Rushed Reactions: NC State 80, Virginia Tech 63Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013
Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from the NC State vs. Virginia Tech game this afternoon at the ACC Tournament.
Three Key Takeaways:
- NC State can’t D up, but Lorenzo Brown can: Brown locked down ACC Player of the Year Erick Green. He fought through every screen and didn’t give Green an inch once he crossed half-court. The aggressive defense clearly got to Green, who finished with 15 points on 19 shots (and just watching the game, it was surprising he even got to that many). The individual effort was exactly what NC State needed more of this season, though it may prove to be a double-edged sword. Brown looked exhausted down the stretch, and it’s likely Mark Gottfried will call on him again tomorrow to guard Joe Harris. Two first-team All-ACC players in as many days is a tough assignment. I expect Gottfried to spell Brown at least a little with Rodney Purvis or Scott Wood, but Purvis gives up at least two inches and Wood can’t stay in front of anyone.
- Erick Green gassed: Green only had one conference performance where he finished with a below average offensive efficiency. Now he’s got two. The only other time he shot so poorly, he made up for it with an 11-of-13 performance at the charity stripe. But possibly the most impressive part of Brown’s harassing defense was that he didn’t send Green to the line at all (Tyler Lewis fouled Green for his only two free throw attempts). Green looked a step slow, which is reasonable considering the 1,128 minutes he’s put in for the Hokies this season. But don’t fall for the trap that this means that Green didn’t deserve ACC Player of the Year. There’s a good argument to be made for other players, but one bad performance doesn’t discount Green’s truly outstanding season (see: Mason Plumlee’s four points against Maryland or Shane Larkin’s seven points against Clemson).
- NC State has a lot to prove: A win against the league’s cellar-dweller is going to do little to quite NC State’s critics, but the team looked better — especially the way it closed the game — than it has since beating Boston College last month. The real tests for the Wolfpack lie ahead with Virginia looming tomorrow. Also before going overboard on the Wolfpack’s team defense against Virginia Tech, they only held the Hokies to 0.04 points per possession (around 2.5 points) worse than their conference average (hat tip to John Gasaway). That’s not dominant team defense. Also a win against the ACC’s worst team isn’t going to help your seed very much.
Star of the Game: Richard Howell did what he pleased against Virginia Tech, going 11-of-13 from the field for 22 points and 12 rebounds. He doesn’t have the most talent on the floor, but he’s got the perfect combination of strength, toughness and an elite motor to be dominant. The other big stat is that Howell played 38 minutes. That could have never happened in past years just because of his tendency to get in foul trouble. His improvement (and ability to scale up his rebounding with minutes) over the past four years is remarkable.
Sights and Sounds: The Greensboro Coliseum crowd tripled (at least) between the first and second game on Thursday afternoon. And NC State fans weren’t confined to their section, as red permeated nearly every section throughout the arena.
Quotable: “They had a good defense. The first half kind of caught me off guard. I saw a lot of double teams and just staying with me off the pick and rolls. You have to give all of the credit to NC State. They had a great defensive plan.” — Virginia Tech guard Erick Green
Wildcard: NC State absolutely dominated the boards — grabbing over 80 percent of Virginia Tech’s misses and nearly 36 percent of its own (or owning a +15 mark in rebounding margin if that’s your thing). If the Wolfpack have that kind of performance against Virginia (who is a statistically worse rebounding team), they’ll be in great shape regardless.
What’s Next: The Wolfpack play Virginia at 2:00 PM on Friday afternoon. The Cavaliers won the only meeting between the two teams, 58-55, in Charlottesville in a game where Lorenzo Brown sprained his ankle early and CJ Leslie was recovering from an illness.