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Saturday, November 29, 2008
Let's go bowling!
“I can’t say how happy I am for this football team and everybody associated with it,” said second-year NC State coach Tom O’Brien, whose team was 2-6 after a four-game losing streak a little over a month ago. “To be in the situation we were in and to overcome everything this team has had to overcome, it is almost mind-boggling that we are playing better than any team in this conference right now.”
There's no almost about it. What an unreal month. Players, staff, everybody--thanks. Thanks for making this fun again.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
NC State 74, Winthrop 48
Pts Poss Off_Eff Def_Eff
-- Wow, are they ever bad. Cam Stanley and Mantoris Robinson combined to score half of Winthrop's points on 50% shooting, while the rest of the team shot 9-42 (21.4%). I thought our defensive effort was good, though some of it was definitely them just being awful. They've yet to come anywhere close to scoring a point per possession in a game; even division-whatever North Greenville didn't allow them to do that.
-- Towards the end of the first half, Javy had the ball at the top of the key when Sidney Lowe whistled at him. Javy turned to look at the coach, got his instructions, handed the ball off to McCauley, then cut to the hoop and had an open layup after getting the pass from Ben (Javy missed the gimme, but it was pretty nonetheless). I thought the timing funny, because it was like Lowe said, "I'm going to call the easy layup play now." Lowe whistled and two seconds later we had a layup opportunity. Could we do that every time? Thanks in advance, Sid.
-- How about Kendall Smith scoring off the dribble in traffic? He's Keeter with an aggressive streak!
-- Maybe something to keep an eye on: in Lowe's first two seasons, about 32% of our field goal attempts were threes; in three games this season, 37% of our attempts have been threes. That's not Princeton offense territory, but it is above average. Perhaps an indicator of guys doing a better job passing out of trouble in the post?
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Thru 11 Games
This sort of thing helps boost the season stats:
Plays Yds Yds/Play
-- That's the most total yards we've racked up against a I-A opponent since 2004. The last time we managed 40+ points against a I-A team was also in 2004.
-- Carolina's second half time of possession: 8:27. Good times.
The rest of the stats.
Fells: "Hockey team is ruining my game."
From the Burlington Times-News:
"It's a lot warmer in (Reynolds)," Fells said. "The ice (at the RBC Center) makes it kind of cold. It's chilly and you can't really get in rhythm."
Is the chill that runs up my spine when I enter the RBC Center from the ice or from the overwhelming sense of existential dread? I am never sure.
2008 Scouting Report / 2009 Scouting Report / 2009 Game Plan
2008 Stats (pdf) / 2009 Stats (pdf)
2009 Roster / 2009 Schedule
Points were hard to come by for an Eagles offense that didn't do anything particularly well in 2008; although they made over 37% of their threes, they took them sparingly, and shot poorly from both two-point range and the free throw line. It was a stout defense they relied on to fuel their offense and carry them to a conference championship.
With a handful of seniors gone, including their top three minutes-getters, Winthrop is still trying to figure out who fits where, and they are off to a dreadful start. Both the offense and the defense have seen significant declines in the three factors that matter most (eFG%, TO%, OR%).
On the defensive side, they're missing the efforts of Chris Gaynor and Taj McCullough, both of whom ranked in the top 250 nationally in steal percentage (Gaynor was in the top ten). In their absence, Winthrop's steal rate is half what it was a year ago--bad news for a team that had a solid correlation between defensive TO% and offensive efficiency in 2008.
Justin Burton (5-10, 162) -- His assist rate is nice enough in the early going, but he's otherwise been a poor imitation of Chris Gaynor at the point. He's shooting 48.4% while turning the ball over 24% of the time.
Raymond Davis (6-4, 195) -- Davis has been one of the Eagles' primary contributors but has struggled with his shooting to the point where coach Randy Peele felt it prudent to replace him in the starting lineup for their last game. He may come off the bench again tonight, but since he's started three of four games, I'm sticking him here.
Cameron Stanley (6-6, 221) -- The former Demon Deacon is off to a good start shooting the ball and leads the Eagles in scoring, but like the rest of the team, has had turnover problems.
