Tudor: Leslie’s effort is good sign for NC State

Veteran sports writer Caulton Tudor is writing for WNCN.com during tournament play. Here is his analysis of N.C. State’s win over Virginia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

perfect example of exactly how focused N.C. State was for its Thursday’s ACC
Tournament opener was C.J. Leslie’s free-throw shooting.

an 80-63 win over 12th-seeded Virginia Tech, Leslie converted
nine of 14 free-throw attempts —  almost
70 percent or roughly 10 percent higher than the 6-foot-9 junior forward shot
at the line in regular season.

no point during the game was Leslie a loose cannon. He dodged all the speed
bumps that have turned his career in a roller coaster. There were no bad fouls,
early fouls, technical fouls, casual defense, temper eruptions, silly shots or
wasted time at the free-throw line.

Richard Howell (22 points, 12 rebounds) had a more dominant performance inside
and Lorenzo Brown (12 assists, 9 points, 7 rebounds) was the obvious team
straw, Leslie’s work set a positive tone.

Leslie can duplicate it against 4th-seed
Virginia (21-10) in Friday’s 2:30 p.m. quarterfinal, the 5th-seeded Wolfpack
(23-9) should be back in Greensboro on Saturday for the semifinals.

there were concerns Thursday, one was a late-game ankle injury sustained by
reserve guard Tyler Lewis and the other was occasional defensive breakdowns
when the Hokies (13-19) were able to spread the defense and create open shots
by driving the lan and/or kick-out passes.

Pack’s depth is so marginal that any sort of serious injury to a top-seven
rotation player would equate to an emergency.

defending Joe Harris (17 points per game) and matching the Cavaliers’ perimeter
quickness actually could be easier than was the case against Virginia Tech.

is a far better team than the Hokies, of course. But playmaker Jontel Evans is
hardly a great passer or penetrater and Harris normally needs a lot of screens
to find open looks against foes with tall perimeters.

and all, State could not have asked for a better day to start the postseason.

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