Three Points from N.C. State's 82-64 win over Boston College:
1) Busy night for C.J. Leslie
All eyes were on the junior forward on Wednesday after his subpar performance against North Carolina and his coach's subsequent challenge.
C.J. Leslie responded with an active game, not great but perfectly acceptable in terms of production and especially in defensive and rebounding efforts.
Leslie, who had six points and six turnovers in the loss at UNC last Saturday, finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks against the Eagles. He had two turnovers in 29 minutes and one came on an offensive foul.
Leslie said it was important to get back into the flow of the game after the UNC debacle.
"I didn't want to come out and force anything," Leslie said. "I feel like I did a good job of not forcing anything and letting the game come to me and staying patient."
One slight tweak in Leslie's game on Wednesday was he took more mid-range shots. One of Leslie's problems has been forcing the action at the rim by either taking a bad, off-balance shot or creating contact and waiting for a foul call (that invariably doesn't come).
Since Leslie is not an exceptional foul shooter (63 percent), the duck-and-go strategy doesn't always make the most sense.
One of the things that got Leslie going midway through his sophomore season was when he started to rely on his mid-range game. A loss at UNC last season, and a bunch of blocked shots by John Henson, forced Leslie to build a better mousetrap. For Leslie, that's taking his man away from the basket and using his quickness.
Where Leslie has differed this season is he has taken the ball almost exclusively into the lane and to the rim, instead of taking 8- to 12-foot stepback shots.
Both Leslie and senior forward Richard Howell have a good mid-range touch. Both took more jumpers on Wednesday and that's a strategy that makes more sense for both the team and the individuals.
That doesn't mean Leslie, with his leaping ability, should never go to the rim, but discretion is the better part of valor, a lesson that really spring-boarded him to a 17-game great run last season.
Gottfried was pleased with how Leslie responded on Wednesday, especially with his rebounding and passing.
"I thought he was unselfish," Gottfried said. "Every team expects their better players to play well, that's part of life. We have that expectation for him, every night."
That Leslie contributed, without scoring big, is a good sign for State, as is that it won without a huge scoring effort from Leslie.
The overreaction to Leslie's performance at UNC wasn't that he didn't play his best, or that he wasn't a problem, it was that somehow N.C. State would be better off without Leslie. That's simply not true.
Gottfried pushed the right buttons (again) with Leslie, as he has more often than not. That should go a long way over the next three winnable games for the Wolfpack.
2) Off and running
Thirteen seconds after Rodney Purvis checked into the game, C.J. Leslie blocked an Olivier Hanlan shot and sprung Purvis for a dunk.
It was one of Purvis' patented, one-hand, fly-by, pose-for-the-crowd dunks, the kind that gets his game going and the crowd pumped (See home games against Duke, UNC).
Purvis has been lost in transition for the better part of February. When Lorenzo Brown hurt his ankle on Jan. 29, Purvis tried to play the point and it got him out of his comfort zone and out of what State needs him to do.
State is at its best when Purvis is jumping the passing the lanes and getting out on the break. His aggressive mindset helps the Pack get easy baskets. He wasn't as aggressive in the previous five games, scoring a total of 16 points in the process.
He went to the bench three games a go, in favor of fellow freshman T.J. Warren and more rebounding help.
That's a trade coach Mark Gottfried was willing to make, rebounding for transition points, but it's also one he knew would have an affect on Purvis.
"He has had a great attitude in practice and he has worked really hard in practice," Gottfried said. "And then, bang, all of the sudden you play well."
Purvis admitted he was losing confidence during the slump but he also understood why his minutes took a dip.
"I wasn't playing well, so there really was no need for me to be in the game," Purvis said. "I deserve to sit on the bench. It was humbling for me."
Purvis, who got involved early on Wednesday, was aggressive throughout his 28 minutes and finished with a season-best 21 points.
He knows he won't score that much every night, or even play that many minutes, but he also knows he can do more than he showed in the previous five games.
The good news for N.C. State is Warren was also productive (13 points, eight rebounds in 21 minutes) as was freshman point guard Tyler Lewis (five assists in 16 minutes).
As much as Warren and Purvis have been an either-or proposition most of the season., there's no rule that says all three freshmen can't all be good in the same game.
Obviously, as my esteemed colleague Caulton Tudor pointed out earlier this season, the progress of the freshmen will ultimately determine the final outcome of the season.
3) One down, three to go
N.C. State needs a 4-0 finish to the regular season, if for no other reason than to feel good about itself heading into the ACC tournament. (And, also, if you think about it, should this team really be 11-7 in the ACC?)
State took care of BC on Wednesday and now it needs to knock out a road win against Georgia Tech on Sunday. The Yellow Jackets foiled Maryland on Wednesday, which should sufficiently get the spoiler out of their system.
N.C. State, meanwhile, has won four of its past five games, a fact that Mark Gottfried pointed out a couple of times in last night's post game.
The Earth is still on its axis after the UNC loss is Gottfried's point.
"The sky's not falling, we're still swinging," Gottfried said. "Our guys are excited about trying to finish the year really well. That's something they want."
And it's there for the taking, starting Sunday in Atlanta.