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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ultra-Late UNC Recap


Well, that could've gone better.

In a game a lot of State fans felt gave the Pack their best chance to knock off a Roy Williams-era Tar Heels team since, well, ever, State fell flat on their face by virtue of a 28-6 UNC run over the majority of the second half.

State's cold shooting was met with an aggressive, hot shooting Heels team when it mattered. The Tar Heels played great defensively, I thought, extending their defense out beyond the perimeter to challenge the passing lanes and take Javier Gonzalez and Farnold Degand out of their comfort zones.

I think this is a key point, because I think it exposed the difference in level our current guards are at versus the rest of the league. A set of quicker, more aggressive guards would burn an extended defense off the dribble to penetrate and create some easy looks on the wing or underneath. As much as Javi has developed as a shooter and Degand has improved his ballhandling skills, they still don't have the ability to create that kind of separation that far from the basket from a defense loaded with McDonald's All Americans.

This is not to throw the loss at the feet of State's guards. If it were not for Javi's hot shooting at the end of the first half, there's a good chance the game is over before the 2nd half even starts. He finished the game as State's second-highest scorer, and at times brought the most fire and emotion of anyone on the team.

But to beat a team as talented as Carolina, even in a down year, he has to play that way wire-to-wire. Consistency is the key. To stay that elevated, emotionally, for 40 minutes, I'm sure is extremely difficult, but it's needed.

State faces a cakewalk in NC Central this Saturday (who mustered all of 30 points against Virginia Tech last week) before the stretch run of the ACC season begins.

View the complete entry of "Ultra-Late UNC Recap"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jeremy's Keys To Victory: UNC


The Pack needs to get to 3-4 in the ACC (and fighting the middle of the league) or they will likely find themselves fighting to stay out of last place for the remainder of the year. Here's how they do it:
  • Get to the line 10 times a half (The Heels are 2-4 when their opponents shoot 30% as many FT's as they do FG's).
  • Shoot greater than 45% from the field (More Duke game, less Maryland game, mmkay?).
  • Have at least a five-point lead at the 10 minute mark of the first half (Make Carolina doubt themselves early instead of gaining confidence in themselves).

View the complete entry of "Jeremy's Keys To Victory: UNC"

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Maryland Recap


StatGame Season AvgOpp Season Avg
North-carolina-stateMaryland North-carolina-state Maryland North-carolina-state Maryland
Points 64 88 71 81 65 65
FG Att 66 54 55 61 57 62
FG Made 24 29 25 30 24 23
FG Pct 36.4 53.7 45.7 48.6 41.5 37.3
FT Att 16 33 20 22 19 17
FT Made 10 24 14 15 12 11
FT Pct 62.5 72.7 67.9 70.2 67.1 68.2
3pt FG Att 20 13 17 14 15 21
3pt FG Made 6 6 6 5 4 7
3pt FG Pct 30.0 46.2 35.5 39.0 31.6 33.1
Rebounds 37 39 35 39 35 37
Off Rebs 17 12 11 12 13 14
Def Rebs 20 27 24 27 22 22
Team Rebs 4 4 3 3 3 4
Assists 10 16 14 16 11 11
Steals 2 5 6 8 7 5
Blocks 3 1 5 5 3 3
Turnovers 11 9 12 11 12 16
Fouls 21 16 17 16 18 19

Well. Not sure what to say, really, other than that's what happens when your shots don't fall on the road. It certainly didn't help matters that Maryland was as hot as State was cold from the field.

I thought State had some good looks at the basket, and Tracy Smith did everything he could to keep State in the game. But shooting sub-40% from the floor on the road in the ACC isn't going to cut it.

A couple of gripes: State gave up way too many wide-open looks from three, either on dribble penetration or when State applied full-court pressure--three I can think of off the top of my head. Also, I felt like the scheme didn't allow for enough looks for Scott Wood. Getting him hot could've changed things like it did in Tallahassee, but I doubt--after that performance--he'll get another clean look at the basket anytime soon. Still, I would've liked to have seen some more sets run to free him up on the perimeter.

Credit to Greivis Vasquez for playing a monster 2nd half. That's what he does.

