(Two conference foes don't meet for the first time until March. I hate what expansion has done to the basketball schedules.)
The Terps' shooting, and more specifically, their two-point shooting, has fallen off a cliff in 2009. Their 52.1 2FG% in conference play led the league in 2008, but they've slipped all the way to 10th this season, ahead of fellow incompetents Virginia and Georgia Tech.
They have not been able to effectively replace the production they got from James Gist and Bambale Osby, a pair of highly-involved 50+ percent shooters inside a year ago. Making matters worse, the offense's unquestioned leader, and a guy who'd been a reliable scorer inside the arc, has seen his 2FG% regress significantly. Lose two steady post players and couple that with Greivis Vasquez's poor timing and this is the result. Landon Milbourne and Adrian Bowie are the only two Terps hitting more than half of their twos in conference play, but they aren't big enough parts of the offense to make much of a difference.
If there is a positive to come out of the departures of those big men, it's that Maryland dispensed with a pair of turnover-prone players. And among the returning contributors, Vasquez, Milbourne, Hayes, and Bowie have significantly cut down on turnovers, making for dramatic improvement in this area for the team as a whole. That's helped them stave off complete disaster, but just barely.
Greivis Vasquez (6-6, 190) -- His unfortunate 43.7 effective field goal percentage in conference play makes him one of the most ineffiecient primary scoring options in the ACC.
In Conference Play ... %Shots 2FG% 3FG% 2007 18.6 47.3 33.3 2008 27.8 54.9 27.0 2009 26.7 42.5 30.4
Being the modest-baseline-shooting-talent, high usage player that he is, Vasquez is a huge wild card from game to game. He's just as capable of scuttling the offense (see 5-21 performance in loss to Morgan State) as he is of carrying it (see win over UNC).
Adrian Bowie (6-2, 190) -- He's not much of an three-point shooter, so he prefers to do most of his scoring inside the arc. Doesn't make too many mistakes and has a decent assist rate.
Sean Mosley (6-4, 210) -- Shooting has been a struggle (I sense a theme), but he is one of the few Terps that's been able to get to the free throw line with some frequency.
Landon Milbourne (6-7, 207) -- Averages a half a point less than Vasquez per 40 minutes despite taking 12.5 FGAs/40 to Vasquez's 16.4. He's hit a team-high 53.2% of his twos in conference play. Underutilized, I'd say. Good offensive rebounder as well.
Dave Neal (6-7, 263) -- Continuing a fine tradition started by Will Bowers, Neal looks nothing like a basketball player. It's amazing to me that someone with so little in the way of discernible basketball skills could get 25 minutes a night on a team that could reach the NCAAs. His stats certainly don't help his image, though he's good for a bonecrushing screen or two.
Eric Hayes (6-4, 184), Cliff Tucker (6-6, 190), Dino Gregory (6-7, 227). Gregory should not be much of a factor offensively, while Hayes and Tucker are just as likely to shoot when they're on the floor as any of the other role players. Hayes is 22-55 (40%) from outside in ACC games.
Maryland Defense 07-08
Off Reb Rate
Maryland Defense 08-09
Off Reb Rate
They do a pretty good job of forcing turnovers and keeping opponents off the line, but their eFG% D, 3FG% D, and defensive rebounding--which rank 12th, 12th, and 10th in the ACC, respectively--are glaring deficiencies.
State made Jeff Teague a non-factor at the offensive end again, and both LD Williams and Al-Farouq Aminu were invisible as well, but James Johnson was unstoppable, Chas McFarland rebounded from some poor play of late to turn in a nice performance, and Ish Smith ... good lord.
It's always frustrating when the opportunity to win is there and the Pack can't take advantage of it, and the possessions that the Wolfpack botched in key moments during the latter stages of both halves certainly hurt. But the fact that they had those opportunities at all after falling behind 15 points on the road against a good team playing well is another small sign of progress. I really didn't expect us to get back into it.
The next step: develop secret defensive potion/look into voodoo/hire witch doctor. The surest sign that Wake Forest is out of its comfort zone is when it's firing up a bunch of threes. Only about 20% of their FGAs have been threes this season, and that's how their shot selection broke down last night. State never could make Wake think twice about going into the paint, and the Deacs played to their strength all night.
