The Wolfpack will look to take better advantage of those opportunities to push the ball up the floor tomorrow when it visits Marquette to take on the Golden Eagles (6-1). Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. and the game will be aired on the Big East TV network. During his press conference Friday Lowe said he isn't necessarily upset with the relative lack of tempo, but wants his team to look to push it whenever the chance presents itself.
"We've executed pretty well," Lowe said. "But I'd like to see us run more. I don't think we're getting enough opportunities early on the break. Some of that is with the defense getting those steals and deflections and things. But the two area I'd like to improve on are rebounding and running."
Lowe said he doesn't want the Wolfpack racing up and down the floor all night but did say he hopes the Pack can begin to consistently score more points night in and night out.
"We'd like to get in the mid-70s, at least," he said. "That means we're creating opportunities and then looking at the number of shots we get in the game. We want to get that number up. Now those need to be good shots, but if we're pushing the ball and getting quicker looks that number will go up. But we'd like to get up in that mid 70 range and hope that our defense can be solid enough to not let our opponents get there."
Because much of the tempo, slow or fast, in any college game relies on the play of point guards, the play of Javi Gonzalez and Julius Mays is crucial. Lowe said he does count on his point guards to know the pace of the game and be aware of pushing the ball. Through six games, both Mays and Gonzalez have played well, combining for 49 assists while only turning the ball over 31 times.
"I do rely on my point guards from time to time to feel the flow of the game," he said. "That part of it I want, I want them to control the game, but I don't want them to just walk the ball up the floor every time. I just don't want us to get into a half-court grind team. We need to be able to run half court sets but I don't want to rely on grind and execution all the time."
When NC State played Marquette last season in Raleigh, the Golden Eagles escaped when guard Dominic James hit a three-pointer with .4 seconds remaining to give Marquette the 68-65 win. Lowe said he expects to see a very similar Marquette team this season – a team that plays hard and tries to outwork the opposition.
One area where NC State may have an advantage against the Eagles this year is in the post. Forward Tracy Smith, who is nearly averaging a double-double thus far, will play most of the night against 6'6" and 6'7" defenders. Lowe said he expects that Smith will see plenty of double and even triple teams Saturday afternoon.
"One thing for sure that we can expect is that there are going to double and triple team him in the post," he said. "On one hand you like that because you try to take advantage of what we might consider mismatch situations but you have to play smart. We have to be prepared to make the right plays."
Whether those "right plays" come from pushing the ball up the floor to look for quick shots or dumping the ball inside in the half-court offense, Lowe said he will continue to look for the defensive effort and tough play he has seen from his team in its first six games.
"We've found out that these guys are going to play together and play hard," he said. "That I count on."