. I think a lot of those advantages would be neutralized at another program. Rutgers needs Greg, and Greg needs Rutgers.

5.) In terms of pass coverage, what can we expect to see from Rutgers? Is the secondary as bad as it looks on paper (7.8 yds allowed per pass attempt)?

Greg Schiano pulls double duty as RU's defensive coordinator. He's very fond of using frequent blitz packages and twists/stunts, using athletic but undersized defensive linemen. It's a very high risk, high reward, bend-but-don't break strategy. The secondary play depends a lot on how effective the front seven looks. When Pete Tverdov can get into opposing backfields, that helps a lot.

I think the secondary looked a lot better in the second half of the season. Rutgers hired a new secondary coach this year, and was replacing a departing senior safety who was considered the leader of that unit. The secondary wasn't really on the same page together in the first half of this season. One starting corner in Jason McCourty was getting picked on a lot, and giving up a lot of big plays due to mental mistakes. Courtney Greene starts at free safety, but he isn't really great in coverage, and arguably has to cover too much due to lack of a better option there. He seemed to be getting burned a lot when the team played zone earlier in the season. Greene is most effective when he has the freedom to make plays closer to the line of scrimmage. As the season progressed, he started to look more like his old self and return to a higher level of effectiveness.

6.) Any important injuries we should know about?

The most significant injury is that starting senior DE Jamaal Westerman is going to miss the game due to a biceps injury. There are a few other injuries on the defensive line that make depth a little thin, but they should be ok. Rutgers has been lucky enough to mostly avoid the injury bug this year. Rutgers did lose its starting long snapper a few weeks ago, but has a capable backup on the roster. Tailback Kordell Young missed a few games, including the season finale, but I think he's expected to play in Birmingham. Jabu Lovelace, a backup quarterback primarily used for option packages to give the offense a few wrinkles, was hurt a while back and probably won't play.

Marquette 68, NC State 65

Box Score

NC State
Four Factors
Turnover Rate28.4
Off Reb Rate29.2
Four Factors
Turnover Rate15.8
Off Reb Rate26.7

          Pts   Poss    Off_Eff   Def_Eff
MU 68 63.5 107.1 102.4
NCSU 65 63.5 102.4 107.1

TO margin -8.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Previewing Marquette

2009 Scouting / 2009 Game Plan / 2008 Scouting Report
2009 Schedule / 2009 Stats
2009 Roster

Marquette Offense 07-08
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate18.437
Off Reb Rate37.823
Marquette Offense 08-09
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate19.070
Off Reb Rate40.025

This one sets up as surprisingly winnable for the Wolfpack, as Marquette has not been particularly impressive against a weak early-season slate; in fact, the Pomeroy Predictor likes State by three, meaning the teams have been even in terms of performance this season and home court provides the difference. But I'm not feeling optimistic--the backcourt matchup is so lopsided in Marquette's favor (true even if we were completely healthy, which we are not), I have a hard time seeing the Pack making up the difference in other places.

With so many returning contributors, it's not surprising that the Eagles' offense looks just like it did last season--this is not a great shooting club, and it isn't going to be, but their experienced guards take care of the ball, and the team is very good on the offensive boards despite a lack of height.

On an individual level, though, the 2009 Eagles do offer some unexpected differences. Dominic James's level of involvement is the lowest its been at any point in his career, which is not necessarily a bad thing, because the three guys taking more shots than him are all scoring more efficiently. So far, he seems content to be more of a distributor than a scorer--his assist rate this season is a career-best 34.4%.

                   2008                        2009
ORtg %Shots eFG% ORtg %Shots eFG%
McNeal 104.4 27.8 49.7 113.8 29.6 56.2
Matthews 111.2 18.7 47.1 124.7 25.3 54.0
James 104.7 25.5 45.5 106.7 21.1 48.0
Hayward 109.8 25.4 53.6 110.7 29.4 52.6

Those guys don't leave much for Dwight Burke, the fifth starter, whose job, as far as I can tell, is to be tall, take up space, and shoot once a fortnight (he's taking 3.5% of the shots). His line is among the more interesting you'll see.

Whether its reflective of new coach Buzz Williams's philosophical differences from Tom Crean or whether this is simply how the chips have fallen, I don't know, but for sure, a year-to-year increase in offensive presence like Wesley Matthews's is a rare thing.

%Shots eFG% 2FG% 3FG%

2006 19.5 44.2 38.9 43.8
2007 20.1 47.5 49.1 28.8
2008 18.7 47.1 47.2 31.3
2009 25.3 54.0 53.8 36.4

As the schedule gets tougher, it's reasonable to expect his shooting to regress back toward his career numbers, but will his usage go with it?

