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December 3, 2013

Pack expects to see threes and zone defense

There were two things that almost every player, as well as head coach Mark Gottfried, were asked about during media availability the day before their game with Northwestern, which is set for a 7:30 p.m. tip on Wednesday — playing against the Wildcats' zone defense and their penchant for shooting the three-pointer.

Gottfried said that half of their shots come from behind the line and that's not much of an exaggeration — 42.7 percent of their attempts have been from downtown. The Wildcats have attempted 176 three-pointers and they average 8.1 makes from behind the arc per game.

On the other end, former Duke assistant Chris Collins is expected to rely on zone defense, which Gottfried noted has been a bit of a national trend this year.

"I think [Northwestern is] zoning more, but I watch games from around the country and I see a lot of coaches who haven't played a lot of zone, play a lot more zone this year," he said. "I think it's because of the rules and trying to exactly figure out how a game is going to get called. It's something you have to work on, we've spent a lot of time working on our zone offense and making sure we are ready to attack that."

NC State saw a zone look from Eastern Kentucky in its last contest, a 75-56 victory last Saturday. However, the Pack shot just 32.1 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes and trailed at the half, 27-21. In the second, they shot 65.6 percent from the field and en route to outscoring their opponents 54-29.

"We moved the ball a lot better than we did the first half; we also got out and ran more," Gottfried said. "That solves a lot of zones, if you can defensive rebound and run, you take that [zone] out of the equation. We've got to move the ball better, move our bodies better, get guys in better positions on the floor and get inside the zone; we did a better job of that in the second half. Those were things we did well and hopefully we can build on those things."

Although NC State has shot just 27.6 percent from three-point land through six games, both Gottfried and his players are confident that they are a better long-range shooting team than that, and time will prove it.

"I think our guys are better shooters than their numbers are saying right now, it's early," the coach noted. "I want those guys to step up confidently and take an open shot, whether it's Tyler [Lewis], Desmond [Lee], Cat [Barber], whoever it may be; jump up there and shoot the ball. Hopefully, they're going to do that and make some."

Reshirt junior wing Ralston Turner, who leads the team with eight three-pointers made, noted that he looks forward to playing against zone defenses and agreed with Gottfried's statement that the shots from downtown will start falling.

"Unfortunately, we haven't had much success with knocking down shots, but we have a group of guys that can make shots," he said. "I think the main thing for us is just to be confident, step up there and knock it down.

"I think [it will come around], especially if somebody gets to knocking them down. It could spread throughout or team, everybody else will feed off of that and hopefully they'll keep falling."

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