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Glancing at NC State basketball’s start

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 17 Charleston Southern at NC State Photo by Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’ll learn more useful information about this team over the next four games, none of which will be played at home—and as at least three of them will be against teams ranked lower than State in KenPom, it’s looking like a good opportunity as well.

Through three games, NC State has moved up to 53 in the Pomeroy Ratings, one spot below where it finished last season. Here is what the guys have done so far this year:

State’s guard trio of DJ Horne, Jayden Taylor, and Casey Morsell are accounting for 75% of the team’s shot while they’re on the floor together. That’s fine for now, as this group continues to build chemistry and find its identity, but I’d expect that DJ Burns will see his workload increase as the year moves along. Burns, by the way, is off to a 20-27 shooting start inside the arc.

Mike O’Connell and Dennis Parker are going to be light-usage players throughout, and from a scoring efficiency standpoint, that’s probably ideal. Both have been solid in limited opportunities, and both bring important qualities elsewhere: O’Connell is 52nd nationally in assist rate, while Parker’s defensive numbers have been outstanding.

Mohamed Diarra already looks like he’s going to be the team’s most important role player—he’s 6-10 inside the arc, but more importantly, he’s been a dominant rebounder, ranking 96th in OR% and fourth in DR%. If he can remain a defensive rebounding stalwart as the competition gets tougher, that’ll help this team a lot. He’s also 112th in block rate.

Ben Middlebrooks has been good in limited minutes—he’s yet to miss a two-pointer—but needs to contribute more on the glass.

Those eight players look like the extent of the rotation, though perhaps Ernest Ross can carve out a larger role as the season progresses.

Overall, I’d say the start’s been about as encouraging as it could be given the competition, and we’ll learn a lot more over the next couple of weeks, especially if the Pack ends up playing BYU (currently KenPom No. 14) in Vegas.