All in all, my rage level is about a 3-out-of-10...A certifiable "meh" if there ever was one. Winning on the road against a good Maryland team was a tough proposition. Tonight will give the coaching staff the coaching points it needs heading into the INCREDIBLY WINNABLE game against the Tar Heels on Tuesday.

A win would've been nice...but I'm not heartbroken, nor pissed.

View the complete entry of "Maryland Recap"

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Look Inside The KenPom.com Numbers Thus Far


So I was looking at the numbers over at KenPom.com today...the site's a tremendous resource for evaluating teams. Here's a look at some of State's "vitals," by section, and what I think they tell us about the team so far (as of Thursday, State was #61 out of 347 Division 1 teams in the Pomeroy Ratings):

Scouting Report
Stats include games through Thursday, January 21 against D-I teams only

Category Offense Defense D-I Avg
Adj. Efficiency: 111.5 [42] 95.8 [96] 100.2
Adj. Tempo: 67.0 [227] 68.2

While I'm sure the tempo number isn't where Sidney would like it, the offensive efficiency number is pretty strong at well over 1.1 points per possession. A 42nd rating puts State in the 12th percentile...not too shabby.

Somewhat surprising is the strength of the defensive rating...or maybe not, if you were one of the ones who bought in early to the idea that better team chemistry would lead to increased effort and therefore improved defensive efficiency; it sure seems to be bearing out that way.

Four Factors
Effective FG%:52.0 [61]45.1 [50]48.7
Turnover %:19.6 [105]19.5 [234]20.8
Off. Reb. %:33.3 [164]34.4 [230]33.0
FTA/FGA:38.4 [143]32.0 [75]37.4

Some more good news in the Four Factors front, defensively. That 45.1 eFG% is pretty stout, meaning the Pack is getting hands in the faces of folks underneath and on the perimeter. Where State's defense sags is in forcing turnovers and in keeping teams off the offensive glass. Opponents are getting up shots on 4 out of every 5 possessions, often getting multiple looks each trip down. If the Pack can turn teams over more and get stronger on the defensive boards while maintaining that sFG%, they could become one of the best defensive teams in the country overnight.

On another positive note, State's turnover % on offense has gotten much better than from a year ago. They've improved 129 spots and 1.9% over the final numbers last season--certainly nothing to sneeze at. I think that shows, again, that this team is benefiting from improved chemistry and coaching targeted at shoring up the deficiencies of last year's team.

Miscellaneous Components
3P%:35.8 [107]31.0 [60]34.1
2P%:51.2 [61]44.6 [68]47.6
FT%:68.1 [181]66.6 [90]68.5
Block%:10.0 [216]12.2 [53]9.2
Steal%:11.5 [292]9.6 [182]9.9

I think the two numbers of note here are the Block % and Steal % numbers on offense (the left column). Struggling here confirms what I find myself screaming at the TV often: Be stronger with the basketball. This team struggles protecting the ball and finishing strong at the rim. The perfect example was the end of the Clemson game when, after rallying from 21 down, State had a chance to go ahead on what could've been either a dunk or an "and-1" from Richard Howell had he gone up with authority. But by going up soft, it gave Jerai Grant the opportunity to make a game-saving block in the closing seconds.

Style Components
3PA/FGA:31.8 [185]27.2 [34]32.5
A/FGM:59.5 [57]47.2 [37]53.5

I like three of the four numbers here. State's nearly dead-even in the rankings in three-point shooting attempt percentage, meaning they aren't relying too heavily on either perimeter shooting nor interior offense for their points, meaning they can score in multiple ways when the situation calls for it.

The assist rankings are strong. The Pack is passing the ball around and limiting teams from doing the same.

The low percentage of threes taken by opponents could be viewed two ways, but it's more likely the negative way is closer to reality: either State is preventing teams from taking threes (eh...) or they're giving up looks underneath (more likely). It seems like teams are able to get past State's perimeter defenders rather easily, leading to attempts close to the basket. To State's credit, however, they're defending this interior shots well as shown by the aforementioned eFG% numbers.

