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 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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