Mantoris Robinson (6-5, 205) -- The only returning player who played more than 60% in 2008; he was terrible in a limited offensive role last season, shooting 48.3% from two and 20.0% (8-40) from three. He's been even worse in '09, shooting 46.2% from two and 0% (0-8; take a hint, dude) while also turning the ball over a lot.
Charles Corbin (6-7, 227) -- He's stepped up to the primary-contributor usage level with disastrous results: 38.7% shooting from two.
Randy Peele says that Andre Jones (6-2, 190) and George Valentine (6-8, 240) could be in the starting lineup tonight, replacing Davis and Corbin, respectively. Might not be a bad idea:
ORtg %Poss %Shots eFG% TO%
But in that case, who picks up the extra possessions? Jones and Valentine have been more efficient in part because they've occupied lesser roles.
Byron Faison (6-1, 200) will also see time at the two, and based on his numbers to date, he deserves most of it: he's producing a team-high 20.6 pts/40 minutes on the strength of 63% shooting.
That's a pretty complete defense they had a year ago. Take a look at it now.
Monday, November 24, 2008
NC State 69, High Point 56
Pts Poss Off_Eff Def_Eff
If we really are intent on running more this season, you wouldn't know it from the first couple of games.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Previewing High Point
2008 Scouting Report / 2009 Scouting Report / 2009 Game Plan
2008 Stats / 2009 Stats
Like New Orleans, High Point has a lot of new faces:
That's because 13 of the 16 players are either freshmen or sophomores, making the Panthers the second-youngest team in NCAA Division I. Only The Citadel has more underclassmen, and no one has more freshmen than High Point's nine.
The Panthers have the unfortunate task of replacing Arizona Reid, who averaged a double-double last season and won his second consecutive Big South Player of the Year award. Reid was phenomenal in 2008, shooting 56.2% while taking 37.7% of the shots (that %Shots figure ranked 2nd nationally). He was an excellent rebounder for a 6-5 guy, never turned the ball over, and even managed the team's best steal rate.
They've also lost point guard Mike Jefferson to graduation, and he was the only other player on the team who took an above-average proportion of the shots. His assist rate ranked in the top 20 nationally, because every game he could be all like, "I'm going to give it to AZ." And then Reid was all like, "thanks. I will now score this basketball." The two of them essentially did the work of three guys.
It's going to be a difficult transition, then, not just for all of the freshmen, but also for the returning players who'd become accustomed to secondary roles. The early returns aren't so good, though they did beat the shit out of some church league team.
Eugene Harris (6-2, 185) -- As the team's leading returning scorer, Harris is the most likely candidate for the primary scorer role. He's taken 31.5% of shots in the first two games, which has led to a predictable decline in efficiency. He was a one-dimensional three-point specialist last season.
David Singleton (6-3, 190) -- One of the new guys. Not much of a factor offensively so far.
David Campbell (6-4, 205) -- An infrequent contributor who preferred to shoot from outside in 2008. Turnover prone.
Steadman Short (6-9, 215) -- If he's going to Hasten Stardom, it'd probably help not to turn the ball over 42% of the time.
Cruz Daniels (6-11, 225) -- The only tall guy who played significant minutes for the Panthers last season. He was highly efficient in a small role, shooting 63.6% from two. He averaged 5 blocks/40 minutes and had the 10th-best block percentage in the country. The Panthers need him to be more assertive at the offensive end, though his effectiveness will be limited by fouls and turnovers.
I blog like a woman.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
UNCW Has Gone Extreme
Wake Forest's 120-88 win over UNCW yesterday piqued my curiosity since that kind of scoring suggests an extremely up-tempo game. And that it was: 93 possessions. Turns out this is all part of the plan for Wilmington, which is undergoing a major stylistic change:
The demands bounced around Trask Coliseum this preseason.
The Seahawks are a small team, so Moss decided it was in their best interests to run like hell. The paces of the three games they've played so far: 86, 89, and 93 possessions. They're averaging 21.6 more possessions per game this season than they did in 2008. That's crazy. It's also defensive suicide.
Butch Knows Who's Starting
But he ain't tellin':
On the quarterback situation:
He's picked TJ Yates, who will be the warm knife to our ice cream cake of a secondary.
