Wolfpack Opener: Promise at the Point
NC State opened the 2013-14 basketball campaign Friday night with a 98-77 rout of Appalachian State. The Pack had two 20-point scorers, TJ Warren with 27 and Desmond Lee with 24.
Warren also had 8 boards, while freshman Lennard Freeman added 6 in 19 minutes, hopefully earning more playing time next game.
But the takeaway from this game might be the play from the point.
Tyler Lewis, the soph who struggled at times last year and had to fight for minutes, played most of the first half before going down after hitting the floor hard. He was replaced by freshman Anthony Barber until 13:51 left to play.
But here’s the good part: both finished with 6 assists and double-figure scoring. Minutes were almost identical; Barber played 29, Lewis 28. The point being, the Wolfpack has a nice one-two punch at the position and should not have to fear if Lewis, the likely starter going forward, fouls out or goes down with injury. This is the kind of depth needed over the full season, ACC tournament, and, hopefully, NCAA tourney run.
So what do we have to look forward to this season? Improvement is kind of a given after last year’s harsh dose of reality. But the ACC, with traditional powers Duke and Carolina now joined by the likes of Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame, stacks up to be unbelievably strong.
As usual I will choose some preseason optimism. I think if the Pack plays up to their potential they will slide in behind a top three of UNC, Duke and Syracuse (in whatever order they shake out) and into fourth in the expanded conference. Followed of course by a trip to the NCAAs and then, hey, anything goes.
As much as last year’s team was overrated, this one is overlooked. Buckle your seat belts and do not exit until the ride comes to a complete stop.