In the last meeting, Wake Forest shot the ball better than we did, but we topped them in the other three factors, with our huge FTA advantage being particularly important. We posted our fourth-lowest TO%, second-highest OR%, and third-highest FTR in conference play, making it one of our best overall efforts this season.
Lowe stalled the Wake Forest offense for long periods and limited Jeff Teague's production by hurling a bunch of junk at the Deacs, including the box-and-one and a "1-3 and a chaser." Coincidentally, 1 beer, 3 shots, and a chaser is my first half drinking strategy tonight.
Wake Forest says they're prepared to handle those different looks, but they practiced against the box-and-one prior to the last game, too, and that didn't appear to help a whole lot.
Can we win the turnover battle, out-rebound them, and slow Teague again? I can't say that sounds likely. But I hope nonetheless.
-- Ben McCauley is relishing his final college season and says he's going to "put it all out there" in his last few games. Which hopefully translates into an improvement on his 46% shooting in conference play.
-- The Pomeroy Predictor likes Wake by 13; however, when I plug just the in-conference stats into my Predict-O-Meter, it says the Deacs have a 7 point edge. That doesn't include home court advantage, though, so let's call it 10.
-- A little more of this action here wouldn't hurt:
The ACC's heavy hitters are having problems defending of late, and although Wake Forest's full season numbers still look strong, the Deacs have had their own issues, which were on full display against Duke on Sunday. In what was probably the most entertaining conference game of the season, Wake scored on 28 of 32 possessions in the game's middle portion but never pulled even with Duke because the Blue Devils were just about as unstoppable.
Duke shot a modest 34.8% from outside in that game, but they hit 65.8% of their twos. Wake rolled to a 3-0 start in league play on the strength of its interior defense--UNC, BC, and Clemson shot a combined 38% inside the arc. Their next time out, though, they were stunned at home by a Virginia Tech team that made 65.5% of its twos, and they've been up and down since, posting a 4-5 record over their last nine. The Tech game ended up being a sign of things to come:
Their defensive decline is not of disastrous proportions, but it is clear their interior defense is not as disruptive as it was during the first half of the season. If there's one defense you'd expect to hold up in conference play, it's Wake's--they have the tallest roster in the ACC and their pack line scheme is designed to clog the lane. Opponents are also getting to the line a lot (27 times a game over the last nine), so maybe Wake's positioning and footwork is off. But who knows.
Saturday saw NC State continue an impressive streak of hot shooting--it was the third consecutive game in which the Pack shot 60% or better, and the fourth time in the seven conference games since they've gone with the big lineup that they've hit the 60% mark.
That run has vaulted the Wolfpack all the way to #1 in the league in effective field goal percentage (53.2%). But something has held the team back from posting the kinds of jaw-dropping pts/poss numbers you would expect to come with 60% shooting: turnovers.
I've been wondering lately just how much those turnovers have been costing us; as it turns out, the answer is... a lot. To find that value, I subtracted the possessions that end in a turnover from the team's total possessions, which left just turnover-less (or "effective") possessions. Then it's just a matter of dividing points scored by turnover-less possessions.
On those effective possessions--where the team actually gets a crack at the basket--how many points does NC State score? See below. The table is sorted by points/effective possessions. Also included are overall offensive efficiency (pts/poss, including those possessions that end in turnovers), and turnover percentage.
State's turnover problem chafes not just because it's been so typical in the last few seasons, but also because it costs so much. This offense can match the production of any of the ACC's offenses save Carolina's--when it isn't turning the ball over. In addition to the good shooting, NC State's free throw rate is also very good--third best in the league. And its offensive rebounding percentage, while nothing special, has improved. So the guys are doing a lot with the effective possessions they get. They just don't get enough.
While NC State's inclination towards compelling television is kind to the networks, I could really do without all this unnecessary close game crap. The pattern has become so commonplace that it creates a very confusing mix of satisfaction and dread. Only in the hands of the Wolfpack could a double digit lead be both reassuring and uncomfortable. I'm still looking for the proper way to deal with our inevitable short-term meltdowns. Sometimes I'm searching for an expletive that's not yet been invented, as it is in these moments that the English language feels a bit restrictive. Other times I'm wondering if there's anything good on Lifetime.
It's just the ebb and flow of a basketball game, I guess, and not something that should be particularly shocking for a team that shoots well but has trouble protecting the basketball. When we sting a bunch of possessions together without turning the ball over, we can really get rolling. But when we get careless, look out. That's how it'll continue to go for this team, but as long as we continue to win, I'm not going to do too much griping after the fact (this post excepted...). What was I going to do with the months at the end of my life that I've lost, anyway? Eat more pudding?
