Game Notes: NC State at Miami
Wolfpack’s second half enough to withstand Hurricane.
by Sam Guelil
Saturday’s game was a matchup between two teams that occupy the ladder half of the ACC. NC State and Miami are both trying to gain some type of momentum going into the ACC conference tournament. I’m looking forward to the individual matchup between North Carolina State’s 6-8 junior PF Tracy Smith and Miami’s 6-8 senior PF Dwayne Collins. This should be a good test for both guys as far as their NBA Draft potential is concerned. Collins is basketball player who looks like he could play in the NFL right now. You’d be hard pressed to find another player in the country who is stronger than this man. Smith is somewhat under the radar from a national standpoint. He has steadily improved in his three years in college. In the ACC Smith ranks in the top ten in scoring, offensive and defensive rebounding, minutes played, and field goal percentage. We’ll break down his game a little bit more later on.
North Carolina State’s 6-0 junior PG Javier Gonzalez opened things up hitting the first shot of the game. This was somewhat of a homecoming for Gonzalez having gone to Krop high school here in Miami, FL. The Wolfpack’s Tracy Smith was aggressive early by going right at Miami’s Dwayne Collins. This was a fun matchup to watch. Both guys were not afraid of banging down low and actually seemed to enjoy the challenge. I caught both players smiling and talking to each other from time to time throughout the game. They obviously know and respected the physical nature of what was in store throughout. These two mostly guarding each other when the Hurricanes weren’t in their 2-3 matchup zone. Miami wasn’t taking care of the ball as they turned it over a few times in the opening minutes. Miami’s 6-3 FR PG Durand Scott was struggling to find his way early and was the victim of a couple of bad inbound passes. NC State was leading for most of the first half taking advantage of some Hurricane miscues. Miami’s Dwayne Collins had two thunderous put-back dunks as he followed up his teammates misses and was untouched going to the basket. His first came halfway through the first and gave the fans a nice shot of energy making the score 14-11 Wolfpack. Miami’s 6-10 redshirt FR C Reggie Johnson made a couple of layups and tied the game at 21 with 6 minutes left in the half. He was also matched up on Tracy Smith at times during the game. A three ball by Hurricanes 6-7 senior F Adrian Thomas gave them their first lead of the game. Then off a missed shot was when the other Collins jam came forcing NC State to take a timeout with 4:48 and the Hurricanes leading 26-22. After another Scott turnover he quickly redeemed himself with a good strong take to the goal. We went into halftime with the game tied at 30. Smith and Collins both had 8 points and each played 14 minutes.
The second session opened up with a three pointer from 6-6 Miami FR G Garrius Adams. After missing his first three attempts from downtown in the first half, he made all three he took in the second. Tracy Smith missed a shot from the floor and continued to show frustration, which he also displayed in the first half. Going into the first media timeout the score was 40-37 with Miami on top. Smith came out with his patented jump hook to score in the paint on Collins and cut the lead to a point. Another Adams three capped a Miami 8-0 run and forced NC State coach Sidney Lowe to take a timeout and try and stop the bleeding, with the score now 48-39 in favor of the Hurricanes with 12:19 left. The former NBA player and head coach has brought a ton of experience to his alma mater, as well as his NBA wardrobe. Just as the game seemed to be slipping away the Wolfpack quickly went on a quick 7-0 run that only took 30 seconds. The next few minutes remained close and neither team could get a substantial lead of any kind. Tracy Smith went down and grabbed his right knee after colliding with Durand Scott at the 5:45 mark. He went to the locker and was in obvious pain. He came back into the game wearing a brace and only missed about 2 minutes of action. Coming out of the final TV timeout with 3:49 left go and Miami trailing by three, the 6-4 senior G James Dews hit a three to tie the game at 59. The next minute and change saw no points scored. Then a good take from Gonzalez sent the Wolfpack PG to the line after he was fouled. He went 1-2, but put them up a point. Then Miami’s PG Durand Scott answered with an aggressive drive of his own drawing a foul. Scott calmly made both free throws and put his squad up 61-60 with just over 2 minutes left. On the next possession Smith was able to score on Collins giving NC State a 1 point lead. Scott then took the ball to the cup and got fouled again. The Miami freshmen again made both free throws and gave them a 63-62 lead with 1:23 left in the ballgame. Miami’s Julian gamble fouled out and sent NC States Dennis Horner to the line where he made both and once again put the Wolfpack on top by 1. After an NC State timeout, Miami’s Durand Scott threw up a tough layup attempt with 47 seconds that was no good forcing the Hurricanes to foul. The Wolfpack’s Gonzalez calmly sank both and Miami called another timeout. Coach Frank Haith drew up a play and it was James Dews who had a chance to tie the game with 32 seconds to play, but his three point attempt was unsuccessful. Just as NC State’s Javier Gonzalez opened the game, he closed the show and sealed the deal by hitting all six of his attempts from the charity strip. NC State beat Miami by the final of 71-66.
