Kyle Washington didn’t play in N.C. State’s 69-53 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday.
The sophomore forward played 7 minutes in the Wolfpack’s win at Louisville on Feb. 14.
This after averaging 21.2 minutes per game, and starting 18 of the first 25 games of the season.
So what’s the deal with Washington?
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“It was nothing intended towards him,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said of the decision to change Washington’s role.
The coach wants more defense and more rebounding and he has turned to sophomore Lennard Freeman, who went through his own time on the bench and out of the rotation.
Freeman has started the past two games, both N.C. State wins. Freeman had four points and four rebounds in 24 minutes in the win over the Hokies. Freshman Abdul-Malik Abu started with Freeman and had six points, two rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes.
Sophomore BeeJay Anya came off the bench and had four points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 20 minutes.
“I think right now we’re going a little bit more with Lennard and Malik and BeeJay,” Gottfried said Saturday. “But we also played a team tonight that played four guards and defensively it was a tough matchup.”
Matchups change, Gottfried said, and Washington, who has shown the best scoring ability (7.4 points per game) of the four big men, could play more against a bigger North Carolina lineup Tuesday.
“He’s got to be ready to play, North Carolina is a much different game on Tuesday night,” Gottfried said.
Washington has had six games this season when he has scored in double figures (N.C. State has lost four of those games). He had 17 points in a home loss to UNC on Jan. 14.
Most of Washington’s points come outside the paint and his rebounding average of 4.7 per game, is less than Freeman’s (5.6) – who has averaged fewer minutes – and about the same as guard Trevor Lacey (4.6).
Gottfried said he has talked to Washington about his playing time. With such an abrupt change in Washington’s role, Gottfried was asked whether he was worried about Washington’s psyche.
“I worry about everybody’s psyche but Kyle understands,” Gottfried said. “I talked to him about after the game, sometimes that’s just the way the game happens.
“Different matchups, different games, we need all of them ready to play. Hopefully, he’ll be mentally fine.”