-- If Tracy Smith met the minutes requirement, his 19.1 offensive rebounding percentage would rank him 3rd nationally. And that OR% doesn't include the three offensive boards he grabbed against UNC or the five he picked up today. He is a force in more ways than one.
-- When Virginia got the ball back down three with under 20 seconds left, Sidney Lowe took advantage of the foul situation and decided to go ahead and put Virginia on the line rather than let them fire up a three. The Cavs are terrible from outside and great from the line, but I liked the decision. Landesberg hit both FTs the first time but missed the first of another one-and-one seconds later, and that was the ballgame. Even if he'd made those to pull UVA back to within one, there was so little time left that when the Cavs eventually got the ball back, they were looking at a lengthy, rushed three-pointer. Those odds are much better for us.
Virginia, honey, we never talk anymore. You skip out on the fall reunion for parts unknown and reluctantly re-enter the picture in late February? You're going to have to make this up to me. But anyway, how have things been? You... Oh. I see. I see. Shut up no way! No way! Up and gone after four years? And he took everything? Heavens, that is serious. Oh my god are you crying?
Sammy Zeglinski (6-0, 179) -- Zeglinski held his own during the non-conference portion of the schedule, but conference play tends to be a rude awakening for young guys, and he's no exception: sub-40% shooting and a turnover rate north of 29%. He's hit a decent percentage of his twos, but his outside shooting has made hard hats a requirement in the paint. He is their most frequent and worst three-point shooter in ACC play, which is really not a good thing.
Leitao Contempt Level: Moderate. Kid's scrappy, you gotta give him that.
Jeff Jones (6-4, 200) -- Seeing more action of late, and he's taking a good chunk of the shots in conference play. His shooting has been a little more reliable in the last couple of weeks, but he's not someone the Cavs want to rely on.
Leitao Contempt Level: You Shut Your Mouth When You're Talking To Me.
Sylven Landesberg (6-6, 205) -- Landesberg has had a fine season, especially when you consider what he has to work with, which is nothing to speak of. He'll step outside occasionally, but that shot isn't there for him yet, and he prefers to do most of his damage inside the arc. He is unquestionably Virginia's primary scoring option, though his 46.1 effective field goal percentage in league play isn't blowing anybody away. Leitao Contempt Level: Low.
Mike Scott (6-8, 233) -- As one of two guys in the rotation shooting over 50% in conference play--and the only guy making more than half of his twos--Scott's been an important contributor in the post. But I see a problem here...
In Conference Play (Minimum 40% Minutes Played) .. %Shots eFG% Landesberg 27.6 46.1 Tucker 23.4 58.3 Jones 23.2 44.9 Baker 19.2 44.7 Zeglinski 18.5 39.6 Scott 18.1 53.9 Sene 11.2 37.8
Leitao Contempt Level: Low-To-Moderate.
Assane Sene (7-0, 234) -- Pretty good rebounder and shot blocker, as you might expect, but he's a terrible shooter from both the field and the line, he turns the ball over too much, and he's foul-prone.
Leitao Contempt Level: Motherfucker I WILL CHOKE YOU.
Jamil Tucker (6-9, 241) and Calvin Baker (6-2, 186) are the notables. Tucker isn't much for rebounding or effective scoring in the paint, but he is a major threat from outside.
Virginia Defense 07-08
Off Reb Rate
Virginia Defense 08-09
Off Reb Rate
Conference opponents have made 48.7% of their twos and 37.1% of their threes against UVA, which works out to a 50.8 effective field goal percentage. It's not a defense with any clear strengths, but they have at least managed not to be a complete disaster at this end. They may even be righting the ship a little bit, as they held both Clemson and Virginia Tech to under a point per possession.
On a night where State's upperclassmen were not at their best, the team had to look to the younger guys for contributions and managed to avert disaster for a while thanks to Javier Gonzalez's stunning first half performance. But the Pack came out cold in the second half and turned the ball over a few times early while Carolina continued to score at Will; a 14-0 Heels run pushed the lead to 15 points with about sixteen and a half to go, and that was that. Carolina presents an impossible matchup for NC State, and we weren't about to string together enough stops to get back to within striking distance.
