25-1. That is Roy Williams’ record against NC State since he took the reins in 2003. But recently, Roy and his beloved boys seem to have been all but forgotten by the talking heads in the media. The Wolfpack, not the Heels, have been touted as the team to beat in the ACC this season, due to retention of almost every significant player on the roster. However, due to a major flaw, I believe State is more likely to significantly underachieve, than to make it to Atlanta.
Much has been made about the Pack’s incoming class, and they certainly do have talent, but the freshman will do nothing to alleviate the team’s biggest flaw, defense. Though they showed flashes, NCSU’s 8th ranked defense let the team down on numerous occasions. On multiple occasions, foul trouble did State in, which left a bad taste in their fans mouths. The fouls, though, were caused by poor perimeter defense which allowed opponents into the paint, often ending in the type of body-to-body plays that usually end in the whistle getting blown. Scott Wood will never be a good defender, and that’s just a fact, so one would think Mark
Gottfried would be best serve with 4 other strong defenders on the floor. Unfortunately for him, despite Lorenzo Brown’s 6’5” frame, Zo takes little interest in keeping his match-up in front of him. Brown has gaudy statistics in steals, which cover up that he takes far too many chances, leaving his teammates out to dry. When Tyler Lewis replaces Brown, the Pack are in even more trouble, as the 5’11” lead-footed freshman will be a liability of Jimmer Fredette proportions.
The third perimeter defender this season will almost surely be Rodney Purvis, an offensive firecracker who could contend for NC State’s top scorer. Regrettably, the Purv seems to be a defensive atheist, as bad on defense as he is talented with the ball. Between Purvis, Wood, and Brown, the Wolfpack perimeter should provide an open path to the basket for most opponents.
If Gottfried can drastically improve the team’s perimeter defense, and thus their fouling problem, NCSU could experience success unseen for decades. But if not, I’m afraid the Pack will be losing some barn burners this year, and will admirably maintain their position as the noisy neighbor.