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Greensboro Swarm: Strong Wolfpack Influence In Their Backcourt

The Greensboro Swarm settled down after a week of turmoil and held par, going 2-3 over their last five games and featuring a new starting point guard in Cat Barber

NCAA Basketball: Duke at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

While the Greensboro Swarm have to realistically view the postseason as out of reach, that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to play hard every single time they take the court. From the beginning head coach Noel Gillespie has maintained the goal for this season was to always improve - not beat the odds and make the playoffs at all costs.

Therefore weekly updates don’t have to focus on how far under .500 the team is (11 games), or how far back of the playoff field they have fallen (7 games). Instead they can highlight the daily ups and downs of the team and how the Swarm are advancing as a franchise with the long-view in mind.

Home Cooking

The Greensboro Swarm have compiled a 7-8 record at home, compared to a much harsher 5-15 road reality. That disparity played out again over the past ten days, as the Swarm went 2-1 at home and 0-2 on the road.

Last weekend Greensboro hosted the Long Island Nets for a back-to-back, running them off the floor during the first game before the favor was returned by the Nets the following night. It was a weekend of assignments, as both the Swarm (Check Diallo. New Orleans Pelicans) and the Nets (Taurean Prince, Atlanta Hawks) featured players not connected to the team they were playing for in any way.

During the week, Greensboro made its way north to take on the Erie BayHawks and the Grand Rapids Drive. Both games resulted in single-digit losses as the Swarm couldn’t get stops when they needed them down the stretch.

Their final contest of the week came Saturday, as Greensboro hosted the Reno Bighorns and beat them comfortably. Lead guard Archie Goodwin and veteran forward Damien Wilkins feasted from the free throw line, while Diallo stuffed the stat sheet without sniffing a free throw.

Go Wolfpack

The Greensboro Swarm underwent a significant amount of roster turnover in the last few weeks, from center Mike Tobey receiving a call-up to leading scorer Xavier Munford heading overseas. In addition to taking on the assignment of Check Diallo, the team swapped out guard Aaron Harrison for former NC State personality and point guard Anthony “Cat” Barber.

The games since Munford, Tobey, and Harrison left have been rotationally different in two major ways: they have been Wolfpack heavy. Cat Barber has stepped in and played exorbitant minutes right off the bat, scoring from all areas of the court and adding in rebounds and assists as well.

In addition, reserve guard Ralston Turner is seeing increased opportunity to play rotation minutes off the bench. While in the previous hierarchy Turner was the team’s sixth guard, only seeing playing time when the game was well out of reach, he is now serving as the team’s backup 2. His familiarity with Cat Barber from their college days at NC State has helped Barber adjust, and Turner has taken the most of his opportunities to make an impact while on the floor.

Is Tobey Soon To Return?

While other players may have scored more points or flashed more transition highlights, the Swarm’s best two-way player all season has been Mike Tobey. The former Virginia center has scored, rebounded, and defending the rim at elite levels for the D-League all year.

Therefore it was no surprise when Tobey received a “call-up” and signed a 10-day contract with the Charlotte Hornets. While he was never going to receive significant playing time, Charlotte’s lack of low-leverage minutes (generally referred to as garbage time) has meant Tobey is yet to see the court for the Hornets.

Tobey’s contract expires today, meaning Charlotte will have to decide whether it wants to bring him back for another run. Editor’s Note: Tobey was signed to a second 10-day contract. With their bigs healthy they may elect to wait until after the All-Star break to make a decision either way. It’s equally possible he has impressed the coaches enough in practice to give him the full-time fifth-big spot and sign him for the rest of the season.

While the Swarm would love to have Tobey on the court, they exist to assist the Hornets and give players their best shot at success in the big league. Whether he stays up or down, Tobey has used that opportunity with the Swarm to show the league he is worth taking a second look at.