ACC POY Green to Face Improving Wolfpack Defense

USA TODAY Sports

GoPack.com should probably go ahead and start printing the "No. 1 Defense" shirts.

Recently, in interview after interview Mark Gottfried has lauded his team's increased effort on the defensive end. While N. C. State certainly should not be confused with a good defensive team, Gottfried is not just blowing smoke. During the 6-2 stretch following Lorenzo Brown's injury-aided, three-game slide, the Wolfpack have held opponents under their season points per possession (PPP) average six times, under State's average PPP allowed (1.04) five times, and under a point per possession four times.

The only times the Pack have struggled defensively of late are when they failed to end opponents' possessions on the defensive glass. En route to 1.17 PPP Saturday, Florida State grabbed 48% of its misses. It certainly didn't help the Pack's cause to have their two leading rebounders, Richard Howell and C. J. Leslie, miss large chunks of the game due to foul trouble. Somewhat flukishly, Virginia Tech grabbed 39.5% of its misses in the overtime scarefest in Raleigh, leading to their 1.13 PPP number. Perhaps the Pack were caught out of good rebounding position as they tried to bother ACC POY Erick Green, but it is more likely that the Pack were on the wrong end of some funky #ncstateshit bounces.

A determined Howell and Leslie on the defensive glass will go a long way in preventing the Pack's conference tournament run from getting derailed before it gets started in Thursday's rematch against the Hokies. It would also help if the real Marshall Wood shows up. In the first meeting the reincarnation of Kid from Kid ‘n Play posted the lone double double of his career. His 14 points and 16 rebounds were both career highs. In 104 minutes over six games since then, Kid has grabbed a total of 16 rebounds to go with five points on 2-for-16 shooting.

The from-out-of-nowhere-big-scoring-game routine seems to be a theme for Pack opponents this year. The likes of Daniel Miller, Julian Gamble, Devin Booker, and Devin Thomas join Kid in this regard. Most recently, Florida State's Devon Bookert enjoyed a new career high (18 points) against the Pack.

Green comes into the game smoking hot, having averaged 29.7 points per game over his last three. In that stretch, he has shot 56.3% from the bonusphere and 55.1% from the floor overall. The nation's leading scorer will get his points, but if the Pack rebound the basketball and no one goes all Kid ‘n Bookerty on them, the Pack should survive until Friday.

Team

Points Per Possession

PPP vs. N. C. State*

Florida State

1.01

1.17

Wake Forest

0.98

0.95

Georgia Tech

0.96

0.83

Boston College

1.04

1.03

North Carolina

1.07

1.06

Florida State

1.01

0.96

Virginia Tech

1.04

1.13

Clemson

1.00

0.85

*Computed by me using the quick and dirty FGA-OR+TO+(.475*FTA)=POS method (so it's probably all wrong and you can disregard the whole premise of the article. Sorry for wasting your time).

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