Western Michigan Vs. NC State Preview: Lack Of Depth, Skilled Guards Likely To Doom Broncos

Gregory Shamus
Western Mich. Offense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 49.1 169
Turnover Rate 21.7 261
Off Reb Rate 35.5 55
FTA/FGA 40.9 63

Western Mich. Offense 12-13
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 47.0 214
Turnover Rate 22.5 246
Off Reb Rate 35.6 79
FTA/FGA 44.1 39

Western Michigan @ StatSheet
2012 Stats
2013 Roster
2013 Schedule

Western Michigan head coach Steve Hawkins is in his 10th season with the Broncos, and he has led the program to one NCAA tournament appearance (his first year), but he's only had a pair of losing records in MAC play over the course of his tenure. So the Broncos have been competitive within their league, but they haven't been able level-up into the national conversation--however briefly--like some other schools at the mid-major level. Hawkins deserves a lot of credit for what he's done with what's been available to him, but his teams just have not been very good in general.

In recent years, Hawkins' offenses have improved in the rebounding and foul-drawing factors, which is crucial given how bad they've been at shooting and turning the ball over. Defensive rebounding will be important for NC State if it wants to get off to a quick start. Free throw rate is less an issue in a game against an undertalented team.

What stands out on paper about Western Michigan is that it doesn't have much in the way of playmaking from the guard position. Which is not to say that State can rest easy on the perimeter; it's just seems less likely that the Broncos will be able to create offense off the dribble, and that should help the Pack considerably.

Starters:

Austin Richie (6-2, 160) -- Richie is the least involved offensively among WMU's five starters, and this is a good thing, at least so far--dude is sub-40% from two and hitting 25% of his threes this year. The assist and free throw rates are good, but he's turning the ball over a bit too often, and then there is that whole shooting from the field thing. He hasn't been any good from three in his college career, but he may lean on that part of his game--two thirds of his FGAs came from beyond the arc last season.

Brandon Pokley (6-4, 182) -- He is a 45.9% three-point shooter in 1+ seasons with the Broncos, and three-quarters of his shots have come from beyond the arc. So yeah. Don't play this kid for the drive, go over the top on screens, and for the love of god, get a damn hand up on close-outs.

Nate Hutcheson (6-7, 210) -- Sometimes it is surprisingly easy to grasp the breadth of a player's game from his statistical profile, and other times it's a bit confusing. Here we have Nate Hutcheson, whose free throw rate (good) and turnover rate (high) and size (tall person) suggest a man who often operates inside, off the dribble or otherwise. But he also takes plenty of threes (55 3FGAs to 71 2FGAs this year), and his two-point field goal percentage has never been very good; this year it's sub-40%. So is his interior game that bad? Is he a DeShawn Painter-esque jump-shooter inside the arc? I assume he's more Painter in nature, but we'll see. Whatever the case may be, he'll be a big part of the offense.

Darius Paul (6-8, 220) -- Western Michigan found a good building block in Paul. His 2FG% is good, his rebounding, free throw, and turnover rates are good; what's hurting right now is his 3-20 shooting from three. That last stat is a minor criticism, because getting 12 points and six boards per game in a relatively efficient manner from a true freshman is rarely a bad thing. He'll have to prove that he can continue to be a heavy workload guy when conference play starts.

Shayne Whittington (6-10, 220) -- Solid scorer inside the arc (54%) and easily the team's best overall rebounder. He has also been the team's most efficient high-usage player, which might suggest that some of the shots taken by Hutcheson and Paul should be going his way. Whittington is also the Broncos' best shot bothering-type fellow.

Bench:

Jared Klein (6-1, 180), Connar Tava (6-5, 230), Taylor Perry (6-4, 195). Those three are all freshmen and they aren't likely to make much of an impact on the scoreboard. Klein and Perry may account for some three-point attempts here and there.

Western Mich. Defense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 48.7 161
Turnover Rate 16.0 338
Off Reb Rate 30.4 98
FTA/FGA 34.9 146

Western Mich. Defense 12-13
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 47.7 157
Turnover Rate 17.0 314
Off Reb Rate 26.2 19
FTA/FGA 29.4 69

The defensive rebounding is nice, but what's alarming in this particular case if you're Steve Hawkins is that poor turnover rate. Your team's FG% defense is only average, and you're only depriving teams of possessions consistently with boarded misses. You are going to give an NC State offense that ranks fourth nationally in eFG% at least one shot on 83% of its possessions? That's bad news, man. That's really bad news.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes State by 19.

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