Night Line: Schizophrenic Wolfpack Fail to Keep Momentum… Again

Posted by BHayes on January 30th, 2013


Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

For NC State fans that thought the rollercoaster may have finally been headed for level ground, Tuesday’s nights’ 58-55 loss to Virginia was yet another reminder that the seat belts should never come off when riding with this Wolfpack team. Consistency has eluded Mark Gottfried’s club all season but especially of late, as the Pack have now alternated wins and losses over their past six contests. Included in the trio of wins were seismic victories over Tobacco Road rivals Duke and UNC; but like many a college student after a momentous Saturday night, the Pack watched as each high subsided into a full-blown hangover. Little seems to have been learned by either coach or team along the way, and State fans have to be wondering whether the inconsistency might ultimately derail a season that has quite frequently felt immensely promising.

Much Like His Team All Season, CJ Leslie's Performance Tuesday Night Included Both Good And Bad: 20 Points and 14 Rebounds For The Pack Star, But He Also Turned The Ball Over Seven Times

Much Like His Team All Season, CJ Leslie’s Performance Tuesday Night Included Both Good And Bad: 20 Points and 14 Rebounds For The Pack Star, But Also Seven Turnovers

Nobody can deny that the talent and capability to be not just good but great are there for this team. We knew about the collection of talent all the way back in the preseason, when the paper version of the Wolfpack was impressive enough to net the team a top-five preseason national ranking and the grandiose title of ACC favorite. Unfortunately, we have seen that talent mesh and deliver on all its potential far too infrequently for the Pack to maintain those lofty preseason standards, but is there time yet to bounce back? Are we silly for believing that it isn’t too late, for thinking that Mark Gottfried can find a way to get his team to sustain that energy and emotion ALL the time, and not just when they take the floor with college hoops titans like Duke, UNC, and Michigan?

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Bad Loss Leads to Twitter Regret for NC State

Posted by mpatton on January 23rd, 2013

NC State took a really tough loss at Wake Forest last night. Fans are frustrated, players are frustrated and coaches are frustrated. Former third-string center Thomas DeThaey took to Twitter to vent his frustration: “That’s what happens when you’re a great recruiter but a terrible coach!” Now comes the juicy part. Current freshman TJ Warren retweeted DeThaey. Was it a slip of the thumb? Was he just passively retweeting the comment?

TJ Warren may want this retweet back.

TJ Warren may want this retweet back.

Regardless, this doesn’t look good. Just to add insult to injury, Rick Lewis — NC State frosh Tyler Lewis‘ father — favorited the tweet. My guess is there’s going to be a penalty — whether “internal” (i.e., suicide sprints), or even a one-game suspension. The latter would really hurt the Wolfpack and Mark Gottfried, as their rotation isn’t deep especially if CJ Leslie or Richard Howell get into foul trouble.

What remains to be seen is how the team will react to a bad loss. NC State flirted with disaster against Boston College and Clemson, tasting a little at Maryland and against Oklahoma State. But this is the team’s first bad loss. This is the first time it’s totally collapsed, losing a 16-point lead to a truly inferior opponent. It’s the rare team that can turn a bad loss into a wake-up call (see: Duke’s loss to Georgetown in 2010, or Florida State’s beatdown at Clemson last season) instead of reason to panic. Usually teams that live and learn from bad losses are well-coached and experienced. This NC State team has experience, but it also has a lot of youth.

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More Than A Big Stiff: Forwards With A Little Extra Something in Their Skill Set

Posted by KCarpenter on January 18th, 2013

In Duke’s win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Mason Plumlee put up 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks while playing all 40 minutes. That’s excellent production and exactly the kind of statistics you would expect to see out of your star big man. What you might not expect to see is that Plumlee also tallied three steals and a couple assists. In fact, the 6’10” Plumlee managed to tie starting point guard Quinn Cook in steals and placed second behind him in assists. That’s an impressive demonstration of Plumlee’s versatility, but it’s also a huge boon for his team.

