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State Sputters To Win Over Tennessee Tech 82-69

November 13, 2010

(Courtesy Ethan Hyman, N&O)

Box score.

I’m sure this is how CJ Leslie hoped his college basketball debut would go.

I can’t imagine many other folks on the NC State bench—players or coaches—feel as good about their performances.

Leslie’s 21 led a group of five players to score in double figures, and all three of State’s freshmen were the top scoring Wolfpack players, but the entire State squad looked disjointed for the most part and were never able to put Tennessee Tech away until the very end.

While the effort and intensity seemed to be there defensively, it didn’t seem very effective at times. Tech players created open looks for themselves often with a mere head fake or stutter step; Pack players overran their man or were slow to close out on shooters as the defensive rotation couldn’t keep pace with Tech’s ball movement.

Worse still, while State’s effort was there on defense, the moment the ball went up, the defensive rebounding effort seemed to disappear. Players stood around the basket flat-footed, waiting for the ball to come off the rim or backboard, while their Tech counterparts were actively leaping around or over them to get to the ball. Tech snagged 20 offensive rebounds—twice as many as State’s 10—and out-boarded the Pack 47-37.

Still, there were moments where the sheer talent of State’s team shone through.

Ryan Harrow—who left the game late in the second half after a low blow—gave us his first “WOW” moment of the year when he unleashed a vicious behind-the-back fake on a fastbreak opportunity that embarrassed his lone man to beat, resulting in the first two points of his college career.

The aforementioned Leslie showcased all of his gifts offensively and defensively, and I was particularly pleased to see how much more effort he seemed to be expending in tonight’s game versus the exhibition game earlier in the week. He was focused and went all-out on the defensive end, swatting six shots. He also showed some tremendous footwork defending out on the perimeter, which really caught my eye. All the superlatives you’ll hear about the kid are well deserved.

Lorenzo Brown looked as cool, calm and collected as ever. “Smooth” is a word you’ll hear often about Brown this year, and he wears it well. A “smooth” 14 points for Brown in his debut.

Tracy Smith didn’t score a point until the second half, but he seemed none-the-worse for it and responded with a 10-point second half as his teammates found him more often.

One thing I was curious to see tonight was the lineup mixing and matching. Coach Lowe loves to play a variety of squads, as we’ve come to expect, but he may have taken it to absurd lengths tonight. He played a whopping 11 different lineups just in the first half, with the most unique being his semi-four guard lineup of Harrow-Gonzalez-Brown-Wood-Leslie near the end of the period.

I’m no expert here, but my guts says the number of possible lineups needs to be whittled down to below five or so before too long. When you start to eclipse the dozen mark in lineup combinations in a game, it has to be tough to get any sort of consistency and flow with your teammates, especially if you’re a wing player where your role could switch multiple times—from the two to the three and maybe even to the four—as your surrounding personnel changes over the span of one shift on the court. Versatility is great, but consistently defined roles—at least for a half—I have to think are more valuable.

Win #1 is in the books, but with it came plenty of tape to study moving forward.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Scott permalink
    November 15, 2010 10:28 am

    Keeping our opponents off the offensive glass seems to be a re-occurring theme. It’s not a question of ability (Smith, Howell, etc) should be able to box out easily. Is it effort? Desire?

    We need to correct this. Giving the opponent 20 extra possessions is a killer. We were terrible at the beginning of last season too. They seemed to get better as the season progressed. I hope we can do better this season.

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