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February 8, 2009NC State is tied for last in the ACC with 4.1 blocked shots per game.
Shot-blocking could be perhaps the one area where the Wolfpack miss J.J. Hickson the most, with the 6-foot-9 center going to the NBA after one season. Hickson led the Wolfpack with 47 blocks last year, and the team finished with 143.
The Wolfpack have 82 blocks in 20 games going into today's contest at 1:30 p.m. at Virginia Tech. Six-foot-9 redshirt junior power forward Brandon Costner leads NCSU with 20 blocks and 6-6 wing Courtney Fells has 13.
If NC State can't block the shot, then sometimes drawing a charge is the next best thing.
"We have to play position and be able to draw those charges," NCSU coach Sidney Lowe said. "It's a double-whammy as they say. You put a foul on them and you get the ball. That's two positive things that coming out of that. Sometimes it's just as good if not better than the block, a blocked shot. I think it's better than a block shot if you can get in a take a charge."
Without a shot-blocker, the Wolfpack have to rely more on positional defense and hope to draw more charges. NC State has drawn 11 charges in 20 games with 6-10 center Ben McCauley having six, Costner four and 6-3 point guard Farnold Degand credited with one.
NC State had 34 charges last year with Gavin Grant getting 11, returning sophomore point guard Javier Gonzalez seven and Costner and Hickson had six apiece.
Lowe would like to see the team get in better position to cut off drives and draw more charges. NC State averaged 4.6 blocks and 1.1 charges per game last year, but have fallen to 4.1 blocks and 0.55 charges this season.
"That's a big play," Lowe said. "You're sacrificing your body, and getting in front of people and taking it. Yeah I was a little frustrated because I felt we had a couple of opportunities that we didn't take it. Come Sunday, who knows, we might get about three or four of them and they are going to be huge. So we'll see what happens."
Lowe said the players do a good job of drawing charges from their teammates in practice, and it's an area of the game where the coaches will constantly point out how the team can improve upon.
Lowe joked that he hasn't reached the point where he has one player draw charges from 15 of his teammates, at least not yet. However, Lowe said Virginia Tech's aggressive style going to the basket will test the defense today.
"We are going to have our opportunities on Sunday because they are very aggressive," Lowe said. "They go to the basket. We just have to be in the right position and be ready to step in and take it."
Virginia Tech preview
NC State 2008-09 roster
NC State schedule/results
NC State season stats
Virginia Tech roster
Virginia Tech schedule/results
Virginia Tech season stats
NC State (12-8, 2-5 ACC) at Virginia Tech (14-7, 4-3 ACC)
Game time: Today, Feb. 8, 1:30 p.m. - Blacksburg, Va.
PG - 12 Farnold Degand (6-3, R-Jr., 4.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 2.3 apg) or 24 Julius Mays (6-2, Soph., 4.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.9 apg)
SG -4 Courtney Fells (6-6, Sr., 11.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.2 apg)
SF - 23 Tracy Smith (6-8, Soph., 8.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 0.4 apg) or 15 Trevor Ferguson (6-5, R-Jr., 5.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.7 apg)
PF - 33 Brandon Costner (6-9, R-Jr., 15.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.0 bpg)
C - 34 Ben McCauley (6-9, Sr., 12.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.2 spg)
PG - 23 Malcolm Delaney (6-3, Soph., 18.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.5 spg)
SG - 5 A.D. Vassallo (6-6, Sr., 18.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.9 apg)
SF - 33 J.T. Thompson (6-6, Soph., 4.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.8 spg)
PF - 0 Jeff Allen (6-7, Soph., 14.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.9 spg, 1.6 bpg)
C - 14 Victor Davila (6-8, Fr., 4.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg,
Scouting Virginia Tech
Location: Blacksburg, Va.
2007-08 record: 21-14, 9-7 ACC
2008 postseason: Lost 81-72 to Ole Miss in the NIT quarterfinals
Coach: Seth Greenberg, 19th season overall (315-247) and 6th season at Virginia Tech (102-77)
The all-time series with NC State: NC State leads 34-10
Last meeting: NC State won 73-63 on Feb. 5, 2008, in Raleigh
Virginia Tech: The Hokies' big three of Vassallo, Delaney and Allen have accounted for 71.2 percent of the team's points (1,071), 50.9 percent of the rebounds (404), 59.5 percent of the assists (169) and 85.6 percent of the three-pointers (107). The trio scored 74 of the team's 88 points in the win at Miami on Jan. 25, and 61 of the 66 points in the loss at Boston College on Jan. 31 Delaney's 37 points in the loss to Clemson is the most scored by any ACC player this season. Allen scored 30 points against BC and Vassallo had 30 in the loss to Wisconsin VT has played 10 games decided in overtime or by five-or fewer points Backup point guard Hank Thorns, a sophomore, leads the ACC in assist/turnover ration in conference games with 29 assists and five turnovers Thompson (Hope Christian Academy), Davila (Starmount High) and backup wing Lorenzo Hudson (Forest Hills High in Union County), all played high school basketball in North Carolina Former Syracuse star point guard Adrian Autry is VT's Director of Basketball Operations.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack have battled injuries all season, and Smith missed Thursday's practice with a knee injury, and Degand only played three minutes in the last game against North Carolina Central because of pain in his surgically repaired knee Lowe is 4-0 all-time against Virginia Tech, and they have won six of the seven games since the Hokies joined the ACC Fells is 32 points shy from reaching 1,000 points, where he would join teammates Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley in reaching the milestone this season Fells is averaging 20.3 points and has drained 13 three-pointers over the last two games NCSU has averaged 9.7 turnovers over the last three ACC games, but had 20 against NCCU The Wolfpack have had six different players lead them in scoring this season with only Degand not doing it from the seven players listed for today's projected lineup.