Encouragingly, the Wolfpack turned in another fine offensive performance against a tough defense and some unsympathetic officials. They've averaged over 1.1 pts/poss in three straight and have not been held under a point per trip since the Duke game on January 20th. (Which has the offense up to 34th in adjusted offensive efficiency.) If they could just find a way to play better defense, they'd really be on to something.
Since the bottom line for the Pack is, as usual, that they must play really well while catching Carolina on an off night at the same time, I was hoping the Heels would be lights out against Miami so that perhaps we could benefit from a little short-term bounce back. But they didn't shoot very well in Coral Gables, so no luck there.
Defensive rebounding remains a huge key for the Wolfpack. UNC is grabbing 41.4% of its misses in conference play, which leads the league. They've had their way with State on the glass in three straight meetings, none of which were in doubt heading down the stretch. It's just too much to overcome. When you can't force turnovers, defensive rebounds are... etc. etc. You know the deal.
If nothing else, we have this consolation: there is no possible way we can play worse than we did in the Dean Dome last season. I think. I mean, what are the odds, right?
The Pomeroy Predictor expects Carolina to have no trouble with State's defense and score 92 points in 73 possessions--1.26 points per possession.
“Barring any injuries or things like that, we’re going to stick with eight,” Lowe said. “I think that we’re set. Now having said that, those guys must continue to perform because in practice every day there are guys right behind them trying to get those minutes. Sometimes it’s easier to win a position than it is to keep it.”
But as we've seen, since we don't know what we're going to get from the supporting cast from game-to-game, things can change quickly. It wasn't that long ago when it looked like there was no way Javi Gonzalez would factor into the rotation.
“Wayne Ellington hyper-extended his arm and strained some ligaments. We did an X-ray and a MRI on Thursday, he did it in the Duke game. Friday, he didn’t shoot a single 3-point shot in practice, so we didn’t know how sore his elbow was going to get. Ty Lawson was throwing up all day on Friday, and on Saturday, he could hardly practice. On Sunday, we’re at the shoot around and all of a sudden, he just takes off and runs to the bathroom. He was just not feeling well at all...
“And I don’t know if we’ve announced this or not, but I guess it’s all right – Tyler Hansbrough got a slight concussion in the [Miami] game early in the second half. So we had so many things going on, and yet the way they kept playing, even when Miami made that big run, [was good].”
Williams also mentioned that Ty Zeller could be back in time to make a small, ineffectual contribution on Wednesday.
During the call-in portion of the show, Williams provided a condescending eight-minute explanation to a dumb question posed by some ass hat calling from a Wal-Mart courtesy phone. Williams reiterated for the 238th time this season that yes, the coaching staff has thought about [new strategy/tactic/sweater-tie combo], you moron.
It's been five conference games since Sidney Lowe recognized the sheer folly of leaving the human point spree that is the Macrowave on the bench. You might guess that a Smith-powered offense would be way more better than the alternative. You would be correct.
Point guard play improved over the last five games, and Courtney Fells bounced back after a tough start to conference play. Also, some defenders have made the mistake of looking directly at Tracy Smith; those poor fools were instantly blinded in the presence of his glory (this has been a big key to the Pack's transition game). The result of these and other developments is one of the hottest offenses in the ACC; 1.1+ points per trip is elite-level efficiency.
Defensively, not much has changed. Opponents haven't been grabbing as many offensive boards but they've made up for it by shooting a higher percentage from the field.
People often say that Kobe Bryant has no weaknesses to his game, but that’s not really true. Before the game, Battier was given his special package of information. “He’s the only player we give it to,” Morey says. “We can give him this fire hose of data and let him sift. Most players are like golfers. You don’t want them swinging while they’re thinking.” The data essentially broke down the floor into many discrete zones and calculated the odds of Bryant making shots from different places on the court, under different degrees of defensive pressure, in different relationships to other players — how well he scored off screens, off pick-and-rolls, off catch-and-shoots and so on. Battier learns a lot from studying the data on the superstars he is usually assigned to guard. For instance, the numbers show him that Allen Iverson is one of the most efficient scorers in the N.B.A. when he goes to his right; when he goes to his left he kills his team. The Golden State Warriors forward Stephen Jackson is an even stranger case. “Steve Jackson,” Battier says, “is statistically better going to his right, but he loves to go to his left — and goes to his left almost twice as often.” The San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginóbili is a statistical freak: he has no imbalance whatsoever in his game — there is no one way to play him that is better than another. He is equally efficient both off the dribble and off the pass, going left and right and from any spot on the floor.
