N.C. State Insider: Howell helping Wolfpack rebound

BY foxsports • January 10, 2012

Richard Howell pulled down only four rebounds in the ACC opener against Maryland. But that doesn't diminish the foundation he has set across the past month.

The junior forward has been rebounding at a rapid clip and it has helped reshape the Wolfpack.

He had a string of five consecutive games of double-doubles. That catapulted him to second in the ACC in rebounding entering conference games.

"He's just like a magnet to the ball," teammate Scott Wood said.

It should be no surprise that Howell can hold his own around the backboards. He's 6-foot-8 and still burly at about 250 pounds, though he has shed weight to make him more mobile.  

Coach Mark Gottfried has credited Howell's rebounding with making the Wolfpack smoother on offense as well. That's because his dedication to the boards has allowed others to fill spots on the fast breaks.

"After the rebound, he has done a nice job of making an outlet pass and really has helped us get out and go," Gottfried said.

If the Wolfpack has been a remade team, there might be no better example than Howell midway through the season.


NOTES

--N.C. State's winning streak sat at six games through Sunday. The Wolfpack's outing Wednesday night against visiting Georgia Tech will give the team a chance to reach a seven-game winning mark for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

The Wolfpack's schedule sets up rather favorably at a quick glance because the team won't leave its home state for the first four games of the league schedule. Upcoming games against Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Boston College are bound to have the Wolfpack as the favorite.

--N.C. State showed a bit of variations on defense in the game against Maryland and it will be something for future opponents to consider.

That's because the Wolfpack went to a box-and-1 defense on Maryland's Terrell Stoglin at times, though he ended up with a game-high 25 points.

The assigned defender on Stoglin was G C.J. Williams, a senior who seemed locked in on defense at times as he was the only player in the Wolfpack's starting lineup to fail to score in double figures.

--The ACC opener between N.C. State and Maryland had coaches on both sides in their first league game in the ACC. N.C. State's Mark Gottfried ended up on the better end compared to Maryland's Mark Turgeon. Gottfried is only the second N.C. State coach to win his ACC debut, joining Les Robinson with the distinction.

Gottfried became the second N.C. State coach to make an ACC debut against Maryland, though Jim Valvano was on the losing end against the Terrapins in his first ACC game.

Recently, N.C. State has struggled against Maryland, with Sunday night's result breaking a nine-game losing streak in the series. It had to be particularly satisfying for N.C. State athletics director Debbie Yow, who left her position at Maryland to take the N.C. State job in the summer of 2010.

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- Number of assists for G Lorenzo Brown against Maryland, and Brown's total represented one-third of the game's total 27 assists.


STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAMES:

--vs. Georgia Tech, Jan. 11

KEY MATCHUPS: The Wolfpack won't have an easy time dealing with Georgia Tech's backcourt, but N.C. State should have an advantage on the interior with F. C.J. Leslie and F Richard Howell. Howell will be playing against a team from his home state.

--at Wake Forest, Jan. 14

KEY MATCHUPS: The Wolfpack will want to maintain its solid rebounding because Wake Forest has been deficient in this area for most of the season. F C.J. Leslie's athleticism should be a bonus for N.C. State, while the Wolfpack might chose to have G C.J. Williams match up with Wake Forest's C.J. Harris at the defensive end.

FUTURES MARKET: The Wolfpack has become extremely balanced at the offensive end and the distribution of points tends to be spread out for the most part. At least three players have scored in double figures in 15 of the team's 16 games. The evolution to this has come in time, but it should make the Wolfpack more unpredictable overall as the conference portion of the schedule heats up. For instance, G C.J. Williams had led the team in scoring at times this season but he put up only six shots (fifth-most on the team) in the ACC opener against Maryland.


PLAYER NOTES

F C.J. Leslie racked up 11 rebounds for the most in an ACC game in the sophomore's career. Combined with a team-high 20 points, it gave Leslie his second double-double of the season and the fifth of his career.

G Alex Johnson, a senior transfer from Cal State Bakersfield, was the most-used reserve for N.C. State in its first ACC game. Johnson played 24 minutes, checking in with four points, three assists and two steals against Maryland.

G Scott Wood extended his streak of successful free throws to 47 in a row dating to last season by going 6-for-6 at the line in the ACC opener against Maryland. He passed Rodney Monroe's school record of 43 in a row and moved within seven of former Duke player J.J. Redick's ACC record.


QUOTE TO NOTE

"There's 16 games (on the conference schedule), but you can only play one game at a time. You can't focus on more than one game." -- G C.J. Williams as the Wolfpack embarks on its ACC schedule after placing in a tie for 10th place last season.


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