So in lieu of a game-specific Maryland recap on account of my 25th birthday yesterday and the game generally being recappable in a few short phrases (it's tough to win on the road, Maryland has really been hitting a stride lately, wasn't a great game but it was miles ahead of ANYTHING we saw last year, Ty Walker is awesome all of a sudden and it's great) I figured I'd do a more general piece before tomorrow's NC State game. It'll be similar in spirit to the Three Up, Three Down feature I did earlier this year, but it'll allow me a little more wiggle room while still providing some degree of structure.
After the jump, I talk The Good, The Bad, and The Infuriating, coaching, and a little about NC State...Since I'm Captain Positivity around here, let's start with The Good:
-Teamwork. Yes, it's C.J. Harris's team. Yes, Travis McKie is the other leader. But talk about a team effort pretty much every game. I'm reasonably sure that everyone on the team (except for the surging Ty Walker, who I'm sure it's only a matter of time for, and Anthony Fields, who hasn't been getting much time to try and score) has scored in double digits at least once this year. 7 of 9 (8 if you count Ty who, again, I am positive will hit that mark sometime soon, is far from shabby. Actually Daniel Green might have only had 8 at most too, but still, my point stands. And it's not just the offense, either. The passing is great and the defense is good too, generally speaking.
-Hustle/Competitiveness. I'm putting these two together since they go hand in hand. Last year we were getting routinely blown out. This year there's only been one blowout, the admittedly horrific ASU game. Every other game, we've at least been in it until late at the very worst. They go harder for the 50/50 balls, they battle, they scrap. Last year, they looked like they just flat out didn't care.
Turnovers, particularly margin and A:T ratios. Okay, so we still have some games where turnovers are an issue. But coming off a season where we routinely racked up 17+ in a game, the improved ball handling is particularly refreshing. Not only that, our defense also seems more adept at forcing turnovers of their own this year. That's another plus.
-Ty Walker. Such a bright spot, he deserves his own mention. The soft-spoken big man has been absolutely exploding the past several games, finally looking like the five-star recruit that he was brought in as 3 and a half years ago. I don't know what else to say to Ty other than my hat's off to you, big Ty. Keep it up. You do the team and yourself proud.
Now, to balance that out with The Bad:
-Rebounding. Only reason this isn't in The Infuriating is I'm seeing progress for the better. Even in the Maryland game where we were handily bested on the boards, I at least saw effort from them, and obviously the rebounding in the Tech game was an absolute highlight, so we're making some degree of progress. Maryland was a bit of a matchup nightmare honestly, since their MO for a long time has been extremely tall guards, and they're also quite tall and deep inside as well. Still, needs work, especially from a consistency standpoint.
-Bench contributions, Okay, so this one sorta conflicts with the team effort point, but honestly it's more that while there are moments where anybody on the team can catch fire, there are difficulties with consistency from the bench. A big part of this is youth from my perspective, but it's not a catch-all excuse either. There needs to be a level of accountability with regards to the roleplayers being more reliable.
-Finishing on the break and on drives. Pretty self-explanatory, really. We get fast break opportunities, and we have guys that can drive and get to the basket, but for as easy as those opportunities SHOULD be, we honestly don't convert them at the clip we should. Good news is the tough part is already done. Improving on finishes can just come with better strength,
And finally, just one thing in The Infuriating:
-Killer instinct. Simple. We can't go for the throat. Whether it's finishing a comeback like was the case in the Maryland game, or far more importantly, when we're up double digits, we can't seem to just run somebody off the court. The opportunities aren't going to present themselves nearly as often in ACC play, but man, a team like High Point or Wofford, we should be able to flat out run them out of the gym. We should destroy vastly inferior teams, not just beat them.. That's the one thing this year that has driven me the craziest. Sadly, it's not gonna be relevant much more this year (unless there are a lot more pleasant surprises) but we really need to keep an eye on that going forward.
As for NC State, well, the preview below me does a lot of the work in previewing State for me. Honestly though, after watching State play GT, I honestly think if we can shut down Scott Wood, NC State is in deep deep trouble offensively. I think that NC State is on a similar level to Wake right now (good not great. a lot of talent, in a transitional period) though they're a little (or a lot depending on your perspective) better off. I think given Wake's pretty strong play of late and the fact that it's in the Joel will help the Deacs emerge the victors, and let's say 67-60 final.
As always, comments appreciated. Rollin' Ronin out. Go Deacs.