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UNC-Asheville Vs. NC State Preview: Bulldogs Move Into Rebuilding Mode

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Jared Wickerham

Asheville @ StatSheet
2012 Stats
2013 Roster
2013 Schedule

UNC-Asheville Offense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 52.6 42
Turnover Rate 19.2 115
Off Reb Rate 32.9 151
FTA/FGA 48.1 3

Asheville had a fantastic 2012 season, winning 16 of 18 league games, the conference tournament, and giving Syracuse a scare in the first round (okay, technically it's the second round now) of the NCAA tournament. But head coach Eddie Biedenbach--or the Bieds (BEES?), as he is known by friends--lost four major contributors off of that team. The results thus far have been less than encouraging, and you most definitely should not expect an offense as competent as that pictured in the above table.

Those losses included their top three scorers, and aside from the experience lost, the team also lost a lot in the way of efficient scoring. Obviously it's difficult for any program to replace four starters, and when its a mid-major program doing it, the results can be particularly ugly. Asheville went 0-3 in Puerto Rico, and for the season the Bulldogs are shooting just 44.3% (eFG) while turning the ball over 22.5% of the time.

The departures also cost Asheville some versatility. While about 34% of their field goal attempts last season came from three-point range, that proportion is down to 19.2% in 2013, which ranks 343rd nationally. The graduating seniors accounted for more than 450 three-point attempts, which helped that team create opportunities in the paint. Now, well... they're shooting 23.1% from three so far. So their outside game has essentially been non-existent to this point.

They're still doing a good job of getting to the free throw line, but with so many cracks elsewhere, that can only go so far.


Trent Meyer (6-3, 170) -- Meyer is making the "oh crap I gotta do stuff now" leap in 2013; his usage is up from around 14% a year ago to 23.1% this season, and he is one of two Bulldogs players averaging double digit points. He is taking care of the ball but has been absolutely dreadful shooting the ball, inside and out.

Keith Hornsby (6-4, 190) -- A threat from three-point range and the team's third-leading scorer this season.

Jeremy Atkinson (6-4, 210) -- Atkinson is the lone returning starter; he had a fantastic season as a secondary option in 2012, and to his credit, he is having little trouble getting acclimated with a go-to role this year. He'll do most of his damage inside the arc, using that weight to create some space in the paint. He hit 59% of his twos last year and he is around 55% in the early stages of this season; he's also a threat on the offensive glass. Atkinson was a big reason why Asheville's FT rate was so high last year, and he'll take care of the basketball as well.

Jon Nwannunu (6-8, 225) -- He played sparingly during his first two seasons with Asheville, but it's looking like he'll be far more important this season. He's no threat to shoot from three, but he could be a solid interior scorer, and he is a good rebounder at both ends of the floor.

D.J. Cunningham (6-10, 240) -- Cunningham is fourth on the team in scoring yet tops in workload, which tells you all you really need to know about his season to date. It's gotta be tough to shoot sub-40% as a 6-10 guy, but Cunningham has accepted that challenge. He also turns the ball over like crazy. This is not a player to whom Asheville should be feeding the ball, but he has accounted for a quarter of the team's shots while he's on the floor. He does rebound well at both ends, and he is a major threat to bother/irk shots.


Will Weeks (6-6, 220), Marcus Neely (6-4, 205), Sam Hughes (6-4, 205). All three of these dudes are freshmen, so your guess is as good as mine. Weeks has been getting the most minutes among the three and figures to impact the game a bit more as a result. He also has more free throw attempts than field goal attempts this season, which is pretty impressive.

UNC-Asheville Defense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 51.3 260
Turnover Rate 22.1 75
Off Reb Rate 35.1 287
FTA/FGA 36.3 178

Asheville's guard-dominated team had a major height problem last season--the Bulldogs ranked 330th in average height. Their block rate, defensive rebounding rate, and 2FG% defense were among the nation's worst. They did at least force a good number of turnovers, and their FT defense luckily was in the top 60. When they weren't forcing turnovers at a decent clip, well, you can imagine. That was the only leg they had to stand on at that end of the floor.

They have some size up front this year, but with little support from the bench, foul trouble is going to be a serious problem for the Bulldogs. If State can attack the paint in the early going--use that quick Calvin Leslie first step, put Richard Howell in advantageous spots--then Asheville will find its options limited. Both Nwannunu and Cunningham have been foul-prone throughout their careers (Nwannunu is averaging 7.1 fouls per 40 minutes this year), so I'd expect some zone.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes State by 19.