The Wildcats head for Raleigh, North Carolina tonight (Wednesday) for the 3rd night of the ACC-Big 10 Challange. Here's the Purple Reign Preview... "> The Wildcats head for Raleigh, North Carolina tonight (Wednesday) for the 3rd night of the ACC-Big 10 Challange. Here's the Purple Reign Preview... ">

Its the Wildcats in the Wolfpack's Den

<br><b><font color="#330033">The Wildcats </font></b><font color="#000000">head for Raleigh, North Carolina tonight (Wednesday) for the 3rd night of the<b> ACC-Big 10 Challange.</b></font> Here's the Purple Reign Preview...

Their mission is to defeat the North Carolina State Wolfpack on their own turf,

The Coach

This is no Joke, last year at this time, NC State Coach Herb Sendek [NCS Photo] was under a lot of pressure to produce a winner or go coach elsewhere. Lee Fowler, the new NCS Athletic Director looked at the incoming freshmen, and made a decision to keep the 7 year coach.
It's been fun to see Herb this year preparing his team without all that pressure on him, although we know those things can return quickly. And with the football team's 9-0 start, very few people have been mentioning basketball. It's really Herb's first time since he's been here that he's not under the microscope. It's definitely time for him to be that way. [Fowler-Herald Sun]
But last year, Coach Sendek installed an offense that looks and operates just like Northwestern's and the Wolfpack rode that new "old-style" offense into the NCAAs. The difference, according to Sendek is personnel
We're just trying to find the shoe that fits -- bending it here, twisting it there, tweaking it here, to take advantage of the personnel. And what you're able to take advantage of is, in part, also a function of the defense it's facing. [Sendek-NewsObserver]
As a head coach, his teams [NC State and Miami of Ohio] have both made it to the NCAA 2nd round. He's also taken his teams to the NIT 6 of the 9 years he's been a head coach. Yes, he's another former coach from Miami of Ohio.
The Starters
Once again we face a team with only a few games. This one will be the Wolfpack's 3rd in the new season. In the last game (they beat Coppin State 58-37), Sendek started Forwards Julius Hodge [#24 So 6-6] and Marcus Melvin [#54 Jr 6-8], Center Josh Powell [#33 So 6-9] and Guards Scooter Sherrill [#23 Jr 6-3/NCS Photo-left] and Clifford Crawford [#30 Sr 6-3]. Guard Levi Watkins [#21 ] started the first game.

Against Coppin State, Hodge was the leading scorer with 16, Melvin had 13. Hodge has led the Wolfpack scoring in both games.

The Big Guns
No doubt about it, the guys to watch appear to be Hodge and Marcus. Right now the leading scorer is Sophomore Forward Julius Hodge [NCS Photo-right] averaging 17.5 points a game. He also has 8 steals and 7 assists.

Melvin Marcus [NCS Photo - left] has the best 3 point average (.625). The guy with the most 3s attempted is Junior Guard Scooter Sherrill however he's only made 4 of his 12 attempts.

On the boards, its the other Forward, 6-8 Marcus Melvin averaging 7 a game, with Soph Center Josh Powell right behind with 6.5 per game. The difference between the two is that Melvin has 10 of his 14 off the defensive boards, Powell is almost even [6-7].

The Rest of the Team
Herb Sendek has played 10 of his 14 players. Off the bench it appears that Forward Levi Watkins [#21 So 6-7], Guard Dominick Mejia [#12 Fr 6-4] and Forward Will Roach [#22 So 6-5] are #'s 6-7-8. Jordan Collins [#32 So 6-10] and Cameron Bennerman [#13 Fr 6-4] have also played a bit.

The Wolfpack is shooting .470 on Field Goals, .375 on 3's and .733 on free throws. They're slightly better on the defensive end [38 to 24] in rebounds.

Coach Sendek does have some size on his bench. 6-10 Sophomore Center Jordan Collins [#32] weighs in at 240, and 7-0 Freshman Center Adam Simons [#34] is the tallest on the team, but only Collins has any playing time as yet.

To Recap
Another test for our Wildcats, weather not withstanding. Beyond the obvious coaching problem of having two "Scooters" on the court (The Wildcat's Parker and The Wolfpack's Sherrill),

Saturday's questions about the 'Cats remain, with a few alterations:

  • Will Center Aaron Jennings continue to step up and take charge of the middle like he did against UNH and KSU, and will he be able to use his size advantage over a younger/smaller Josh Powell?
  • Will Forward Jason Burke get a few more in the hole?
  • How well can we continue to play without Winston Blake, or better yet can Jim Maley continue his "lights out" play?
  • Does Soph Davor Duvancic become a force up front, stepping up for Vukusic and Blake?
  • Can the other Frosh [Evan Seacat, Mohamed Hachad] step up, get involved, and put some more pressure outside?
  • Will Coach Bill Carmody involve more of his bench Wednesday?
The challenge to the backcourt of Jitim Young and TJ Parker remains the same; they've been the most consistent thing in the NU game and their individual play probably won't decide the game, but again we probably won't be able to win without them both having a great night.

NU Coach Bill Carmody has been quoted several times about how he wishes he could play someone else - not a team with almost the same offense and defense - comparing it to taking bad tasting medicine. Some of the North Carolina papers are suggesting a score more like the NU-Minnesota Football Game rather than a typical "Nawth Calina" scoring festival.

This one is on TV
Tip off is at 6:30 PM CST on ESPN2 Nationwide and on WGN 720 AM and [with Dave Eanet and Shon Morris]. You can also follow the game on the Wolfpack Network. I'm planning to hook up my laptop in the Den so we can Chat [Using the IRC Northwestern Chatroom] during the game, while watching.

Talk about it on the Court Cats Board
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