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    Pack's "Trust" Puts Team in National Lead
    T.J. Warren
    T.J. Warren

    Dec. 30, 2012

    RALEIGH, N.C. - If you ever come to a Wolfpack basketball practice, one of the things you can hear coach Mark Gottfried stress to his charges is to "trust the offense." The evidence that his team is listening to that encouragement is NC State's .535 field goal percentage - the best mark in the nation.

    The offense Gottfried is asking them to trust is tried-and-true. His high-post offense was developed by legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, studied by Gottfried during his eight seasons (1988-95) as a Bruin assistant and molded into his own style during his successful years as a head coach.

    This year, the NC State offense has produced a litany of high percentage shots that has led to the Pack's 10-2 mark. The Pack has connected on 359 of its 671 attempts from the field.

    On the season, the Wolfpack holds a distinct advantage over its opponents on points in the paint, outscoring them, 506-357.  A whopping 42.2 of State's points per game are coming on shots around the rim, while its opponents are scoring 29.8 points per game in the lane.  That equates to .522 of the Wolfpack's scoring production coming from its post players compared to .428 of the scoring output for its opponents' post players.

    Ten times this year, NC State has shot .500 or better from the floor and boasts a 9-1 record in those games.

    NC State's shooting juggernaut is led by freshman forward T.J. Warren, who is currently ranked third nationally with a .689 shooting mark, as he has hit 71-of-103 on the year. What makes Warren's shooting performance to date even more impressive is the fact that he is shooting .615 from 3-point range.

    Warren ranks second on the team in scoring with an average of 13.6 points per game and leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in shooting. The last NC State freshman to lead the league in that important category was J.J. Hickson, who shot .591 during the course of the 2007-08 season.



    In addition to Warren, fellow frontline players, Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie, are shooting 50 percent or better.

    Howell, whose career best .674 field goal percentage ranks ninth nationally, bolstered his percentage with an 8-for-8, 18-point performance in the Pack's 84-68 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday.  Howell's output versus the Broncos matches four others as the second-best performance without a miss in PNC Arena history.

    Leslie is shooting .595 on the year, hitting 66-of-111. Against St. Bonaventure, he hit a career best 10 shots in the Pack's 92-73 victory. Leslie's shooting touch has helped him score in double figures in every game this season but one. He currently has a streak of eight consecutive games of double-figure scoring.

    Another factor in NC State's nation's-best field goal percentage has been its willingness to share the ball. In addition to junior point guard Lorenzo Brown's team-best 73 assists, the Wolfpack has six players with 15 or more assists this season.

    The last time NC State shot .500 or better on the season was the 1988-89 campaign, when State connected on .501 (994-1983) of its shots. That season, it finished with a 22-9 record (10-4, 1st ACC) and advanced to semifinals of the East Region of the NCAA Tournament.

    The program record for field goal percentage for a season is .521 (706-1356). That year, the Pack finished 22-10 and played in the NCAA Tournament, the first appearance in the Big Dance under Jim Valvano, who at the time was in his second season at the program's helm.

    If the Pack were to finish the season with a field goal percentage of .500 or better, it would be the first time since Duke shot .514 in 1999, that an ACC team has done so. It also would be the first time in 54 years that NC State has led the conference in shooting percentage. The year was 1958 and the Pack led the conference with .431 field goal percentage.

    Should the Pack continue to trust its offense, its shooting certainly will carry it far into postseason play. 

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