[Editor's note: This conversation occurred prior to NC State's 83-72 win over Tennessee on Wednesday night.]
I've noticed lately on the twitters that you have an unhealthy level of confidence in this year's team moving forward. I pose a simple question to you: why?
They've lost 2 of their last 4. And looked bad doing it. Their big men are inept offensively. They can't shoot free throws. THEY LOST TO WOFFORD FOR PETE'S SAKE.
Throw some numbers at me and talk me off the ledge.
I think my unhealthy level of confidence mostly just comes from the fact that Gottfried now has a three-year track record that shows he can do two things.
1. Properly use his best players to build a high level offense
2. Get better as the year progresses
I was certainly down on the team going into last year (no one really saw Warren as the kind of player he ended up being), but Gottfried managed to sneak his way into the tournament in a year that very much had 'rebuilding' plastered on it in November. Which isn't to say that I think this team is headed for the Sweet 16, but I do believe barring injuries they are a fairly safe bet to make the NCAA tournament (that said, talk to me at the end of December after this stretch of four pretty good teams to close out OOC).
As far as the stats go, this is the most balanced team he's put on the floor in his tenure. That means that the defense is substantially better so far (Anya has made a tremendous aspect in their ability to protect the rim which seems to have had a positive effect on their ability to guard the 3-point line as well. And he's doing it without killing their defensive rebounding, which I did not expect). The other side of that coin though is that its his worst offensive team - they just can't score inside effectively enough to elevate to the level of his previous teams. That's especially concerning considering that mostly they've been playing smaller teams where it should theoretically be easier to score around the rim - but they aren't doing it.
I guess I also don't stress it too much right now because of how much season is left ahead. The Pack isn't better or worse than they were last Saturday, and had Lacey's buzzer beater gone in we'd be talking about them as a fringe top 25 team. They've had one close call go their way (South Florida) and one close call not go their way (Wofford). So are they an elite team? No. Are they pretty good, with the chance to be significantly better than last year's team? Yes.
I should admit I'm not actually on the ledge. But I am finding the ledge to be moderately appealing.
Should I be at least a little concerned that the offense is one of Gottfried's worst in his time here? I do appreciate the defensive improvement, but I feel like these modest improvements will be negated when they get to conference play against some high-level offenses.
I'd expect them to rebound tonight against Tennessee. The Volunteers offense is meh and defense is horrid, so it should give them a chance to settle back in before the tough final 3 OOC games.
But based on what you've told me, we're in a wait and see mode with a little optimism thrown in. I guess we'll find out soon.
Exactly. Let's wait and see how things go before we go crazy this early in the year. No need to panic...yet.