-- It appears that NC State will open the 2009 basketball season in Daytona, Florida at the Glenn Wilkes Classic. The other members of the ten-team field: Central Florida, Akron, Auburn, Drake, Howard, Austin Peay, Niagara, IUPUI, and Georgia State. Howard is one of the worst teams in I-A, but several other teams in the field--particularly Akron and Auburn--could provide some interesting challenges for the Wolfpack.
-- As I've mentioned in the past, among the usual statistics published by GoPack.com are a few extras: charges drawn, dunks, and deflections. Below you can see the rate at which State has drawn charges and gotten deflections in each of the last eight seasons. I've also included our defensive turnover and steal percentages.
ChrgDrwn/40 Defl/40 TO% (Rk) Stl% (Rk)
2002 1.6 36.0 23.6 (??) 11.4 (??)
2003 0.8 39.6 21.6 (??) 11.4 (??)
2004 1.2 39.5 21.6 (143) 10.1 (172)
2005 1.1 40.3 22.6 (80) 11.2 (106)
2006 0.3 30.4 20.0 (238) 10.7 (131)
2007 1.0 25.2 17.6 (329) 7.8 (305)
2008 1.1 31.2 16.5 (337) 7.6 (315) 2009 0.6 19.3 16.6 (332) 8.4 (272)
If I didn't know any better, I'd suspect that half the team doesn't have hands. The Lowe-era numbers nicely buttress what's been apparent to the eye right from the start: we aren't very active or disruptive at the defensive end, due to a lack of effort, ability, or both. (More the former than the latter, I'd say.) It's the big fundamental problem that's been the source of the majority of our defensive issues. You'd think that effort is one of the easier things to correct, and with all the new faces suiting up this season, I hope we start moving in the right direction. We're doomed to poor defense until this changes; there is no bigger key to Sidney Lowe's future at NC State.
(Sidenote: Tracy Smith averaged 1.6 dunks per 40 minutes last season. Among the players included in the eight years of data, only JJ Hickson has a higher career dunks/40 average.)
-- Jacey Zimbal takes a look at how Nate Irving's loss could affect the team.
-- The Indpendent Mail ranks the ACC's quarterbacks:
1. Russell Wilson, N.C. State, sophomore
Wilson is the most exciting signal-caller in the ACC to watch. His ability to make plays outside the pocket drives opposing defensive coordinators and tacklers crazy. Wilson rushed for 394 yards and four touchdowns in his first season. He threw for 1,955 yards and 17 touchdowns with just one interception in basically 10 games, helping the Wolfpack to four consecutive wins to end the regular season and reach the PapaJohns.com Bowl. The 2008 first-team All-ACC selection could put up impressive numbers if he holds up physically, which was his primary weakness a year ago.
Sure wish we could fast forward to September.
-- Matt Hill is playing in a PGA Tour event this weekend.
-- The Washington Times checks in with UVA's Tony Bennett.