Poor defensive rebounding is a well-known weakness of the North Carolina State Wolfpack. As gifted as this team is offensively, shoddy interior defense and an inability to snag defensive rebounds have been a thorn in the side of Mark Gottfried all season. So in an attempt to supercharge his lineup’s skills on the boards, Gottfried went big and started 6’8″ T.J. Warren at small forward and benched fellow freshman Rodney Purvis. The move paid off big time in a game that saw near-total board dominance against the overmatched Florida State Seminoles. At least, that’s the narrative that we were treated to here.
Starting Warren over Purvis is a move that makes a lot of sense, but there are a few things about this story that don’t add up. First, was it the lineup change that led to such a great game? I doubt it. Florida State is the worst rebounding team in the conference — everyone kills them on the boards. They are ranked 242nd in the nation on the offensive glass. They are even worse on the defensive boards. Out of 347 Division I schools, there are only 27 that are worse on the defensive boards than the Seminoles. If the test for successful rebounding was being able to handle FSU, the bar was set incredibly low.