State finally played a school from a decent conference and it definitely showed some holes on the team. The obvious first: The team won and now sits at 4-0. The Wolfpack has never won their first 4 games in a season under Gottfried, but they have made the NCAA Tournament every year. One would think that this team has enough talent to compete in conference play and make the NCAA tournament, but we have to play better than we did tonight if we are going to get there. While South Florida is from the American Athletic Conference (formerly part of the Big East) and play quality opponents like Cincinnati, UConn, and (last year) Louisville, they were non-competitive in that conference. They finished 227th in RPI last year right ahead of Norfolk State.
Positives- The Pack scheduled an opponent that was not a total cupcake. Lacey stepped up and played great hitting shots, grabbing some boards, and really taking the team on his shoulders at times. Anya and Freeman did a great job on the boards with BeeJay blocking five shots this game. He entered today leading the ACC in swats.
Negatives- There are a couple of places I could go here. Let's make a list:
1. While the big men are rebounding there is little scoring production coming out of the 4 and 5 spots for the Pack. Anya hit for 9 points, but bricked some free throws. Most of his points were of the put back variety too. Abu barely played and did not take a shot. Freeman did not take a field goal attempt and again free throws. Kyle Washington? Did he play on offense?
2. Barber did not distribute the ball. He's faster than everyone on the court. Pass the ball Cat. 2 assists with 1 turnover is not acceptable out of a starting point guard at this level of play.
3. Free throw shooting. As a native St. Louisan it pained me to see the Pack lose to the Billikens in the tournament last year because they could not hit a free throw. Yet, here we are again. Too many missed free throws down the stretch. The team was up by 11 about halfway through the 2nd half and then State started piling up the bricks. I reworked this Valvano quote to help out Gottfried for practice this week:
Gottfried: "We practice shooting free throws into the net down every day. I have these orange basketballs [pulls basketball out of blue velvet-encased box] that we use. We save these for one thing: the end the game.”
"Everyday ordinary people make free throws"
Both work for me. Was that too much of a rant for a win?
Player of the Game- Trevor Lacey
Gottfried should find this Georgia Tech fan to help out at practice too