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Tracy Smith Returns To Lead State Over San Diego 76-54

January 3, 2011
College Basketball

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http://statsheet.com/charts/chartlets/2011/01/03/mcb_games_2011_01_01_san_diego_54_nc_state_76_632987.js

College Basketball

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Good to have you back Tracy. Seriously.

Tracy logged 25 minutes in his return to the floor and made the most of them, scoring a game-high 16 points while shooting nearly 60% from the floor and 67% from the free throw line.

Just your average Tracy Smith outing.

Except this was no average outing. Smith's been logging all his minutes on the bench over the last month in street clothes and his warmups, a month where State lost all four of its games against "name" opponents while his young teammates floundered their way without him.

The question now moving forward is: Will we see a new, reinvigorated Wolfpack basketball team capable of fulfilling the potential so many thought the team had heading into the year? Or will we continue to see the same disjointed play, just with a more talented roster?

Let's cross our fingers and hope for the former over the latter.

Another positive was the increased minutes Richard Howell logged at the center position. Howell at the five seems a much more natural compliment to Smith than Jordan Vandenberg. He's a better rebounder at both ends of the floor, and offers much more offensively. Vandenberg's lone advantage over Howell is sheer height, but against the quicker post players State will face from the ACC, my guess is that Howell will fare much better against them defensively despite his height differential. 

The one thing Howell will struggle with is staying out of foul trouble on the defensive end, so my guess is we'll still see a good bit of Deshawn Painter in conjunction with Howell, likely splitting the minutes at the five about equally down the middle.

Up next: One more tuneup for Smith and the Pack against Elon in the Greensboro Coliseum before conference play begins against Wake Forest at home on Saturday. We may look back and say the San Diego game and the Elon game were two of the more crucial games on the schedule if they adequately prepare Smith and his teammates to play well together.

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