So You Want To Go Up Tempo (Redux)

"Fans are going to see a team that they can be proud of. They are going to see a team that is going to play hard. They are going to play together. They will be a team fans will enjoy watching play."

-- "Heading to Toronto: Sidney Lowe Q&A" 8/20/08

 

"We’re going to go out and play as hard as we can," Lowe said. "I think our fans will be proud of that, and we’ll see what happens."

-- "Lowe looking to younger, more athletic Wolfpack" 10/8/09

 

"We know Brandon can run and Ben can run, and I have been very impressed with the speed Horner has showed in our early workouts," Lowe said. "The important thing is that we have that fast point guard in Farnold. His game is in his speed. We want to take advantage of his speed and maybe getting some easy baskets."

-- "Degand Ready to Turn on Jets Again" 10/14/08

 

"People who are used to us playing a slowdown game are going to be surprised," Mays said. "It's completely different this year. We want to run."

-- "Pack ready for a new look" 10/18/09

 

If it feels like you've heard the talk over the last few days before, it's because you have.  Let me go ahead and recycle one more while we're at it:

"In the fall I always say we're going to play faster. I even drive my car faster and eat faster," says coach Jim Valvano. "Then by the end of the year we're playing half court."

In addressing the up tempo talk prior to last season, I was skeptical not necessarily because I questioned their commitment but moreso because making significant strides in terms of pace would necessitate both a philosophical overhaul of the defense and a group of players who could make that happen.  There was talk of a renewed effort on defense (see Degand's comments) but the ugly truth of the matter was we were going to be relying on guys who'd played a different way for too long.  When last season was all said and done, nothing had changed.  We defended no better and we played no faster.

Year Raw Poss/40 (Nat'l Rank) Adj Poss/40 (Nat'l Rank)
2006 66.7 (177) 66.0 (209)
2007 67.4 (143) 66.8 (165)
2008 66.0 (201) 64.3 (273)
2009 65.9 (187) 64.1 (266)

 

Julius Mays says it's totally different this time.  From a personnel standpoint, obviously, that's true.  I'm pretty pumped to be rid of last year's "leadership core."  But as I mentioned around this time last year, this team hasn't done a good job of forcing turnovers or rebounding defensively at any point in the Lowe era or the one prior to it.  There's only so much you can do with the tempo when you're bringing the ball in from underneath your own basket to start every possession.

Can the guys play up-tempo this year?  I think there are enough unknowns in the new-look roster to allow for a sure, possibly.  That said, should we care?  I don't understand the fascination with tempo and probably never will, but recall that I was cool with Herb's offense so maybe the aesthetic side of the game eludes me.  We're just talking about a superficial matter of preference.  A quicker pace is not necessarily an easier path to success, or a path anywhere at all; it's certainly not a requirement for efficient offensive production.  Maybe it would be more fun.  I'm not saying the Pack shouldn't try it.  Like for real try it.  But it's not the Right Way, it's not a solution, and ultimately it doesn't much matter. 

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