Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NC State - Xavier

  • NC State and Xavier were kind of mirror images of each other. NC State had a lot of athleticism and not a lot of skill, with the exception of TJ Warren while Xavier had a lot of skill and not a lot of athleticism, with the exception of Semaj Christon. The result was a game with a lot of ugly possessions and forced shots - it was not a beautiful brand of basketball. It kind of felt like a play-in game.
  • You will almost never see a team as totally built around one player as NC State is with Warren. In the few minutes when he wasn't in the game, their offense completely fell apart. He's really the only guy who can create his own shot - their offense is basically just give the ball to TJ, have him draw the defense and move the ball or take a difficult shot. If it's about getting buckets, TJ is about it - he runs the floor and he crashes the offensive glass in a way most 20-point scorers don't. Warren had 25 points against Xavier and it didn't feel like he had a great game.
  • Besides Warren, the difference was NC State's athleticism. They have a lot of NBA-caliber athletes on the floor - they may not be the most polished players in the world, but the difference between them and Xavier's guys was noticeable. It will be the same thing with St. Louis of the A-10. The NC State players aren't going to be very intimated by that 5 seed, that's for sure. 
  • Mark Gottfried has got a lot of talent in Raleigh - with the exception of Warren, NC State is a classic one-year away team. They've got a few very talented young big men - Kyle Washington and Beejay Anya. Anya, whose built like a LT at 6'9 325 with a 7'9 wingspan, swung the game in the first half with his ability to block shots and shut down the paint. Cat Barber is a talented PG with NBA-caliber athleticism - he's a jumper away from being a prospect. Even with Warren gone, I think NC State will be in Tourney contention next season.
  • Christon didn't have a great game and it showed why he's probably a year away from going pro. He takes a lot of long 2's - if he can extend his range out to the three-point line, he will be a high-level NBA PG. Right now, though, he's only an average playmaker for a PG and he doesn't have three-point range, so he projects as a Monta Ellis type combo guard coming off the bench. He isn't quite as explosive as Monta, but he plays a little more under control. He was really the only Xavier player with the athleticism to run with the NC State guys. The new Big East is a decent conference, but it's no longer on the level of the ACC.
  • Playing it forward, I think NC State beats St. Louis with athleticism in much the same way that Oregon did last year. They have the horses to get up-and-down with Louisville - the question is how Tyler Lewis will fare against Russ Smith and/or Chris Jones and I'm going to assume it won't be that well. 

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