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NC State’s season begins against the re-tooling Austin Peay Governors

Basketball season is upon us.

NCAA Basketball: Austin Peay at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

NC State opens the season Monday night against the Austin Peay Governors, who are coached by former Duke player Nate James. That’s a nice little bonus to this one: beat Austin Peay, hand a Duke guy a loss in the process.

The Governors are coming off a 12-17 (8-10) campaign in James’ first year there, and there are a lot of new faces on the team as he continues his overhaul. Half the roster is new: three freshmen, four transfers.

So who knows how representative last season’s numbers will be for this edition of the team, but nonetheless:

‘Allo, Guvnas!

APSU in '22 Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
APSU in '22 Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
Offense 94.8 (318) 46.6 (311) 21.3 (328) 29.5 (129) 46.9 (290) 30.8 (304)
Defense 105.6 (235) 52.5 (285) 20.9 (38) 30.4 (269) 54.1 (328) 33.2 (154)

The Governors return their top two scorers from a year ago: big man Elijah Hutchins-Everett (12.3 PPG) and wing Caleb Stone-Carrawell (11.4). The 6’11 Hutchins-Everett was the OVC’s Freshman of the Year.

Those two were bright spots on a team that generally struggled to make anything inside the arc, as both shot well over 50% from two. They give the Governors a couple of solid building blocks for the future (assuming they stick around).

Hutchins-Everett was a good rebounder at both ends and also drew plenty of fouls—he managed to make 70% of his free throws, too. He’s a bit turnover-prone and he isn’t a rim protector, but a solid talent overall.

Also returning are seniors Carlos Paez (5’10, 180) and Cameron Copeland (6’7, 185): Paez is a pass-first point guard coming off a year in which he slumped from beyond the arc. Copeland did a few things reasonably well last season but probably shouldn’t have been taking a quarter of the team’s shots while he was on the floor, seeing as he only made around 43% of his twos.

In Austin Peay’s exhibition last week, it was Missouri transfer Sean Durugordon (6’5, 220) who went off, scoring 24 points on 10-15 shooting. Durugordon hardly played at all before leaving Mizzou, but perhaps he’ll end up a primary contributor for Austin Peay this season.

Fellow transfer Shon Robinson (6’9, 225) also started in that one, and he actually did see the court plenty at San Jose State, where he was an effective paint scorer. He seems to have a bit of wanderlust, however, as Austin Peay is his third school in as many years.

As a group, the Governors leaned heavily on threes last season: over 44% of their shots were threes, and as this did little to apparently help their scoring on the inside, I suppose it makes sense. But they weren’t any good from three, either. Perhaps they’ll find some better shooting depth this season, or just ramp down the attempts a bit; nobody in the rotation shot better than 35.2% in 2022, while everybody in the rotation attempted at least 10 threes, including the bigs. I don’t know that that was a great idea.

Defensively, they did a solid job forcing turnovers, but their utter lack of rim protection was a glaring problem. They were just 323rd in block rate, and I’m not seeing a whole lot of reason to think that’ll be an area of dramatic improvement. The Wolfpack should come out aggressive against this interior. The Governors surrendered a lot of points in the paint, and rebounds, and also committed a lot of fouls. That’s a lot of positive potential outcomes for opponents attacking the paint.

KenPom likes NC State by 13 tonight.