Marquette Defense 07-08
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate23.449
Off Reb Rate33.4197
Marquette Defense 08-09
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate22.2123
Off Reb Rate30.176

An excerpt from College Basketball Prospectus 2008-2009:

The Golden Eagles' conference opponents turned the ball over on 24 percent of their possessions in 2008, a high figure that, along with outstanding perimeter field-goal defense, keyed the Marquette defense as a whole. No other Big East defense came close to Crean's team in terms of forcing opponent turnovers. So the scout on the Golden Eagles for opposing offenses is easy to state, but hard to execute: Take care of the ball and shoot twos. If you're not turning the ball over and you're not firing up threes, you're hitting this team where it hurts.

Not that any encouragement is needed for this inside/inside again/okay Fergie three Wolfpack offense; our forwards will be a challenge for an undersized and foul-prone Eagles defense, which, duh. That NC State's guards protect the ball, then, is more important than usual. Cut out the turnovers and you expose an otherwise-flimsy Marquette D that allowed Big East opponents to hit almost 50% of their twos. And with a FT rate also approaching 50%, they sent conference foes to the line 25 times per game.

Of the nine guys who logged 30% or more of the minutes in 2008, six averaged over 4 fouls per 40 minutes, including Jerel McNeal. Such an active defense tends to come at this sort of cost.



N.C. State football fans -- A healthy Russell Wilson for the rest of his career ... which likely would help dissuade you from parking a moving van in front of Tom O'Brien's house. (On second thought, for Wolfpack fans in general ... patience, geez!)

Fine, fine. *sets pitchfork down, slowly backs away*

Saturday, December 20, 2008

NC State 78, Lipscomb 58

Box Score

NC State
Four Factors
Turnover Rate13.6
Off Reb Rate37.8
Four Factors
Turnover Rate15.1
Off Reb Rate29.3

          Pts   Poss    Off_Eff   Def_Eff
LU 58 66.1 87.8 118.1
NCSU 78 66.1 118.1 87.8

-- Lipscomb becomes the sixth team we've played this season that's kept its turnover rate under 20% against us. Considering the Bisons, like most of the rest, are terrible, that's discouraging. But not surprising.

-- Tracy Smith was once again the Pack's most productive scorer on a per-minute basis. He's so confident, he's not intentionally missing layups in order to boost his offensive rebounding numbers.

-- Nice job by Julius Mays in his first career start: 7 assists and zero turnovers in 24 minutes. An assist rate over 40%. Neither he nor Trevor Ferguson could do much to stop Lipscomb's guards from penetrating though (I can't wait for conference play!).

-- Brandon Costner and Simon Harris were laughing so hard after CJ Williams's missed dunk, I thought they were going to fall off the bench. It's nice to see the guys having a good time.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fells "day-to-day."

Not the most definitive of updates:

``I want to say it's day-to-day,'' N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe said. ``We're not sure when he's coming back.''

Might as well keep him sidelined on Saturday and pray he's ready for Marquette on Monday.

Previewing Lipscomb

2009 Scouting / 2009 Game Plan / 2008 Scouting Report
2009 Schedule / 2009 Stats
2009 Roster

Lipscomb Offense 07-08
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate20.8167
Off Reb Rate32.2197
Lipscomb Offense 08-09
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate24.5295
Off Reb Rate35.4110

Lipscomb University is a small private institution that is affiliated with the Churches of Christ. According to wikipedia:

Men and women are not allowed in dorms belonging to the opposite sex, with a few exceptions: 1) members of both sexes can enter the lobby during certain hours, 2) during moving days, and 3) on "open dorm" occasions; 4) and men are also allowed into the central courtyard of the women's dormitories only when cookouts or other such mixers are being held.


There is a curfew for freshmen living in the dorms, with detailed rules enforced by the head residents.
No Lipscomb student is allowed to consume alcohol, on or off campus, ...

Don't have too much fun, you kids.

Eddie Ard and LaKory Daniels took 335 threes between the two of them last season, making a passable 35.2% of those attempts; they were easily the team's most frequent outside shooters, and they also took pretty good care of the basketball. But they're gone, and the rest of the squad is having trouble picking up the slack. They've hit just 26.5% of their threes in '09, and while they are at least taking fewer of them, that ineffectiveness still puts a big dent in their overall shooting percentage.

Turnovers have also been an issue for a team that is giving a lot of minutes to young players--the ball is stolen from them often, and they're having a lot of their shots blocked.

The Bisons have a pretty balanced approach, as only one player is taking more than 22% of the shots.


Josh Slater (6-3, 190) -- He's had a tough start to his sophomore campaign--lots of turnovers, and his shots aren't falling. Based on what he did last season, the shooting should come around, but the turnovers are going to keep coming.

Jimmy Oden (6-3, 185) -- Leads the team with a 29.5% assist rate and ranks 2nd nationally in steal percentage, but he turns the ball over too often and has yet to find his shooting touch.

Michael Teller (6-5, 180) -- The closest thing to a three-point specialist among the regulars; he's shooting 34.7% from outside.

Brandon Brown (6-7, 200) -- He was a regular outside shooter in '08 but didn't make many of those shots, so he's tended to stick to the paint this season. Protects the basketball, gets to the line fairly often, and rebounds well at the offensive end.

Adnan Hodzic (6-9, 245) -- Hodzic is taking over 30% of the shots when he's on the court, which is good in that he's shooting 57.1%, but bad in that he is a turnover machine. He also sports maybe the saddest free throw rate I've ever seen for a tall guy, and he averages about 4 fouls/40. So he's possibly the slowest man alive and should be called for two fouls tomorrow before you can say "I do not know what possible utility a lip comb could have, Billy Mays, but you are just so damn convincing and here's my credit card number."


Michael Lusk (6-3, 180) has been a starter for most of the season but found himself coming off the bench in Lipscomb's last game. The team had hoped that the change would end a recent slump. He responded by scoring 14, which was not at all a coincidence. He rarely shoots, but is effective when he does.

Thomas Pfaff (6-8, 210) is the next big thing in onomatopoeia. Pfaff! Bless you. Pfaff missed Lipscomb's last game because of an injury and I haven't been able to find an update on his status.

Brian Wright (6-6, 190) and Jordan Burgason (6-3, 180) will also see some time.

Lipscomb Defense 07-08
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate19.8228
Off Reb Rate30.158
Lipscomb Defense 08-09
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate19.7233
Off Reb Rate27.427

Their 2FG% defense is considerably worse this season and they hardly ever block shots, which does not bode well; if they can't continue their stellar defensive rebounding, it's likely to be a brutal day in the paint for them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

'73-'74 Basketball Media Guide

As they did to honor the '83 team, and Tim Peeler are re-living the '74 team's championship season. They've also made the old media guide (pdf) available, which provides an interesting look at the way things were:

-- NC State led the nation in on-campus attendance for seven consecutive seasons (doesn't specify the years).

-- NC State had won 68.3% of its ACC tournament games up to that point, going 7-2 in titles games. Both the winning percentage and the seven titles were league-bests.

-- University's annual budget: $80 million.

-- Undergraduate enrollment: 11,532 (75% male).

-- David Thompson shot 56.9% from the field in 72-73. Tommy B: 51.2%.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

NC State 87, ECU 76 (Updated)

Box Score

NC State
Four Factors
Turnover Rate19.3
Off Reb Rate34.5
Four Factors
Turnover Rate12.4
Off Reb Rate35.6

          Pts   Poss    Off_Eff   Def_Eff
ECU 76 72.6 104.6 119.8
NCSU 87 72.6 119.8 104.6

-- The Wolfpack got off to an extremely impressive start, scoring 20 points in the first six minutes of the game (13 of those were Costner's) against East Carolina's active but useless defense. Poor Mack McCarthy tried everything, save throwing a chair (which couldn't possibly have been any more counterproductive than his team's fruitless efforts) ... zone, man, it didn't matter. NC State did what it wanted when it wanted, especially in the paint. Both Chad Wynn and Darrius Morrow, the Pirates' only forwards of note, fouled out of the game. The Pack made 64.5% of their two-point attempts and were in the bonus within the first 7-8 minutes of the second half.

-- Sam Hinnant and James Legan were the worries coming into the night, but PG Brock Young made it his show in the second half and ended up taking a team-high 23 shots; this was an unfortunate allocation of resources, because if Young has established anything in his short career, it's that he's a poor shooter. He scored 25 points, sure, but he needed the aforementioned 23 shots as well as 8 free throw attempts in order to get there. There was a 2-3 minute period in the second half where he hit several in a row (a blessing in disguise since it fueled further aggression/bad shots on his part); otherwise, he was his typically inefficient self. In fairness, though, the Pirates found themselves painted into a corner by Legan's off night. With zero options in the front court, there was no where else for them to turn.

-- Brandon Costner: 24 & 17. This was the Show Me Game we've been waiting for, and hopefully the spark that lights the flame.

           ORtg  %Poss  %Shots  eFG%    TO%   OR%    DR%   Ast%
Costner 104.1 40.7 38.5 67.9 33.8 9.9 47.6 22.6

Perhaps more impressive than his offensive output was his defensive rebounding; essentially, while he was on the court, he grabbed one out of every two ECU misses by himself. That's brilliant work. Led by his efforts, the Wolfpack was much better on the defensive glass in the second half--after allowing the Pirates to grab 43% of their misses in the first half, we limited them to 29.2% in the second period. With ECU shooting just 36.1% over the final 20 minutes, our defensive rebounding was a big key.

-- Tracy Smith continues to do his thing: 11 points in 12 minutes.

-- Thirty-five-point-six percent of ECU's FGAs were threes, well under their 44% season average. I think that's a credit to our half court defense. It seemed like a number of their threes came during the sloppy up-and-down portions; when we were able to get back and set ourselves defensively, their three-point opportunities were limited. I don't know that that impression is accurate, but again, it felt that way.

-- Eighty-seven points... feels like the sugar high you get from eating one of those jumbo pixie sticks. Better get another beer.

Liveblog! -- ECU @ NC State

Fells Questionable

Fells missed practice early in the week and remains questionable for tonight.

In other news...

TOB met with the media yesterday.

This article about Steve Hauschka includes this outstanding sentence:

But Hauschka had loved swinging his leg violently into balls since he was a little boy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Previewing East Carolina

2009 Scouting Report / 2009 Game Plan / 2008 Scouting Report
2009 Stats
2009 Schedule / 2009 Roster

ECU Offense 07-08
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate21.0181
Off Reb Rate31.5230
ECU Offense 08-09
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate14.64
Off Reb Rate33.3179

East Carolina ranks third nationally in raw offensive efficiency, mostly--I hope--thanks to a terrible schedule. Regardless, the Pirates are likely to make things interesting on Wednesday, and I think we can all agree that is way not cool.

The Pirates' newfound effectiveness comes to the surprise of many, not the least of whom being head coach Mack McCarthy. Had he thought his team could play like this, he probably would not have scheduled a bunch of non-I-A opponents (Coker; St. Andrew's, which is more of a golfing school; Limestone, which is a stone; and the Alabama Technical Institute Audio/Visual Club, which is not real).

With Sam Hinnant and James Legan leading the way, ECU is heavily perimeter-oriented:

         %Shots  2FGA  3FGA  3FGA/40   3FG%
Hinnant 24.4 41 72 9.1 31.9
Legan 24.0 28 70 10.0 47.1

Forty-four-point-one percent of the team's field goal attempts have been threes.

It's time now for Better Know A Pirate! (Brought to you by

Meet Derek O'Bryan, a junior forward from Virginia:


Earned a spot on the team as a walkon ... Transferred to East Carolina following his freshman year at Wingate University ... Gives the Pirates another body to bang underneath the boards.

I don't know that this was fully outlined to him during the transfer process.


Brock Young (5-11, 175) -- Ranks 4th nationally with an assist rate over 43%, and he does an excellent job getting to the line, which suggests he is quick. I don't feel good about that.

James Legan (6-3, 200) -- The very definition of a three-point specialist; he brings nothing else to the table.

Sam Hinnant (6-4, 195) -- Dropped thirty on us last season, the bastard.

Jamar Abrams (6-6, 205) -- Decent shooter who doesn't rebound or get to the line much. Already has as many three-point attempts this season as he did in all of 2008.

Chad Wynn (6-10, 240) -- In limited action last season, Wynn struggled with his shooting and turned the ball over a lot. He's been much better so far this year, but how much of that is a function of their schedule and how much is real improvement...who knows. Good shot blocker, but his rebounding needs work.

ECU Defense 07-08
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate19.2267
Off Reb Rate39.7338
ECU Defense 08-09
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate16.5328
Off Reb Rate36.1251

Despite facing a bunch of terrible offenses, the Pirates are allowing more than a point per possession--they don't turn opponents over, and they're allowing plenty of second chances. They'd better pray their offense can continue to carry them. And also that we take no advantage of their shortcomings whatsoever, like last season.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes the Pack by four in a game with little defense from either side.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pizza Bowl Ticket Sales Update

From The Birmingham News:

As of Friday afternoon, the bowl had directly sold 4,369 tickets since North Carolina State and Rutgers were announced Sunday as the participants. That is more than double the amount sold in the first week a year ago.


N.C. State reported having sold 4,700 tickets as of midday Friday, the deadline for its booster club to order priority-seating tickets. Rutgers, which fired its longtime athletics director this week, was unable to provide how many tickets it has sold so far.


The majority of fans who have purchased from the Bowl directly since Sunday are N.C. State supporters.

"We think we'll have more than 10,000 there," N.C. State Athletics Director Lee Fowler said. "Whether it's all from our allotment, we'll see. We hope to sell all 10,000."

If "the majority" of those 4,369 tickets = 60% (and that estimate may be on the conservative side), then Pack fans have accounted for about 7500 tickets so far. Not bad.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

NC State 74, WSSU 46

Box Score (pdf)

NC State
Four Factors
Turnover Rate24.1
Off Reb Rate37.0
Four Factors
Turnover Rate13.6
Off Reb Rate26.0

          Pts   Poss    Off_Eff   Def_Eff
WSSU 46 66.4 69.3 111.4
NCSU 74 66.4 111.4 69.3

Friday, December 12, 2008

That's one way to make LTRs affordable...


