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ACC Women's Preview #7- NC State

2000 Roundup: 20-9, 11-5 ACC

Head Coach: Kay Yow

Who's Leaving:

Erb, Summer/ C, 6-6 (16 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1 bpg, 1.2 spg)
Hawkins, Jessica / G-F, 5-8 (3.6 mpg)
Christianson, Keani/ F, 6-2 (4.2 mpg)

Who's Coming Back:
*Chones, Kaayla/ C, 6-3, So. (11.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 56% FG)
*Lewis, Tynesha/ G-F, 5-10, Sr. (11 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.3 spg)
*James, Terah/ G, 5-7, So. (7.9 ppg, 4.0 apg, 1.2 spg)
*Bates, Monica/ F, 6-2, Sr. (5.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.0 apg)
*Scates, Talisha/ F, 6-1, Jr. (4.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
Simpson, Amy/ G-F, 6-0, So. (8.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
Gardner, Ivy/ G, 5-9, So. (5.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.0 spg)
Greene, Christen/ F, 6-3, Jr. (3 ppg, 1.2 rpg)
Moody, Carisse/ F, 6-1, So. (1.9 ppg)
Labador, Amelia/ G, 5-9, So. (4.3 mpg)
Hutcherson, Daphne/ G, 5-8, Jr. (8.8 mpg)

Who's New:
Rivers, Nanna/ G, 5-8
Olanrewaju, Adeola/ F, 6-2

Strengths: Depth, balance, defense

Weaknesses: Size, shooting

Scouting Report: Let's be blunt: after All-American Erb went down with a
season-ending injury, the Wolfpack collapsed. After winning the first
couple of contests without her, a tough loss at Duke triggered five straight
losses, including two upsets to Georgia Tech and a first round loss to
SMU. Erb's loss was felt both in State's shooting percentages (under 40%)
and the opponents' percentages (much higher than usual), as well as
rebounding, where State was outhustled. The reality of the situation is
that State's confidence eroded rather quickly, and there wasn't enough
strong leadership to set things right. In a sense, the easy victories over
FSU, Maryland and Clemson after Erb's injuries may have instilled a false
sense of security that crumbled when Duke came from behind to beat them.

This cast a pall over what had been a great season for the Wolfpack that
began with an upset of #3 Rutgers. That kicked off a 14 game winning streak.
But in losses to Clemson and Virginia, among others, a glaring weakness was
exposed: State's erratic shooting. While their overall FG% was a decent 44%,
their three point shooting was third worst in the league, and their foul
shooting was second worst in the league. This meant that teams would go
zone early and often against State, and they simply shoot their way out of
trouble. Also, even if they had leads toward the end of the game, their
shaky free throw ability meant that other teams could come back. It didn't
help matters any that Erb was one of the team's best foul shooters and that
Chones, her replacement in the blocks, was a wretched 56%. With Erb around,
she still forced double-teams even when being zoned, but teams could afford
to lay off of Chones and play more aggressive zones. The fact State also
had the third worst turnover margin in the ACC (-.4) was another indicator
that quick teams who could force perimeter shots would have a lot of success
against the Pack.

All of that said, it must be noted that one of State's biggest problems
was its youth. With four frosh getting large amounts of playing time,
including a frosh point guard and power forward, it was understandable that
the team struggled at times. But the development of those players will
make State a great team this year, if the team's shooting can improve.

The most important player on the team will be Tynesha Lewis. Her numbers
went way down last year, including her shooting percentage (32% from three,
which amazingly led the team!). She has to step up as the team's leader
on offense in addition to doing her usual good job on the boards and defense.
I look for big things from James, who was fifth in the lead in assists
as a frosh, but who only shot 25% from three and also averaged over three
turnovers a game. Unfortunately for State, she had her knee scoped and might
not be able to play until December or possibly later. This means that frosh
Rivers, a true point, or Hutcherson could get the call early on against
some very tough teams. Rivers is not in James' class at this point, and
while Hutcherson is decent, she lacks James' quickness and scoring ability.
Don't be surprised if Yow spreads the ballhandling responsibilities out
even further.

The most intriguing members of the backcourt are sophs Simpson and
Gardner. While both were inconsistent, they also showed some explosive
scoring potential. Simpson might in fact start if Yow decides to temporarily
put Lewis at poitn guard. She's a fine scorer who could easily average
in double figures this year. Gardner is more physical if not as tall and
has shown good defensive skills. Both will play huge roles for the team.
Another intriguing player is Labador, who has a smooth shot and might get
a longer look this year.

The dominant frontcourt player is Chones, who immediately demonstrated
that she's a force on the boards and a fine defender. She simply needs
to increase her productivity across the board, especially offensively. She
also needs to stay out of foul trouble, having been disqualified from 5
games. She has All-ACC potential if she can improve her scoring touch.
The rest of the frontcourt is a bit more unsettled. Scates is a tough
utility-type player who moved into the starting lineup when Erb went down,
an experience that should help her this year. Greene is the team's tallest
player but is not especially physical, though she did block 12 shots in
only 7 minutes played per game. Moody is a strong player who was limited
due to knee problems who might be called on for significant minutes, especially
if the prize frosh recruit doesn't pan out. That would be Olanrewaju, a
top-50 recruit known for her speed and athleticism. Pairing her with Chones
would give State the most athletic frontcourt in the league, though it would
leave them a bit undersized and thin. The other likely starter for State
is Bates, a wing who can play both forward positions. She has proven to
be solid but unspectacular throughout her career, and that is unlikely to
change as a senior.

State has flaws, but they are correctable. They are blessed with a deep,
athletic lineup that has a lot of experience. Their youngest players show a
lot of promise; even players like Labador and Greene might play an important
role this year. The Pack must use their quickness to overcome a lack of
size and work hard on improving team shooting. Simply improving the team's
foul shooting could make the difference in a number of games. More than
anything, the Pack will thrive because their talented frosh have become
sophomores, the point at which many players improve the most. They have
star power with Chones and Lewis and a potential third star in James. Simpson
and Gardner will lead a devastating bench. I will happily guarantee that
this will be an NCAA team, and further claim that they will be a Sweet Sixteen
team at the very least. Expect to see State ranked in the top 25 all year,
with a visit to the top ten quite possible if they can knock off their tough
non-conference foes.

Schedule Analysis:
NCSU has perhaps the most brutal schedule in the league.
It begins with the Glaxo Invitational, where instead of creampuffs, State
has invited likely top-20 teams Oregon and Wisconsin. They then fly to Hawai'i
to play in the Wahine Classic, an event that includes Arkansas, Hawai'i,
South Florida and Steven F. Austin--all very strong programs. After a tilt
with decent SEC team South Carolina and a breather against ECU, State
must then play another top 20 team, Texas Tech. After a road game against
decent George Washington, State's last non-conference game is against yet
another top 20 team, Iowa State. Wow. To say the very least, State will
be ready to play its ACC schedule. The only concern is that the schedule
may be too difficult, but with a deep squad of returning veterans who are
looking to establish themselves, it could be just the thing the team needs.

Predicted finish: