clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Next Up - State

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Next up for Duke is State, and while the Wolfpack has been erratic this season, they are vastly more talented than the teams Sidney Lowe has had thus far at State.  And as you will remember from last year, they tend to get up for Duke.

A lot of Duke fans weren't even born when the competition in this rivalry skewed heavily to State. For the first few years of the Valvano era, State was more than a match for Duke.

Since the demise of Valvano's program though, State has struggled to keep up. For the first time in a long time however, they now have enough talent to compete with anybody in the ACC.  Start with Tracy Smith who has evolved into an excellent big man. Javi Gonzalez, a senior point guard, has been as successful irritatant to the Blue Devils on more than one occasion. As a freshman, Scott Wood proved to be an elite marksman and can shoot with anyone in the ACC.\

Fellow sophomore Richard Howell at times can be a true beast on the boards.

But the true hope for State has been a terrific freshman class. However, El Sid and Wolfpack Nation are finding that freshman can sometimes have painful learning curves.

Against B.C., Lorenzo Brown was burned repeatedly on drives. CJ Leslie, while wildly gifted, has struggled to develop a game away from the basket although like Howell, he has been a solid rebounder.

Lastly, rookie Ryan Harrow is a superb talent, but hasn't been able to completely supplant Gonzalez despite being far more gifted.

With the perception that his job may be in some danger with another mediocre season, Lowe does not have the luxury of bringing them along as slowly as he might like. They are needed and they are needed now.

Despite their struggles, State did turn in solid efforts against top teams like Syracuse, Georgetown and Arizona, and there's no reason to think they can't do it against Duke

To avoid a repeat of last year's thumping, Duke will need to exploit State's inexperience and perhaps particularly their struggles on defense. State will no doubt build on what Florida State and Virginia established, which is that first you must force Duke's supporting players to contribute. If Duke is limited offensively to primarily Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, then it's much easier to stop them.

If on the other hand, Andre Dawkins, Seth Curry, and the Plumlees are more vigorous, it's vastly tougher to defend the Devils.

Wild card: this is Ryan Kelly's first trip to his hometown as a guy who gets significant minutes. Hard to say how it might influence things. The thing about playing State is that probably more than any program in the ACC, State gets jacked up emotionally. This is true of every team and arena in the ACC at different times, but State has always had something unique in this regard. Going back to Everett Case, State has been able to hit emotional peaks and has pursued them longer than anyone else. Case was the genius who installed the applause meter in Reynolds and was the first  guy on Tobacco Road who understood the power a running game could have over a crowd.  State tradition, while arguably a bit musty these days, is nonetheless remarkable and thrilling. We saw a glimpse of this last season when they took Duke apart, and a couple of years ago in the ACC Tournament, when they unexpectedly played  brilliant basketball all the way to the  last minutes in the finals.

Given that Duke has their own issues to work through, we wouldn't be surprised to see a very tight, fast-paced game. Nor would be surprised if Duke won easily. In fact, not much would surprise us between these two, given their long and complex history.

Current DBR Auction!
The DBR App!
The Next Step For DBR
DBR Is On Twitter!(DBRTweetz)
Discover the World's largest E-Book Store! Save big on bestsellers!