Previewing Winston-Salem State

2009 Scouting Report / 2009 Game Plan / 2008 Scouting Report

WSSU Offense 07-08
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate22.9278
Off Reb Rate33.8128
WSSU Offense 08-09
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate24.9306
Off Reb Rate25.9321

When Winston-Salem State made the move to I-A a few years ago, it did so with noble aim, and truth be told, it seemed a good idea at the time. Who wouldn't want to be the next Savannah State? In the face of such a compelling call to arms, it may be that the transitional effects were not considered as carefully as they should have been. If the cool kids are doing something, the assumed coolness-by-association factor tends to override sense. It's only later you learn that despite your efforts, Debbie Shumaker still has no idea you exist, and you've gained nothing, really.

In a completely unsurprising turn of events, the Rams have reached the very pinnacle of terrible at the I-A level, climbing to heights of suck previously thought unattainable. As I type, researchers are working around the clock to determine where this Rams team falls on the O'Donnell-Cook Suck Scale. A preliminary investigation indicated that they rated somewhere between Larry the Cable guy movies and Fall Out Boy, but a recent breakthrough points to an even higher rating, perhaps warranting a recalibration of the scale. Doesn't seem possible, but who's to argue with science.

WSSU Defense 07-08
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate23.642
Off Reb Rate37.6323
WSSU Defense 08-09
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate24.559
Off Reb Rate34.0187

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Quick Glance At Rutgers

               Yds/G  Yds/Play   Pts/G      YdsAllowed/G   YdsAllowed/Play   PtsAllowed/G
1st 6 (1-5) 318.3 5.0 17.5 323.2 5.3 21.3
2nd 6 (6-0) 472.0 7.4 40.5 324.7 5.4 15.7

At some point in October, quarterback Mike Teel achieved omnipresent supergalactic oneness, or something, and the Rutgers offense has been nearly unstoppable since. Seven-point-four yards per play is rather not bad. Teel completed about 55% of his passes and managed a modest 6.4 yards per attempt over the first six games; then, kaboom: a completion percentage over 66% and an average of 10.6 yds/att in the second half. While their ground game also got a bit better, most of the credit for their offensive resurgence goes to the passing game.

It's not all bad news, though. They've been mediocre defensively all season, and their secondary in particular has been terrible, allowing 7.8 yards/attempt (we're allowing 7.1).

With a couple of hot offenses going up against a couple of blah defenses with bad secondaries, the Pizza Bowl looks like it's going to be one of the most exciting games of the bowl season. Sounds good to me--we haven't had a good shootout in a while.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Open Football Practice On 12/20 At 4PM

Russell Wilson hit me up on the cell earlier this afternoon, reminding me that Pizza Bowl tickets are on sale while also imploring me to exert my influence as a noted internet celebrity to generate some buzz for the game. Or it was just a generic robo-call and that last part didn't happen. I don't remember.

Anyway, he also mentioned that the football team will be holding an open practice at Carter-Finley on December 20th immediately following the NCSU/Lipscomb basketball game. has the info:

NC State fans will have an opportunity to watch the Wolfpack football team as it prepares for its December 29 game against Rutgers at the Bowl. Head football coach Tom O’Brien will open practice to the public on Saturday, Dec. 20. Action is slated to run from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium and fans are encouraged to attend the men’s basketball game against Lipscomb at the RBC Center at 2 p.m. and then walk over to the open practice.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Five Down

It's too early to draw conclusions, but here is what's doin' so far:

               ORtg   %Poss   %Shots   eFG%   OR%    DR%   FTRate   Ast%   TO%    Stl%
McCauley 117.4 24.9 25.8 54.7 9.4 23.5 50.9 8.7 11.8 3.4
Fells 128.8 19.3 23.7 60.6 1.6 9.0 25.5 13.0 11.3 1.3
Costner 101.3 29.7 25.0 42.2 10.7 20.7 73.3 13.3 19.4 0.5
T. Smith 118.2 31.0 35.6 59.3 19.0 12.7 48.1 3.5 7.4 1.1
Fergie 120.9 14.5 15.6 60.0 3.0 12.0 20.0 15.7 18.6 1.1
Horner 94.9 20.6 24.1 39.6 4.8 13.8 12.5 14.8 16.9 0.9
Gonzalez 83.0 18.6 16.5 35.7 4.7 9.7 7.1 28.7 30.0 6.6
Mays 108.6 13.8 8.0 57.1 0.0 3.2 85.7 18.8 36.0 1.0
CJ Williams 85.8 10.2 12.2 34.4 1.2 5.3 25.0 7.2 12.9 0.0

I'll say this for Tracy Smith: with his playing time limited, he's not messing around when the ball touches his hands. His in-conference numbers last season hinted at a guy who was beginning to figure things out--granted, we're talking about a small sample here, but his usage went up and and so did his efficiency, which is unusual. His 18.1 pts/40 mark was a team best.