Mason Plumlee Is One of the Leading NPOY Candidates

Mason Plumlee Is One of the Leading NPOY Candidates

Generally, folks underrate the importance of steals, but with a moment of consideration it’s easy to see why they are so important. Like the obviously important offensive rebound, a steal gives you an opportunity for a shot you wouldn’t normally have, and like an opponent’s unforced turnover, it ends your opponent’s possession without a shot. Steals are very valuable to a team, and if your guards are wracking up steals at close to the average rate, getting above average production in a category like steals from your forwards and centers can lead to a team gaining a big advantage. When the biggest guy on your team can earn your squad extra possessions? It’s nothing but a good thing. So who in the ACC contributes in these unusual categories?

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College Basketball By The Tweets: Will Privette, Dunk(s) of the Year, and Those Baylor Unis

Posted by Nick Fasulo on January 16th, 2013


Nick Fasulo is an RTC correspondent who writes the column College Basketball By the Tweets, a look at the world of college hoops through the prism of everyone’s favorite social media platform. You can find him on Twitter @nickfasuloSBN.

What were arguably the two most memorable incidents to go down in college basketball the last seven days? On the court, it was certainly the game’s final four undefeated teams falling one by one over a 96-hour span. Off the court, err, on the sidelines, it was Robert Montgomery Knight revealing his age and inability to make out the difference between the shot clock and game clock during the final moments of Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt. The most underappreciated handle on all of Twitter encapsulated it beautifully.

C.J. Leslie and his friend Will Privette

To call it heartwarming would be an understatement, but whatever it is, C.J. Leslie’s Saturday afternoon was one he will never forget. First he dropped a game high 25 points as the Wolfpack upset then top-ranked Duke, which led to this photo that should be sold as a 24″ x 48″ poster at the school’s bookstore.

But even after the final horn sounded, Leslie was still being attentive on the court, ushering a senior student in a wheelchair to safety amongst the sea of red that was stomping all over the PNC Arena court.

Yes, naturally, Will Privette’s act has gone viral. The kid is one of the most sought after interviews in sports media right now, and it’s doing wonders to his social media clout.

Brandon Paul, Anthony Bennett, Jamaal Franklin. Who ya got?

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Set Your DVR: Week of 01.14.13

Posted by bmulvihill on January 14th, 2013


Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Conference season has leveled the playing field as the remaining unbeaten teams have all lost. The Big Ten schedule is proving to be an absolute gauntlet and the Mountain West is nothing to sneeze at. Both leagues have stellar games this week along side a few other notable match-ups from around the nation. Let’s get to the breakdowns:

#1 Louisville at Connecticut – 7:00 PM EST, Monday on ESPN (****)

kevin ollie napier

  • The Louisville Cardinals are moved into the top spot in the nation after losses this weekend by Duke and Michigan and a loss by Arizona earlier last week. Their first game as #1 will be no easy contest as they head to Connecticut in a tough Big East road match-up. The Huskies are coming off a significant win at Notre Dame, which rarely loses at home, but it looks like UConn has their number, as they account for ND’s only two losses at home in the last two and a half years. UConn guards Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier will be the focus of this game, as they face intense pressure from the Louisville defense. Up to this point in the season, both players have protected the ball quite well, particularly Napier who is only giving it up on 11% of his possessions. They must be able to handle the press however in order to give the team a chance to win this game. Also, keep an eye on UConn’s Tyler Olander. He went 8-9 from the field against Notre Dame going for 16 points and 7 rebounds. He will be surrounded by very athletic big men on Louisville. UConn needs him to produce against Gorgui Dieng and company to take some pressure off the guards. The difference in this game may actually be Louisville on the offensive boards. The Huskies rank 298th in defensive rebounding percentage. With the Cardinals throwing Dieng, Chane Behanan, and Wayne Blackshear at the glass on the offensive end, it’s going to be tough for UConn to prevent second chance points. However, if they can limit turnovers, they have a shot to win at home.

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On NC State and Gambling: Why the Wolfpack Defense Has to Improve, Or Else

Posted by mpatton on January 10th, 2013

Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after NC State’s win over Georgia Tech last night in Raleigh.