Bench Minutes:33.5% [140]31.9%
Experience:1.38 yrs [274]1.70
Effective Height:+2.6 [31]0.0
Average Height:78.0" [24]76.5"

A couple of interesting numbers here. One, while State has some elder players on its roster (Smith, Horner, Degand), its Experience rating of 1.38 years means that a good chunk of the production is coming from its younger players. While not a young team on paper, this squad IS relying on its underclassmen more heavily than one might think.

Also, State's Effective Height is one of the best in the country. Meaning, State plays like a taller team than it is. It's a tough concept to explain in a sentence, but Ken explains the concept here. It's interesting to note that the bulk of State's Effective Height rating is coming from the Small Forward position, where Scott Wood has made a tremendous impact.

I hope I haven't bored you to death with this post, but its purpose was to dig a bit deeper into the numbers to see the overall health of this team beyond simple box score totals. KenPom.com is a great resource you should check out frequently.

View the complete entry of "A Look Inside The KenPom.com Numbers Thus Far"

Jeremy's Keys To Victory: Maryland


Jeremy M.
YANCSSB Contributor

After the huge win against Duke, here's what needs to happen Saturday at the Comcast Center for State to keep the ball rolling:
  • Turn the ball over less than 17 times. (Terps are undefeated when forcing > 24% turnover rate)
  • Javier Gonzalez and Dennis Horner need to combine for more than 20 points. (What a difference their scoring made against Duke!)
  • Be within three or ahead at the half. (Maryland plays a great game when they're ahead and shooting FT's)

View the complete entry of "Jeremy's Keys To Victory: Maryland"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010




(Courtesy the N&O)

Points 74 88
FG Att 57 55
FG Made 22 32
FG Pct 38.6 58.2
FT Att 33 26
FT Made 25 19
FT Pct 75.8 73.1
3pt FG Att 13 12
3pt FG Made 5 5
3pt FG Pct 38.5 41.7
Rebounds 40 28
Off Rebs 17 6
Def Rebs 23 22
Team Rebs 2 5
Assists 8 18
Steals 4 5
Blocks 1 5
Turnovers 14 9
Fouls 21 24

Some quick thoughts before I hit the sack:
  • You need a Player Of The Game? Pick one. Just about everybody stepped up in a big way. Horner was in the zone despite his bum knee...Farnold Degand made some AMAZING interior passes to Tracy Smith around Duke's big men...and Javier's long-range bomb with one second on the shot clock late in the game to seal the deal was nearly enough to win the award by itself. You LOVE to see these types of complete games from the entire roster.
  • Speaking of "complete games," this was the complete game we've been teased with this whole season. We've seen 15, 20 and 30-minute games from the Pack that ended in heartbreaking losses, but this was a (nearly) wire-to-wire domination of the Duke. If State could play this focused game-in and game-out, there's no telling what this team could accomplish.
  • So thorough was the pantsing of Duke at one point in the game, Coach K had his men drop into a zone. Surprise, surprise: State ATTACKED it! And did so in such a convincing fashion with the aforementioned interior passing, along with a fantastic three from Scott Wood, K quickly abandoned the idea and went back to his staple man defense the rest of the way. I can't recall the last time State attacked a zone that effectively AND dictated to a team of Duke's caliber the way the game was to be played.
  • Sometimes things just go your way. When Javi hit that fallback three from 25 feet on what looked like a wasted possession, you just knew it was going to be State's night.
This was a great win and a KEY one, as I Tweeted during the game: State COULD NOT afford another "moral victory." They HAD to close the deal tonight; there are only so many close losses a team can suffer before a tailspin eventually kicks in. I think closing the deal tonight gets this team back on track as they continue to build confidence.

Finally, let me just say I LOVE watching this team when they're feeling it. A lot of lip service has been paid to "team chemistry" and "addition by subtraction," but there's a very real, palpable cohesion you can sense from this team. It's great. I've enjoyed watching this team more than any I can remember going back to the Julius Hodge days.