With such an aberrant start to this season, he's become the most intriguing guy on the roster, as far as I'm concerned. It'll be interesting to see what happens once we're playing teams with pulses on a nightly basis rather than these non-conf. incompetents (Davidson excepted); he looks like a player who can handle a 20+% shots workload, but just how much he can take while staying reasonably efficient remains to be seen.

The early numbers underscore what we already know: the backcourt isn't all that interested in providing more than the occasional, opportunistic bucket. It'd be nice to get more from them come conference play, but for now, this is fine. Or maybe bearable is a better word.

Per 40 minutes:

               Pts/40   Rebs/40   Ast/40   TO/40   Fouls/40   FGA/40   
McCauley 21.1 12.9 1.6 1.9 1.6 14.5
Fells 19.3 4.3 2.6 1.4 2.8 13.3
Costner 19.4 12.2 2.8 3.8 3.4 14.1
T. Smith 28.9 11.9 0.7 1.5 3.0 20.0
Fergie 11.9 6.0 3.5 1.8 3.5 8.8
Horner 12.4 7.3 3.4 2.3 3.9 13.5
Gonzalez 6.9 5.6 6.6 3.6 3.0 9.3
Mays 9.0 1.3 4.5 3.2 0.6 4.5
CJ Williams 5.6 2.6 1.7 0.9 3.4 6.9

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Mmmm...Pizza Bowl

So, Birmingam? Troy took care of Arkansas State 35-9; earlier today, the N&O's JP Giglio indicated that the Bowl would probably invite the Wolfpack if Troy won.

Update: Sounds good:

Troy's win Saturday night has shifted the sights of the Bowl directly on N.C. State to fill its SEC slot against a Big East team, likely Rutgers.

With Troy headed to the New Orleans Bowl as the Sun Belt Conference champion, the Bowl clearly prefers 6-6 N.C. State as its at-large team. But everything is on hold until two at-large teams with seven wins or more - Louisiana Tech (7-5) and Western Michigan (9-3) - are officially placed into games.

"Obviously, we'd love to have N.C. State," said Chris Turner, senior director of programming and events of ESPN Regional TV, which owns the Bowl. "It's our understanding they want to come and at some point it's up to the NCAA to allow that to occur."

Davidson 72, NC State 67

Box Score

NC State
Four Factors
Turnover Rate26.0
Off Reb Rate33.3
Four Factors
Turnover Rate19.1
Off Reb Rate43.8

          Pts   Poss    Off_Eff   Def_Eff
Dav 72 73.1 98.4 91.6
NCSU 67 73.1 91.6 98.4

What an all-around pathetic effort in the second half. We shot 27.8% over the final 20 minutes, and while Davidson was under 40% in the same period, they grabbed 14 of 27 available offensive rebounds. I don't know how many times it seemed like there was a Davidson forward waiting for a rebound without a red shirt within five feet. Fucking awful.

        ORtg   %Poss   %Shots   eFG%
Curry 120.0 45.4 49.1 51.5

At The Half


Davidson: eFG%: 45.2; TO%: 22.7; OR%: 33.3
NCSU: eFG%: 53.7; TO%: 32.8; OR%: 43.8

Friday, December 05, 2008

Previewing Davidson

2008 Scouting Report / 2009 Scouting Report / 2009 Game Plan
2009 Stats
2009 Schedule / 2009 Roster

Davidson Offense 07-08
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate16.711
Off Reb Rate32.5181

Stephen Curry hit 7-of-15 threes and scored 29 points against the Wolfpack last season, but State was able to limit his supporting cast and used lockdown defensive rebounding (the Wildcats managed only 4 offensive boards in 36 opportunities) along with a big FTA advantage to overcome a -7 turnover margin and edge Davidson by one. It was an off shooting night for the Cats, who were limited to 39.4% from inside the arc; all told, one of the Pack's finer defensive performances of 07-08.

Little about Davidson's offense has changed this season--they shoot well, take a lot of threes, and rarely commit turnovers. So the game plan remains the same for NC State, which again will need to dominate the defensive glass and hope that containing Curry's teammates will be enough. If they shoot as they typically do, the defensive rebounding's not likely to matter, though, with our complete inability to force turnovers. The Pack finished in the bottom 10% of I-A in defensive TO% in each of Sidney Lowe's first two seasons, and it doesn't look like his third is going to be any different. Against teams like Davidson, that deficiency is all the more glaring and problematic.

In the absence of Jason Richards, Stephen Curry has stepped into the point guard role (sort of), which has done wonders for his assist rate:
             ORtg   %Poss   %Shots   eFG%    Ast%    TO%   Pts/40   Ast/40
Curry '08 121.2 31.8 36.0 60.7 19.3 14.3 31.2 3.5
Curry '09 139.2 33.5 32.4 62.5 38.7 12.2 35.7 8.6
And he's still a disgustingly efficient scorer.


