Michigan Basketball: N.C. State vs. Michigan — Big Ten/ACC Challenge — Preview
Basketball junkies who have craved better preseason competition at Crisler Arena will get their wish on Tuesday as the talented North Carolina State Wolfpack team takes the floor against Michigan in the kick-off night of the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Both teams are very talented with some contributing freshmen. North Carolina State caught fire late last year and the Wolfpack became the sleeper team of many bracket gurus to go far and deep into the tournament. North Carolina State made the sweet sixteen and lost to a tough Kansas team.
Mark Gottfried is the second year head coach of the Wolfpack. He is the nephew of football coach, now ESPN football analyst and former football coach, Mile Gottfried. His father, Joe, has been a long time athletic director at South Alabama. Coach Gottfried played at Alabama, coached at UCLA, and put the Murray State program on the map before taking the job as head coach at Alabama. He has been around the block and knows the college game very well. The game has the intrigue of matching two high-end career coaches.
The Wolfpack suffered one loss in the early part of this basketball season to Oklahoma State. So, the record sits at 4-1 coming into the match-up. Michigan is undefeated having just won the NIT.
The loss means nothing; both teams have talent, coaching, and should play like a tournament game Tuesday. Both teams are currently in the top 15, but basketball rankings crash and soar on one defeat or victory this time of year.
Mark Gottfried runs a tricky offense, and if a team wants to beat N. C. State, the first mission is to understand what the Wolfpack is attempting to do on offense. The offensive options attempt to take advantage of opponent’s weaknesses on defense, hesitations making decisions, or bad decisions made by the defenders. It is an if/then type of deal, if an option is pursued and a defender does this, then, the offensive option will become….
The primary option many times starts at the wing, out near the three-point line. A screener will set up and if the defender stays under, then have a talented shooter take a free three. If the defender chases, take the ball, hook around and head down the middle. The two low block guys will move, replace, and pick down low. Sometimes one will flash open to the middle of the lane. When a defender messes up, then take the advantage. The key is to get a defender to hesitate and have pressure put on him about which of two choices should be made.Michigan will need to be very well prepared for the options the North Carolina State offense presents. This could be a game where defense may outshine offense. That may not be good since Michigan is still foremost a running offensive team. While at Alabama, Coach Gottfried played a half-court game and good defense that yielded some low scoring games against good competition. As a result Michigan will look to run. The key will be to have good enough defense to force misses and rebound the misses. So far NC State has put up very good scoring numbers, excepting the loss to Oklahoma State. Six players averaging near ten points or more early this season support this statement.
The offensive production so far in 2012-13 is led by two freshmen. T. J. Warren is averaging over 16 points per game. He is huge at 6’ 8” and over 230 pounds, a nice tight end. He obviously is making good use of the many options Gottfried has in his offense. He is shooting over 65 percent from the floor, which means much of the damage has been done near the rim and on offensive rebounds. A second young contributor is guard Rodney Purvis. He is hitting in double figures and is one of the Wolfpack’s best three-point threats hitting over 50%.
Warren is not the only large player that will see the floor for NC State. Senior Richard Howell is also 6’ 8” and near 260 pounds. He is averaging nearly 9 rebounds a game and is hitting over 70 percent from the field. Michigan’s inside guys are really going to have their hands full, probably literally and figuratively. Jordan Vandenburg is 7’ 1” and has seen spot action. He has only scored two points this season and secured four rebounds.
Other contributors are C. J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown and Scott Wood, all averaging around ten points per game. So, like all motion offenses, balance in scoring is expected and so far this aim has been achieved.NC State is hitting over 50% from the field and over 40 percent from behind the arc; very high figures. Michigan, again, will get a defensive test that might bode well for how the young Wolverines might hold up in the Big Ten. Of note is the current foul shooting status of North Carolina State: only 58 percent, far below a normal team output. Michigan is shooting much better from the foul line, but two talented shooters, Robinson III and Hardaway Junior, are only shooting in the mid 60% range. Athletes and shooters of this caliber should shoot much better, so hopefully both improve as the season goes progresses.
NC State will try and make easy baskets on low post size and offensive execution. Michigan will try and get the greyhounds out of the blocks against the bigger Wolfpack players.
So, watch the 45-degree screen, the player that curls, goes behind, or heads down the lane. Watch the big guys moving on the blocks to get loose and set screens for others. Watch the flash pivots into the lane, and watch how well Michigan can adjust to all of these options.
Should be a big time game.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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