Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pack Sleepwalks to a Narrow Victory


Maybe it was the long layoff. Maybe it was the huge Christmas smorgasbords. Maybe it was the lack of fan energy inside the arena. Whatever it was, it made the Pack look like the walking dead on the court last night, moving slowly and seemingly without a purpose. The Wolfpack squeaked by an undersized and under-talented Loyola team 62-60 yesterday with a late burst of energy, and a bit of luck. The Pack came out blazing with Dennis Horner and Courtney Fells leading the 3 point barrage, but the offense ground to a halt after an 11-2 run. Horner, who was starting for the injured Trevor Ferguson, moved to small forward, with Fells slotting in at the 2 guard to start the game. This small move seemed to make the Pack's offense stagnant and awkward. With Fells at the 2 guard he was asked to handle the ball a lot more tonight, and whether it was the injured ankle or the two game layoff, he looked nervous and unsure whenever he was forced to put the ball on the floor. The offense was noticeably slower with Horner at the 3 and the ball movement was not crisp at any point of the game. After a big run by Loyola, in which at times it seemed as if the Pack was trying to make mistakes, the half ended with the score knotted up at 29 a piece.

The second half brought a bit of life to the Wolfpack as Brandon Costner's first 2 points sparked an inspired 5 minutes of play by the Junior forward. This opened things up for McCauley who poured in 16 and grabbed 11 boards, but everytime the Pack seemed to pull away, there was Marquis Sullivan, the 6'1 Senior guard, dripping in one of his 5 three pointers. Sullivan caught fire down the stretch and got the Greyhounds to within 1 with 19 seconds to play. Sophomore Jamal Barney dribbled baseline as Fells pursued, but was cut off by McCauley forcing him to take an off balance fade away that rattled out and gave the Wolfpack the win.

State was out quicked today by a smaller and hungrier team. They played mostly man defense and sprinkled in some zone, which ended up making them look even more lethargic. "We learned an expensive lesson, inexpensively. We learned that when we're up, to continue to play how we know to play" said head coach Sidney Lowe. Lowe was not happy at all during the game and seemed to try every combination he could to spark some sort of fire under the sleepwalking Pack. A win is a win, and Lowe will take it, but it was ugly, and with one more "should win" game scheduled before they go to Florida, the Wolfpack need to get serious.

In injury news, Javi Gonzalez was in street clothes along with Ferguson (fractured hand), because of a sprained ankle and not because of the cut on his arm, as reported by other sites. Javi injured his ankle in practice and, from what we were told, could be back by Wednesday unless Lowe wants to make sure he's 100% for the game at Florida.
The Ferguson timetable continues to be "not sure," when you ask the coaching staff, but we have talked to a source on the training staff who says its going to be 4-5 weeks until it heals. However, Trevor may try to tape it up and play sooner, since it is not his shooting hand.



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