Stephen Curry (6-3, 185) -- Oh Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy.

Bryant Barr (6-4, 190) -- In limited minutes last season, Barr was a deadly three-point specialist who never turned the ball over but couldn't hit a two-pointer to save his life. Same deal this season, though his involvement is up a bit, in terms of both minutes and the frequency with which he shoots. His 24.1 %Shots figures is second to Curry among the starters.

Max Paulhus Gosselin (6-6, 210) -- Made 57.6% of his twos (38-66) ... and 12.1% of his threes (7-58!) in an extremely limited role last season. He's taking about 10% of the shots this year, just like '08, and may be starting to get the hint with regards to his outside shooting. Not much of a rebounder, and he doesn't get to the line very often.

Steve Rossiter (6-7, 230) -- Another efficient, really low usage type. Solid rebounder at both ends.

Andrew Lovedale (6-8, 220) -- Now that Boris Meno is gone, Lovedale has become the team's go-to post scorer, taking 20.9% of the shots versus 16.5% in 2008. That's worked out okay so far, as Lovedale is hitting a passable 53% of his twos. He is Davidson's best rebounder, particularly at the defensive end, where he's grabbed a ridiculous 30.3% of the misses.


Brendan McKillop (6-0, 185) and Will Archambault (6-6, 220) are the only guys getting 30+% of the minutes off the bench so far this season; both take an average proportion of shots, both prefer to shoot threes, and both are not good at making them.

Davidson Defense 07-08
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate24.035
Off Reb Rate29.235

The Wildcats are forcing turnovers at the same rate this season, despite poor steal and block rates. I'd call that a function of their weak schedule, but they did the same thing last season. Fouls have been a problem, especially for Rossiter and Paulhus Gosselin, and that's something we'll be looking to exploit with our inside-out style.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Patsos Keeps Bringin' The Crazy

Last week, Loyola MD head coach Jimmy Patsos decided the best way to beat Davidson was to double team Stephen Curry for the entire game--a move that was insulting to his own players and led to a predictably embarrassing loss. The Wildcats started an 18-0 run at the 15 minute mark of the first half and never looked back. Patsos didn't help himself with post-game comments like this one:

"We had to play against an NBA player tonight," Patsos explained. "Anybody else ever hold him scoreless? I'm a history major. They're going to remember that we held him scoreless or we lost by 30?"

(History major to history major, Jimmy, I'm gonna go with neither.)

On PTI, Kornheiser and Wilbon justifiably wondered (as Davidson coach Bob McKillop had in his post-game remarks) if Patsos had been more interested in shutting out Curry than winning the game. Which prompted Patsos to send them a lengthy email explaining himself. In it there is this gem of a paragraph:

As an American I wish we had leaders like McKillop and Curry, who could have gotten the CIA and FBI to talk so we could have prevented the 9-11 tragedy, or saw that Fannie Mae was creating a mortgage crisis coming which could cripple a country. The Davidson basketball family united the way I wish Wall Street would have instead of letting so many Americans retirement be lost. I wish his staff could have advised the administration who got us into a war in Iraq which cost us countless lives, and disabilities, countless money and has gone on longer than WWII. I know these are extreme examples to show that the Davidson basketball family adjusted, made smart choices and unselfish choices for the good of the team.

Is it at all surprising this man is a Gary Williams disciple?

Even better, the Davidson fiasco came less than a week after Patsos went to bizarre lengths to avoid ejection from a game against Cornell:

"I didn't want to get tossed out. I had my hands up in the surrender position," he said.

Patsos said video of the scene shows Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan in the stands, placing his hands on his head in astonishment. Seconds later, Patsos climbed about two rows into the seats to sit behind Boylan and ask for some advice.

"I didn't want to hurt the school or the program, but at that point I really didn't know what to do," Patsos said.

But no, his Davidson strategery was not some "self-serving promotional plan." How'd the PTI guys ever get that idea?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wednesday Items

-- Rest easy, people. Lee Fowler is working the phones:

The athletic department has put together DVDs to send each bowl showing the Pack's strong finish and featuring and All-ACC quarterback in Russell Wilson.

The Wolfpack ended the season on a four-game winning streak and Fowler has talked about the excitement level and the prospects of a bowl bid.

"There are 6-6 teams not excited about going to a bowl, we are a 6-6 team that is extremely excited about the opportunity to go bowling." He added that a lot of where State lands will depend on who wins and loses between now and Saturday.

-- Baseball recruiting seems to be going well.

-- Peter Laviolette will be replaced by Paul Maurice. WTF. Sounds like it may just be an interim solution. Still makes little sense to me.

-- Dewey Corn has attended every NC State football game over the last 33 years; as Spencer Hall eloquently puts it, that's "33 years of the football equivalent of being gently punched in the crotch promptly at noon each Saturday." True.