NC State is probably the second best team in the ACC. The Wolfpack are experienced and talented. But they’re also a mixed bag thanks to their less than stellar defensive efficiency. The Wolfpack is a team of runs on both ends of the floor. These aren’t the normal runs of basketball cliche, they’re the runs of a degenerate gambler. On defense the gambler is often Rodney Purvis leaking out before NC State secures the rebound. Nearly two-thirds of the time, it’s a good gamble because the Wolfpack corrals the rebound. Otherwise NC State’s defense struggles to get reset, and the opponent gets a second chance with the odds in its favor. On offense the gambler is generally Lorenzo Brown or CJ Leslie looking for the home run play but instead turning the ball over.

Rodney Purvis is already an emotional leader for NC State. (Photo: Ethan Hyman / Raleigh News & Observer)

Rodney Purvis is already an emotional leader for NC State. (Photo: Ethan Hyman / Raleigh News & Observer)

Those runs outlasted Boston College and Georgia Tech in the final minutes. Experience, talent and conditioning helped too. Those runs almost brought the Wolfpack back from what looked like a blowout against Michigan. Those runs never made an appearance in Oklahoma State’s rout of the Wolfpack. The runs come at a defensive cost, but NC State’s offense is elite because of its defensive gambles. It is unstoppable in transition for four reasons: the Purvis leak, Brown is a terror leading the break, Leslie runs the floor as anyone without the last name “Zeller,” and the icing on the cake is Wood trailing after that. Long story short, everyone but Richard Howell (one of the best defensive rebounders in the ACC) is a great option. Lots of options with a capable floor general leads to transition success better or comparable to any team in the country.

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ACC M5: 12.27.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on December 27th, 2012


  1. Fox Sports Carolinas: NC State forward CJ Leslie has long been thought of as the Wolfpack’s most talented player, but his immaturity has overshadowed his innate talent for most of his first two years in Raleigh. However, his recent performance against St. Bonaventure, where Leslie totaled 33 points and eight rebounds, is the latest culmination of a season-long maturation process, according to Fox Sports’ Andrew Jones. Leslie, whom Mark Gottfried has coached very differently from other players, calling him by his first name “Calvin,” has finally started to show the potential that made him eigh’s most touted recruit in a long time. If Leslie can continue to improve, NC State has a fantastic chance to advance past last year’s Sweet Sixteen appearance.
  2. Yahoo! Sports: Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports, like many other prognosticators, is backing off of his original choice of NC State to win the conference. Eisenberg differed from most, however, in also selecting North Carolina to finish ahead of Duke as well (NC State-Duke-UNC was the most popular projection). He is now definitely backing off the Tar Heels as well, whose poor play has dropped them out of the Top 25; and while he favors Duke to win the conference now, he warns us not to give up on NC State. Eisenberg also calls attention to league disappointments (Florida State and UNC) and the burgeoning conference player of the year competition between Virginia Tech’s Erick Green (America’s leading scorer) and Duke’s Mason Plumlee.
  3. Washington Post:  Maryland has sailed under the radar this year. After dropping an extremely close opener to then #3 Kentucky, the Terrapins have not lost another game. Still, the Terps only received seven votes in the latest Top 25 poll. This low profile is emblematic of the team’s coach, Mark Turgeon, who has had to replace one of the game’s iconic head coaches in Gary Williams. As detailed in Rick Maese’s article,Turgeon’s disciplined, calculating approach has been nurtured through various experiences in his career, dating back to middle school basketball. But while remaining fiercely competitive, he also has struggled to balance family with basketball. Regardless, after reading this piece it seems like Turgeon is the right man to lead the Terrapins forward as they transition from the ACC to the Big Ten.
  4. Salisbury Post: A big part of Duke’s rise to #1 this year can be credited to an improvement in the team’s defense. Last year, Duke’s defense was the worst (#70) that it has been since Ken Pomeroy began his ratings in 2003. Duke’s defense has improved in nearly every facet this year and now ranks ninth in the Pomeroy rankings. Another notable accomplishment for this Duke team includes the fact that all five of its starters are averaging in double figures, which has not happened in Durham since 2003-04. However, Mike Krzyzewski knows that his team is not perfect, saying, “This season will not be a perfect one.” Still, with their performance against one of the toughest opening stretches in recent memory and an improved defense, it is hard not to be bullish about Duke’s long-term chances this year.
  5. Florida Today: Flying under the radar during Christmas season was Miami‘s struggles in the Diamond Head Classic. Playing without senior forward Reggie Johnson, the Hurricanes ended up finishing fourth in the tournament, including a costly overtime loss to Indiana State in the third place game where Miami squandered a late seven-point lead. However, assuming Johnson can return from his injury, Miami should end up being alright. Miami has yet to lose a game where it has been at full strength (Durand Scott was suspended in the loss to Florida Gulf Coast) and Johnson missed the ISU game as well as the previous night’s defeat to San Diego State. Look for Miami to continue to fly under the radar in conference play, but they will need to be a bit more careful in the ACC because these two losses will give them a slightly smaller margin for error in their quest to make the NCAA Tournament.
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Night Line: Richard Howell is a Crucial Piece For Evolving Wolfpack

