Monday, November 2, 2009

2009-2010 Wolfpack Basketball Preview: The Point Guards

With the basketball season set to kick-off this Thursday, we'll be taking the next few days to preview the current team and take a look at each position, it's strengths and it's weaknesses. Today, in our first installment, we'll be looking at the point guards.

Name: Javi Gonzalez
Height: 6'0
Weight: 175lbs
Class: Junior

It may sound crazy, but there might not be a more experienced point man in the ACC. Javi Gonzalez went through baptism by fire during his freshman season when he was forced to fill the starting point guard role vacated by an injured Farnold Degand. Then last season, he again played a bigger role than expected, winning the majority of the minutes over freshman Julius Mays and an on-again, off-again injured Degand.

Last season had more highs than his freshman campaign, but still was marred by a high turnover total, something Sidney Lowe just won't stand for. "Playing for Coach Lowe, he expects his point guards to be perfect. No mistakes at all. I mean, he knows we are going to make a few here and there, but in practice and in games he wants us to be perfect." Javi said. Not surprising coming from a former point guard who holds the school record for assist-to-turnover ratio.

This season Javi is a year older and is looking to take the reigns as the opening day starter for the Pack. In order to prepare himself Gonzalez spent the off-season working hard on his areas of weakness. "All off-season I worked on getting stronger and creating off the dribble. The coaches wanted me to be able to attack more and keep the defense honest, so I've gotten a lot better at that." he said.

Late last season Gonzalez showed the Pack fans a glimpse of what may be in store for the '09-'10 season as he averaged over 11 points per contest over the final eight games. Javi gives the Wolfpack another viable option from beyond the three point line. Last season he connected on over 42% of his threes and was the go-to shooter down the stretch.

Gonzalez is now in his junior season and will be looked to for consistency at the point. The fiery son of a boxer has the heart, the quickness and the ability to be a solid option for Sidney Lowe, but will have to put it all together and cut down on the turnovers if the Pack wants to be successful with Javi at lead guard.

Name: Julius Mays
Height: 6'2
Weight: 190
Class: Sophomore

Mays is a competitor, there is no way around that. His refuse-to-lose attitude showed up on occasion over his freshman season, as he hit a game winner against Miami and poured in 18 points, 2 assists and zero turnovers against Maryland in the Pack's first round ACC tournament loss. Julius came to NC State knowing nothing besides winning. His Marion high school team went to the state championship game two seasons in a row and was the champion his junior season.

His first season, however, had it's share of ups and downs. Mays showed signs of becoming a beacon of consistency for the Pack backcourt, but freshman hiccups and an inability to defend quicker guards forced him to the bench down the stretch. This season Mays is quicker, stronger, and has a better grasp on his role with the Pack. "I worked a lot this off-season on getting quicker and stronger. I did a lot of agility drills and worked a lot in the gym. Coach Lowe wants us to able to push the ball this season, so I worked on conditioning a lot as well." Julius said.

While Gonzalez may be the quicker of the two, Mays is certainly more crafty. His ability to create space and score off the dribble, two things he excelled at last season, will be the things that Coach Lowe will need to see from Julius this year as the Pack will look for scoring wherever they can find it.

The key to Mays' success will be his ability to defend the smaller, quicker guards in the ACC, something he was not able to do consistently a season ago. Lowe and the Wolfpack have the personnel to match up man-to-man with most opponents, but penetration from opposing point guards haunted them a season ago, and will be key to their success again this year.

The success of the point guards will go a long way in dictating the outcome of this season. If the these two can stay consistent, take care of the basketball, and defend, the Wolfpack will surely be able to turn some heads. If neither Javi nor Julius step up, Lowe will have nowhere to turn and NC State may be in for a long season, however, the two guards have taken the off-season to make sure that doesn't happen.

Javi's weakness has been his size and his composure, but his age has to be taken into consideration. Gonzalez will be an upperclassman with two years of experience under his belt, and with an off-season of weight training, he just may be ready to come into his own.

Mays' was a fan favorite, however, his speed caused problems for the Pack last year. On numerous occasions, the only way Mays was able to get on the floor was if Lowe went to a zone. This season, Mays has proclaimed to be quicker and stronger, which if true, would be a gigantic boost to the Pack's point problems. Will to win, attitude and an eye to score will again be no problem for Mays, but his ability to adapt to a fast paced offense will be something that will need to be watched.

From all accounts, the biggest problems from last year were this off-season's top priorities. With a staff of former lead guards, there is certainly no lack of coaching advice, the question is, can Gonzalez and Mays blossom into the consistent team leaders that the Wolfpack is looking for.


