WOLFPACK HOSTS PATRIOT LEAGUE FAVORITE BUCKNELL
NC State has another tough assignment this weekend as Patriot League favorite Bucknell, which has played in two recent NCAA Tournaments, comes to PNC Arena for a Saturday noon game.
1. CAT, THE BIG CAT OR CAT DADDY
Known famously as ‘Cat’, the NC State starting point guard is known by his family as Big Cat and Mark Gottfried has referred to him as Cat Daddy. Regardless of the moniker, the junior point guard has been one of the nation’s premier players in the first month of the season. Barber is second in the ACC in both points per game (20.3) and assists per game (6.3) and is also averaging 5.9 rebounds. He was voted ACC Player of the Week this week after scoring a career-high 37 points in Friday’s win over Winthrop, and that came averaging he scored 21.0 points per game in the Pack’s two games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Barber is currently second nationally in both free throws made (70) and attempted (79).
2. MAYBE SOMEONE WILL SCORE 57 POINTS ON SATURDAY
Cat Barber exploded for 37 points in last week’s win over Winthrop, but he has quite a way to go until he matches David Thompson. Saturday marks 41 years to the day when Thompson scored a school-record 57 points in the Pack’s 144-88 win over Buffalo State. Thompson dropped his 57 points on 27-for-37 shooting from the floor. Thompson also grabbed 17 rebounds and became the seventh player in ACC history to record 50 points in a game. Additionally, Monte Towe recorded 14 assists, which at the time was a school record.
3. HOME SWEET PNC
Saturday’s game will be a chance for NC State to regain its winning ways at home. The Wolfpack, in its 16th season at PNC Arena, is closing in on 200 wins at the multi-purpose building in west Raleigh. State owns a 194-75 all-time record in the building. Mark Gottfried owns a 55-19 mark at PNC Arena, which is the eighth-largest home court in all of college basketball.
4. PACK NOT HUNTING FOR THE ‘3’
One question coming into the season for NC State would be how to replace the long-range shooting of Ralston Turner and Trevor Lacey. The duo combined for 172 made 3-pointers last season. That really hasn’t been NC State’s style in recent games, as the Pack ranks 318th in the nation by shooting 27.8 percent of its shots from3-point range. Caleb Martin and Maverick Rowan have combined to make all of the team’s 37 shots from beyond the arc. Martin is second in the ACC with 3.14 made treys per game and Rowan is tied for ninth with 2.14. Aside from Martin and Rowan, the rest of the team is 0-for-15 from 3-point range.
5. A ROTATION BUILT FOR POSTSEASON - ALREADY
It’s not uncommon for a team to tighten its rotation at the end of the season, as conference and national tournaments approach. NC State, however, has been forced to go with a condensed lineup, playing essentially a seven-player rotation. In the two games in Brooklyn, seven players played all 425 possible minutes (Shaun Kirk appeared for 0:06 of game time vs. Arizona State). NC State’s primary seven-player rotation has played 1,406 of the season’s possible 1,425 minutes (98.7 percent). NC State has three of the top eight players in the ACC in minutes played: Cat Barber (2nd, 38.7), Caleb Martin (3rd, 36.9), Maverick Rowan (8th, 33.7).
HENDERSON EXPECTED TO MISS 6-8 WEEKS
Terry Henderson, a redshirt junior from Raleigh who was projected as a starter for NC State this season, is expected to miss a minimum of 6-8 weeks after tearing ligaments in his right ankle in the season opener on Nov. 13. He suffered the setback just seven minutes into his Wolfpack career after sitting out the 2014-15 season as a transfer. He averaged 11.7 points per game as a sophomore at West Virginia in 2013-14.
A DEFENSIVE IDENTITY
NC State, traditionally known for up-tempo, high-scoring offense, has forged has been more effective on the defensive end of the floor this season. The Pack currently ranks fourth in the ACC in FG percentage defense (.400). However, the Pack is last in the league in FG shooting (.418). The Wolfpack also has a respectable EFG percentage defense mark of .471.
It’s been clear Cat Barber won’t have much time to rest during games this season. Barber is second in the ACC with 38.7 minutes per game and he’s played at least 37 minutes in each contest this season. He played all 40 minutes in the season opener and 43 minutes in the overtime in over LSU.
TWO OF VALVANO’S TEAMS AGAINST EACH OTHER ON V WEEK
This week was Jimmy V Week in college basketball, and coincidentally, two of the teams coached by Jim Valvano will be playing on Saturday. After a brief stint at Johns Hopkins and two years as an assistant at UConn, Valvano took his first full-time varsity coaching job at Bucknell. Valvano coached at Bucknell for three seasons (1972-75) before leaving for Iona. Of course, the famous coach would go on to NC State in 1980 and coach the famed ‘Cardiac Pack’ to the NCAA title in 1983. Valvano won 209 games and made seven NCAA trips as coach of the Wolfpack.
CAT GETTING TO THE LINE
Only James Daniel of Howard has gotten to the foul line more often than Cat Barber.
CALEB’S ADJUSTMENT MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Caleb Martin came to NC State known as a deadly long-range shooter. However, he shot just .305 from 3-point range last season and less than 36 percent on all of his attempts. In the offseason, Martin tweaked his shooting form to be “quieter” and more straight-ahead. Specifially, he now keeps the ball more the the right and has removed a hitch from his motion. The changes have paid off as he is second in the ACC in 3-pointers made per game (3.14) while shooting .393 from 3-point land.
RECORDS FROM LAST FRIDAY
Friday’s 87-79 shootout win over Winthrop featured 37 points from Cat Barber and 38 points from Winthrop’s Jimmy Gavin:
- Barber tied the school record for 19 FTs made in a game. His 22 FT attempts was the third-most in a game in NC State history.
- Barber became just the 11th player in Wolfpack history to record at least 37 points in a single game.
- Gavin’s 38 points stands third for most in a game at PNC Arena.
- Barber tied the PNC Arena record with 19 made FTs in a game
- Gavin’s 38 points was the seventh-highest total ever for a Pack opponent and highest since John Roche (South Carolina) in 1991