Posted by BHayes on December 19th, 2012


Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Fresh off a Sweet Sixteen run a year ago and carrying a roster bursting with raw ability, NC State began the season as one of the sexier national title contenders. Pack star CJ Leslie was voted ACC Preseason Player of the Year, pundits touted Lorenzo Brown as the nation’s best point guard, and Scott Wood found many a short list of the nation’s best shooters. Heck, even the incoming freshman class was bringing the buzz, as three ESPN Top-50 recruits made the roster that much scarier. There certainly are plenty of reasons for optimism residing on that NC State roster, but one of the most important ones has too often been overlooked. Richard Howell’s game lacks the sizzle of his more celebrated teammates, but the 6’8” forward’s dependable contributions have been crucial for this enigmatic team. Howell quietly posted another double-double (his fourth straight) in NC State’s 88-79 win over Stanford tonight, and as the talented Pack continues to move forward and carve out an identity, rest assured that the gritty senior will be the rock at the core of the evolution.

His Game May Not Always Be Pretty, But Richard Howell Consistently Produces

His Game May Not Be Pretty, But Richard Howell Consistently Produces

Howell nearly averaged a double-double a season ago, posting season averages of 10.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.  He’s upped those numbers to 14.1/9.6 this year, and has shot an eye-popping 63% from the field as an upperclassman.  Ironically, the most telling Howell statistic may be his three-point shooting numbers from the last two years – 0-of-2 on three-point attempts.  In an era loaded with bigs too often dreaming of being J.J. Redick, it’s refreshing to see a guy who knows, glamorous or not, where he’s most effective to his team. But Howell’s contributions go well beyond the stat sheet. On a team that has been accused of careless and disinterested play at times, the senior is a source of relentless energy — a bruising, tough banger who rarely takes a play off. Furthermore, as Mark Gottfried preaches the value of a consistent, focused effort on both ends of the floor to the enigmatic Leslie, he can instruct his star to simply turn and look at the guy next to him, for Howell is the perfect embodiment of those principles.

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ACC M5: 12.05.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on December 5th, 2012

