Brian Geisinger covers basically every ACC team. You follow him on Twitter at bgeis underscore bird, pack pride, devil's den.
I mean, I know there are like seven or eight other schools that he writes for and follows. But let's talk about the four that live in our state, Brian Geisinger. Let's start with the Wolfpack. So we'll put your pack pride hat on here. Where are they as a team right now and where is the room for them to grow? I think they're in a really good spot right now. I kind of couldn't believe this that they've, they're what, seven and oh after losses this season. And just like continuing to be a solid team on both sides of the floor.
I wrote about this this week, actually. You know, one of the real strengths of this team has been because they take care, they're so good at avoiding turnovers, right? They're top five nationally, right? In turnover rate, they don't get to the line a lot. They're a decent offensive rebounding team, but they're attempting per 100 possessions, about 11 more shots per game than their opponents.
And again, that's a lot of stuff is getting baked into those numbers. State's a decent defensive rebounding team. Again, they're a decent offensive rebounding team. They don't get to the line much and they do not turn the ball over, sort of led by Jarkel Joiner, who's been, you know, one of the best guys that all season in the country, I think at playing with pace, getting downhill, but also not being reckless, not, you know, coughing up careless turnovers.
And so I think that sort of math advantage is continuing to kind of like win the day for State. So this is a team that I think can look a little, can get stuck in the mud in terms of it's half court offense. There's not a ton of ball movement and they don't get to the line a lot. Like Jaquavion Smith is the only guy that draws more than four fouls per 40 minutes, which is not even that crazy of a threshold to clear, but they have just enough differentiation with DJ Burns, being able to post him up and play through him. Then you add Jack Clark back in the mix. Now you've got a guy that you can pick and pop, you can do pick and slips with, or, you know, slip and pop like that kind of stuff, which they went to a lot against UNC over the weekend, going at Puff Johnson, trying to put him in the action defensively.
So I don't know. I still think there's like probably another gear for this team offensively. I think that would be the hope that Clark, his spacing comes in and sort of maybe bolsters that a little bit more. I got to think you can get, find ways to get a little bit more efficiency out of someone like Jaquavion Smith, who's been awesome all season, but you can even see during the UNC game over the weekend, like I thought UNC's half court defensive approach worked until Jarkel Joyner decided it wasn't going to work anymore, which was they were against pick and roll. They're going to drop Armando Bacott.
They're going to fight over the screen. And it was leading to a lot of Jarkel to Quavion, you know, inefficient off dribble mid range twos. And I really thought State won that game simply because like the defense did its job. And then Jarkel Joyner ran when the opportunities were there. And so it was those fast break and secondary situations that cared for them. But I got to think they can be better in the half court, given some of the talent that they have, and that they can get to some more four out looks.
Let me ask you about it. I just want to peel that back just a touch. Brian Geisinger is joining us here. Jaquavion Smith is definitely their best pro prospect. I think Jarkel Joyner has been their best player. I think he's been the best player on that team all year.
And maybe it's because of the efficiency. They put the ball in his hands. But if Jaquavion Smith can give them more dominant play, more, oh my gosh, this guy is a middle of the first round NBA pick, surefire selection play, then they could take that game to another level.
Because I think Joyner's game's got a really strong high floor. But Jaquavion Smith has a ceiling that nobody on the team has. Yeah, and probably a few guys in the entire ACC. I mean, he's a really, really, you know, good and talented young player. And he's, you know, he's going to be on an NBA roster in a matter of months from now, which is, which is, which is pretty cool. But yeah, like, you know, Jaquavion, you know, he's the ultimate, his offensive play is part of like the foundation of this team. But it is also the ultimate ceiling raiser, because, because his talent is that good at scoring the basketball, because he has the ability to score from most levels of the court, and he's got such, you know, kind of profound shooting range, right? I think some of the issues you run into with Jaquavion is he's never been great at finishing at the rim and the half court as talented as he is right. And he's a crafty shot maker, he can do all kinds of wild stuff with the basketball, he's got a nice handle, he's actually got a really nice handle. And he's got the shooting gravity to play off of. But you know, he's, he's not like a small guard or anything like that.
But he's a little skinny. And again, I just think he has issues finishing through contact at the rim. And so when it comes down to with him, like, you know, him getting hot, it really is like, well, does he have one of those games where he just burns it down from deep, you know, just it's a bunch that's kind of like what it comes down to, because I don't think you're going to just I don't think like the finishing at the rim is going to be it's probably always going to be a bit of a handicap on his, on his upside as a creator on the next level. But you know, it's not just going to magically sort of just like get better the final six weeks of the season here.
