Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wolfpack's second unit paying off so far

So far, coach Sidney Lowe's unorthodox use of his bench is working out well for N.C. State.

With about 12 minutes left in each half, Lowe has been substituting a full second unit for his starters, and then leaving the backups in the game for five to six minutes on the game clock.

The Wolfpack's depth was a key as N.C. State defeated East Carolina 87-76 on Wednesday night at the RBC Center. Three East Carolina players fouled out as the Pirates didn't have the strength to muscle up against N.C. State in the post.

"I thought (the rotation) still worked out for us," Lowe said. "It's something we have to look to do if we're going to run and push the ball and get out and defend the way we want."

Center Tracy Smith's ability to score on the block is the key to the strategy, as it allows N.C. State to continue with its inside-out philosophy even with starters Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner on the bench.

Power forward Dennis Horner probably is about as good a "fourth big" as you will see in the ACC, and redshirt freshman Johnny Thomas even has emerged from a long battle with a knee injury to provide some spark off the bench.

Lowe sounds uncertain about whether he will continue with that substitution plan in ACC play, but it seems to be working so far.

"The important thing is for those guys that are coming in to understand that they're a unit, and to understand the strength of that unit," Lowe said. "Tracy Smith is a strength of that unit. And we need to play through Tracy just like we play through Ben and Brandon on the first unit. When we did that tonight, Tracy scored or he got fouled.

"I still feel confident putting those guys in there."

- Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

There is something wrong here... this blog isn't about Hansborough.