NC State won two of three games in the 2016 Paradise Jam and finished third, which is fine when you consider the circumstances they faced. Creighton was a nightmare scenario that State almost certainly will not face again this season. I think we can safely put that game behind us, especially since the team played pretty well in the third place game. Here are a few key observations from this year’s tourney.
NC State has perimeter shooters
State really struggled to shoot the three early this season, going 9-45 over the first three games including game one in the Virgin Islands against Montana. Something changed though after Friday’s win, because the Pack came out blistering hot from deep against Creighton and has yet to cool down. Despite the loss, State actually shot a higher percentage from beyond the arc than the Jays, which is easily one of the nation’s best three point shooting teams.
Terry Henderson made 10 of 16 from three over the course of the final two games in the Virgin Islands, which is darn impressive, even for a guy whose job it is to make three point shots. It wasn’t just Henderson who shot with a hot hand in this tournament though. Dennis Smith knocked down 5 of 11 and Dorn hit 7 of 10 against Creighton and Saint Joe’s. Neither of those guys are heralded as elite shooters, but they both did more than hold their own over the last couple of days.
State as a team took a high volume of three pointers and made 51% over the last two games. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that that percentage is not likely to hold up all year, but if nothing else, the Pack proved they have multiple players who are legitimate perimeter shooting threats.
NC State really needs Kapita and Yurtseven
These dudes cannot get into the lineup soon enough. Depth was a huge concern throughout this year’s Paradise Jam for State, specifically on the interior. State traveled with three big men on the roster, two of which average about 347 fouls per 40 minutes, and it hurt them. Not having enough bodies hurt them as they tried to keep up with a million mile per hour Creighton team. Being forced into playing strange lineups with inexperienced players hurt them after Abu and Anya had each collected their four fouls. These problems were nowhere more evident than when State got demolished on the boards in game three. BeeJay Anya has never been a good rebounder, and Darius Hicks just doesn’t look ready. State was left with little to work with when Abu was on the bench.
Furthermore, none of the trio of Anya, Abu, and Hicks possess the ability to score down low and actually make the post part of the offense. Abu is a good player, but State makes too much of an effort to get him the ball down low. That’s just not a part of the game that he is particularly good at, and the same can be said about Anya. I’m not dogging them as players, that’s just not the kind of forward that they are. The scoring options can open so much more if and when Kapita and Yurt prove to viable offensive options.
Abu makes free throws now
This is very good news. Abu seems like he gets fouled a lot, so free throw stat lines like the 9-10 he posted against Montana are welcome with open arms.