Warren-less Wolfpack improve as a team in win
Posted January 21
Raleigh, N.C. — Monday night’s win over Maryland wasn’t a “sexy” win. In fact, the first 20 minutes were downright painful to watch. But then something happened after halftime. The Wolfpack, missing their undisputed top player TJ Warren, began playing as a team.
A defensive stop led to a transition dunk for Kyle Washington. Ralston Turner, after going 0-for-5 from long range in the first half, gained confidence and hit five three’s in the second. BeeJay Anya played two-way basketball, finishing with four blocks and three rebounds in 17 minutes. Anthony Barber added four assists to his 13 points.
It was truly a team effort for the Wolfpack in a win that many didn’t expect to see with Warren wearing a sweatshirt on the bench nursing a bad ankle. All eight NC State players to see action played at least 14 minutes and all eight got in the scoring column. They forced 12 turnovers and shot 56 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes.
“Some guys had to step up and do some things they weren’t,” guard Desmond Lee said of the roles without Warren in the lineup. “We showed we can win without TJ. If guys start looking at TJ Warren, we have other guys that can score too.”
Lee, who added that he was pleased with the team’s defensive effort, finished with four steals, two assists and three rebounds to compliment his 13 points Monday.
With Warren out, scoring became an immediate concern. Where would it come from knowing that 22 points per game were unavailable? Nobody else entered Monday averaging better than 12 and only Barber averaged double figures.
In the first half it was nowhere to be found as they limped to the locker room with just 20 points. In the second half, it came from everywhere, but most notably Turner who finished with a career-high 23 points.
“Obviously with TJ out it was tough because he can relieve the pressure off of you,” Turner said. “When I hit the first shot, I never looked back from there.”
Is NC State, who was being out-scored by an average of 14 points per game in the calendar year, a better team without Warren? Absolutely not. Did they make strides in maturity as a team beyond their leading scorer Monday? Absolutely.
Neither Turner nor Lee said they considered Warren's absence a next-man-up situation. They each stated that it meant every player would have to understand their roles better. In my opinion, for a young developing team, a game without their go-to crutch is the best thing for them in the log run.
When asked about the team’s confidence after Monday’s win, Turner said, “It went sky high.”