February 12, 2015

It all starts with stops.

Good, solid, grind-it-out win in Raleigh last night.  Don't allow yourselves to be spoiled, Hoofans.  Any ACC win on the road is big; NC State is a pretty good team, and we were able to pull through in our first game without one of our stars.  It's an adjustment period, and it's going to be ugly at times.  The good news is that winning ugly is Tony Bennett's specialty!

My thoughts on the game...

We played the percentages.
We held NC State to 33% shooting, then rebounded 72% of the misses.  That's really the simplest formula for Bennettball -- make 'em take crappy shots, then complete the defensive possession with a rebound.  That's the way it's always been, and that's the way it always will be... especially now, missing one of our best scorers.

Our offense was gawd-awful.
Okay, okay, my head is not in the sand.  We shot 37% and allowed State to snare 57% of the rebounds.  It was a putrid performance from the field, pretty good on the glass.  It was enough to be better than the Wolfpack last night, four points better to be specific.

I was disappointed in Marial Shayok's performance.
11 minutes, 0-for-3 from the field, including misses on two really bad, ill-advised shots.  At this point, I have to call in an APB on the skills Shayok showed us earlier in the season.  He was impacting the game in profound ways, and now he just looks like a lost freshman, slogging through a horrible slump.  (By the way, there is no C in Shayok.)

I was happy with Evan Nolte.
24 minutes, drilled a key 3-pointer, played decent defense, hustled, made some plays.  I'd actually like to see him shoot a little bit more -- two shots in 24 minutes is defaulting to a fault.  But otherwise, let's note that Nolte has hit two out of his last three 3-point attempts.  He's got a good shot.  Let him shoot.

I was also happy with Devon Hall.
He couldn't stay with Cat Barber, but few can.  Otherwise, I thought Hall played a solid game.  It's clear that he's part of the solution to the problem of how we're going to replace Justin Anderson.

The last two fouls on Malcolm Brogdon were complete bullshit.
At this point, you just have to accept the fact that ACC officiating is a total joke.  Meanwhile, I want Brog to hunt his own shot a bit more aggressively while Justin is out.  He was having an off night (5-for-13 from the field / 0-for-3 from deep), but 13 shots needs to be 16 shots.

Speaking of shots, here's how I'd like to see Justin Anderson's 10 shots per game divvied up:
-- Brogdon - 3 additional shots per game
-- Tobey - 3 additional shots per game
-- Gill - 1 additional shot per game
-- Nolte - 1 additional shot per game
-- Perrantes - 1 additional shot per game
-- Hall - 1 additional shot per game

Mike Tobey is good, haters (and announcers) be damned.
He's a finesse center, and I think people have a problem with that on some philosophical level.  But you have to face facts -- Tobey is one of our most efficient scorers, blocks a surprisingly high number of shots, and might be our BEST offensive rebounder.  Last night, in the second half, I saw a fire lit under Tobey.  I saw the dragon awaken.  I saw an inspired performance down the stretch.  And you know what?  We can talk about Evan Nolte and Devon Hall and Shayok and Brog getting more shots and whatever else, but ultimately, I think the biggest beneficiary of Anderson's injury might be Mike Tobey.  There is burden on him now, and as he showed last night, he is more than capable of rising to the occasion.  How about those two free throws at the end of the game?  Clutch.  And ice fucking cold.

I bet that's the first time Mike Tobey has even been referred to as "the dragon."

No doubt, the frontcourt is the strength of our our team.
Tobey, Gill (when he's on), Darion Atkins 2.0, the x-factor spark provided by Isaiah Wilkins... this is the best thing we have going right now.  Our bigs accounted for 41% of our field goal attempts last night.  That number needs to be above 50%, and the attempts need to be coming from Gill and Tobey.  A good-scoring frontcourt is akin to a strong running game in football.  It allows you to control the game and win low-scoring, grind-it-out rockfights.  That plays perfectly into the other strengths of our team and also the foundation upon which the program has been built.  Run the offense through the post, with Brogdon and Perrantes serving as the facilitators.

Coaching matters.
Brog was out with four fouls.  Hall was guarding Cat Barber.  State put their other four dudes on the opposite side of the floor and ran an iso play for Barber... who promptly ate Devon Hall alive, hoop and harm, three-point play.  I said to my wife: "Whelp, we're fucked.  We can't stop that."  Number of times NC State went back to that type of play down the stretch: zero.  We like to credit Tony Bennett with amazing coaching, but sometimes mere competent coaching while the opposing coach is drowning in blatant incompetence is all you really need.  Love Tony Bennett for the coach he is, and love his just as much for the coach he isn't.  Mark Gottfried is a hack, and I really think he cost his team the game last night by not going back to dip into the Cat Barber iso well.

It was an ugly win, but I'd say it was a top-5 win for us this season.
In terms of MEANING and IMPORTANCE, I mean.  At Maryland and at VCU were both big.  The statement win over Harvard.  At Notre Dame.  At UNC two days after the Duke loss.  Louisville.  And at NC State without Justin Anderson.

Ranking our 22 wins this season...

  • #18 (five-way tie) @ JMU, Norfolk State, South Carolina State, Tennessee State, Cleveland State
  • #17 @ Virginia Tech - Ugly "survival" type of game against a bad opponent.
  • #16 Davidson - We played like crap, but then Gill saved us.
  • #15 @ Boston College - Ho-hum.
  • #14 NC State - Ho-hum.
  • #13 Rutgers - Held them to 26 on a neutral floor.
  • #12 La Salle - Solid win against a solid A-10 team.
  • #11 @ Miami - We took their best shot and survived... barely.
  • #10 Clemson - Workmanlike Virginia-style win.
  • #9 George Washington - Big win over a good team.
  • #8 Georgia Tech - Held those fuckers to 28 points, the all-time low scoring effort in ACC history.
  • #7 Harvard - I've never seen a more dominant performance... over a good team, too!
  • #6 @ Maryland
  • #5 @ NC State
  • #4 Louisville
  • #3 @ VCU
  • #2 @ Notre Dame
  • #1 @ North Carolina


  1. Love this. Quality has been sky high of late, K.

  2. If 2nd half Tobey were the usual Tobey, there wouldn't be haters. He was a difference maker for sure vs State (who he actually regularly dominates, for some reason - must hate the color red).

    1. I think we're about to see a whole new Mike Tobey. Just a hunch. But I don't think this was just one good half of basketball. I think the light came on.

    2. He definitely continued to show flashes of it vs WFU - seemed like Tony didn't like his matchup though or something, didn't play much.

    3. Tobey struggled in the high pick and pop. WF killed it regularly. But at least Brogs came up big on D at the end. Whew.