Bryant isn’t like that. He is better at pretty much everything than everyone else, but there are places on the court, and starting points for his shot, that render him less likely to help his team. When he drives to the basket, he is exactly as likely to go to his left as to his right, but when he goes to his left, he is less effective. When he shoots directly after receiving a pass, he is more efficient than when he shoots after dribbling. He’s deadly if he gets into the lane and also if he gets to the baseline; between the two, less so. “The absolute worst thing to do,” Battier says, “is to foul him.” It isn’t that Bryant is an especially good free-throw shooter but that, as Morey puts it, “the foul is the worst result of a defensive play.” One way the Rockets can see which teams think about the game as they do is by identifying those that “try dramatically not to foul.” The ideal outcome, from the Rockets’ statistical point of view, is for Bryant to dribble left and pull up for an 18-foot jump shot; force that to happen often enough and you have to be satisfied with your night. “If he has 40 points on 40 shots, I can live with that,” Battier says. “My job is not to keep him from scoring points but to make him as inefficient as possible.” The court doesn’t have little squares all over it to tell him what percentage Bryant is likely to shoot from any given spot, but it might as well.
It's a great look at Houston's philosophy and approach to the game, illustrated by Battier's defensive play in a game against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. The Rockets concern themselves with the process moreso than the outcome, because you can control the process; the outcome, not so much, since that's where chance comes into play. When your process is good, when you're making the correct decisions, you don't have to lose sleep over setbacks in the short-term, because you know that you're on the right side of the percentages, and over the long run, that's going to pay off.
It wasn't what you'd call an auspicious start, what with the Wolfpack playing without effort or control in the first five minutes, committing a handful of turnovers as the Jackets built an 11-5 lead. But State eventually cut out the dumb mistakes, just about every shot they took went in (seven or eight in a row at one point), and the rest of the half was a breeze.
The second half went much the same way--Tech came out with renewed effort and pressed after every basket in the early stages, State committed another handful of mistakes (11 of the Pack's 21 turnovers came in the first five minutes of each half), and the Jackets managed to cut the lead to three. It was taking the Pack almost 10 seconds to get across halfcourt on every possession during this stretch, limiting their ability to run the offense, with predictably disastrous results. But once we stopped depriving ourselves of shots, and once Tech went cold, depriving them of opportunities to press, it was all over.
Georgia Tech's defense did a fine job in the turnover and defensive rebounding departments--71.6% shooting, though, that's a massive trump card. The Pack's defense was pretty good too--we limited their second chances and kept them off the free throw line, allowing them to brick themselves out of the game.
-- That was the most efficient performance by an ACC team against the Yellow Jackets this season. We hit two-thirds of our twos and more than half of our threes.
-- Several members of the supporting cast came up huge today: Javi scored 14 points in 21 minutes, was perfect from the line, and sunk a sweet left-handed circus shot; Dennis Horner, fully enulfed in flames, scored 11 in 16 minutes; and CJ Williams, who sparked the team by hitting some early threes, scored 11 points and had a team-high 5 assists in 23 minutes. The boost provided by those guys was especially important since Tech made Ben McCauley a complete non-factor.
-- And, of course, there was Tracy Smith, who started out as slowly as the team, but drew some fouls and began to heat up until... BOOM. More noteworthy than his scoring, and hopefully a sign of more to come, was the fact that 9 of his 10 boards came at the defensive end. Tracy's been a fantastic offensive rebounder, but it's at the other end where we really need those efforts, and we got that today. When both Smith and McCauley are rebounding well at the defensive end--as they did today--the defense transforms from one that has to hope it can end possessions to one that can expect to end them consistently. Since it's the defensive rebounding way or no way for the Wolfpack defense, that's a big deal.
Georgia Tech has turned into a free throw-making machine. The Jackets drained 17 of 20 shots from the line against Virginia Tech and have shot 77.2 percent in their last seven games, ever since their 7-for-19 night against Duke.
The Jackets are losers of five of six since their visit to Raleigh last month, and that skid has been characterized by the agonizing so-close-but-so-not-really losses to which they've become accustomed: four losses by five points or less, including one in OT.
