Last weekend in Chapel Hill, the preseason ACC player of the year laid an egg.
The performance was one from which his reputation may not soon recover.
During the first half alone C.J. Leslie, N.C. State's scoring leader, committed six turnovers but otherwise had a minor impact. The junior forward's misadventures accounted for 50 percent of his team's dozen first-half turnovers.
Scorers are vulnerable to losing the ball as they initiate offensive forays; nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that. But Leslie turned the ball over as frequently through carelessness as assertion.
His notion of valuing the ball seemed a bit divorced from the reality of his circumstances, as when his casual pass near midcourt against tight defensive pressure was converted into a Tar Heel layup with near-instantaneous efficiency. No wonder he has more than two turnovers for every assist this season.
The performance not only tried the patience of coach Mark Gottfried, but almost certainly ended any thoughts of Leslie making first team All-ACC. He's only the third-best player on his squad, after Richard Howell and Lorenzo Brown.
Two Leslie teammates had four turnovers each in the loss at the Smith Center - freshman forward T.J. Warren, a bit overmatched at times handling the ball, and Brown, who chipped in 12 assists.
Brown is second in the league in turnovers, but leads handily with 7.0 assists per outing through games of Feb. 24. The point guard's ratio of assists to turnovers (2.1:1) is fourth in the league.
Last season, the first in which he truly ran the Wolfpack offense, Brown paced the ACC with a whopping 118 turnovers. He also managed 1.98 assists for every miscue.
Given prolific production by Leslie and Brown, N.C. State ranks 10th in the ACC in turnover margin, with 312 assists compared with 333 turnovers (-0.78). Only Virginia Tech and Maryland are worse with the ball.
In fact, the Terrapins trail the league with a whopping 4.78 more turnovers than assists per outing. If they fail to make the NCAAs, that will be a crucial reason.
Maryland's Dez Wells, its No. 2 scorer and leader in assists with 88, is faster to record a turnover than anyone in the league with at least 60 turnovers.
The last time an ACC club ended a season with a worse turnover margin than the '13 Terrapins was a decade ago, when Clemson had a -5.11 margin. Those 2004 Tigers finished last in the conference and had a 10-18 overall record.
Mark Turgeon's Terps are quite prosperous by comparison, one win shy of 20 and breakeven in the league with four games left prior to their valedictory ACC Tournament.
|LEADING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION
Individual Turnovers Through Games Of Feb. 24, 2013
|87||C.J. Leslie, NCS||10.1||36|
|84||Lorenzo Brown, NCS||10.0||176|
|80||Mason Plumlee, D||11.6||55|
|79||Dez Wells, M||9.3||88|
|76||James Michael McAdoo, NC||10.7||34|
|72||Michael Snaer, FSU||11.4||65|
|65||C.J. Harris, WF||13.2||50|
|64||Quinn Cook, D||14.1||150|
|62||Devin Thomas, WF||11.2||38|
|62||Robert Brown, VT||12.0||61|
|60||Olivier Hanlan, BC||15.2||65|