It was our first look at the Wolfpack's loaded team this year, a team suddenly in the national spotlight as the favorite to win the ACC. The Wolfpack have a roster loaded with talent including Rodney Purvis, Lorenzo Brown, CJ Leslie, TJ Warren, Tyler Lewis, Scott Wood, and Richard Howell. Ok, thats pretty much their whole roster, but thats what is so impressive - they have big names at every position.
The Wolfpack are certainly the most talented team in the ACC, but how is their leadership? How about their consistency? Their experience level? Their maturity? The ability to take care of the ball? Their ability to close out games? Who can honestly say they trust them to beat Duke in a do or die game?
Last year, they had Duke up against the ropes with a 16 point halftime lead. The wheels came off in the late stages though, and the Blue Devils won by 5. This NC State team is a year older at the core - CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown - but are they wiser?
In the first test against, Penn State, Lorenzo Brown and CJ Leslie both showed plenty of talent but an unhealthy obsession with flash. Leslie is not the same careless player he was up until last year, but he still makes dumb mistakes and tries to do too much. And he settles too much for jumpers and continues to fail to box out consistently on defense.
For Brown, he makes hard plays look easy a lot of the times. Both guys are able to make some spectacular looking plays. Both also fail to make easy plays consistently. We saw it again tonight with Brown. Too many no-look passes and him trying to thread the needle in between multiple defenders. Too many times he tried to make a play out of nowhere instead of looking to set up sharpshooter Scott Wood with an easy jumpshot. The Wolfpack have one of the nation's deadliest shooters yet fail to utilize him consistently.
Brown got a chance to play off the ball some too, where he can be effective. Tyler Lewis though, looks like he will need some time before he adjusts to the college game. When the game is on the line, the ball will be in Lorenzo Brown's hand to make good decisions. NC State will be able to run plenty of teams off the court, but ultimately they will have to face the likes of Duke and beat them in close games while executing their halfcourt offense and managing the clock.
Gottfried was able to get Leslie to change his attitude when he took over the team, but he still has plenty of work to do with this team. I ranked Lorenzo Brown high on my PG rankings with the assumption that he will tone down his game in the NBA. It may be too big of an assumption to make at this point. He has first round talent, but does he have the mental capacity to run a pro team?
And does Leslie have it in him mentally to survive on his own in the NBA? He's a guy at this point who needs to find the right situation in the NBA. In a lot of places, he will fail.
On a more positive note, Rodney Purvis hit some jumpers and was able to create off the dribble. He can drive and kick as well as take it to the rim. The future of the shooting guard position is looking up with guys like Sulaimon, Goodwin, Purvis, Shabazz, and Smart.
- Eric Bossi said TJ Warren has a bit of Antoine Walker in him. Interesting to say the least. Warren lit of the hoop with 22 points.
- For Penn State, Tim Frazier is a solid player. He is a better pro prospect than Talor Battle, his incumbent was. Frazier operates out of the pick and roll most of the time and has a nice crossover. He can get into the mid-range area where he has a quick floater he can get off. He also knows how to change speeds and is a crafty finisher at the rim. Frazier had too much of a load to handle tonight though, and shot 6-20 from the field.
- For me, Richard Howell is nothing special. Some view him as an early second rounder, but I'd much rather have a guy like Jarnell Stokes. Howell has a solid mid-range jumper and rebounds well, but he's a guy who doesn't do anything well enough to find a spot in the league. He has carved out a nice role on NC State capitalizing on Leslie's arrant shots.