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Meet McNeese State, which could use an intervention

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Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 7 p.m. ET, Thursday, Dec. 22

TV: None

Online streamingESPN3/ACC Network Extra (same thing)

Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

McNeese State vitals

Record: 3-7
Pomeroy ranking: 325
Best win***: 70-63 over Tulane (No. 275 in Pomeroy Ratings)
Worst loss: 85-75 to Louisiana College (Louisiana College is a D-III school.)

(***Based on opponent's Pomeroy Rating, not margin of victory.)

Adjusted tempo: 74.4 poss/40 minutes (ranks 36th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 96.5 (ranks 309th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 110.7 (ranks 321st)

McNeese St. roster
McNeese St. schedule
McNeese St. stats 20162017

The McNeese State offense and starters

McNeese Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% -FT Rate
2015-16 46.7 (298) 17.7 (149) 28.1 (227) 36.2 (186)
2016-17 44.1 (324) 19.1 (169) 25.4 (290) 32.1 (239)

Hello, yes, are you there McNeese State? It's me, Steven. Listen, fellas, we need to have a chat--nay, an intervention. The way you are playing is in a lot of ways self-defeating. That's not counting all the stuff you suck at doing, like shooting or dribbling or rebounding. What I'm talking about here is tempo.

Hold on one second, I brought slides.

Now, typically you want to avoid the gah-yikes spectrum in basketball but that's not important right now. The amazing thing about you is that you are not only one of the worst teams in D-I at both ends of the floor but that you seem to be invested in enabling your position near the bottom. Why in the world would you run your crud-assed, brick-adorned offense at such a pace, exposing a very exposable defense that performs as one might expect a collection of drunk and or blind eighth-graders?

Y'see, I'm here because I worry for your long-term welfare, McNeese. You've won only three games, and only one of those was against another D-I team. You have lost to Louisiana College, a small, private D-III school that's not even a good D-III school--they're 3-9 on the season. According to wikipedia, LC began "in tents with four professor [sic] and 19 students" in 1906. You are doing many wrong things if you lose to Tent-town Louisiana.

At some point you have to look in the mirror, realize that you simply are not very good at basketball, and take steps to mask this unsolvable problem as best you can. Playing like your hair is on fire does not count as a legitimate countermeasure here because the more possessions you have in a game, the more likely the more talented team is going to win.

Every inning or set of one offensive possession and the subsequent defensive possession is a small win or loss that contributes to the long-run result. In any given game, the better team is likely to win more of these mini-battles and ultimately win the game, and this is far more likely to happen if the better team is given more opportunities.

McNeese, let's say you and me hit the gym, and we randomly run into the two worst players in the NBA. They are bad by NBA standards--but quite good, friendly human beings!--but that still makes them a million times better than either of us. So what do you think are our chances of pulling off a shocking 2-on-2 upset? Are those chances better if we play these guys to 21 or to 5? Yeah.

Shorten the game when you are at a disadvantage, always. Always do this. Slower tempo means higher variance, which is your friend. You need all the damn high-variance strategies ever established in the history of basketball. And you guys don't even shoot a ton of threes!

You know what, I'm sick of looking at you. Go to your room. We'll talk about this again tomorrow.

Starters

Jamaya Burr (6-0, 170) -- Good assist rate, and he's pretty good at getting to the free throw line, where he is also pretty good. The rest is not good.

Jarren Greenwood (6-2, 175) -- More of a jump shooter than Burr, with mostly unpleasant results. He is a career 32.6% three-point shooter, though it's much better for the team if his shots come from outside rather than inside the arc. (Short Guy Problems.)

James Harvey (6-2, 170) -- Another jump shooter (50 3FGA this year vs. 13 2FGA) and he hits them at about the same rate as Greenwood. He's attempted at least five threes in nine of the team's 10 games. Doesn't really do much else.

Lance Potier (6-6, 200) -- If this guy were any good, they'd call him Potent Potier but alas, he isn't good and so all we have is a big missed opportunity. The more I think about this the sadder I become. It's rare to find a name that allows for such a lame Jeopardy! reference.

LaBarrius Hill (6-8, 210) -- He's been solid from the field but has not played a primary role in the offense. Above-average shot blocker.

The McNeese State bench and defense

Reserves: Jacob Ledoux (6-3, 210), Howard Thomas (6-7, 258), Adrian Brown (6-7, 210), Kalob Ledoux (6-3, 215), Stephen Ugochukwu (6-7, 210). Something that I see every now and again--terrible teams playing a lot of kids in a desperate search for an unsolvable riddle. McNeese has been willing to work with a large rotation, and as you may have guessed the Ledoux fellers are twins. Kalob is probably the team's best three-point shooter, as he's well over 40% on the season (and at 50% against D-I teams).

Ugochukwu can rebound well at both ends, if nothing else. (There's nothing else.) Thomas is a decent offensive rebounder who should never be allowed to shoot free throws--or always be allowed to shoot free throws, if you're McNeese's opponent.

McNeese Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2015-16 52.3 (291) 16.1 (287) 33.0 (308) 37.7 (188)
2016-17 54.3 (283) 18.7 (204) 42.4 (350) 40.9 (271)

The Cowboys are currently the second-worst defensive rebounding team in the nation, and when you combine that with their dreadful on-ball defense, well, that's pretty much the worst possible combo. I could drill deeper but there's not a point to that, these guys just aren't any good at anything. Heck, all three of their non-D-I opponents managed to score over 1.0 points per possession on the Cowboys, giving them a highly unfortunate distinction.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by 24.