Tech plays outstanding defense (28th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency), but when it gets to crunch time, their propensity for missed shots and turnovers ultimately provides too many opportunities for their opponents.
When it's all said and done, this Georgia Tech offense is likely to go down as the worst the league has seen in the last five seasons. The ten worst offenses in conference play since 2005:
Be thankful that Blogger does not offer a scratch-and-sniff feature (yet), because you'd need a keg of febreze to get rid of that shit. What does this much terrible smell like, I wonder. A dead hooker rotting in sewage?
Essentially, with both Tech and Tech's opponents shooting below 45% on the average, the Jackets have set the game of basketball so far back we're at a point in time where the sport has not even been invented. Had James Naismith seen the Tech/FSU game last week, he'd have concluded that this whole thing isn't worth it and taken up a nobler pursuit, like quilting, instead.
Conference foes are making just 42.3% of their twos and 32% of their threes against the Jackets, so the Pack's effort in the first meeting--45% from two, 37.5% from three--doesn't look so mediocre in retrospect. A similar effort from the field, along with better care of the basketball, should be enough to earn the Wolfpack a win on the road.
-- Whew. I was sure James Johnson's potential game-tyer was going in--it was hard to imagine any other outcome considering that's the sort of thing that has generally happened to the Pack in crunch time. And the four points the Deacs got on their previous possession seemed to be an omen. When it didn't fall, it felt like the first break we'd gotten all season.
“I knew we were going to pull this one out,” said Wolfpack junior Brandon Costner. “I wasn’t worried.”
Me neither! *passes out*
-- Tense moments aside, it was a very good effort by the Pack. The guys deserve a lot of credit for limiting Teague's impact the way they did.
-- Despite a tough night inside the arc (44.3% on twos), State managed to crack 1.1 pts/poss thanks to excellent offensive rebounding and a bunch of trips to the line. This is just thesecond time in 22 games this season that Wake Forest has allowed an opponent to score 1.1+ pts/poss.
Wake Forest lit up BC's forgiving defense twice, but efficient scoring has been hard to come by for the Deacs in their other league games. Prior to their breakout against the Eagles on Sunday, Wake had been held under a point per possession in four straight. John Gasaway had this to say last week:
A few weeks ago who would have believed that Wake Forest would be failing to score a point per trip in ACC play? Well, they are, and it's killing them. Miami's shockingly easy 79-52 win over the Demon Deacons on Wednesday only put an exclamation point at the end of a sentence that had already been started by opponents like Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Wake is simply getting too few bites at the apple on offense: the Deacons don't "do" offensive rebounds, which is fine--as long as you take excellent care of the ball and shoot, and make, a lot of threes. None of the above, particularly the part about threes, describes Dino Gaudio's team. Forget the obvious differences in tempo and athleticism, the team that the Deacons are really starting to remind me of is Bob Knight-era Texas Tech. There will be only one shot per possession, and you know that shot will be a two.
Indeed, with no reliable outside shooting threat aside from Jeff Teague, the Deacs are not the least bit interested in threes. Only about a fifth of their FGAs are three-point attempts, a proportion that ranks as the 342nd lowest in the country. And no team gets a smaller percentage of its points from outside than does Wake Forest.
The question is: can we make this matter? Probably safe to assume the answer is no.
Starters: Jeff Teague (6-2, 180) -- Teague is better in just about every category this season despite assuming a larger workload offensively. This will not be pleasant.
LD Williams (6-4, 210) -- Taking just 15.3% of the Deacs' shots in ACC play, which seems about right for someone with a modest skill set. His 2FG% shooting is better, but he remains a poor outside shooter; to his credit, though, he isn't taking as many threes as he did last season.
James Johnson (6-9, 245) -- The rare player that ranks in the top 500 in both block percentage and steal percentage, he is a big part of Wake's improved defense.
Al-Farouq Aminu (6-9, 215) -- Can do very scary things. Though prone to youthful mistakes-- some poor shots, turnovers--there's a lot about Aminu to like. He's an efficient scorer in the paint (59%), he draws a lot of fouls, he's a solid rebounder at both ends, and he'll block some shots.
Chas McFarland (7-0, 235) -- Hasn't committed a foul in his life--just ask him.
Ish Smith (6-0, 175), Harvey Hale (6-3, 195), Tony Woods (6-11, 245), and David Weaver (6-11, 240) will see some time, though the latter three have averaged less than 10 MPG in league play.
