Though Torin Dorn stands 6-foot-5, the N.C. State junior forward is fitting in just nicely playing down low as a forward for the Wolfpack so far this season.
Dorn recorded his second double-double in as many games on Saturday, corralling a career-best 17 rebounds in N.C. State’ 88-69 win over Missouri-Kansas City at Reynolds Coliseum.
Yes his double-double Saturday came against a team from a league that figures to get only one NCAA Tournament bid this season. The Kangaroos (3-8) will have to improve greatly to get that bid from the Western Athletic Conference this season.
Dorn’s 16-point, 10-rebound effort a week earlier also came against a struggling team from a lower level of Division I in the MEAC’s S.C. State Bulldogs, whom the Wolfpack hammered 103-71.
Still, Dorn’s ability to look comfortable inside is a testament to how he’s approaching this season under N.C. State’s first-year coach Kevin Keatts.
“He’s very active,” Keatts said. “Rebounding is a lot about how much you want to go get it. We’ve talked about him rebounding the basketball. He gives us the ability to play small ball at times. You can play that way if the guy is averaging almost 7 or 8 rebounds a game. He certainly helped us out.”
Keatts preaches an up-tempo go, go, go style so it helps if he can have a 6-5 quick guy like Dorn manning the power forward position. On Saturday, he started Dorn inside with 7-0 sophomore Omer Yurtseven.
With 6-8 senior forward Abdul-Malik Abu playing for the first time since Nov. 24 while recovering from a knee injury, the Wolfpack rotated Abu, Yurtseven and 6-8 senior Lennard Freeman inside.
At times, two of those three were on the court at the same time.
But the Wolfpack is a quicker team when Dorn is paired inside with one of those three players.
And, let’s face it, Dorn has proven highly productive down there.
“It gives us a lot of energy when Torin is the four man, going inside and getting offensive rebounds,” N.C. State guard Markell Johnson said. “It gives us a good boost.”
Saturday’s game was his third in a row with 10 or more rebounds. He started the streak by grabbing 12 against Penn State, a noteworthy performance because the Nittany Lions play in the Big Ten rather than the MEAC or Big South.
“I feel extremely comfortable down there,” Dorn said. “I try to use my quickness because I’m outsized a lot of times. I try to use my quickness and get to the boards and play bigger than I am.”
Dorn’s flurry of strong rebounding performances over the last three games shows how important that aspect of his game is to N.C. State. The last time N.C. State lost, a 67-58 decision against Tennessee in the Battle 4 Atlantis third-place game on Nov. 24, Dorn had zero rebounds.
The day before, when Northern Iowa beat the Wolfpack 64-60 in the tournament semifinals, Dorn had just five rebounds.
Now asking Dorn to routinely produce double-doubles in ACC play is probably asking too much. He had one double-digit rebounding game in league play last season when he grabbed 11 against Wake Forest. That’s the only game where he had more than six rebounds
At the same time, N.C. State can’t afford for Dorn to have five or less when those games arrive starting Dec. 30 at Clemson.
He averaged 4.6 rebounds per game last season and is at 7.5 per game through 10 games this season.
If he can maintain that improved average in league play, it would greatly help his team. He sounds like he intends to do just that.
“I just want to play as hard as possible,” Dorn said. “I pride myself on playing extremely hard and give it all I have. I come into every game wanting to be the best rebounder and do all the little things to help the team win.”