View the complete entry of "ZOMGWEFUGGINGRULE Duke Post"

Last Minute Keys To The Duke Game


Jeremy M.
YANCSSB Contributor

The Duke game kinda snuck up on me. Needless to say, we need a monumental effort to pull this one off:
  • "Hold" Duke under 35% three-point shooting (Duke can't be hot)
  • State shoots more than 50% from the field (State must be hot, but no need to just heave up 3's exclusively against an unathletic devil squad)
  • Duke has two or more players foul out (Duke isn't deep, make their key players sit for long periods)
Editor's note: T'was not Jeremy's error in getting this up so late...that's on me. Life be busy, yo'.

View the complete entry of "Last Minute Keys To The Duke Game"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Duke Preview


Chris R.
Special To YANCSSB

It would be an understatement to say the Pack will have its hands full with the Devils’ potent offense when powerhouse Duke comes into the RBC Center Wednesday night. Matchup issues will provide Sidney Lowe his sternest test of the year, leaving him few options should key players falter.

Lowe has made better adjustments the past two games versus FSU and Clemson, but even the savviest game plan may not be enough as Duke looks to continue its dominance. Jon Scheyer, always a steady player but never flashy, is producing ACC Player of the Year-caliber numbers this year. Scheyer is second in the ACC in points per game at 18.9, first in three-point FG per game (2.7) and free throw percentage (90.5%), and is running away in the assist/turnover ratio at 4.1 (the closest contender is Eric Hayes of Maryland with 2.5).

Julius Mays or Javi Gonzalez will have their hands full when defending Scheyer as Duke will employ plenty of high ball screens to get him open from the arc. And when covered, you can expect Scheyer to make smart decisions with the ball to get it in the hands of Duke's other playmakers on the floor.

Perhaps the most surprising player for the Devils this year is Nolan Smith. After sitting out the first two games of the season, he is averaging 18.3 points per game and shooting 50% from three-point range. Farnold Degand and CJ Williams will have to keep Smith in check, as he looks to score whenever he touches the ball.

Senior Lance Thomas starts on the wing for Duke and will be a bigger and taller player than Scott Wood is used to defending. While his stats are not indicative of what you might expect from a senior leader such as Thomas, he will use his big frame attacking the glass as an extra rebounder. Wood will have to account for him every time a shot goes up.

The biggest matchup issue of the night? Kyle Singler. A quick and athletic 6’8” forward, Singler loves to spot up for three as much as taking it to the basket. Singler is averaging 18.3 points per game and has made as many three-point shots as guard Nolan Smith. His speed and agility will pose problems for whomever State decides to put on him. Lowe would probably like to assign the more athletic Dennis Horner to him than Richard Howell, but Horner has been slowed recently by a knee injury sustained earlier in the year and his play has suffered accordingly. Regardless of who draws the defensive assignment, expect Singler to have a very good game versus the Pack.

In the middle, Tracy Smith will give up some height to Sophomore Miles Plumlee. Also quick and athletic, Plumlee has registered 17 blocks and 21 dunks this season for the Devils. Smith will need to have a strong game on both sides of the ball for State to have a chance in this game.

Keys to the Game:
  • State will have to limit its turnovers as to keep the number of Duke possessions to a minimum. Duke leads the conference in scoring and will torch the Pack if given the opportunity.
  • Knock on Wood: Scott Wood will need to spark the Pack from the outside to keep Duke from packing the lane and shutting down Howell and Smith in the middle.
  • State’s best bet will be to play man-to-man and try their best to keep Scheyer, Singler and Smith in front of them.
  • A possible scenario may be to assign Wood to guard Singler, leaving Howell to account for Thomas. Wood has shown an ability to guard bigger players and is a threat to block a shot or two. However, the officials’ tendency to call games tight against Duke could result in Wood getting into foul trouble early, forcing Lowe to pull him off the floor and to replace him with offensively challenged CJ Williams.
  • A game of runs: In Duke’s last two outings against BC and Wake, they have used second-half scoring runs to put the game out of reach. State will have to keep Duke off balance and keep what is sure to be a strong Duke contingent quiet to have a chance.
Prediction: Duke 78 State 64

View the complete entry of "Duke Preview"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Look Back At Clemson


Jeremy M.

