Brown's Play Is Key

The Wolfpack is depending on point guard Lorenzo Brown carrying the right attitude and that's something that coach Mark Gottfried is aware of.

So when things don't go smoothly for Brown, there's reason for concern.

"He's hard on himself," Gottfried said. "He wants to play at such a high level."

Keeping Brown in the right groove is one of the priorities for the Wolfpack, whose short bench makes it vital that the starters are producing throughout games. In Brown's case, he's continuing to learn about the role of playing point guard on a regular basis.

He has encountered some rough stretches the past five games, with 27 assists and 23 turnovers during that span. Throw in a 13-for-38 shooting stretch from the field during those five games and it's understandable why Brown's efficiency is being scrutinized.

The good thing for N.C. State might be that Brown broke a string of four games without a double-digit point total by scoring 10 points Thursday night at Georgia Tech.

Putting Brown in a confident mindset might be crucial for the Wolfpack going into Thursday night's visit to Duke.

-- When the Wolfpack won Thursday night at Georgia Tech, it marked the team's only game during a 12-day span. N.C. State continues to use only seven players in most cases during the ACC portion of its schedule, so the break should do it a favor. For the rest of February, N.C. State has to leave home only twice and one of those trips is to nearby Duke, and the Wolfpack's other trip is to Clemson. That means N.C. State won't leave the Carolinas again until March.

-- The Wolfpack has been one of the top ball-moving teams in the ACC based on assists. N.C. State has led the ACC in conference play with nearly 16 assists per game. The key for the Wolfpack in this area is that several players are capable of being play makers. Even though N.C. State was limited to 12 assists in a victory against Georgia Tech, four different players were credited with more than one assist.

-- The Wolfpack's next three games come against teams in the national rankings and it marks the toughest stretch of the season for N.C. State, which enters the period only one game out of first place in the ACC. During a six-game span, the Wolfpack takes on the three teams tied for first place in the ACC. It's shaping up as a remarkable turnaround from a year ago, when the Wolfpack was a 10th-place team in the conference.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7-3 -- The Wolfpack's record through 10 ACC games was its best 10-game mark in six years, since the 2005-06 began at 8-2. None of the previous five seasons produced more than four wins in the first 10 league outings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's not one of the taller players on the floor, but he uses his body and he has had phenomenal effort." -- Coach Mark Gottfried on F Richard Howell, who's the fourth-leading rebounder in the ACC with more than nine boards per game.


-- at Duke, Feb. 16
These are the teams holding the top two 3-point shooting percentage in the ACC, and the Wolfpack will be charged with matching up with Duke's backcourt shooters, particularly G Austin Rivers and G Seth Curry. N.C. State F C.J. Leslie will have a tough task in the lane against Duke's long front line.

-- vs. Florida State, Feb. 18

KEY MATCHUPS: The Wolfpack will have to be cognizant of Florida State's strong interior, led by F Bernard James and so this means keeping F Richard Howell out of foul trouble. Florida State's backcourt can be physical, but G Scott Wood of the Wolfpack has had some clutch outings against the Seminoles.

FUTURES MARKET: The Wolfpack will want to watch how G Scott Wood reacts after missing his first free throws of the season. But it's not so much a matter of a couple of foul shots that didn't fall, but perhaps more an issue of how the wear and tear of the season might impact the Wolfpack in the final month of the regular season. N.C. State's five starters all played more than 30 minutes against Georgia Tech, which is near the bottom of the ACC standings. In Wood's case, he played more than 39 minutes for the most playing time on the team.

-- Senior G C.J. Williams has improved his scoring average by 7.5 points per game since last season and through the weekend. He was averaging 12.2 points per game after scoring 15 points in the most-recent outing at Georgia Tech.

-- Junior G Scott Wood's streak of consecutive free throws made ended at Georgia Tech, but another of his streaks continued. Wood made at least one 3-point basket in 22 games, through the weekend, which is the longest active streak in the ACC.

-- Sophomore F C.J. Leslie missed last year's game at Duke, so Thursday night's game will his first at Cameron Indoor Stadium. He scored 13 points in a home game against Duke last season.

Pack Pride Top Stories