30 Responses to "2009-2010 Wolfpack Basketball Preview: The Point Guards"
  1. backdpack said...
    November 2, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    Very nice write-up WPH. I agree with the assetment on both PG's. Javi at times seemed wild and out of control while Julius was often time out of position. One of the more glaring things from last year was the defense in the backcourt. To many times the guards were beat of the dribble and the opponent had a wide open lane to the basket. The teams that really hurt us were the ones with quick scoring point guards like FSU, BC, and UNC. I truely hope our defense has improved or it will be a long season. That being said, I cannot wait until Thurs. Any recruits going to be on hand? Wolfpack Nation should pack Reynolds to the rafters.

  2. ppack3 said...
    November 2, 2009 at 12:22 PM

    I've often thought that, if you meshed Javi and Julius together into one PG, you would have a hell of a player.

    Having said that, I still think that Julius has the higher ceiling. He is clutch, and cool under pressure. some see him slow the tempo more than Javi, but sometimes that's a good thing. There's nothing worse than forcing something that isn't there. the other side to that argument would be that you don't know if it's there until you push it up the floor.

    Who knows. Javi has shown flashes of being the guy that can handle things at the Point. but, so has Mays. It'll be interesting to see if they both have progressed or not. the ship sinks or sails on that question, IMO.

  3. Anonymous said...
    November 2, 2009 at 12:52 PM

    Great article...I am excited to see what Javi and Julius can do this year. It's time for Javi to have a very solid season leading the Pack.

    The ACC lost a lot of excellent PG talent...Douglas, Rice, Lawson, Teague, and McClinton...this will help Javi and Julius compete well this year. I hope they have a great season and Go Pack!

  4. Pack Leader said...
    November 2, 2009 at 1:07 PM

    Great write up WPH! I think we all know the strengths and weaknesses of each PG but total I think we are very lucky to have 2 quality PG on a team who we can interchange and not lose leadership/playmaking skills. If you look at most top 25 teams they dont have the benifit of a solid backup to the PG and with a running system it will most definetly be used.

  5. Anonymous said...
    November 2, 2009 at 1:31 PM

    I'm just glad we finally have 2 healthy PGs we can rely on now. The injury bug has really bitten us hard in the past. Plus, we've still got DeGand as a back up should Javi or Julius get injured.

    Can't wait till thursday.

  6. Anonymous said...
    November 2, 2009 at 1:43 PM

    Did I not hear this same stuff last year as well?

  7. Pack Leader said...
    November 2, 2009 at 2:40 PM

    I doubt it WPH wasnt writing back then.

    Now if your being "smart" then yeah you prob have heard some of the same things before like "dont turn the ball over" and "stay consistant". My best guess is next year sid is going to say those same things because guess what, the game doesnt change from year to year, only the players....

  8. Anonymous said...
    November 2, 2009 at 3:37 PM

    Great writeup. I've seen basketball players get stronger on the off season, but NEVER quicker. It's almost as if quickness was something that you can't teach or create. Let's hope I'm wrong.

  9. Wolfpack Hoops said...
    November 2, 2009 at 3:56 PM

    ^ Lose a little baby fat, firm up your core and it can definitely be done.

    As far as Mays is concerned, I don't think your going to see him look lighting quick, but any little bit helps. There are plenty of great defenders that are not all that quick. If you want a NC State example, how about Engin Atsur? Great defender, but not because he was lightning fast, but because he understood defensive positioning. He stayed low and was always in a defensive stance, knew when to push up on the ball and when to give space. Craftiness is something that is rarely talked about but can allow someone not as gifted to compete against an elite athlete.

  10. backdpack said...
    November 2, 2009 at 4:19 PM

    I'll repeat the question.
    Do you guys know of any recruits attending the game Thursday?

  11. Alum02 said...
    November 2, 2009 at 4:20 PM

    Maybe we should bring Engin back in a coaching role.

  12. JAB77 said...
    November 2, 2009 at 4:28 PM

    Off topic, but do you guys know how much tickets for Thursday's game are?

  13. Pack Leader said...
    November 2, 2009 at 4:39 PM

    Good question JAB.

    I too would like to know the price to watch Thursdays game.

  14. Lynda said...
    November 2, 2009 at 4:47 PM

    I have a couple of tickets for Thursday that I can't use. Email me pronto, and I'll put them in tomorrow morning's mail. Free.

  15. Dof87 said...
    November 2, 2009 at 5:00 PM

    Nice assessment of the PG situation. Your mention of Mays' defense is important..I've seen too many folks think of him solely in terms of that game winning shot and not even have a passing thought on all the things he needed to improve.

    Javi is a great example of steady improvement. He was really nailing his 3's end of last season, which was a glaring weakness that other's exploited.

    I think we will have still have a tough time guarding the really good PGs on other teams, with the loss of Courtney who laid out some primo D on so many occasions. In fact, Courtney's D is the biggest thing we will miss this year.. mark my words.

    I am anxious to see if we will be able to really see the difference with the conditioning. 40 minutes of pure hustle is my favorite style!