This is another devastating loss for the Hurricanes and good conference road win for NC State. Miami had many chances but came up short once again. Free throws played a big part in this one. Anytime you can make more free throws than the opposition takes, your chances of winning are dramatically increased. NC State was 19-31 and Miami was 12-16 from the line. There was a lack of energy from both teams in this game, but NC State seemed to find enough in the second half.
For Miami, Dwayne Collins had 15 points and 7 rebounds. Durand Scott chipped in with 13 points and 5 assists, but struggled with his shot going 4-14 from the floor. NC State was led by Javier Gonzalez and Tracy Smith as they both had 19 points each. Gonzalez was clutch from the line down the stretch and went 9-12 overall. Smith was clearly frustrated by some of his misses. He really struggled with free throws going just 1-7 but ended up pulling down 7 rebounds for his team.
Miami coach Frank Haith, “Obviously, it’s a tough loss for us. We didn’t come out with the type of energy we needed to play the game today. We were just kind of hanging around. I don’t know what it is, but it’s the second game in a row where we don’t get to the free throw line until the second half. “
When I asked NC State coach Sidney Lowe about the matchup between Tracy Smith and Dwayne Collins and Smith’s progression he said, “That’s a tough match-up for both guys. They were in there banging and both guys can score down low. Tracy’s come a long way in different areas – scoring the ball and passing. He’s been double-teamed all year really. This was one time they kind of played him straight up, but most teams double. He’s gotten better and he’s going to continue to get better next year… [Collins] is a load.”
Tracy Smith | 6-8 | 247 | PF | North Carolina State | Junior
This is a kid who has to garner the attention of scouts. He is not a household name right now, but players and especially coaches in the ACC know of him well. He’s lost 60 lbs. between his junior and senior years of high school to transform his body. Smith is very strong and not afraid of contact. For a guy his size he is also very quick, especially in his moves when he has the ball down low. Smith’s strength lies in the post. He’ll out-quick guys on the low block and can finish with either hand. His go-to move is a quick turn-around jump hook that is really tough to stop. Smith can also beat guys off the dribble from the high post area. He also has a really good touch from mid-range and a nice turn-around jump shot. Smith runs the floor well, gets off the ground quick, and is a hard worker. He’s improved as a passer this year and is double teamed almost every time he has the ball, making the numbers he’s putting up in the ACC even more impressive. Defensively there is a lot to like here. Smith is very strong and can hold his own down low with almost anybody in college. He moves his feet very well when guarding the post and can match the offensive player to a particular spot. Smith does what he does very well. If he can get even quicker, show he has some consistent range on his shot, and improve from the free throw line then watch out.
Tracy Smith has gotten better every year and he’ll be even better next season. It helps to have a Sidney Lowe as his coach because he was a player and a head coach in the league, so he knows what it takes. Depending on how much he improves between now and the 2011 NBA Draft will obviously determine his future. There aren’t too many quality post guys in college so he’ll have to be looked at. Maybe a little undersized to play power forward in the NBA, but his long arms and quickness will give him a shot. If he keeps developing then Smith can be drafted at some point in 2011, most likely in the second round. This is a must track guy who will be getting paid to play somewhere, whether it be in here or oversees.