A look at the predicted keys:

  • Hold the Tigers under 70 possessions (Actual Value: 68. Well done.)
  • Outrebound the opposition (Pack wins here 30-25. Even "weller" done!)
  • Turn it over only five times less than Clemson (Both teams with 11. And in a razor close game, one turnover could have made a difference)
What I didn't see coming:
  • Clemson shooting 60% in the first half. It's not like these were all layups either. What can you do?
  • The discovery of the lineup that Coach Lowe has been looking for. If Mays/Degand/Wood/Howell/Smith don't start against Duke, I'm rushing the court.
So we've seen this team go 1-1 against top 25 ACC teams this week. Is this a team that can beat the middle of the league?

View the complete entry of "A Look Back At Clemson"

Clemson Recap


Points 73 70
FG Att 53 54
FG Made 26 21
FG Pct 49.1 38.9
FT Att 23 30
FT Made 17 24
FT Pct 73.9 80.0
3pt FG Att 17 21
3pt FG Made 4 4
3pt FG Pct 23.5 19.0
Rebounds 28 39
Off Rebs 8 15
Def Rebs 20 24
Team Rebs 3 9
Assists 11 9
Steals 7 5
Blocks 9 3
Turnovers 11 11
Fouls 20 20

It was a valiant effort to make a game of it after falling down as many as 21 at one point and down 18 early in the second half, but State's rally fell one possession short. Richard Howell, having another great game recording his first collegiate double-double, had a close-range shot stuffed by Clemson's Jerai Grant to kill off State's final opportunity to take the lead in the final seconds. State had two looks to tie at the end but missed both and Oliver Purnell's Tigers escaped Raleigh with a win.

Laudations go out to State's backcourt duo of Julius Mays and Farnold Degand. Two players who've looked completely lost at times in their careers here at State, they handled Clemson's press extremely well. State finished with only 11 turnovers; compared to the 26 the Tigers forced against the Tar Heels earlier in the week, that's an impressive number.

The Pack rebounded well in the second half and finished with 11 more boards than the Tigers (39-28). Howell was a big part of that effort, snagging 12 himself.

Still, this team takes too much time to find itself offensively. The Pack had but 15 points with only 5 minutes left in the first half. State converted 11 free throws to close out the period to keep the half from being a total disaster, but the lack of production from the floor to start the game ultimately doomed them.

There's enough good to be taken from this game to feel good moving forward...but there's still enough bad to be left scratching your head. Sadly, that seems par for the course these days.

View the complete entry of "Clemson Recap"

Friday, January 15, 2010

Keys To Victory Versus Clemson


Jeremy M.
YANCSSB Contributor

NC State will beat Clemson if they....
  • Hold the Tigers under 70 possessions (successful teams against Clemson have slowed the game down)
  • Outrebound their opposition (tall, tall order, but the guys in Orange have been outrebounded in all their losses)
  • Turn it over five times fewer than Clemson (face it, NCSU will get rattled by their stout pressure, but can they take some right back?)

View the complete entry of "Keys To Victory Versus Clemson"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Looking back at FSU


Jeremy M.
YANCSSB Contributor

Yesterday I posted the keys I thought necessary for the Pack to win:

NC State will win against FSU if...
  • They have 13 or more assists (Actual Value: 11. Brought down by foulapalooza in the final 5 min)
  • They make 14 or more free throws (Actual Value: 29!!. Brought up by foulapalooza in the final 5 min)
  • And force 15 or more turnovers (Actual Value: 14. State did what they needed to here)
What I didn't see coming for a Pack win...
  • NC State out-rebounded FSU by a large margin 32-25
  • Scott Wood becoming the new local hero (10-15 fg, 7-11 3p, 7 reb, and one game-changing block)
Things State won in spite of...
  • Eighteen turnovers, six by frequent savior Javi. He just hasn't seemed right since the game he sat for the hamstring.
  • 5-17 shooting from our top three scorers. Scott Wood can't carry this crew forever!
Give the boys in red a win, but I'm 0-1 for predicting the key needed stats. I was close, but I'll keep taking L's here forever if this is how they'll come.

I'll take a stab at the Clemson game tomorrow or Friday.

-Jeremy M.