  16. Wolfpack Hoops said...
    November 2, 2009 at 5:11 PM

    Haven't heard of any recruits being on hand. Basketball is starting up for all of them this week so it's probably a pretty hectic time for those guys.

    We'll try to find out more.

  17. Lynda said...
    November 2, 2009 at 6:09 PM

    The tickets have been given away to the first person who emailed me... but it was nice hearing from those of you who weren't first.

  18. Anonymous said...
    November 2, 2009 at 9:19 PM

    That was nice of you Lynda!

    I'm hoping Javi's experience and strength pay-off this year. He does look stronger in the team pics.

    Mays seems to have the potential to be a very smart and under-control pg.

    It's probably been mentioned, but the ACC as a whole lost a lot of talent and experience last year.

    Hopefully the both of javi and mays will get the job done and sid will find a way to maximize each of their strengths.

    With these guys and Harrow on the way, it looks like we'll be solid at the pg position for a while!


  19. Mr. Wolf said...
    November 2, 2009 at 9:36 PM

    I know this prolly isnt the best place to put this but do we have any CJ Leslie news?
    Im so excited to watch some bball!!! Its getting to be that time of year. I do feel that this is the first time in a while that we will be in the top half of the acc for guard play and as we all know college basketball is a guard driven league. In Silowe I trust. I cant wait, Go Pack.

  20. WolfCop said...
    November 2, 2009 at 11:51 PM

    Excellent write up WPH. Javi and Julius better hope they have improved from last year...or this will be their last year with a chance to start.

  21. Jason said...
    November 3, 2009 at 11:40 AM

    Any information on the tickets for the exhibition game this thursday?

    I saw on another site that the tix were sold-out. That can't be, can it?

    last year I walked up to the exhibition games moments before the tip-off and got tix no prob, w/ plenty of open seats left.

    Anybody? Ticket situation for the exhibition game?

  22. Pack Leader said...
    November 3, 2009 at 11:48 AM

    Jason I agree I attended last year and there were tons of open seats. Theres no way they sold out the RBC center for an exhibition when we only sold out 2 games last year.

    WPH any info???

  23. Jason said...
    November 3, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    (pack leader, it's a reynolds, but i still don't see how they could sell that out for an exhibition game against st. paul's)

  24. Wolfpack Hoops said...
    November 3, 2009 at 12:07 PM

    According to, the exhibition is only open to season ticket holders and students. There are no general admission tickets.

  25. Anonymous said...
    November 3, 2009 at 12:36 PM

    what the heck is that about?!?

    that's dispointing.

  26. Anonymous said...
    November 3, 2009 at 1:34 PM

    not so sure about the most experience in the leage:

    BC - Jacksom, Paris, Sanders
    Clemson - Stitt, Smith, Young
    Duke - Smith Scheyer
    FSU - Loucks, Kitchen
    GT - Miller, Storrs, Bell, Shumpert
    Md - Vasquez, Hayes, Bowie, Tucker
    Miami - Dews
    unc-ch - Drew, Ginyard
    Va - Landesberg, Baker, Jones
    VT - Hudson, Delaney
    WF - Smith, Clark, Williams

    Not any where the level of the guards last season, but not inexperienced by any means.

    I would say that Stitt, Delanney, Young, Kitchen have as good of a shot as Javi.

    I like our chances with Javi/Mays being a much better guard combo against this season's guards than their job last season, but not so much because of the experience factor

  27. Anonymous said...
    November 3, 2009 at 5:11 PM

    "According to, the exhibition is only open to season ticket holders and students. There are no general admission tickets."


    are they brain dead in west raleigh, or what?

    i'm not saying that i don't confidence in the coaching staff, or that we won't see a better product out on the court this season, but they sure as hell don't need to be turning fans away from any BB games. not for the sake of the players either.

    i don't understand those people.

  28. Anonymous said...
    November 3, 2009 at 10:54 PM

    We'll have to wait until 2010 - Lo Brown was our shot this year to have a good pg, unfortunately. Here's to hoping I guess.

  29. Anonymous said...
    November 4, 2009 at 9:23 AM

    "Lo Brown was our shot this year to have a good pg"

    doubt he would have been playing much, if any poing if he made it this year. javi and mays would probably still be fighting it out, with lo and cj fighting it out at sg.

  30. ppack3 said...
    November 4, 2009 at 9:38 AM

    I agree with you Anony. There's no way that LoBro comes in this year and plays PG. Now, Farnold might have been fighting for a back-up spot with CJ/LoBro. But, he would've been pigeon-holed at the Point. He seems to be MUCH better suited at SG.

    It'll be interesting to see how far CJ Williams progresses this year, and how LoBro fairs in that SG battle with an improved CJ.

    Also, Harrow may take a little time to adjust, and will have to out talent the more experienced Mays/Javi.

    Luke will have to fight for time with our proverbial plethera of big men, too.

    The talent levels are rising up. But what's even better, is that our depth is going to be phenominal over the next couple of least.


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