In the wake of the win over Clemson, there's good news and bad news for NC State. Or really, just a slight adjustment to what we already knew. The Wolfpack ranks 31st in adjusted offensive efficiency, which I'm pretty sure is a season high. (Last year's team finished 22nd.) The defense, on the other hand, is down to 146th (!), which I'm also pretty sure is a season low.
Let's have a look at where we stand with four games remaining.
|NCSU Offense -- Four Factors||eFG%||TO%||OR%||FT Rate|
|2015-16 Overall (National Rank)||48.2 (245)||16.0 (43)||37.1 (19)||41.1 (72)
|2015-16 ACC Only (Conf. Rank)||49.2 (11)||16.8 (8)||36.9 (3)||38.1 (3)|
The turnover is dying. Ten years ago, the national average turnover percentage was 21.3. This year, it's 18.3. Grandpa on all you want about the one-and-done era and the quality of college hoops, but fact is teams have gotten better and better at taking care of the basketball.
In 2006, State turned the ball over on 19.8% of its possessions in league games. That ranked third in the ACC. This season, State is at a very impressive 16.8%, and that ain't even good enough to rank in the top half of the league. Ten years ago, a 16.8 turnover rate would have ranked in the top seven in the country.
I digress, but that's an interesting snapshot of how the game has changed. It's slowed on down, and teams have been more careful.
As for what that means for this NC State team: a pretty good turnover rate that's pretty good.
State's shooting has improved a smidge in league play (it pretty much had to), though interior scoring remains a problem. The biggest boost has come from three, where the Pack is hitting 35.9%. That's above its season average of 34.5%. The Pack is also hitting nearly 72% of its free throws in league games.
|NCSU Defense -- Four Factors||eFG%||TO%||OR%||FT Rate|
|2015-16 Overall (National Rank)||49.8 (171)||15.0 (334)||29.8 (176)||29.7 (42)
|2015-16 ACC Only (Conf. Rank)||52.0 (13)||13.5 (15)||31.5 (6)||33.9 (7)|
And here, folks, we see the problem(s). NC State did an okay job of defending the interior during non-conference play, if little else. In ACC games, that's been exposed as mirage, and State has done pretty much nothing else well.
Opponents continue to light it up from outside--ACC foes are shooting 37.6% from three. That is ridiculous by any standard of defense, by which I mean, if every team we played had a five-on-four power play, then it'd still be pretty dang impressive if those teams hit 37.6%. Defenses have very little control over how its opponents shoot from outside. Best you can do is employ a style that deters opponents from attempting threes (see: Duke) and cross your fingers.
Throw in a nearly comical inability to force turnovers, and you got yourself a serious problem at the defensive end. Shooting is the long and the short of everything in basketball, but I also think turnover rate is far more important than defensive rebounding percentage or free throw rate.
State's 13.5% turnover rate means that 86.5% of opponents' possessions end with a shot at the basket. That is super not ideal, unless you're brilliant at forcing missed shots and collecting those misses. The Pack's defensive rebounding has been solid, but there's not nearly enough here to compensate.
It's a shame, because as it's turned out, this NC State team's offense in league play is markedly better than it was last year. Weird, I know. But the defense fell off a cliff, and it is buried so deep, it'll take decades to excavate.