Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2009-2010 Wolfpack Basketball Preview: The Shooting Guards

Name: CJ Williams
Height: 6'6
Weight: 218
Class: Sophomore

Most tend to forget how good CJ Williams really is. He was an early commit to NC State during his junior season at Jack Britt High School in North Carolina. Williams hadn't had many offers at the time, but Roy Williams and UNC were regularly communicating with him and keeping tabs on the four star combo. The Heels backed off after CJ announced his college plans and the rest is history.

A back injury prior to his senior season at Jack Britt dropped Williams off of the radar for most scouting outlets, as his numbers dipped considerably in his senior campaign. He explained to us about this injury earlier this off-season.

"Well actually at first it was misdiagnosed. They first thought it was a pulled hamstring and they treated it for that. It didn’t get better, so then I went to get another opinion and they said it was a pinched nerve, and that wasn’t it either. Finally, I found a doctor that knew what it was. It’s actually called the sacroiliac joint, the SI joint. It’s a joint in your back that when you jump, it bears all your weight. That joint was actually out of place and they say if that joint is only 1/16th of an inch off, you’ll be on a pain scale of a 9. In my case the bones were actually stacked on top of each other. The pain would shoot from my buttocks all the way to my knee so I had to get surgery." Said Williams

Finally healthy, CJ came to NC State with the intentions of re-establishing himself as an elite do-it-all guard. He was arguably the top freshman last season (along with Julius Mays), logging over 14 minutes per game and chipping in almost 4 points per game. Williams is a tall guard who will interchange at the three spot for the Pack when necessary. He's a heady player that understands the game and plays within himself when he's on the floor. His .06 turnovers per game was a team low for players averaging more than 12 minutes of floor time.

Last season, Williams at times seemed timid and reluctant to force the issue, a certain symptom of being a freshman in the ACC. This season things will change, according to CJ.

"Last year I settled for a lot of jump shots and that's not really my game. In high school I liked to attack the basket and get in the lane for a pull-up." Williams told us.

Although attacking the basket in high school is a lot different than attacking the basket in the ACC, Williams has made the proper adjustments over his months off the court.

"I spent a lot of time in the gym this summer, getting stronger. I know I'm going to have to play more aggressive this year on offense so I worked on my ball handling which will help me with that." he told us.

With the loss of Courtney Fells, Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner, NC State will need someone to step up the scoring from the guard position and the staff is looking to Williams to provide that boost. This off-season Williams played in the Durham Pro-Am league, a highly competitive league that consists of former college players and current NBA stars. Williams, one of the younger players on the court each night, held his own and then some. Those in attendance could noticeably tell the work that CJ had put in. Improved strength, better ball handling and a dead eye jumper helped him become one of the leading scorers on his team, even pouring in 32 points in one contest. The experience of playing in the Pro-Am has given him a renewed confidence, something Sidney Lowe and the NC State coaches are hoping is carried over into the season.

Williams will certainly be a key piece for the Wolfpack, someone who will be looked to for leadership on and off the court. With no true scoring threat from the guard position, CJ will need to be aggressive and embrace the scoring role if the Pack wants to have success. If this summer was any indication, we don't think it will be much of a problem.

Name: Farnold Degand
Height: 6'4
Weight: 170
Class: Senior

The roller coaster ride that has been Degand's career at NC State is in it's final run, and Farnold is hoping it will be a good one. A transfer from Iowa State, Degand has been either redshirted or injured (for at least a part of) the past three seasons. This year he finally can claim that he is 100% healthy and ready to go. Two years ago, the Pack thought they had found the answer to the point guard woes that had plagued them since Engin Atsur left the team three years ago. Unfortunately, Degand's knee didn't cooperate and he was forced to miss the greater part of the last two years. With the knee problems behind him, he has readied himself for one last push.

Thought of mostly as a point guard over his years in college, Sidney Lowe has optioned to move Farnold to the two guard in hopes to alleviate ball pressure, give the Pack better ball handling on the perimeter, and put more speed on the floor to push the break. The move to shooting guard should take some pressure off Degand, who has had trouble handling the ball in the past. Last season he was third in turnovers per game at 2.2, a high total considering he only averaged 18 minutes per contest.

The question with Degand is whether he will be looked to for scoring and if so, is he capable. No guard on this year's NC State roster averaged over 7 points last season, meaning someone will have to take on that challenge. It's yet to be seen whether Degand has what it takes, but he's shown glimpses in the past of being able to get to the rim with his quick first step and had people taking note when he drilled 50% of his threes over the first 10 games prior to his injury.

Defensively Farnold has the ability to become a lockdown defender, but last season a sore knee hindered his lateral movement, making him an easy target for quicker guards. This year with the knee 100%, all Degand will have to focus on is playing smart, as his athleticism and quickness should take care of the rest.

"I've definitely improved my focus. This year I've made sure to correct things that have been wrong in the past. I haven't necessarily had the best success doing it the old way, so I figured I should go about it a little different this year and I've decided to take that route." Degand said during media day.

It will surely be interesting to see how the move to the two guard effects Farnold. If he is able to chip in on the scoring and alleviate the point guard's pressure, then Lowe will look like a genius and the Pack will be one of the faster ACC teams from end to end. If Degand falters and is lost at the off-guard spot, then I'd be curious to see if he moves back into the point guard rotation with CJ taking over primarily at the two.

