Player of the Week
The dynamic duo for the Wolfpack have been key to the team's 10 game winning streak. Leslie has provided the bulk of the scoring up front while Howell has been a rebounding machine lately while being called a "beast" by the best coach in the game today. It was the duo's play in the second half that lead to the upset of the then #1 ranked Blue Devils on Saturday. The most impressive part is that the two have managed to stay out of foul trouble for virtually the entire season. It is no secret that State is thin up front and essentially plays a 6 man rotation so having the two big men stay out of foul trouble early on has really allowed this team to hit their stride following that embarrassing loss to Oklahoma State back in November.
Erick Green - Virginia Tech
Realistically, Green's name could be cemented in this spot for the way he has played the first half of the season. He led the nation in scoring during the non-conference and most figured that as soon as the competition got tougher that his scoring would come back to Earth. Apparently Green didn't get the memo as he has increased his scoring through his first three ACC contests. He has scored 28, 24 and 28 points so far and has increased his lead in the scoring race. Green has become a complete player during his Senior year. He is shooting the ball well, creating for his teammates (4.5 assists), getting to the rim and drawing his fair share of fouls. He has also rebounded the ball well for his position and at 4.3 per game, he leads all ACC point guards.
Rasheed Sulaimon - Duke
Suliamon got off to a quick start for the Blue Devils but has hit that proverbial "freshman wall" lately. He has been held to single digit scoring in 4 out of his last 5 games. In his last two ACC contests at home against Clemson and on the road at NC State, he has gone ice cold making only 1 out of his last 15 shots. But it isn't as if the freshman isn't getting good looks or pressing. Even through this tough stretch he has continued to take his shots within the flow of the offense. The majority of his looks are open, they just aren't falling. It's a long season and most freshman go through these types of slumps the key to breaking out of it will be getting a few easy buckets in transition and getting to the free throw line.
Top 5 Sophomores
Quinn Cook - Duke
Duke's biggest question mark coming into the season was at the point. That question has been answered in the form of Cook. His emergence as the lead guard for this team has allowed Seth Curry to slide to the off guard spot where he is more suited and it has given Coach K the player he desperately needed to run the offense. Cook is second in the league in assists at 6.2 per game up from 1.9 last season.
Alex Len - Maryland
Outside of Cook, Len has shown the largest improvement from his freshman season to his sophomore season. The big man showed flashes last season of what he was capable of doing but his youth and tendency to get into early foul trouble limited him for much of the year. This season he has become more of a focal point in the offense and has, for the most part, avoided the foul trouble that took him out of the lineup last season.
James McAdoo - North Carolina
McAdoo hasn't quite lived up to the hype that earned him Pre-Season All-American honors but he is still one of the more talented players in the conference and is just scratching the surface with is ability. As a more perimeter oriented four man, McAdoo often times relies on his jump shot rather than using his size and unique skill set to get to the rim and the free throw line. He also still has yet to develop the killer instinct that he needs to lead his team.
Shane Larkin - Miami
Larkin, the son of Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, is one of the more underrated players in the ACC. He wasn't a heralded recruit coming out of high school but he has shown his ability to lead a team during his first two seasons with the Hurricanes. The Canes have surprised some people early on without big man Reggie Johnson. They are tied atop the ACC after three games and Larkin is a big reason why. He is shooting over 40% from distance this season which is good enough for 11th in the conference.
Ryan Anderson - Boston College
Boston College hasn't played particularly well as a team this season but Anderson has taken his game to the next level. After a solid freshman campaign, he has really started to blossom in his second year. He is nearly averaging a double double and seems to up his game when playing against better competition. He took it to NC State's front line in their first ACC contest and almost willed his team to an upset.
"being called a "beast" by the best coach in the game today." - WOW. Yes Gott has done great things maganging the squad he was given and done a great job recruiting future talent, but best coach in the game today?? Get real.
The Pack played a great game, at home, against #1 Duke. Will be interesting to see which Pack team shows up in Cameron though, the one that lost at Maryland and barely put of 50 points, or the one that out-hustled Duke (minus Ryan Kelly all game, and Seth Curry in the stretch). Will be a battle in Durham for sure.
Just realized those were K's comments about Howell; not Gott, my bad!
At what point does NC State stop rushing the court. They were picked to win the ACC and ranked in the top 20. Why do their fans always rush the court? Act like you have been there before.
While I'm not a fan of rushing the court, to State's defense, it was less about the win and more about where the program is heading.
State fans just want to compete with Duke and UNC on an annual basis and that win signified that Gottfried had Gotten (see what I did there?) the program to that point.
But I'll agree that storming the court when you are a ranked team doesn't make much sense but if you follow Tobacco Road basketball a lot then you know that it was more than just a win for the State program.
I agree, State fans should not have rushed the court last weekend. They were projected to win the ACC. They should have expected to win that game at home.
In their defense though - it has more to do with Duke than it does State. Since the 2003-2004 season, in Duke's road losses there were 25 court rushings, and only six teams fans did not storm the court after beating Duke at home. NC State was never in that group of six. In fact, their fans have stormed the court 3 times in that time span.