2013-14 ACC Basketball Season Grades: T.J. Warren Carries NC State to .500 in Conference
As a whole, the North Carolina State Wolfpack weren’t that different from many of their conference rivals. But one player changed all that and led NC State into the NCAA Tournament, at times almost by himself. T.J. Warren had the kind of spectacular season few in recent ACC memory have ever enjoyed. His game made the Wolfpack a threat against just about every team they played, but when Warren was off or sometimes in late-game situations, NC State struggled to find other big-time players to help swing games their way. The result was a 9-9 conference record (22-14 overall). The Wolfpack were beaten in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by Saint Louis.
OFFENSE: It’s hard to screw up on offense when you have Warren averaging nearly 25 points a game and hitting 52.5 percent of his shots from the field. And it’s not as if Warren lived in the post. Many of Warren’s points came on mid-range jumpers that have become a lost art in most of college basketball. Warren was a joy to watch, especially when he scored a combined 83 points in back-to-back games late in the season (41 vs. Pittsburgh; 42 vs. Boston College). But when Warren was heavily guarded, the Wolfpack didn’t find other options. Late-game situations were often chaos, as seen in NC State’s loss at Syracuse. GRADE: B.
DEFENSE: The Wolfpack were middle of the pack in scoring defense, giving up about 70 PPG. But they struggled to create extra possessions via blocks and steals (8.8 total per game), and defensive rebounding was also a weak point for NC State. Too often the Wolfpack had to rely on Warren to steal the show to win since the defense wasn’t always sturdy. Credit to Warren, he was often able to do just that, and that’s why NC State won 22 games. But it could have been a very special season in Raleigh had the Wolfpack been more effective defensively. GRADE: C.
OVERALL: Warren made the Wolfpack must-see TV this season. But after two years, he is headed for the NBA Draft and NC State will have a big task replacing his 25 points and eight rebounds each game. Given that, you would have hoped the Wolfpack would have made more out of Warren’s amazing season. GRADE: C.
Twitter-style, the 2013-14 Wolfpack in 140 (or less): “Even with ACC Player of the Year, NC State Can’t Get Out of Their Own Way. #ByeByeTJ”
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