An NC State run can be found in the numbers
Posted March 21, 2013
Dayton, Ohio — The NC State Wolfpack are set to play in NCAA tournament for the second straight year under Mark Gottfried. That’s a pretty special accomplishment after the five-year drought under head coach Sidney Lowe.
Now, people who read the headlines and the first sentence of a column are going to feast on their own comments. Let me say that it is with some reservation you call this season “special” with the expectations going into the season. But the truth is, this season isn’t over. In fact, the euphoria surrounding the 2012-13 Wolfpack was generated with a solid recruiting class and the tournament run a season ago. The Pack pulled in a 24-10 record to go along with 11 wins in conference play. While that is nice, the post season has begun.
The NCAA Tournament can drastically change people’s opinions of teams with one or two wins. As the Wolfpack was preparing for its first round game against Temple, the coaches were busy preparing game plans, scouting reports, and the most important: the self-scouting report.
The self-scouting report can be the one thing that helps an athlete truly realize the things that keep his team from winning. Statistics in losses verses those in victories can paint the picture more clearly.
There are statistical keys to victory for the Pack to make a run to another Sweet 16. And as good as the freshman TJ Warren, Rodney Purvis, and Tyler Lewis are, winning will have to be driven by the upper classmen.
No player is more important to the Wolfpack this season than point guard Lorenzo Brown. With him out of the lineup the Pack picked up two of their 10 losses - a third if you count the limited minutes against Virginia. Brown is as healthy as he has been all year. He has to stay in control of the offense and let the game come to him. In the seven full games that were losses, Brown averaged 4.5 turnovers verses 3.5 in the wins. When the Pack wins with Brown in the lineup he shoots 44 percent from the field, but in the losses he struggles shooting just 32 percent. Gottfried likes to see Brown take his man to the paint early to get an easier shot and see one go in. It gets his mindset right and his offense tends to take off from there.
There hasn’t been a steadier player this season for NC State that Richard Howell. He was rewarded with a first team ALL-ACC selection. The big stat for Howell is no secret to fans: he has to move his feet on defense and be smart with fouls. It was an emphasis for him going into the season, and Gottfried feels that his success this year can be attributed to that. Of the 10 losses this year Howell has fouled out of four of them. But for Howell, it won’t be as much picking up No. 5 as staying out of foul trouble throughout. In games in which Howell has picked up his 3rd foul before the half, the Pack is 3-6.
Other coaches have said time and time again in post-game press conferences that locating and closing out Scott Wood is the key to stopping the Pack offense. He can change the game in an instant with his 3-point shooting. The statistics also support that statement. In the 10 losses Scott Wood is shooting 38 percent from deep (before his last game against Miami in which he was 6-10, that was 29 percent in losses). When the Wolfpack offense is winning, so is Scott Wood from behind the arc. He is shooting 47 percent from three in the Pack’s 24 wins. However, in a statistic requested personally by Wood, NC State is 10-3 this season when he (gets beat and) blocks a shot. Nice work Mutombo!
It’s been said that, so goes Leslie, so goes the Pack. Statistics do help support that statement. When CJ Leslie hits at least half his shots from the field, NC State is 16-4. Ok, no kidding right. You have to hit shots to win. But it’s different with a guy that averages 15 points per game.
The one stat that makes or breaks the Pack’s chances of surviving in the NCAA Tournament may be Leslie’s turnovers. In the Pack’s 24 wins, Leslie averages 2.75 turnovers. He gets 4.1 per game in the 10 losses. And then there’s the craziest stat, NC State is 5-8 in games that Leslie is whistled for at least one travel violation. How about that one. Not the 8 losses. He’s had at least one travel in 13 games.
Can NC State live up to the preseaspn hype? Absolutely. But can and will are two strong words. This team has some amazing talent. Now, it’s time to focus in on a tournament run.