View the complete entry of "Looking back at FSU"

Florida State Recap


Just a few notes here:
  • I don't think we'll know how big this win was until we get further removed from it, but at the moment it feels like a HUGE one. FSU was #25 at the time, playing well, and State did all the things it needed to to steal one on the road.
  • Scott Wood: Welcome to the world of getting assigned a team's best lock-down perimeter defender. No way another team lets you get a good look from here on out after that performance. It's on you to adjust hence forth.
  • I suspect the rest of the ACC season will play out like the last two weeks have...up and down. The good news? The rest of the league--sans Duke--looks beatable. The bad news? The rest of the league can beat State just as easily. We'll probably see a stretch similar to this, where State drops a winnable one only to shock a team the next time out. The ACC's basketball slogan should be, "Parity: It's Not Just A Football THANG!"

View the complete entry of "Florida State Recap"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Welcome To The Party, Pal: Jeremy M. Joins YANCSSB Staff


Jeremy M.
YANCSSB Contributor

So for my first blog posting I'll tackle the oft-discussed frustrations of this year's edition of Wolfpack Basketball.

I try to understand what I don't understand; that's how I tick. And I honestly thought this team was better from watching the early games. Looking back over the season thus far, I tried to review in my head what happened when I'd stood clapping and what had happened when I folded the brim of my hat in my hands. What's the one key stat for a win or a loss for this team?
  • Three-point shooting? Things really seem to go well when Wood/Javi/Degand are hot. But wait--we shot 50% from three-point range and lost at Arizona.
  • Turnovers? This was our percieved weakness coming into the year, but hasn't been. In none of State's losses has the ball been turned over more than 14 times and we gave it away only nine times in the Virginia game (that sent me in basketball-avoidance mode until Tuesday).
  • Freshman Scoring? Nope. The five-headed monster only scored 14 points in our biggest win of the year at Marquette and had their highest output of the year in the Arizona loss (25).
  • Rebounding? Marquette outrebounded the Pack by six in the Warrior loss, and NCSU outrebounded Zona by 12 in the still-confounding loss.
  • Free Throw Shooting? 68.4% against Northwestern wasn't too shabby and the team in red lost and they also won while shooting only 50% from the line against Marquette.
So I guess the only conclusion is what we all suspected. NC State Basketball finds a way. Ways to win and ways to lose. Not just a way, a new way almost every game. If you can think of something I didn't come up with here, chime in on the comments and I'll do the legwork to check.

Until then, I keep folding my hat in my hands.

But along these lines, here's a first shot at trying to lay out what I think are the defining stats for upcoming games. In this case, let's look at the Florida State Seminoles.

NC State will win if...
  • They have 13 or more assists (FSU is #2 in eFG% defense, so smart passing is key)
  • They make 14 or more free throws (This one is obvious and needed to fight through demons)
  • And force 15 or more turnovers (The Noles are turnover prone, State will need to play to that)
Maybe we'll check back to see how I did before the weekend. And follow up on any new keys we've stumbled onto...

- Jeremy M.

View the complete entry of "Welcome To The Party, Pal: Jeremy M. Joins YANCSSB Staff"

Monday, January 11, 2010

Help Wanted


So here's the deal. I no longer have access to YANCSSB at work. That makes it awfully tough creating content for the site during the day (as you might imagine), and being a father to three kids takes up just about every waking moment at home.

Here's my pitch to you, loyal reader of YANCSSB: Help me keep this site going and thriving. You can do this by providing content -- opinions, stat analysis of recent games, previews of upcoming opponents...if you're reading this it probably means you read YANCSSB on a regular basis, so you've got a pretty good idea of what typically appears on this site.

Don't worry about whether you're a natural writer or not. I can and will edit the content for spelling, grammar, etc., before it hits the site, but the essence of the content will be all yours. If you've ever thought it'd be cool to dabble in sportswriting, hey, here's your chance.

If you're interested in contributing, drop me a line at james_1077 at yahoo dot com or reach me on Twitter here.

Thanks in advance for your help!

View the complete entry of "Help Wanted"

Saturday, January 9, 2010

LiveBlog: Thomas Jefferson Slept With His Slaves Virginia Edition


View the complete entry of "LiveBlog: Thomas Jefferson Slept With His Slaves Virginia Edition"