Controlled Aggression

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State junior guard Trevor Lacey has a goal in mind when starting each basketball game.

NC State junior guard Trevor Lacey has a goal in mind when starting each basketball game.

"I just try to stay aggressive," said Lacey. "I know that if I'm aggressive to score it opens up angles and opportunities for my teammates."

When Lacey, and point guard Cat Barber, are getting in the lane and not settling for mid-range jumper or three-pointers, NC State's offense is normally clicking. Lacey, who is averaging a team-high 15.7 points per game, is so effective because he is a willing passer, not just a scorer.

"I love passing the ball," he said. "I love getting my teammates involved. If I keep settling for jumpshots it kind of takes away from them. It also hurts my game a little bit so I try to stay aggressive, get in the lane, and make plays for everybody."

The other Wolfpack players know how important it is for Lacey and Barber to attack the rim, especially the big men. The duo can attract attention and open up easy scoring opportunities for Abdul-Malik Abu, BeeJay Anya, Lennard Freeman, and Kyle Washington.

That was the case in the win against Villanova, when Abu and Freeman scored 18 points in the paint and the majority coming from paint touches created by Barber and Lacey's aggressiveness.

"It opens up our offense," said Abu. "Cat and Trevor are two of the best guards in the country, especially as a tandem, and when they are aggressive it opens up things for me, Kyle, BeeJay, and Lennard... even Ralston."

"It helps a lot," added Freeman. "When they dribble and get past their guy it makes the big man step up and we can get easy layups."

Lacey believes that involving the big guys early and often will lead to overall success, not just offensively.

"It keeps them locked in," said Lacey. "If they know when you get in the lane they are going to pass them the ball, they'll stay aware and ready to receive the ball. By getting them the ball I know it will get them going and their energy level will rise up.

"I can then ask more of them on the defensive end because I'm feeding them on the offensive end. Everybody wants to score. If you're scoring you're going to be up and excited. I see that and I try to get my teammates going. Every little thing helps."

"I think that's a natural human emotion," said Abu. "When you feel like you're a part of the bigger picture you're going to want to help with the little things. Getting everybody involved definitely boosts morale and makes everyone work harder."

The big men aren't the only beneficiaries of an attacking Lacey and Barber. Ralston Turner, the Pack's top perimeter shooter, gets cleaner looks when the guards attack and kick-out for open three-pointers. Barber did a great job of it in the first win over Louisville, with passes like this to Turner.

"It makes it hard for the other team to guard all of us," said Turner. "It also opens it up for our big guys as well. [Barber and Lacey] can get in the lane and make plays for everybody. When they are doing what they're doing it makes it easier for the rest of us."

Is NC State going to be effective offensively against Louisville? You will likely get an idea early on if Trevor Lacey and Cat Barber are aggressively attacking the rim, drawing defenders and opening up scoring opportunities for others.

"As a whole, it starts with them," said Abu. "Offensively it starts with Cat and Trevor. They are important."

"They are terrific players," added Freeman. "They can do it all. When our guards get going that's when we are at our best."


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