One Down, Ten to Dance: NC State Looks Forward After Win Against Maryland

Posted by mpatton on January 9th, 2012

Mark Gottfried made himself very clear both before and after NC State‘s ACC opener against Maryland: his goal is to make the NCAA tournament. He knows 11-5 in conference play should lock up an at-large bid (the Wolfpack would be 22-9), so he wants 11 conference wins. His team is one game closer after beating the Terrapins 79-74. The score doesn’t really reflect the game, which NC State led nearly the whole way.

The one thing that was clear watching Gottfried’s squad is they have the talent to make the Big Dance. They are long and athletic up front–especially with the offseason transformation undergone by Richard Howell. CJ Leslie looks much better than when I saw him last season. He is still dominant in transition, but now he is much more comfortable around the basket. Where last year, he settled far too often for the 15-foot jump shot, against Maryland Leslie attacked the basket and boards to earn 19 points and ten boards. Leslie still needs to work on taking care of the basketball, finishing with five turnovers for the game.

CJ Leslie Dominated Maryland in the Conference Opener. (Ethan Hyman / Raleigh News & Observer)

As for the rest of the frontcourt, Howell struggled in the first half because of foul trouble, but came out swinging in the second to finish with 10 points. Maryland frosh Alex Len clearly struggled to keep pace with the athletic frontcourt late in the game, which allowed DeShawn Painter a couple of open transition lay-ups.

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Set Your TiVo: 12.16.11 to 12.18.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 16th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

With Dead Week mercifully over, we finally have some good games to enjoy this Saturday despite Sunday being a very slow day in the hoops world.

#6 Baylor @ BYU – 2:00 PM EST Saturday on BYU TV (****)

Perry Jones Leads Baylor into Provo Saturday (AP)

  • The Bears have had difficulty on the road in past seasons but they already passed one important test, demolishing Northwestern in Chicago a couple weeks ago. This game, however, will be an even better measure to see where the highly-rated Bears are really at. The Marriott Center is a notoriously difficult place to play but Baylor has a clear talent edge in this game. BU welcomes Gary Franklin, now eligible after the first semester, to an already highly skilled roster. Franklin didn’t play all that well at California last season but he was a four star recruit out of high school. He should help the Bears out at the point guard position, a place where turnovers are still an issue. Baylor averages 16 turnovers a game and that will be dangerous playing on the road against a team like BYU that likes to push the pace. 5.8 of those 16 turnovers come from the point guard position so Scott Drew is hoping that Franklin can help handle the ball. How Franklin will fit in alongside Pierre Jackson and A.J. Walton remains a question mark.
  • BYU’s top six scorers are all 6’5” or taller, an important factor against the length and athleticism of Baylor’s front line. Noah Hartsock, Brandon Davies and Charles Abouo do the bulk of the damage for Dave Rose, as those three are his top scorers and rebounders. Hartsock in particular has been outstanding, scoring in double figures in every game thus far. All three will have to play well in order for BYU to pull the upset because Baylor’s front court is strong, deep and talented. With Quincy Acy blocking 3.3 shots a game, BYU’s big men should find it more difficult to score inside on Saturday. The Cougars have to get their outside game going as well. Baylor’s defense is very average against the three and BYU has three big deep threats, Abouo, Stephen Rogers and Brock Zylstra. Going up against the top-ranked interior defense in the nation, BYU needs its outside shots to fall in order to win. However, the Cougars can’t afford to settle for threes if they aren’t falling. They must get something going in the paint, even against such a strong defense, in order to balance out their offense.
  • This is an important game for both clubs. Baylor has played only two teams of note so far while BYU’s best win is over a mediocre Oregon team. Baylor shoots well (49.1% FG) but the biggest difference this season has been its defense. The Bears allow only 33.3% shooting inside the arc and their defensive efficiency has been terrific. Both teams get most of their offense from their respective front courts but Baylor may have the ultimate edge with Cory Jefferson off the bench. He adds some scoring punch and, more importantly, rebounding and depth for the Bears. For the Cougars to win, they’ll have to force turnovers to get points in transition because it’ll be awfully tough to score inside in the half court. In addition to making its threes, BYU must rebound well and get to the line while putting the Baylor big men in foul trouble. However, BYU ranks #295 in free throw rate and Baylor doesn’t foul too often. Although BYU rarely loses at home, this is a game Baylor can win. There are some who still doubt the Bears but a win here would put them on their way towards legitimate national recognition.

Texas A&M vs. #10 Florida (at Sunrise, FL) – 2:30 PM EST Saturday on FSN (***)

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ACC Game On: 11.17.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 17th, 2011

ACC Game On will periodically review recent games involving ACC teams and take a look forward at key upcoming matchups.

