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NC State in ACC games: The early individual numbers

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NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

After checking in this morning on NC State’s team numbers in four conference games, here are some individual numbers:

(Just to make sure everybody’s clear on the column headers: OR is OR%, DR is DR%, AST is AST%, TO is TO% ... the standard tempo-free rate stats, in other words. Table via BartTorvik.com.)

First off, damn, DJ Funderburk has been tremendous. His workload (USG) is above average but based on his performance so far, not high enough. He could probably stand to force the issue a bit more often.

Secondly, you can see the turnover problems that have plagued most of the guards. Of course this early there are sample size considerations, and in Braxton Beverly’s case we can safely assume that his turnover rate is going to shrink. He had the lowest turnover rate among all qualified players in league play last year, and his role hasn’t changed that much in 2021.

Cam Hayes has had a difficult introduction to conference play, with 10 turnovers in 61 minutes played. In general, the youths’ learning curves are going to continue being a factor in the backcourt, and we just have to hope they learn pretty quickly.

The optimistic way of looking at the whole turnover issue is that we’ve seen an unusual number of unforced errors in the early portion, which is generally more explained by randomness and other factors than by an inherent trait. When you remove opponent steals from the equation, State is turning the ball over on a league-worst 13% of its possessions, and that just doesn’t feel characteristic to me.

It’d be more understandable to freak out if the team is having its pocket picked right and left since that’s a more concrete reflection of inherent decision-making and ballhandling skills. But that’s not what’s happening here. NC State turning the ball over via steal on 8.1% of its possessions, which is the third-best (i.e. third-lowest) number in the ACC.

Maybe it’s a focus thing, and surely there’s a youth component—particularly it doesn’t help that State has had a number of shorthanded practices (when the team has practiced at all). I gotta think they’ll get to playing cleaner basketball as the year wears on.