The Wilson Effect
As I did a month ago, I'm going to take a look at how our opponents have fared against everyone they've played--excluding I-AA teams and NC State--and compare that to their performance against the Wolfpack. Rather than go team by team, I've split our opponents into two groups, drawing the line where Russell Wilson returned to the starting lineup for good. First, the opposing offenses:
Full Season vs. NC State
(First four opponents: USC, Clemson, ECU, USF. Last five: BC, FSU, Maryland, Duke, Wake.)
The Pack's secondary improved in raw terms over the second half of the schedule, from allowing 7.9 yds/attempt to 7.1, but that's come against a weaker group of pass offenses, so the raw change is probably more illusion than real improvement. The run D has made some real gains, but in general, we're still in the business of making everyone else look good.
Full Season vs. NC State
With a healthy and increasingly comfortable Russell Wilson under center, the offense has made significant strides, averaging an additional yard per snap over the second half of the schedule. In addition to throwing the ball well, Wilson's done more damage running the football; along with a more cohesive offensive line, that's helped the Wolfpack establish a consistent running game.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
They's a clever bunch.
It's Carolina week, so, naturally, the free expression tunnel ended up blue. Judging by the photos, the students who did this were far too polite; I mean, come on, people, where is the profanity? What better time to show your appreciation for the impressive versatility of the f-bomb?
Monday, November 17, 2008
Thru 10 Games
The rest of the stats.
NC State 65, New Orleans 59
Pts Poss Off_Eff Def_Eff
Not much running occurred, if the slow pace of the game is any indication. But even though we were not able to dictate pace (get used to it), it was nonetheless a solid opener for the offense. McCauley and Costner carried the load and played well:
ORtg %Poss %Shots eFG%
Tracy Smith was productive off the bench, scoring 7 points and grabbing 4 rebounds in 9 minutes.
Mark the occasion:
The Wolfpack had a 34-22 edge in rebounding and an 11-5 edge in offensive rebounds against a team with only one player taller than 6-8.
Wake Game Photos
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Awkwardly Glancing At New Orleans
2008 Scouting Report
2007-08 Team Stats
Previewing this team is a pointless exercise, but that's never stopped me before. With 11 newcomers--equal parts freshmen and juco transfers--the Privateers are complete unknowns. About the only safe assumption is that they will be terrible. The Sun Belt's coaches certainly think that's going to be the case.
Kyndall Dykes (6-3, 190) -- Pre-season third team All-Sun Belt (I wonder if he gets a plaque for that), and thus, New Orlean's lone, shiny beacon of notsuck. He'll be the team's primary scoring option as all the noobs around him try to figure out what the hell they're doing, so it's a good bet his usage/%shots numbers (22.6/23.4 in '08) are going to go up--perhaps way up. His scoring came almost entirely from inside the arc, where he was impressively effective for a 6-3 guy (though he is listed as a forward). Solid free throw rate; takes care of the basketball.
TJ Worley (6-4, 205) -- More than half of his field goal attempts last season came from three, where he shot 37%. The Privateers are gonna need him to be much more assertive this year.
Jaroslav Tyrna (6-10, 220) -- A low-minutes, low-usage role player for the Privateers in 2008. He was efficient with the limited number of opportunities he got in the post, but he's on the turnover-prone side and needs to work on his rebounding. If New Orleans attempts to make him a significant part of the offense, whether out of necessity or preference (the former would seem most likely), the effect could be disastrous.
Coach Reluctantly Informs Players They Will Have To Do Stuff
Life without the super-high-usage Bo McCalebb won't be easy:
"It can't be just one player getting the shots. It's going to be three or four players getting the shots, and that's going to be the difference, " UNO Coach Joe Pasternack said in between swigs from a flask that contained, as he put it, "coping juice."
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wake Forest Living Right, As Usual
The Jim Grobe era:
This season, Wake Forest leads the nation in turnovers forced with 28, and they've been +2 or better in six of nine games.
