The Breakdown – NC State Edition
Getting to know the Wolf Pack:
Head Coach: Mark Gottfried
Its been an up and down season so far for Mark Gottfried’s squad. Its included a good win over LSU in the Barclay Center and an inexcusable loss to Virginia Tech in their last game.
The Front Court:
NC State is very deep and talented in the front court and full of experience. The Wolf Pack return former ACC 6th man of the year, Beejay Anya. Anya has played in all 14 games this season, starting the last 7. He’s averaging 5.6 points per game and shooting 65% from the field but Anya does the bulk of his work in the paint. At 6’9” and 285lbs he is a load to deal with. Anya is averaging 5.6 rebounds per game and 3.1 blocks per game. Last season Anya blocked 91 shots, through 14 games he already has 43.
Seemingly splitting time in the starting Line up with Anya is fellow junior Lennard Freeman. Freeman started the first 7 games of the season but has also played in all 14. Last season Freeman led the Wolf Pack in rebounds per game with 5.6. Thus season he has upped his average to 6.7 and is currently 2nd on the team with 94 total rebounds.
Providing more of a scoring punch from the Forward position is sophomore Abu Abdul-Malik. Abu is averaging 10.8 points per game and shooting 59% from the field. He is also pulling down 8.1 rebounds per game. Abu has played and started in all 14 games this season. Abu is a very explosive player with great athleticism.
Rounding out the front court is forward/guard Caleb Martin. This 6’7” sophomore has started every game this season for the Wolf Pack, averaging 12.2 points per game on 35% shooting from the field and 34% from three.
As is a theme with this team, Martin can rebound as well, averaging 4.8 per game.
The Back Court:
The leader of this unit and this team is junior guard Anthony “Cat” Barber. Barber has started all 14 games and is averaging an insane 22.9 points per game. He’s playing 38.9 minutes per game. Cat is shooting 41% from the field and 29% from outside the arc. Barber is also lethal at the charity stripe shooting 84%. Cat comes back his nick name honestly. He is very quick and shifty. He is hard to keep up with and can drive and penetrate a defense.
Joining Barber in the back court is freshman Maverick Rowan. The 6’7” freshman can play both guard and forward. He is averaging 12.6 points per game on 36% shooting from the field and 31% from three. Rowan has bought into the rebounding mantra on this team averaging 3.9 per game. Rowan should still be in high school right now. He reclassified and became eligible to play this season. He ranked 30th in the ESPN.com recruiting rankings.
NC State vs. Virginia Tech:
NC State seemed well on their way to their first conference win maintaining a double digit lead for most of the game. Then the second half happened. This Wolf Pack team that hasn’t been a good shooting team this season got worse and could not convert from the free throw line. That all added up to a Virginia Tech comeback win in overtime.
Louisville vs. NC State:
The Cardinals will head out on the road for the first time is conference play and will have their hands full. For Louisville to win this game a few things need to happen. Defensively, the Cards have go to protect the paint. They can’t let Cat Barber drive and score or drive and dish all game. They need to force outside shots, a place where NC State has been poor all season, shooting just 31.7 percent. That’s good for 271st in the nation. Louisville’s big men will be tested, the must stay out of foul trouble yet still be able to play physical and attack the boards.
On offense the Cards need to nail outside shots. NC State does a great job of shot blocking down low and not allowing guards to drive and score. So guys like Damion Lee and Trey Lewis need to make an impact early. That will then open things up down low. Even though it will be rough sledding early on, the guards need to get the ball down low to Nanu and let him try to finish in the paint. That would be an added bonus.
I think this will be an exciting game and a tight one. The Wolf Pack have deemed this game a black out and will be wearing their all black uniforms. The crowd will be hyped up especially with ESPN in the building.
With that being said, I think Louisville is starting to learn how to finish and I feel like NC State has yet to figure it out. For that reason I say the Cards start ACC play 2-0.
Cards Win. 75-68.
Who’s got the Edge?
Impact Player(s): Cat Barber (NCST), Damion Lee (UofL)
Player(s) to Watch: Beejay Anya (NCST), Chinanu Onuaku (UofL)
VN:F...Continue reading »