2010-11 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at NC State

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(home games)
  • Date: Wednesday, February 2, 2011
  • Time: 7pm
  • TV: ESPN2

Virginia Tech heads to Raleigh on Wednesday night to take on an NC State team
that desperately needs a win. The Wolfpack are near the bottom of the ACC
standings, and a home loss to the Hokies would basically end any chance they
have of making it to the NCAA Tournament.

NC State is 12-9 on the season, with a 2-5 mark in ACC play. Many Wolfpack
fans want a new basketball coach, but Sidney Lowe signed an excellent freshman
class that he hoped would extend his head coaching career for one more season.
His team has a winning record, and they’ve played well at times, but
realistically the NIT is their only hope for the postseason this year.

The Wolfpack have a top 50 win against George Mason, but other than that most
of their wins have come against pushovers. On the other hand, their worse loss
of the season was at #71 Clemson. All of their other losses have come to teams
ranked in the top 50 of the RPI.

NC State is a team that has plenty of talent, but they have yet to put it all
together as a team. They can look very good at times, and very bad at other
times. They have a lot of youth on the team, and a coach who could possibly be
in his last season.

State Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G Ryan Harrow 6-1 160 Fr. 11 1.5
G C.J. Williams 6-5 218 Jr. 4.6 2.4
F Scott Wood 6-6 177 So. 10.3 3.0
F Richard Howell 6-8 261 So. 7.7 6.7
F Tracy Smith 6-8 255 Sr. 15 5.4

Ryan Harrow has only started three games this year, but he gets more minutes
than anyone else at point guard, so we include him in this starting lineup
table. He is second on the team in scoring, he has 70 assists and has committed
just 30 turnovers in what has been a pretty good freshman season.

Harrow isn’t a big threat from the outside, but he’s a pretty smooth guard
who can make things happen in the open court. Either C.J. Williams or Lorenzo
Brown will get the start next to Harrow at shooting guard. Either way, Brown
(6-5, 186, Fr.) will probably get the most minutes. He is a good scorer,
averaging 9.5 points in 23 minutes per game. Brown can knock down the open
outside jumper, but he prefers to do his work from inside the arc.

Harrow and Brown are two members of the three-player class that Sidney Lowe
recruited. The third is forward C.J. Leslie (6-8, 206, Fr.). Leslie is long and
rangy, and is very effective on the offensive glass. He averages 10.4 points and
7.4 rebounds per game. Leslie was a McDonald’s All-American last year, and the
biggest recruit Sidney Lowe has signed at NC State.

Those three freshmen play around a solid nucleus of experienced players, led
by big man Tracy Smith. Smith has been banged up for much of the season, and has
played in just 11 games. He recently injured his shoulder in NC State’s loss at
Clemson, but he was back for Saturday’s game against North Carolina.

The Hokies did a great job against Smith last season, holding him to 12
points in both meetings. He averaged just 5.5 rebounds in those two games. Tech
beat the Wolfpack 72-52 in Raleigh, and 71-59 in Blacksburg.

Another major threat in the starting lineup is small forward Scott Wood. Wood
plays for one purpose: to make three-pointers. He is 55-of-126 (43.7%) on the
season. He has made just 14 two-point field goals. No one else on the team has
attempted more than 50 three-pointers. Last season Dorenzo Hudson did a great
job defending Wood, but with Hudson out it could be Terrell Bell drawing that
responsibility this season.

Richard Howell starts on the inside, and forms a formidable inside duo with
Tracy Smith. Howell has a big body, and though he’s not a particularly gifted
scorer, he is a good rebounder. Former starter Javier Gonzalez also sees major
minutes at point guard, and like it has been in the past, his play has been hit
or miss. Gonzalez isn’t a particularly good shooter.

Comparison, ACC Games Only
Category NC
Stat Rank Stat Rank
FG% 41.8% 11 46.7% 1
FG% Def. 47.1% 12 41.3% 4
3Pt.% 37.8% 4 38.1% 3
3Pt.% Def. 33.3% 4 30.2% 1
FT% 72.5% 5 76.3% 3
Reb. Margin -0.7 8 -2.0 9
TO Margin -1.14 11 +1.0 4
Assist-TO 1.1 3 0.9 9
Scoring Off. 70.1 4 69 8
Scoring Def. 76.3 11 63.1 2

7.3 4.4

The Wolfpack have the talent to be a good basketball team, but they have not
been one as of yet. They don’t get good shots offensively, and their field goal
percentage defense against ACC teams is dead last in the conference. They are
allowing too many easy buckets on the defensive end. NC State also turns the
ball over, which is typical of young, undisciplined teams.

NC State hasn’t been able to put 40 minutes of good basketball together so
far this season. They led 31-12 at Clemson, and somehow managed to lose that
game 60-50. They held a 16-point second half lead at home against Miami, and
nearly lost the game at the end. This is a group of players that doesn’t play
particularly well together.

After losing to NC State six consecutive times, the Hokies have defeated the
Wolfpack the last three times the teams have played. Tech overcame a big deficit
to win in overtime back in 2009, and they beat NC State easily in both meetings
last season.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm on ESPN2.

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