There are a lot of questions at shooting guard for the Pack, simply because there are a lot of unknowns. Will CJ mature into a constant scoring threat for the Pack? Will Farnold Degand adapt to the two spot and allow the offense to really push the ball down the court form either backcourt position?

This position certainly has the most flexibility, as you may at times see Julius Mays or Scott Wood slotted in here if the situation presents itself. The staff certainly hopes, however, that CJ or Farnold will step up and grab the reigns. The best case scenario would be the Pack finding a legitimate scoring threat from the two spot, as well as a consistent ball handler that will help cut down on backcourt turnovers that plagued them a season ago.


13 Responses to "2009-2010 Wolfpack Basketball Preview: The Shooting Guards"
  1. Alum02 said...
    November 3, 2009 at 1:45 PM

    CJ has grown a bit since his senior year huh. Wasn't he 6'4" 200 in highschool? He could really be a great player in the mold of Josh Howard for us. I think he would be a much better 2nd or 3rd option, but this year we need him to be our #1 option at the guard position. Here is to a good year for CJ and the Pack.

  2. backdpack said...
    November 3, 2009 at 2:21 PM

    Nice write up WPH.
    The PG spot is summed up by saying "we know what we've had and it better have improved from last year for us to be successful." In the 2 guard position however, you sum it up with "we have no idea what we are getting, but we sure hope it is great because we are counting on it for most of our scoring." CJ has definately gotten bigger and stronger. His confidence seems to have improved. This team is so full of unknowns it scares be but excites me at the same time. Can't wait until Thursday.

  3. backdpack said...
    November 3, 2009 at 2:24 PM

    Interesting write up on CJ.

  4. Anonymous said...
    November 3, 2009 at 2:24 PM

    Wasn't CJ a 5* recruit at one point early on in his recruitment?

  5. Wolfpack Hoops said...
    November 3, 2009 at 3:54 PM

    ^ If I'm not mistaken, Williams was never was a 5 star, although many thought he should be. He was pretty dominant his junior year before the injury.

  6. Anonymous said...
    November 3, 2009 at 3:55 PM

    I'm hoping for big things from CJ. Points, but moreso leadership.

  7. TheUNCFan said...
    November 3, 2009 at 4:43 PM

    From a distance, what I see is that Lowe wants Javi Gonzalez to be the #2 guard because of his shooting, but he's too small to do it in the ACC. He has to run the point to be on the floor. If Degand could be the point guard he was before his knee blew out, he and Mays (you gotta have a backup PG, and Mays is it by default) would be the answer, and a taller Javi would be the answer at the 2 with his ability to get hot from long range. If Lowe could do a mind-meld and put Javi's shooting into Degand's body, and Degand's ball-handling into Javi's body, everything would work great.

    It's going to be interesting to see if one of the State guards steps up and runs the point, and if anyone can make long-range shots. (Kind of like last year, actually.) If I was Lowe, and no one did, I'd try Wood in the backcourt. He apparently ran the point in high school, didn't he?

    It's going to be a strange season, with four ACC schools in NC trying to figure out what to do about their backcourts. Whoever figures it out will be happy and probably on the NCAA bubble, and whoever doesn't will be lamenting a lost season.

  8. Anonymous said...
    November 3, 2009 at 5:04 PM

    ^ Wood did play point his senior year due to his teams point guard getting kicked off the team a few games into the season. It helped improve his ball handling and improved his moves to the basket where he got to the free throw line where he shot over 90%. But I think we could utilize him best running off the ball and coming off of screens to hit the 3.

  9. ppack3 said...
    November 3, 2009 at 9:17 PM

    I disagree with the 'Javi at the 2' theory, but to each his own, and it was a good thought process. I would venture a guess, though, that having Javi and Farnold swap bodies probably never crossed Sidney Lowe's mind.

    But, as long as we're playing that game...

    I have often thought, "What it would be like if Javi and Mays both got trapped in the same body! That would be a fast, clutch shooting, good passing Point Guard with a whole lotta heart! Maybe that body is Farnold's? But what do we do with Farnold's mind? Put it in Mays' body as a back-up PG?

    And then where do we hide Javi's body? Under the Brickyard?

    I could go on, but it seems a bit too D&D for me.

    Go Pack!

  10. Afterglow said...
    November 3, 2009 at 10:07 PM

    Alum02-according to Pack Pride at http://northcarolinastate.scout.com/a.z?s=178&p=8&c=1&nid=2695818 he's 6'4". They do grow sometimes.

  11. Anonymous said...
    November 4, 2009 at 10:17 AM

    You know...we never knew what we were going to get out of the two spot last year.. or for the last 3 years. Who knows what Fells might have done had he been healthy.

    I like our chances at that spot better this year than last. I think we will see more consistancy.

  12. Alum02 said...
    November 4, 2009 at 3:04 PM

    Afterglow, I'm just used to our guys shrinking.

  13. Afterglow said...
    November 4, 2009 at 7:16 PM

    Yeah I know... Spud Web I think was like seven feet tall!


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