Smith will no doubt play stretches alongside Teague, giving Teague the opportunity to play off the ball. As usual, Smith is good at being fast and bad at everything else.
Harvey Hale is a three-point specialist with a career 31.3 3FG%. Which is to say that he is useless.
"I haven’t decided yet (whether they will play)," Lowe said during the ACC coaches' teleconference. "It’s something I’ve got to take a look at. First and foremost, those guys, everybody needs to hold up their end of the bargain, academically and rule wise, everything. And playing on the floor. And we’ll have to see."
I wonder if that policy is something along the lines of "don't take a PE course during basketball season when you're coming back from a freaking knee injury." But that only explains Farnold.
-- The Wake Forest game will not be televised but is available online via ACC Select. I'm leaning towards avoiding it entirely.
-- Photos from the VT game, courtesy the N&O. #27 says it all.
Degand continues to experience pain in his surgically repaired left knee. Lowe said Degand told him he had aggravated the injury running in class. Lowe said he thought it was a physical education class.
"After you’ve had knee surgery, I guess that [taking a phys ed class] is a bad idea," Lowe said.
N.C. State athletics director Lee Fowler has voiced strong support for coach Sidney Lowe, who is 47-40 in his third season. Although the Wolfpack isn’t close to being an NCAA tournament contender, it has made some improvement from last season, when the chemistry was awful and players didn’t give maximum effort. N.C. State already has two ACC wins with struggling Maryland and Virginia teams still to visit the RBC Center. Bottom line, this is a team that should win a few more games to avoid the No. 12 ACC tournament seed it earned with a terrible finish last season.
It's almost certain that chemistry is better--the evidence certainly suggests as much:
But if that's meant anything to our overall performance, it ain't much...
In Conference Play . Off_Eff Def_Eff Margin 2008 100.9 114.1 -13.2 2009 100.1 113.5 -13.4
The major red flag is our 2FG% defense. As bad as we looked defending the post at times last season, on the whole, we held our own--our 2FG% D ranked 6th in the ACC. Our problem was opponents' flukishly good outside shooting.
We aren't forcing as many misses inside the arc this season, and judging by our opponents' low 3FGA/FGA ratio in conference play, they're realizing how exploitable our interior defense is. If our FG% defense broke down the same way it did last season, we could reasonably expect some improvement, as a certain amount of bad luck could be attributed to the 3FG% D. But I don't think we can say the same about interior shooting, and that is bad news indeed. We have a backcourt that is helpless to prevent dribble penetration and we lack a traditional wide body in the frontcourt to make guys think twice about it.
Kenny Drummond, who runs a Greensboro-based academy for basketball players with college hoop dreams, faces arrest for trying to raise money online without a license.
In December, the N.C. Secretary of State's office issued a cease-and-desist order for Drummond, founder of Future Academy. The citation seeks to stop Drummond from using his Web site to ask for money for a new project, which, until recently, he was promoting on a Web site.
Officials haven't served the warrant, because they have been unable to find Drummond.
Drummond's shady business practices have pissed off a lot of folks--the comments section from my initial post on the topic made 18 months ago remains active to this day. Kenny's niece even checked in with an attempt to defend the man:
Wow...I did not know that all this was going on. I do not know anything about my uncles business, but I really do not like he way that he is being portrayed by you asswholes. If he is doing wrong then yes he deserves to be criticized, but if he is really trying to help these kids that is great. Those of you that are calling my uncle a con artist can kiss our whole families ass. Get your fucking facts straight....he was not cut from the NBA team before he got started. Suck on that! His Niece | 11.09.08 - 10:42 am |
The next time you're in a parking lot and hear a bull elk bugle or the voice of N.C. State announcer Gary Hahn shouting, "Over the goal line! Touchdown!" you can thank Joe Souders and his hunting buddies.
Souders, fellow Garner resident Arlen Carpenter and Ray Roberge of Knoxville, Tenn., own Antler Enterprises. Their product, Motor Mouth, uses a vehicle owner's keyless entry fob to activate a variety of sounds when the door is locked and unlocked.
Uncanny. The other day, as I locked my car and heard it beep a confirmation, I couldn't help but feel something was missing. That's nice, but it needs more Gary Hahn, I thought. But wait a second. A snippet of football play-by-play is wholly incongruent with the act of locking my car. Still...