Wake Forest has had to throw the ball more than they typically have in the past in order to compensate for their poor ground game. In fact, Wake's rushing production has been steadily dropping for years:
Through the first six games of this season, their run/pass split was right at 50-50, which is probably the most balanced a Jim Grobe Wake Forest team has ever been. They've gone more run-heavy of late, and that's probably how Grobe would like to keep it, regardless of the mixed results. With their defense, in a league that's an offensive dead zone, a careful, opportunistic offense is enough. Not that they should have any qualms about throwing the football considering Riley Skinner has been INT-free in eight of nine games.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Owen Spencer will sing you a tune.
NC State athletes held a talent show for charity...
On the talent side of the competition, three singers and a dancer competed for the coveted title of most talented. Football players Brandon Barnes, Owen Spencer and track athlete Brittany McCain all sung, while track's Tiana Thorpe had a solo dance routine.
Etta James FTW. Bet that was hilarious.
NC State 85, Catawba 61
Pts Poss Off_Eff Def_Eff
A better rebounding effort, though, oddly, there were 12 team rebounds listed in the box, all at the Catawba end. Were the two teams playing volleyball over there?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Roster / 2008 Stats
Poss/40 Off_Eff Def_Eff
The Indians were considerably more competent offensively than Ft. Valley State in 2008, and of the nine guys who got 30% or more of the minutes, seven are back. One of those departures, though a primary scorer, was a foul-prone quantity-over-quality type, so he may not be missed too much at this end.
Rob Fields (6-2, 175) -- Was outstanding in 2008 as the team's third option--he shot pretty well, especially from outside where he was over 40%, and he rarely turned the ball over.
Donzell Williams (6-3, 180) -- In a limited role, he shot poorly and turned the ball over a lot. Best steal percentage among the returning players, though.
Antonio Houston (6-3, 195) -- Took more than 30% of the shots while he was on the court and led the team with nearly 18 PPG. Proved a competent outside shooter, but struggled inside the arc, as many short guys do. Meh assist rate, and he's not going to grab many rebounds.
Isaac Rose (6-5, 205) -- After an unfortunate sophomore campaign, Rose broke out as a junior last season:
%Min ORtg %Poss %Shots eFG% 2FG% 3FG% TO%That's a very strong line for someone taking an above-average proportion of shots, but it's also one that screams fluke.
Cliff Burns (6-8, 230) -- Shot a modest 49.5% from two last season, but he did a reasonably good job protecting the basketball and grabbing offensive boards. The team's best shot blocker.
They didn't force enough turnovers to compensate for their weak interior defense and poor defensive rebounding. It's going to be an unfortunate evening for them.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Thru 9 Games
We've committed just one turnover in the last four games.
The rest of the stats.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Watch Me Jumpstart
From The Technician:
The Wolfpack (3-6 overall, 1-4 ACC) was determined to keep its bowl eligibility hopes alive and even used a quote from a movie as motivation during the week. J.C. Neal said the extra motivation helped. He would know, his kickoff return got the team going in the right direction early Saturday.
The Blue Devils did what it appears they've generally done all season--chip away slowly but surely. Nothing disastrous, but nothing spectacular, either. They put together three double-digit-play drives, but only one netted them points. That's how it went for Duke, which was methodical but couldn't quite produce the big plays in the big spots.
Plays Yds Yds/PlayNotes:
-- Sandwiching JC Neal's kickoff return were two long Duke drives. The first, a 16-play march, consumed seven-and-a-half minutes; the second went for 12 plays and ate another four minutes. So by the time Russell Wilson finally had the ball back in his hands, the Wolfpack defense had essentially been on the field for the last twelve minutes of game time--a worrisome development, to say the least. Fortunately, the offense responded with its longest drive of the afternoon: 12 plays, 89 yards, five minutes. Had we gone three-and-out there, half the defense might've collapsed with exhaustion during Duke's next series.
-- Credit to Clem Johnson for his TD-saving shoestring tackle in the third quarter. That play immediately preceded the goal line stand.
-- Russell Wilson attempted more questionable throws than we've grown accustomed to, but his receivers seemed to come down with all of the 50-50 balls. Ant Hill's catch in particular was awesome. Just one of those days, I guess. Reminded me of the Florida State game a couple years back.
-- Highlights courtesy the N&O.