Like it is what it is. Ultimately, though, state needs to play beyond to keep being aggressive to keep taking shots, because that's what makes things easier for everyone else. Like you look at guys like Casey Morsell, Jack Clark, especially like those the catch and shoot guys on this roster, like they get to play off of the advantages and creative. I took wavy on and the double teams that he draws and putting two on the ball and pick and roll. That's why those guys don't turn the ball over because it's just way when Casey Morsell gets it, shoot it or keep it right. You know what I mean? All the space he does.
He simplifies things for other guys out there. So Cravy and Smith creates the space for those other guys to operate. And I think they could take their game to another level where as a as a team and I still I believe I said this from really from the beginning. I think they can be a second week of the NCAA tournament team. I really believe that because their guards, their guards are so good.
Let me ask you about North Carolina. Obviously, right now, most people believe they're on the outside looking into the NCAA tournament. They can change that. They've got four games left here in the regular season. Two are don't lose them. And two of them are opportunities. And right now they might both be quad one opportunities. We'll see. We'll see if Duke is still a quad one opportunity.
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See Capital One dot com for details. Where's the next level for them? See, I don't think it's Caleb Love because I think Caleb Love is the same Caleb Love we've seen. Yeah, I think the next level for them is R.J. Davis. Yeah, I mean, Caleb Love is what he is.
You know, there's been very little, if any, sort of like progression from last season. And like, he's a good offensive player because of the pull up. I mean, he's he can be a dangerous offensive player, right? Because of the shooting range and the off dribble three point shooting. But you know, he's a lousy defender.
And he's pretty limited in terms of playmaking. I look my thing, I was pretty high on UNC coming into the season. And one of the things one of the reasons why I was sort of buying into them was because I really thought like Pete Nance was going to be a huge ad for them this season. And I knew the loss of Brady Manik was going to be big.
He was so good last season. And he and Baycott's chemistry at the four or five spot the way they complimented one another. That was one of the reasons why I kind of like never really lost faith in UNC a season ago, and why I wasn't like completely surprised by the, you know, the run to the Final Four. Like those guys were just like the nexus of the offense. And Davis was such a savvy decision maker in the pockets of space that those guys, you know, that those dudes created. And Nance, not as of a shooter off of movement as Manik, but a capable shooter. And I just thought his sort of like the his improved, like the talent ad that he would bring to the roster in his passing. I thought they would figure it out between those two. And I don't know if they've ever quite figured out like the way to perfectly sync those guys up and have them compliment one another.
And as good as Baycott is like, he'll probably win player of the year in the ACC or be close to it. And as talented as RJ Davis is, he's one of the better guards in the league, if you know, if not the country, but they don't have like one guy that's just designed to just like, um, you know, bring the ball up and give you a give you great offense every single time just like by themselves, you know, create an advantage, right? They need the blend. They need everyone together. And if you do that, this team like this team, just in my opinion, they have too much talent, too much offensive talent to be, you know, they're like a top 35, top 40 offense in the country in terms of efficiency, which is like nothing to sneeze that it's pretty good, actually. But given the amount of, you know, offensive firepower on this roster, I think that's, I think they're underperforming a little bit on that side. I think this was a team that was going to be like sort of surefire a top 10, 15 offense in the country.
And it just hasn't quite happened. I don't think all of that is their fault. Like they've had some injuries to deal with. And I think it's been tougher to sort of like meld the Nance Baycock pairing in the front court.
But if that wasn't going to happen this season, then it was always going to, it was always going to lower their ceiling. I think, I think more so even than people sort of like elevating North Carolina ceiling after the postseason run and sort of like projecting ahead to this year. Which is why I, I kind of fall, like I like RJ Davis a lot. If I had to say, he's really good. I mean, to me, he's my favorite player on this particular team.
I mean, there are limitations in terms of size, but you don't have to be a 6'4 point guard in college. I just don't think he has had, especially over the last month or so, I just don't think he has had the progression from last year to this year. Caleb Love is who he is.
I think Armando Baycott is dynamite. They probably don't run as much through him, or maybe the concentration on him from defenses is such that it's just, he's not dominating the way he has in the past. But I think the difference in this team is that we have not seen enough, we've seen occasional pop from RJ Davis.