If you'd like to hear the wolf howl every time you lock your car, now you can. I think I would actually prefer the golf sounds, though ("Hit the ball, Alice!"). Or the "You better lock it up."/"No, you lock it up!" exchange from Wedding Crashers, should they ever add that.
It's about a quarter past noon and it looks like we have just a few outstanding LOIs. Tom O'Brien has a presser scheduled for 4 PM to discuss the 2009 recruiting class; you can watch it for free at GoPack.com.
The N&O's preps blog is updating throughout the day:
Mike Farrell, analyst for rivals.com says:
"I think State will be a little disappointed in being ranked behind Duke, but Tom O’Brien has a history of finding overachievers and players who are better than other people thought. On the surface, this doesn’t look like the best class. But I imagine this class has plenty of surprises. The State staff knows more than we know.”
-- I don't need to look--this is the most lopsided rebounding differential NC State has had since I've been tracking tempo-free stats. This is one extreme occasion where total rebounds tell the whole story. Fifty-two boards to 14! Amazing.
With an offense and a defense that rank in I-A's bottom five, Central is last in the Pomeroy ratings--the worst team in I-A. The only question tonight is whether they'll accidentally throw the basketball through the hoop enough times to break 30 points, which they did not manage to do against the Wolfpack last season. They've played five opponents in the Pomeroy top 100, losing by an average of 37.4 points.
The Eagles are so bad they haven't even been competitive against the rest of I-A's dregs. They're 1-7 against teams ranked 300 or worse in the Pomeroy ratings, losing by an average of 12.3 points. They also have the dubious distinction of having lost to a non-div I school, Chowan, which is an all-girls middle school in Murfreesboro, NC.
Bryan Ayala (6-3, 190) -- Stole the show against the Wolfpack last season with an astounding display of incapability at the offensive end: 1-14 from the field, 0-4 from the line.
Jamar Briscoe (5-10, 155) -- The only guy on the team making more than 30% of his threes.
Vincent Davis (6-2, 170) -- The lone Eagle with a sub-20% turnover rate. Along with Ayala and Briscoe, he's one of the team's primary contributors.
Nick Chasten (6-7, 216) -- Shooting 43.6%, Chasten is a model of scoring efficiency in the context of this team.
Stevy Worah-Ozimo (6-9, 220) -- His 2FG% is higher than his FT%.
NC Central Defense 07-08
Off Reb Rate
NC Central Defense 08-09
Off Reb Rate
Central is one of the shortest squads in I-A, and they're dead last in 2FG% defense, so a heavy dose of zone seems likely. Not that it matters. The idea is not to stop the club from meeting the skull--that's not possible--but to perhaps slow the frequency with which it happens.
The Pomeroy Predictor expects us to score 87 points on 65 possessions for an OE of 133.8.
Looking back through some stats at GoPack.com today, I discovered that a few junk stats have been made available: dunks, charges drawn, and deflections. Below I've listed the number of charges drawn and deflections per 40 minutes for each season, along with the Pack's defensive turnover and steal percentages.
It stands to reason that more deflections--indicative of a more active and/or competent defensive unit--would pay dividends in the form of more turnovers, and this small bit of data seems to bear that out. There does appear to be a relationship between deflections, turnover percentage, and steal percentage, which is particularly apparent in the Lowe era. Maybe some sort of Disruption Index could be established with this stuff.
Not surprisingly, the razor-thin 2007 team managed the fewest deflections per 40 minutes of any Wolfpack team in the last seven years; they couldn't afford to take risks, and it shows.
[Brief self-congratulatory note: way back in February of 2006, as a new trend was emerging (that being our complete inability to force turnovers), I wrote:
I'm sure the coaches hold their "deflections" statistic (and whatever else they track) close to the vest, but if we were to get a look at those numbers, I wouldn't be surprised if we found that they were down this season.
Indeed. Deflections fell off by 25% that year, from 40.3/40 to 30.4/40.]
The ten best individual seasons in terms of deflections per 40 minutes (min 40% minutes played):
-- Pretty good effort at the offensive end that could have been much better had we hit a few shots close to the basket in the first half. For the game, we ended up hitting more of our threes (42.3%) than our twos (41.5%).
-- The Heels hit 64% of their twos en route to one of their most efficient outings of the season. They've yet to be held to under a point per possession in a game this season.
-- Three games in a row now that we've kept our turnover percentage under 16%.