In case you were wondering, yes Duke heard that State questioned the Blue Devil's inside game. Check out Jabari Parker's response:
"We look at their roster, we don’t really see a big impact," Parker told the Raleigh News & Observer. "More importantly, (our) bigs just need to show up, prove that we’re just as good. I really don’t see anything, really. For us to show up is more important."
Seriously, though, Duke's frontcourt, while smaller, has been much more productive than has State's. State does have a significant size advantage, although three of the four big men Mark Gottfried is bringing are freshmen and freshmen can be up and down, as Duke has seen recently with Parker.
State is wise to focus inside. While the public has latched onto UNC's three point shooting - the Heels are hitting just .306 - State is actually worse.
The Pack is hitting threes at a .292 clip. Tony Barber? 8-29 (.276). Desmond Lee? 11-42 (.262). Tony Warren? 12-56 (.214).
State's best hope outside is Ralston Turner, who has hit 32-78 (.410).
That stat, and State's inexperience, goes a really long ways towards explaining what Virginia did to the Wolfies in Raleigh: if you can't shoot outside and you can't move inside, where do you go?
You go home with your tail between your legs, which is exactly what State did, although the game against Wake was a vast improvement.
His outside woes notwithstanding, Warren is by far the Pack's best player and a real candidate for ACC Player Of The Year. Parker is averaging 22.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, shooting .505 from the floor and .739 from the line.
The best way to describe Warren is as a handful. He's smart, resourceful and he's not reliant on particular things. You can take things too, which is fine; he's got other tools to turn to.
He'll be a fine pro, although his odds of sticking will improve if he becomes a consistent three point shooter.
Most of State's offense is coming from four players: Warren, Barber, Lee and Turner are putting up 53.2 ppg, which leaves a little under 20 for the bench to pick up.
Still, there are opportunities for State. Duke's ability to cut penetration has been limited this year, and if you can get inside and get the ball to a big man, you've got a pretty good shot at scoring.
Still, Josh Hairston is an underappreciated defender, Amile Jefferson has learned what he can and can't contest and has stayed out of foul trouble, and Marshall Plumlee looms on the bench like a big battering ram.
But here's the (potential) catch for State: Warren can take care of himself, obviously. The bigs depend on a distributor.
We've watched Barber a fair amount, and he's extremely quick with solid instincts.
What he doesn't like to do, though, is to go to his right.
Whenever possible, he goes left. We're not sure why, since he's right-handed, but he does.
Duke's had some defensive problems to be sure, but the Devils can rotate Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton and Rasheed Sulaimon against the young gun. As Al McGuire said, if you cut off the head, the body dies.