In Tuesday's game preview I addressed a few items that BSD thought needed to happen in order to pull an upset. Lets's take a look at how well the Deacs addressed them:
Turn Offensive Rebounds into Second Chance Points
The Deacs converted their 16 offensive rebounds into 24 second chance points, accounting for more than 25 percent of the scoring total. Nine of those rebounds belonged to Devin Thomas,who was completely dominant on the boards on Tuesday. In addition to Thomas' 14 total rebounds, Arnaud William Adala Moto snatched 10 of his own, giving the Deacs two viable post players.
Good Perimeter Defense
The Wolfpack shot 33 percent from the 3-point line in the first half, and 17 percent in the second. Two-thirds of N.C. State's points came in the paint, courtesy of fast break points and the visitors' ability to get behind Deacon defenders inside during the first half. The Pack wasn't a threat from outside for most of the game, and no miss was more important than a Scott Wood three that clanged off the rim as time was winding down.
Find a Third Scorer
"I didn't even really know who he was. He's a freshman right? He's definitely really good. He has a great future." - N.C. State guard Rodney Purvis on Thomas
Thomas was an absolute tour de force, clearly the best player on the court for the entire game. It was a shock for the Wolfpack, as he came into Tuesday's averaging 6.5 points per game. State's meticulous game planner, coach Bobby Lutz, apparently did not account for the possible contributions of the freshman post player and the Wolfpack never could effectively adjust. Thomas, to his credit, played with confidence heretofore unseen by Tie-Dye Nation.
Lost in the adulation surrounding Thomas' breakout game is the contribution of Codi Miller-McIntyre, who scored 15 points to give the Deacons four players in double figures for the game. Miller-McIntyre capably filled the void left by the departure of C.J. Harris (10 points) late in the game due to injury. In addition to directing the Deacon offense, he was also 2-3 from the three-point line.
Television analyst and former Blue Devil Mike Gminski opined during Tuesday's broadcast that if Wake could get consistent offensive performances from Thomas and Miller-McIntyre, Wake would be a completely different team. I wholeheartedly agree.
Take Advantage of Wolfpack Mental Lapses
There was a reason that many in the media were reluctant to jump on the "N.C. State, best in the ACC" train during the preseason. There's no question that the Pack have the talent and athleticism to be a top-tier team in both the ACC and the country, as evidenced by their upset over top-ranked Duke (which feels like it happened months ago). However, this team has shown at times an inability to concentrate for a full forty minutes, and it keeps them from putting lesser teams away like dominant teams should.
They also seem to have a hard time dealing with adversity. Last night, adversity came in the form of referee "TV" Ted Valentine whose propensity for blowing his whistle and doing so unevenly is legendary. However, each team knows in advance who is officiating the game and should plan accordingly. Unfortunately, it's a part of the game. Many State fans upset with the whistles are saying that the Wolfpack lost because the officials "forced" the Pack to play tentatively.
When you are faced with adversity like last night's officiating patterns, you can either pout , quit or adjust. That's a choice. Playing tentatively is one option, playing smarter is another. They are not the same thing. I've spent many an hour yelling at my television when one Deacon or the other would pout or yap to the officials instead of getting back on defense. Want an example? CJ Leslie in the waning seconds of the game last night. The end.
As nice as this win is, the Deacons need to get back to work. An opportunity to capitalize on their newfound momentum looms in Atlanta on Saturday at 3:00 p.m., in the form of the woeful Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. A win over the Jackets would give the Deacs four conference wins (last season's total) before Duke comes town next Wednesday. If I told you that after six games Wake would be 3-3 in conference, would you have believed me?
I didn't think so.