-- Bowl eligibility, here we come. We're on a mission from god, after all.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
24-10 At The Half
Coming in, I felt that we were going to have success against a vulnerable Duke secondary, and that's been the case so far--Russell Wilson is averaging nearly 10 yards per attempt. Outstanding first half for Russ.
Duke is grinding out drives and has the advantage in total snaps, but they've clearly been out-classed so far:
Yds/PlayStrong work, guys. Let's finish this thing.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Score Fluently Leads The Way With 21; NCSU 94, FVSU 65
Pts Poss Off_Eff Def_Eff
Thursday, November 06, 2008
We Used To Vacation
Does The Chronicle know something we don't?
The Wolfpack will have only played two games in the 34 days prior to Saturday's contest, which has helped N.C. State recover from the myriad of injuries that has plagued the team all season. Injured offensive lineman Julian Williams and linebacker Nate Irving, who is one of the defense's driving forces with 35 tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery, will both return to the starting lineup this weekend.
Nate was not on the depth chart released earlier this week, but another update is forthcoming today. Hope they're right.
This piece highlights the extent of our depth problems:
Michel has played 512 snaps, and in back-to-back games against Boston College and Florida State was on the field for 167 snaps. O'Brien sometimes worries that Michel will wear down but understands that he has sharp survival instincts.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
And now to contract the Minnesota Twins.
It's what any good White Sox fan in his position would do.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
A+ For Creativity
(ht: With Leather)
Previewing Fort Valley State
NC State opens its 2009 season with an exhibition game against Div-II Fort Valley State on Thursday, and this looks like the perfect opportunity to get out and run. Not only did the Wildcats turn the ball over a metric shit ton, they also averaged 83 possessions per 40 minutes (no doubt a bit TO-inflated) in 2008. They neither shoot nor rebound well offensively, so there are going to be plenty of transition opportunities for the Wolfpack.
Starters (As the link to the roster on their website is broken, I've had to fill in some blanks here.):
Martrez Scott (6-3) -- FVSU's only returning starter, Scott led the team in points, assists, and steals. Both his steal percentage and his free throw rate were outstanding in 2008, but he was not an efficient scorer.
Jesus Shuttlesworth -- A gifted shooter who can score from anywhere on the court.
Teen Wolf -- Insatiable scorer with huge ups and a great handle. Routinely turns in quadruple-doubles.
That Tall Guy From The Air Up There -- Needs to add weight, but already possesses a good all-around game. The lack of bulk makes him a rebounding liability, but his exceptional quickness allows him to be a disruptive defender.
Neon Budreau -- Transferred back east after a scandal at Western University left him jaded with big time college basketball. Still raw in the post, but his size and muscle allow him to score efficiently regardless. Plays with monster truck force.
Whistles get a good workout in the SIAC. Over half the FVSU roster averaged more than five fouls per 40 minutes last season, and while I hesitate to liken them to Mick Cronin's bone-clubbing brute squad, the Wildcats certainly will bring the hack.
No Nate For Duke
Here's the depth chart. Audie Cole will start ahead of Dwayne Maddox, while Clem Johnson will replace Justin Byers, who whiffed on about 50 tackles--I counted--in the Maryland game, at safety.
Some anger can't hurt at this point...
"We're at the bottom of the pole right now, and we're the laughingstock of the ACC," linebacker Ray Michel quoted him Monday as saying. "It made me furious a little bit. I was a little upset to hear that."
They had to be told this?
Monday, November 03, 2008
That's just, like, your opinion, man.
"What is this bullshit, man? I don't fucking care! It don't matter to Jesus! But you're not fooling me. You might fool the fucks in the league office, but you don't fool Jesus. It's bush league psych-out stuff. Laughable, man. I would've fucked you in the ass Saturday; I'll fuck you in the ass next Saturday instead."
Sunday, November 02, 2008
360 it is...
Time to be perturbed if you're an N.C. State fan, a Duke fan or a fan of the traditional ACC. State won't be on TV for the second straight game, relegated to ESPN 360 (an online broadcast which anyone with Time Warner internet service can't get). Duke gets 360'd again, too.
Another week of avoiding every other game being aired in the bar for fear of seeing a score update that's well ahead of the internet feed...