A Wolfpack Wishlist for 2010

‘Tis the season for giving – and while Sidney Lowe and the Wolfpack have much to be thankful for, there are many State fans who are hoping that Santa is a little generous to the team on Christmas Day.

Based upon the inconsistencies that have plagued the Pack to this point, there is a great deal of improvement needed across the board before the conference schedule really gets going in January. If one could compile a Christmas wish list for the entire team, here's what it might look like:

Josh Davis – more accuracy from the free throw line
If Davis could hit free throws on a more regular basis, or at least display some sort of perimeter skill, he would be a lock in the starting lineup. But hitting 30% from the charity stripe is not going to cut it, especially down the stretch where his tenacity on the glass will often result in drawing fouls.

Scott Wood – more confidence
Wood has shown flashes of what could be when he actually settles down and plays with confidence. In fact, he could be the scoring machine the Pack so desperately needs if he would step up and take command of his shot. He's a smart player, and a better defender than most expected, but until he reaches that point where he can stop rushing his shot and start hitting it with a little swagger, he will always be a step away from his true potential.

C.J. Williams – more assertiveness
Like Wood above, Williams needs to step up and have more confidence in his shot. After all, when his shot isn't falling, he seems to disappear – and that's not a good sign from someone who was expected to have a big year. If Williams can assert himself on the perimeter, he can secure himself more time on the court and more time to hone the other skills (defense, driving the lane) that need a little more work.

Richard Howell – a little more restraint
Everyone knows Howell has big time skills for a power forward, and his early injury is the only thing that has prevented him from using those skills in the early going. The only problem is: he needs to be a little more patient on the floor until his body can catch up and get into better playing shape. Until that happens, he will be a liability on the defensive end, and his lack of control on the offensive end will lead to more turnovers.

Tracy Smith – invisibility from ACC officials
Thanks to his post-game comments at Wake Forest, Smith has an enormous target painted on his back that will draw more glances from the officials. Now, in addition to matching-up against taller, more physical big men, he will have to be concerned with getting calls in his favor – and it will be an uphill battle every night to stay out of foul trouble.

Julius Mays – more consistency
With Farnold Degand back on the floor, Mays has to prove that he can bring a more consistent performance in order to keep his minutes. He does well to keep turnovers to a minimum when he plays the point, but if he can provide offense with more regularity when he slides over to the two, he could be a mainstay at the position and possibly a go-to guy down the stretch.

Farnold Degand – a little more court awareness
Degand is the fastest Wolfpack player on the floor when he has the ball in his hands, and his ability to drive the lane is something that the Pack desperately needs in the half-court set. However, when he does drive to the basket successfully, he needs to be more aware of the shot-blockers that are waiting for him to take that lazy lay-up. If he could find other ways to finish – an underhand dish to a teammate, a pull-up jumper – he would be a valuable asset on the offensive end. Of course, better perimeter and FT shooting would help, as well, but let's not get carried away…

Deshawn Painter – patience
If anyone on the roster could be labeled simply as "raw", it would be Painter. This kid has plenty of potential and a great deal of athletic ability around the rim, but it will take some time for him to learn the nuances of the game. Unfortunately, he is being thrust into a role that requires him to shorten his learning curve.

Jordan Vandenberg – a more refined offensive game
At 7'1", Vandenberg already provides a solid defensive presence in the paint, has good timing on his blocks, and holds his rebounds well. However, his offensive game leaves a lot to be desired. If he can develop that jump-hook into a more reliable weapon and attack the rim with more aggressiveness when the opportunities arise, he could definitely see more time on the floor.

Johnny Thomas – a healthy knee
The Wolfpack can definitely use the skills that Thomas brings to the table; but without a knee that will withstand the rigors of this game, he will have to sit on the sidelines and serve as an emotional leader from the bench.

Dennis Horner – a little help
Horner is clearly the hardest worker on the team, which is definitely something you want from your senior leader. But until the rest of the squad follows his lead, he will have to carry a tremendous load every night.

Javi Gonzalez – a good bill of health for the entire season
While Horner and Smith are providing most of the points this year, it's obvious that Gonzalez is the one who makes this team go. The Wolfpack can't afford to have him on the sidelines with a bad hamstring, or anything else for that matter. If he isn't healthy, the Pack's chances of finishing anywhere other than the ACC basement are clearly diminished.

Sidney Lowe – a few cases of Pepto Bismol
This is going to be a difficult season – a few cases may not be enough…

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