-- Crappy musician aims sarcasm at pep band.

-- It's possible this was a Newcastle-fueled hallucination, but I'm pretty sure I saw a graphic on Sportscenter last night that listed Carolina's possessions per 40 minutes, points scored per possession, and turnover rate. Hopefully we'll start seeing this stuff during games, though I would settle for analysts never talking about rebounding margin ever again.

It is now November 2008. Basketball Prospectus has been around for, what, 13 months? We’ve been called “indispensable” by the New York Times. (Albeit by a part of the Times that yesterday announced it has ceased to exist–no cause and effect, I swear!) So surely there is no longer any earthly reason for a national write-up on the Carolina-Kentucky game to fret in Roy Williams‘ direction that, sans Hansbrough, the Wildcats ”outrebounded the Tar Heels (34-31).” In fact it was North Carolina that dominated the boards last night, getting to 36 percent of their own misses and 70 percent of the Wildcats’. The fact that UK coughed up the ball on an astonishing 38 percent of their possessions, however, meant there were simply way fewer Wildcat misses to rebound. Meanwhile the Heels were combining low-turnover ball with surprisingly meh shooting, resulting in plenty of chances for Kentucky to record defensive boards.

Pretty straightforward, yes? Now, picture me choking on a half-eaten radish in war-ravaged Georgia circa 1865, backlit in dramatic silhouette: As God is my witness, I will kill this “rebounding margin” cognitive fungus as dead as Marley’s ghost. It is worse than meaningless. In certain cases, such as this one, it is in fact the precise belligerent opposite of long-neglected hoops reality.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Enjoying The Bubble

The NCAA's 7-5 before 6-6 rule, while well-intentioned, has unfortunately neutralized our financial dead sexiness (and my we are some sexy bitches), but seeing as how this is the only revenue sport at NC State that's going to be on any sort of post-season bubble this academic year, I can't complain. And if it means we end up going to Detroit with an opportunity to hand Ball State its only loss, that's not a bad deal.

Although, just on principle, I'd prefer we keep at least a couple of states between ourselves and the Detroit Lions; Lord only knows the depth of the psychological damages that would be incurred at the mere sight of their logo, much less the use of their 65,000-seat mortuary.

Based on the scenario laid out by SFN, I'm feeling more optimistic about landing in DC, which would be all kinds of fun. Anywhere but Shreveport.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Miami Game Photos

Miami @ NC State

That Is Not Where That Goes

Frickin' Lasers

Russell Wilson was named first team All-ACC earlier today, and Dr. Saturday has a timely look at the Wolfpack's offensive improvement under his leadership:

It should be noted that the lone win in the first four games was the only game Wilson played from start to finish, the 30-24 upset of then-undefeated East Carolina; the two games he missed entirely or almost entirely (other than William & Mary) were 34-0 and 41-10 humiliations at the hands of South Carolina and South Florida. Overall, NCSU finished 5-3 when Wilson went the entire way, including four straight wins (the last three over winning teams -- Wake Forest, North Carolina and Miami) from a 2-6 grave to close the year at .500 and within sniffing distance of a bowl game.

The main reason is in the final column: Wilson finishes the season not only as the ACC's top-rated passer, but with a single interception to his name against 16 touchdowns; the interception came on essentially a Hail Mary near the end of the Pack's loss at Clemson in September, Wilson's final throw of that game, meaning he went 226 attempts over his last eight starts without giving the ball away, and the team was +12 over the last two months.

It's interesting to look at where the numbers we've averaged over the last seven games (359.4 yards per game, 5.7 yards per play, 28.4 pts/game) would put us had they been our full-season averages: 62nd in total offense, 36th in yards per play, 44th in scoring offense. That's improvement beyond any reasonable expectation, and we've seen the culmination of that progress over the last two weeks, as the Pack has scored 79 points and rolled up more than 900 total yards against a couple of solid defenses.

Amazing how quickly despair can become HE GOT LASERS COMIN UP OUT HIS EYEZ. BOOM, BITCH!

If anyone's worthy of wacky-computer-graphic-superheroization, it's Russell Wilson, who quite possibly is a superhero. I don't know how else you explain a quarterback that throws one INT in 252 attempts as a freshman and then goes on to commit zero errors while OPSing 1.000 (.335/.443/.557, to be exact. I've seen the future.) for the baseball team in the spring. No telling what his summer plans are, but I get the feeling they'll involve rescuing old ladies from burning buildings.

NC State 79, UNCG 52

Box Score

NC State
Four Factors
Turnover Rate12.7
Off Reb Rate38.1
Four Factors
Turnover Rate18.4
Off Reb Rate25.0

          Pts   Poss    Off_Eff   Def_Eff
UNCG 52 70.6 73.7 111.9
NCSU 79 70.6 111.9 73.7