I knew we'd inevitably arrive here since I haven't yet discovered a way to halt or reverse time, but it's still kind of hard to believe that this is the last time Richard Howell and Scott Wood will play a game in Raleigh. The last four years have been interesting, to say the least. They came here to play for Sidney Lowe and his staff, and that didn't work out like they might have hoped or assumed.
But they didn't quit when a coaching change was made, and they've only gotten better since then. Richard Howell is on pace to set career-highs in FT%, 2FG%, turnover rate, and block rate. He's still a great rebounder at both ends, and I'll always have an extra bit of respect for guys who clean up at the defensive end. Defensive rebounding takes a different sort of motivation. A lot of players (and teams) are great at the offensive end and bafflingly terrible at the other.
Rich has never been afraid to scrap, and he's simply out-worked a lot of guys who are either taller or more athletic. In addition to his efforts on the glass, he's added a decent mid-range game, and he has a deceptively quick first step that can lead to layups against the unprepared. Now he might be a first-team all-conference player. This is the breakout season that always seemed possible, and dammit, this is also the end.
Scott Wood hasn't finished a season shooting below 40% from three since his freshman year. Since the beginning of his sophomore year, he is shooting 90.7% from the free throw line, missing just 19 of 205 attempts. It's awesome having a guy who you know can go off for seven or eight threes in any given game; the combination of his size and pure shooting ability is a rare thing, and we'll miss it a whole hell of a lot.
Imagine the last 3+ years without Wood--NC State hardly shoots the three as it is, and it's had trouble developing secondary options to complement him. This year, for example, only 22.8% of State's field goal attempts have been threes, which is a proportion that ranks 339th nationally. There's just nobody else.
The scouting report on him has been plain enough for a while now. But Wood does a great job of changing directions and using screens to create openings. The game-winning play at Clemson in February is a great example of this, and fittingly, it was a Richard Howell screen that made the play work.
I appreciate that he can hit a shot like this with no histrionics--he just calmly jogs back to the defensive end. I wouldn't fault him for a celebration, but I love the I-mean-come-on-obviously-you-guys reaction. He's made a lot of three-pointers. This was one more. It was essential, but it was just one more made basket.
Thank you, Scott. Thank you, Rich.