Mac Attack 02/08/13: Jon Rothstein from CBS Sports joined Mac to recap the State-Duke game from last night and how far he sees teams from the ACC going in March
The Lorenzo Brown injury has obviously been an obstacle which NC State has struggled with overcoming. Jon addressed this issue and wondered if the Wolfpack’s problems go beyond a simple injury to their point guard.
“Let’s rewind the clock a little bit. NC State did not have a great (regular) season last year. They had a great finish. This was a team that was 9-7 in the ACC and managed to get hot at the right time and get to the Sweet 16. But after that run, they lost three key role players from that group: Alex Johnson, C.J. Williams and DeShawn Painter. Even though NC State was able to add more talent to their returning group that they had, they don’t have the role guys, the intangible guys, they had last year when they went to the Sweet 16.”
This team has been accused of underachieving, given the amount of talent Mark Gottfried has assembled, and he think that is more than a fair assessment.
“One through six, they are as talented as any team in college basketball, but the fact remains, they don’t have a lot of guys that can’t play without the ball. When you look at the guys in their rotation, everyone needs to touch the basketball to have an impact on the game and it’s tough to get a lot of cohesion when your roster is structured that way.”
The conversation then turned to intrastate rivals, the Duke Blue Devils, and how well they’re playing and what kind of team could they be if Ryan Kelly returns.
“They’re obviously going to be a better team if they get Ryan Kelly back, but here’s something that I always keep in the back of my mind when I think about Mike Kryzewski’s teams: In 2001, they lost Carlos Boozer late int he season with a foot injury, and all of a sudden, they don’t have him for the stretch run late in th eyar. They have to play Reggie Love and Casey Sanders more minutes at the five spot. They wind up getting Boozer bac for the NCAATournament. They become a better team. They win the NCAA Tournament. Kryzweski has had similar situations like this unfold, and let’s face it, if Ryan Kelly hadn’t gotten hurt, Emile Jefferson wouldn’t have shown the promise that he’s shown. So I think this could be a blessing in disguise.”
Then Mac asked if the same comparison could be made for NC State and the Lorenzo Brown injury.
“No question. One thing that you need to look at, in regards to NC State, is Mark Gottfried is always going to play, at most, seven guys. He is not going to tighten that rotation, and I think they were playing with about six and a half guys in that rotation when Brown was at full strength, but right now, without him, it’s very difficult to see that rotation stretch beyond six.”
Given the down year, the ACC is experiencing this season, Jon was asked if there were any teams who could actually make it to the Final Four this season.
“Miami and Duke. I don’t think NC state is (a legitimate threat). I think right now, if NC State continues to lose, and their seeding continues to drop, they’re going to be a candidate to picked off in the first or second round.”
You can catch Jon Rothstein on Inside College Basketball on the CBS Sports Network and follow him on Twitter at @JonRothstein.