The basketball season got started last night. Most sports seem to start off with lots of hoopla and fanfare, but college basketball starts off really quiet. Perhaps it's because there are always a few weeks of cupcake matches before we get into some good non-conference match-ups. All three triangle ACC schools (UNC and Duke too) played games last night. UNC played NC Central, who made the NCAA tournament last year, and Duke played Presbyterian. Meanwhile, State opened their season playing Jackson State. The Tigers were ranked in the mid 200s in last seasons RPI rankings which meant that this game was going to be slightly tougher than last week's exhibition game against Queens.
State came out and took over this game early. Jackson State seemed to get out of the locker room and they were down by about 10 at the first under 16 timeout in the first half. The lead stretched to 20 by halftime and the game was completely out of control by the second half. It was good to see Gottfried empty the bench last night and it was good to see the backcourt click. Outside of that, I am not sure how much can be read into some of these early season matches. The competition will get tougher for State in a few weeks.
Really, I also want to avoid being one of those people who declares their team conference champion and national championship contender after one game against a lower Division 1 opponent. See the Duke twitter feed last night after they beat Presbyterian and you would swear they just rolled Kentucky by 70. As far as a measuring stick for State, I think the first good look will be in a few weeks when they play Purdue as a part of the Big 10/ACC Challenge. Until then, let's keep things in the proper perspective.
Positives- Lacey and Barber really looked good playing together. Lacey's shooting had been amongst my concerns after the exhibition win against Queens, but the junior transfer from Alabama seemed to find his touch in this game. The two guards asserted themselves early and often and really dominated the first half of the game. It was a toss up in my mind which guard played better, but after much thought I am going to go with Barber. "Cat" scored 25 points, but they were not forced. He scored within the offense, but still managed to do a great job of igniting the offense from the point guard position. I love the 6 assists and 0 turnovers. Lacey did a good job of shooting from the field and getting to the rim.
Negatives- Always hard to find these when your team wins by 35, but one concern I had was the use of senior guard Ralston Turner. With Lacey and Barber playing well, Turner got a few less minutes on the court last night (17 versus an average of 26 last season) and seemed to have a hard time getting into rhythm. Turner is a great shooter and the Pack will need his talents in conference play. Hopefully Gottfried can find a way to get him some minutes without disrupting the chemistry that is developing between Lacey and Barber.
Player of the Game- I am tempted to go Chris Brickhouse for two dunks at the end of the game, but will go with Anthony "Cat" Barber instead. Great game out of the sophomore point guard.
and we got rid of the pre-game video with the "dance version" of Seven Nation Army