The North Carolina State Wolfpack are still trying to find their team chemistry but they’ll need their on-court leader to find himself first.
Lorenzo Brown entered the season as a favorite for ACC player of the year, however through eight games of the season it could be debated he’s not even a top three player on the Wolfpack. With the play of front court teammates Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie along with the surprise scoring of freshman T.J. Warren, it’s easy to make the case that Brown is looking like the team’s fourth best player.
The main problem for the 6-foot-5 point guard has been his inconsistent play to begin the season. One game he shows why he’s one of the conference’s best players then in the next game can’t seem to hang onto to the ball.
Brown had his only double-double of the season in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off semifinals with 11 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and only three turnovers. However, once the finals began the junior didn’t look anything like the player that recorded a double-double in his previous game finishing with one assist, seven turnovers (matching a career high set in Dec. 2010 of his freshman year) and six points shooting 22% from the field. He put up a season high 18 points in the Wolfpack’s next game but still finished with more turnovers than assists.
Then when North Carolina State was giving the Michigan Wolverines their closest game of the season resulting in a 79-72 loss for the Wolfpack, Brown had his lowest number of turnovers on the year. He finished with six points, six rebounds, 10 assists and only one turnover. Unfortunately for Brown, he once again took a step back in the next game finishing with six turnovers and five assists in a close win against the Connecticut Huskies.
Inconsistent performances like these are uncharacteristic for the player that was second in the ACC in total assists a year ago to go along with a 2:1 assist/turnover ratio. Last year Brown had 234 assists and 118 turnovers that led to having 40.5% of the Wolfpack’s assists and 25.1% of the team’s turnovers.
This year if you take away Brown’s game against the Wolverines, he has 31 assists and 29 turnovers resulting in 37.3% of North Carolina State’s assists with 30.1% of the team’s turnovers belonging to him.
Brown has logged the most minutes for the Wolfpack through eight games just like he did all last season and along with being the dominate ball handler his turnover percentage compared to the rest of the team will always be high. However, it’s no denying he’s not taking care of the ball anywhere near as well as he was a season ago.
There’s also no denying that the Wolfpack struggles appear to occur when Brown is struggling. When the guard matched a career high in turnovers they were blown out of Puerto Rico. When he posted 10 assists and only one turnover they took one of the nation’s top five teams down to the final possessions, showing why so many believed in them in the preseason.
There’s no denying Brown’s talent as he’s averaging 11.3 points, 5.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.1 steals, that has him responsible for 33% of the Wolfpack’s total steals through eight games. However with less than a month to go before conference play, the team needs him to drastically reduce his 4.1 turnovers per game if they’re ever going to have a chance to live up to all those preseason predictions.