Scott Wood never lost confidence in his jump shot. He might have questioned why the shots weren't falling, but he knew to keep shooting and not second-guess his trusty jumper.
The lanky 6-foot-7, 170-pound starting small forward from Marion, Ind., had adjusted smoothly to nearly all the other aspects of playing college basketball. The freshman had earned praise from head coach Sidney Lowe for his defense and knack for being in the right spot at the right time. He had a couple of games with multiple turnovers, but had settled down. He just needed his three-pointers to start going down. His outside shooting is what he was known for in the prep ranks. Rivals.com ranked him the No. 125 overall player in the country last year.
Wood went through a stretch from Nov. 22 to Dec. 17 - covering six games - where he went a combined 3 of 23 from beyond the arc. Without the three-pointer in his arsenal, he scored more than five points in just one game (10 against Auburn Nov. 22 in Daytona Beach, Fla.).
"I was feeling good, but I wasn't hitting," Wood said. "It happens. It is probably the worst streak that I ever went through in my life. My shot got flat at times, and I wasn't getting my legs into it. I don't know what it was. I probably wasn't concentrating enough."
Wood kept working, and the results started to manifest during the Wake Forest loss Dec. 20. He tallied 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting, but went 1 of 4 from three-point range. He needed a foundation, and he built off it.
Wood then went 2 of 4 on threes en route to eight points in the narrow loss at Arizona Dec. 23. He hit three early three-pointers and finished 3 of 6 for nine points against Winthrop Dec. 29. The pure shooter was back in business.
Wood bombed away for 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three-point land in the 89-67 win at North Carolina Greensboro Dec. 31, and then went 4 of 8 on threes against Florida in the tough 62-61 overtime loss Jan. 3 at the RBC Center. No matter what arena he played in, his shot was back. Wood went 15 of 29 (51.7 percent) from three-point range during the five-game stretch.
"This has helped it a little bit, but I've always had confidence," Wood said. "I was in a little slump, but even then my shots were feeling good. My teammates kept telling me to keep shooting it, and they'll go in. That helps a lot."
Lowe never once discouraged Wood from shooting, and now he's being rewarded for it.
"I felt I could count on Scott before he started shooting well," Lowe said. "I kept saying that he is going to come out of it at some point. He's a good basketball player, and a good shooter. I told him to don't stop shooting. Him making shots is big for us. It gives us the opportunity to stretch the defense a little bit more."
Wood's teammates all benefit when he is making outside jumpers.
"He extends the defense and makes people worry about [him]," senior power forward Dennis Horner said. "It opens up the inside for Tracy [Smith] and myself. It helps a lot. When he has his confidence and knocks them down, he can shoot with anyone in the country."
Wood said the game is starting to slow down for him.
"I had somebody give me advice, he's my cousin, and he watched me play in high school a lot," Wood said. "He didn't play basketball, but he played soccer. He said once you get in the zone, you feel like you are in the matrix, and everything is going slow. It feels like everything is slowing down the last couple of days."
Holy Cross preview
Holy Cross (3-11, 0-0 Patriot) at NC State (10-4, 0-1 ACC)
Game time: Today, Jan. 6, 7 p.m. - RBC Center, Raleigh, N.C.
Television: None, Pack Pass on GoPack.com
PG - 10 Javi Gonzalez (5-11, Jr., 11.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.4 spg)
SG - 21 C.J. Williams (6-5, Soph., 5.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.8 apg)
SF - 15 Scott Wood (6-7, Fr., 7.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.8 apg)
PF - 31 Dennis Horner (6-9, Sr., 13.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.2 bpg)
C - 23 Tracy Smith (6-8, Jr., 17.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.2 spg, 1.1 bpg)
PG - 22 Andrew Beinert (6-4, Jr., 9.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.0 spg)
SG - 10 R.J. Evans (6-3, Soph., 14.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.6 apg)
SF - 5 Mike Cavataio (6-4, Soph., 10.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.9 apg)
PF - 34 Andrew Keister (6-9, Jr., 9.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.7 bpg)
C - 53 Eric Meister (6-8, Sr., 5.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.6 apg)
Scouting Holy Cross
Location: Worcester, Mass.
2008-09 record: 18-14 ovrall, 11-3 Patriot (3rd)
2009 postseason: None
Coach: Sean Kearney, first season at Holy Cross and overall (3-11)
The all-time series with NC State: NC State leads 4-2
Last meeting: NC State won 78-68 in the NIT Tournament on March 15, 1976 in New York
Holy Cross: The Crusaders' schedule was ranked the 81st-hardest in the nation by CBSSports.com. Holy Cross has played five games against teams ranked in the top 100 of the RPI … Sophomore guard Devin Brown, who is 6-1 and 190 pounds, comes off the bench and is the second-leading scorer with 10.9 points per game. He has scored 19 points twice and 20 against George Washington in his last four games … Cavataio transferred to Holy Cross from St. John's. He scored a season-high 21 in the 85-79 win over Brown on Dec. 2 … Evans has scored 11 points or more in all but two games, and had 21 points and 10 boards in a loss to Fairfield on Dec. 9. He has three double-doubles for points and rebounds this season … Keister has five double-doubles for points and rebounds, including a season-high 21 points and 11 boards at Rhode Island on Nov. 22, and 13 points and season-best 18 rebounds at Stony Brook on Dec. 31.
NC State: NC State's shocking 62-61 loss to Florida Jan. 3 was the first defeat for the Wolfpack when the Pack had led at halftime. NCSU held a slight 29-27 lead at the break. The Wolfpack also lost for the first time when shooting a higher percentage than its opponent. NC State shot 22 of 55 from the field (40.0 percent), while Florida went 26 of 69 (37.7 percent) … Smith ranks fourth in the ACC with 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, and third in field goal percentage (.560) … Horner stands 17th in the conference with 13.2 points per contest, and tied for eighth in free-throw percentage (.776) … Gonzalez is sixth in the ACC with 5.4 assists per game … The Wolfpack ranks third in the ACC in attendance with an average of 11,439 fans for seven home games.