We just have not seen enough. And nobody on their bench has either been utilized or demanded to be utilized to the point where it's changed, you know, changed the formula for Gilbert Davis. Because right now their bench is just, well, we can give them minutes, but nobody off the bench is providing anything. Yeah, I mean, it seemed like, you know, after the postseason run last season that Puff Johnson was kind of ready to make a jump this season. And, you know, he's one of those guys that it feels like he could have really helped the lineups when, you know, Baycott goes to the bench or Pete Nance goes to the bench and all of a sudden UNC can play with a little bit more, you know, four-round one spacing, like that type of stuff.
Or when Nance is at center, you know, some legitimate five-out offenses that they can throw out there. And it did seem like for a period of time that maybe Seth Trimble could be that guy. I think long-term Trimble is going to be like a really good player. He's an awesome finisher. He can really defend, but their offense has struggled in the half-court with him out there. But just like the win over Wake in Chapel Hill in early January, he came in and was a huge difference maker for them when they went small down the final 10 minutes against Wake Forest. And he guarded Tyree Appleby about as far as anyone has so far this season. And look, Davis, he was in the, you know, probably about a month ago, he was playing some of the best basketball of his career. Like the first game against NC State when UNC won, he was incredible in that game. He had a big game against Boston College, big game against Louisville.
But yeah, I think it's been a little tough for him. And I should say, like the loss to State this weekend, you know, Jarkel Joiner played great defense on him, Casey Morsell when he was switched out. Casey Morsell's defense was awesome regardless of who he was guarding. He was good against Davis. But Davis is like, I wouldn't say he's like quite a sniper, but like he's a really good shooter from a bunch of different spots on the floor. He had an outlier, bad game. I mean, like, you know, it's going to be a while before that guy goes two for 13 again in a game shooting the ball.
Like he's much better than that. All right, let me ask you real quick about Duke before we have to wrap this up. Brian Geisinger, at Big Eyes Underscore Bird on Twitter, Pack Pride, Devils Den, Buzzbeat Podcast, thousands of other places, I'm sure.
All right. So the Blue Devils got Derek Whitehead back. I think he's starting to get to the point maybe where he was before the latest injury. Where are the Blue Devils now?
Where can they get to? And we need to kind of keep this to like 90 seconds. Yeah, yeah.
Well, let's keep it brief here. I mean, I thought Derek Whitehead, he shot the ball really, really well the first couple of games once he got back. He had a tough shooting night.
I was there the other night when they played Louisville, but I thought he, I was actually, you know, John Shire mirrored these thoughts after the game. Like I thought Derek had a nice game. Like he guarded pretty well against Mike James. He moved the ball and sort of like swing, swing, extra pass, you know, situations helping to build the advantage and help produce open shots. So the more of that, I mean, he wasn't going to shoot 50% from three the rest of the season, like he had been in ACC play.
Like he's a great shooter, but that, you know, he's not, he's not AJ Griffin or whatever. I think Derek Lively, like him coming on has really given them another element defensively at the rim on both sides of the court. His scheme versatility, his ability to switch out, to play at the level and to protect the rim is, is like a really big deal for Duke.
I think Procter, Tyrus Proctor has continued to take like more and more and more strides. And like, he kind of has like a, like almost like a, like a, he's like the third Jones brother, like with Trey and Tyus, like there's kind of like an interesting sort of like, like he's a good defender and he's not like a, you know, an insane, like, you know, like speed athlete where you're just going to break your defense down and get to the rim every time. But he's just got like a steadying sort of like presence on the ball. He's gotten better. He's been, he's been awesome the last, you know, six, eight weeks or so for them. So I think Duke looks, you know, I don't think there are like a, a final four type Duke team, but this is a, this is a really like solid team that has, that can beat you in a bunch of different ways. And, you know, at this point, we should just be happy that a guy like Dereek Whitehead is out and able to actually play.
Cause it's, there were a couple like scary injury situations with him this season. I think they can be very vulnerable to an athletic team, but if they get the right draw and they shoot it relatively well, they don't have to shoot it great. If they shoot it relatively well, they have a chance maybe to make the second weekend.
I think that's their, to me, that's their ceiling. Brian Geisinger, at B guys, underscore bird, pack pride, devil's den, Busbee podcast, and, and points, all points, Northwest and East. Thank you very much. We'll talk to you very soon. You guys have a great afternoon.
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