The Atlantic Coast Conference remains unbeaten, although it took a timely jumper by North Carolina State’s Deshawn Painter to maintain the currently perfect winning record of all conference teams. The Wolfpack’s game against Princeton was the highlight of a mostly lackluster slate of games last night. Mark Gottfried‘s team, already playing without C.J. Leslie, lost Scott Wood to an ankle injury two minutes into it. That, combined with insanely hot shooting by Princeton in the first half made a manageable game suddenly very challenging. Despite being down by three at the half, N.C. State rallied behind the sterling play of Lorenzo Brown to pull out the win in the final seconds. Brown led the team in points, assists and steals, contributing sixteen, eight, and five respectively, as well as snagging five rebounds.

Lorenzo Brown Came Up Big For N.C. State

Clemson and Florida State easily took down their opponents, using highly effective offenses to complement already lethally effective defenses. Both teams shot over 50% from the field, with Florida State managing an impressive 57.1%. For Clemson, the all-round play of Tanner Smith has continued to help the Tigers in myriad ways. Smith led his team in assists and rebounding while also scoring eleven points.

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ACC Morning Five: 11.16.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 16th, 2011

And then there was one…undefeated conference! That’s right, the ACC is the last conference standing with no losses. Just yesterday the SEC continued its tradition of losing to a SoCon and Big South team (congrats to Elon and Coastal Carolina for the wins); Kent State took care of West Virginia and Miami knocked off Rutgers to down the Big East; Kansas and the Big 12 took one on the chin from Kentucky; last and definitely least, the Pac-12 was embarrassed as UCLA managed to lose by 20 at home to the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders; and Michigan State lost to Duke at Madison Square Garden to seal the Big Ten’s fate. For those of you keeping score at home, the ACC is now a combined 22-0 after a little over a week of action.

  1. ESPN: Dana O’Neil and Jay Bilas do a great job capturing Mike Krzyzewski‘s career in wake of the Blue Devil victory over Michigan State to give him the all-time Division I wins record. O’Neil reflects on the more important things that the number 903 reminds us of. Most important are his family followed closely by his mentors and students from the game — basically, she takes this moment to reflect on Coach K’s career. Bilas’ reflection as a former player is much more personal. He describes his own recruitment, using it for a microcosm for Krzyzewski’s eventual rise to greatness. Bilas points to Coach K’s ability to bring out his player’s innate “toughness” in order to maximize his team’s potential (Author’s Note: Bilas has a slightly unconventional definition of “toughness” that’s worth checking out). Together these two pieces do a good job placing Duke’s legendary coach and his career in some kind of perspective.
  2. Boston Herald (via Baltimore Sun): Mark Turgeon has swagger. He had it as a player, and he’s got it as a coach. How many guys would go up to Larry Brown and demand a spot on Kansas’ basketball team? This profile of Turgeon reminded me a lot of stories about Mike Krzyzewski’s playing days at Army (undersized point guard, leader, etc.). Turgeon’s sharp tongue and obsession with winning also parallel Coach K. But watching Turgeon on the court, his composure stands out above his spurts of emotion. I think he’ll end up as a great hire for Maryland in the long run.
  3. Washington Times: Speaking of Turgeon, the big news from Monday night was Maryland star Terrell Stoglin beginning the Terps’ game from the bench. Although Stoglin said the matter was private, it sounds like the message was that Turgeon’s offensive star needs to shift his focus to both ends of the court. Stoglin ended up playing over 30 minutes and leading his team in scoring with 22 points. Maryland doesn’t have the firepower to blow the socks off its opponents this season, so the Terrapins will need to rely heavily on not making mistakes and playing effectively on the defensive end.
  4. Gaston Gazette: NC State may not have CJ Leslie (or point guard Ryan Harrow, who transferred to Kentucky), but the Wolfpack look like they’ve turned things up to eleven relative to last season. Their opponents so far aren’t necessarily giant-killers, but in their first two games they’ve assisted on 47 of their 62 field goals including 15 of the first 16 against Morehead State. Additionally, their shallow front line has been incredibly effective. Slimmed down Richard Howell and Deshawn Painter have replaced Leslie’s production and some. Sophomore Lorenzo Brown has also stepped up to run the point after the team lost both of last year’s point guards.
  5. Charlotte Observer: Speaking of NC State, former Wolfpack legend Rodney Monroe is back in the States after a 15-year professional career overseas to try and turn around Southlake Christian’s floundering basketball program. Monroe holds the NC State all-time scoring record with 2,551 points (a little more than college basketball great David Thompson). He’ll have his work cut out for him, as last year the Eagles only managed one win.

EXTRA: North Carolina’s newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, noticed that Playboy released its Top 25 for college basketball recently. Headlining the list is North Carolina, but Duke is ranked fourth. Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and Austin Rivers all make the magazine’s All-America team. The ACC love stops there though.

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