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Wolfpack Women showcase a frightening depth of purpose on offense

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 07 ACC Women’s Tournament - NC State v Boston College Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NC State is 10-0 for the third consecutive season—I know, highly tedious—and since we have some time, let’s have a look at how this edition of the Wolfpack is doing. I’m going to start with the offense. Because outside of that South Carolina game, this group has been scary. (And they still won the South Carolina game.)

What are the components of an elite offense? I’m going to count several ways.

NCSU Offense

... Tempo (rk) OFF_EFF (rk) eFG% (rk) TO% (rk) OR% (rk) FTR (rk)
... Tempo (rk) OFF_EFF (rk) eFG% (rk) TO% (rk) OR% (rk) FTR (rk)
2020 68.7 (265) 104.1 (19) 50.9 (19) 17.4 (84) 33.9 (108) 17.9 (114)
2021 73.6 (135) 111.9 (14) 54.7 (18) 16.3 (55) 35.6 (87) 16.3 (215)

(HerHoopStats uses a real, er, roundabout definition for free throw rate, which seems rather goofy to me. I include it for the sake of Four Factors consistency, but just bear in mind that it is not the more standard FTA/FGA measure.)

What jumps out quickly is the change in pace—State was a bit of a plodding half-court affair in 2020 but in the early portions of 2021 has opened up its attack. A lot of that has to do with Raina Perez and how her skillset opened up new approaches for the offense. She is an excellent passer, and she’s also fast, and she’s pushing the ball whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Playing to her strengths leads to more plays like this:

She’s awesome. (I’m a big Raina Perez fan, if you can’t tell.)

Moving into the efficiency side of it, you can see that NC State has been consistent with last year’s performance. It’s probably better to focus on the national rankings in each category rather than the raw figures, since it’s early and, again, none of these numbers are adjusted for opponent strength.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the raw figures are for sure over-selling the current team—I mean, it might well be, marginally, that much better of a shooting team than last year’s edition. (If so, yikes, everyone else.) That’s what the rest of the year will tell us.

NC State finished last year in the top 40 in both 2FG% and 3FG%, and so far the ‘21 group is is meeting the same thresholds, while also shaving a smidge off its turnover rate and grabbing more offensive boards. There’s no doubt this year’s offense has the potential to be better, and for insight on that, I want to dig deeper into three players, beginning with Jakia Brown-Turner.

Brown-Turner

... %Poss eFG% 2FG% 3FG% FT% OR% TO%
... %Poss eFG% 2FG% 3FG% FT% OR% TO%
2020 18.8 50.2 46.4 36.8 62.5 4.5 15.3
2021 22.1 51.7 46.7 40.5 69.6 7.1 7.3

Jakia was a highly-regarded recruit who earned a spot on the ACC’s All-Freshman team in 2020—she was an impact player out the jump, and while she levels up as a sophomore, the indicators for future stardom are obvious.

Her workload is up substantially this year, but despite that added stress her two-point shooting is consistent and she’s nonetheless better from beyond the arc. She’s also making the refinements elsewhere that are strong indicators of someone who is figuring this whole college deal out. Sky’s the limit.

..............

In direct contrast to JBT, there’s Kayla Jones, who didn’t start a game for NC State until her junior season. Kayla Jones averaged four minutes per game during her freshman season. It took her a while to develop into a player Wes Moore could trust, and from there she became an irreplaceable part of the lineup. She’s started 42 straight games for this team.

Jones

... %Poss eFG% 2FG% 3FG% FT% AST% BLK%
... %Poss eFG% 2FG% 3FG% FT% AST% BLK%
2020 18.2 54.8 54.8 36.6 62.5 17.5 0.9
2021 19 64.6 59.4 52.2 69.6 17.8 2.1

I’m not sure that Kayla knows exactly how good she is—her workload has been consistently average or below—and if she needs to hear it: she is really, really good. She could stand to take more shots than she does. As it is, she is a frightening bit of accounting for opposing defenses that are already overly occupied by Elissa Cunane in the middle and Brown-Turner on the wing.

Kayla is that modest vet, that solid presence you trust implicitly, and eventually, if you’re lucky, the difference on the road against the country’s top-ranked team.

.................

Then there is Raina, the mid-major graduate transfer who transitioned from being the focal point of an offense at a mid-major program to become a secondary option at a power-conference school. That can be a difficult adjustment for a lot of reasons. (And also a huge relief for a lot of reasons.)

Perez

... %Poss eFG% 2FG% 3FG% AST% TO%
... %Poss eFG% 2FG% 3FG% AST% TO%
2020 28.7 50.5 49.6 35.5 26.3 15.1
2021 16.8 54.7 54.2 37 26.9 14.4

She’s more of a jump shooter now, and she’s not such a necessary part of the scoring as she was at her last stop, which makes her a completely more entertaining player now, that one who is spinning ridiculous passes in transition

But she’ll still win this team at least one game by scoring 25, you can bet on that.