  1. Yikes. It’s not quite at the level of Clemson’s futility in Chapel Hill, but Boston College has now lost to Harvard for the fifth season in a row. While Harvard has shared or won the Ivy League title the last two years, the team was not expected to be quite as formidable considering the absence of two key contributors from its NCAA Tournament team last season. Although Ryan Anderson had 23 points on 11-12 shooting, Boston College’s anemic defense (Harvard’s starters were 25-41 from the floor) was definitely the culprit in this loss. Boston College’s expectations are not high this season, but consistently losing to Ivy League opposition is not something that teams aspiring to improve in the ACC typically have on their to-do list.
  2. NC State finally got the marquee win it needed to assure everyone not to push the panic button in Raleigh quite yet. Wearing uniforms stitched with “Don’t Ever Give Up,” emblematic of former Wolfpack coach Jimmy Valvano’s famous speech at the ESPYs shortly before his death, the Wolfpack got a 69-65 win over Connecticut in the event that bears the late coach’s name. While NC State’s vaunted freshmen struggled, veteran forwards Richard Howell and CJ Leslie each had double-doubles in the Wolfpack’s victory. Beating UConn doesn’t quite carry the cachet that a win in Ann Arbor would have had, but seeing NC State finally emerge victorious in a nationally-televised match-up should help the Wolfpack begin to recover from the burdens that everyone’s preseason expectations may have placed on them.
  3. Chapelboro: Freshman point guard Marcus Paige of North Carolina is expected to return to action this weekend against East Tennessee State, after missing UNC’s victory over UAB last weekend following an elbow injury. With negative x-rays supporting the decision, head coach Roy Williams is confident that Paige will be able to play. Getting the freshman back should be helpful for the Tar Heels, who have had a lot of uncertainty with their lineup this season. Williams says that while his team is small, it is not necessarily quick enough to play overly aggressive defense, so they have practiced a zone. Having a healthy Marcus Paige in the lineup is important for North Carolina as the team hopes he can continue to improve and become a consistent, steadying presence during ACC play.
  4. Tallahassee Democrat: The calling card of Florida State’s recent success has been its exceptional defense. However, head coach Leonard Hamilton has not seen the consistent effort that his recent teams have put together at the defensive end this season. The statistics bear him out: the Seminoles are only ranked 80th in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency rankings, by far their worst mark in the last five years (the Seminoles were in the top 15 the last four years, including finishing first twice). Hamilton is particularly worried about his team’s defensive intensity as Florida State faces Florida next, a team ranked second in the overall Pomeroy rankings and third on offense. Hamilton hopes that playing their in-state rival can provide a return to the intensity that his team has shown in years past.
  5. Clemson’s T.J. Sapp has decided to transfer away from the program. Sapp, a sophomore guard who has started all seven of Clemson’s games this season, gave no reason for his decision to leave. Even though Sapp was starting, he was averaging only about 15 minutes per game this season. Sapp’s decision to transfer leaves Brad Brownell with three guards with the potential to slide into his starting spot:  freshman Adonis Filer, sophomore BYU transfer Damarcus Harrison, and freshman Jordan Roper. Out of those players, Filer has used the most possessions when he has been in the game, with Filer and Roper having extremely similar offensive ratings, slightly superior to Harrison.
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Who’s Got Next? Top Centers to ACC, Isaac Hamilton Picks UTEP, Syracuse Adds Tyler Roberson…

Posted by CLykins on November 20th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings

Kennedy Meeks Chooses UNC Over Georgetown

Two schools consistently stood out above the rest for West Charlotte High (North Carolina) center Kennedy Meeks. Appropriately, both schools have had a long and successful history in landing and producing top big men. With his recruitment winding down, Georgetown and North Carolina were in a neck-and-neck battle that left most national recruiting pundits undecided. On Friday, Meeks made it official as he will remain in his home state and play for the Tar Heels and head coach Roy Williams.

Charlotte native Kennedy Meeks picked UNC over Georgetown

“I talk to Roy Williams almost every other day. He understands the recruiting process and gives me good advice about college and about being a great player,” Meeks said of his decision. “Coach Williams said he liked my tenacity, my desire to play the game, my rebounding and outless passing.” Ranked as the No. 20 overall prospect and No. 2 center in the class of 2013, the 6’9″, 275-lb. big man is expected to contribute right away during his freshman season. Due to his size, Meeks is a true center that impacts the game significantly down low. With an extremely wide frame, he has a soft touch around the rim and is able to rebound at an extremely high rate by carving out space. One of his better traits is his passing. Whether it’s his superior outlet passing skills or if it’s out of the low-post, he exhibits excellent vision for a big man. There is no question regarding his talent and skill, but his conditioning has been a constant issue in the past. With North Carolina’s up-tempo style of play, it is extremely necessary for him to arrive at Chapel Hill in the best playing shape of his young life. Read the rest of this entry »

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