Behind Enemy Lines: 5 Questions For All Wolfpack's Brett Friedlander
Hoping to break a three game losing skid and going for the season sweep, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-11, 3-6 ACC) are primed for a season-opener rematch with the NC State Wolfpack (14-5, 5-3 ACC) today at 4:00pm EST.
Ahead of today's conference matchup, All Yellow Jackets sat down with All Wolfpack's Brett Friedlander to find out more about NC State.
1. From and X's and O's standpoint, how will this matchup deviate from the season opener?
The answer will depend on how many players the Wolfpack has available for the game. If redshirt freshman Manny Bates (concussion protocol) and Pat Andree (ankle) are both available, the Wolfpack will look to press fullcourt and up the tempo as fast as possible. If both can’t play and State has only seven scholarship players available, as was the case Monday at Virginia, Keatts will show things down, play more halfcourt defense and look to take advantage of an increasingly more dominant D.J. Funderburk.
2. D.J. Funderburk has not started many games, but you can't deny his impact. What would you call his role on the team?
Funderburk was suspended for all of preseason camp and for the season opener against Tech and it took him nearly the entire nonconference schedule to play his way back into game condition. He continued to come off the bench because Keatts likes Bates’ shot blocking ability and because State’s third big man -- graduate transfer Danny Dixon -- was sidelined with a foot injury. Once Dixon came back, Keatts began playing Funderburk and Bates together in a bigger lineup and its been very effective. Playing the four for extended stretches has allowed him to use his athleticism to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket while also helping him become a much better offensive rebounder. Funderburk is quickly becoming the Wolfpack’s primary scoring option.
3. NC State does not turn the ball over very often, the complete opposite of Georgia Tech. How do the Wolfpack take such good care of the ball?
First and foremost, it’s because Markell Johnson is an experienced, poised point guard. He knows who to get the ball to and where to get it to them. And while he had a couple of rough outings earlier in the season, he usually makes good decisions. It also helps that the Wolfpack has three other players -- Braxton Beverly, C.J. Bryce and Devon Daniels -- that are adept ball-handlers who understand what Keatts wants from his offense.
4. Are Manny Bates and Pat Andree expected to miss this game?
There’s a better chance that neither will play than that they both will. Of the two, Bates is the closer to returning. Keatts said Thursday that he’s out of concussion protocol. It all depends on how well he handled practice on Friday. Andree was still in a walking boot earlier in the week.
5. What will Tech have to do in order to sweep the season series against NC State?
Stick with the formula that’s worked the past two times it has played the Wolfpack -- get the ball to inside Banks and let him go to work, have Alvarado get to the rim off dribble and crash the offensive boards to score second-chance points. If Bates doesn’t play, the Yellow Jackets should attack Funderburk early and often in hopes of getting him into foul trouble like he did at Virginia on Monday. It would also be helpful to knock down some 3-point shots, especially early, the way Clemson and Virginia Tech did in their recent wins against the Wolfpack.
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