How "Our Place" Was Established

Why is NC State getting raked over the coals by the media five years after Herb left?  Simple- because he helped establish "our place" somewhere below our blue rivals and above the bottom half of the league.

When Sendek started at State, V had only been gone for 6 years. NC State was still very relevant nationally.  After five years of his tenure, State had sunk so far below it's historical level, that an NCAA Tournament berth was a milestone.  As such, his 5 year tourney run, which begain in Sendek's sixth season is now considered the standard for what NC State basketball can achieve.

The point here is that Sendek played a MAJOR role in lowering our expectations and national image. Then, as a result of 11 years of crap (6 from Herb), his 5 tourney appearances look great in the eyes of the media and his fellow coaches, when in fact the results should have been the minimum expectation for State. We couldn't hire a good coach because of the perception created by the program's downfall (thanks in part to Herb).  So, instead of being only a few years from State's glorious past, we are now 20 years removed and five straight tourneys are looked upon the greatest achievement in the history of NC State hoops.

Do you see the irony?

The Sendek hire, almost as much as the Valvano dismissal, effectively cost NC State 15+ years and our national prominence and image.

Tough Week for NC State Hoops; Lowe's Time is Short

What a week of basketball by NC State.  "The Meltdown" followed by "The Beatdown."  Simply put, State is a bad basketball team, and doesn't look like they know how to play basic fundamental basketball.

I have no doubt that the team and the coaches want to win, but something is not working.  I'm not an insider, so I don't know what goes on in practice.  I'm not a coach or an analyst, so I can't break down what State is doing wrong and how to fix it.  Yet, I am smart enough to know that a talented basketball team is underachieving.  Further, I can recognize that all of Coach Lowe's previous teams either underachieved or performed at a level on par with its unacceptably low expectations.

State vs. Carolina Feels...Meh

State and Carolina play tomorrow, but a hockey game has garnered much more interest and attention.  That has to be one of the most depressing things I've ever typed on this blog.  Well, it is a pretty big deal that the NHL All-Star Game is in Raleigh. But come on, this is supposed to be ACC country, where we live and breathe college hoops above all else.  Unfortunately, State has not lived up to preseason expectations, and Carolina is having another disappointing season to date, at least compared to its high standards.

The truth is, it's been a long time since this game was a meaningful rivalry game.  This year, though, it seems more ho-hum than I can ever remember.  It's almost like State fans have lost hope that the Pack will ever come out of this 20-year funk.

NC State Basketball is Dead

I have refused to admit it for a long time, but it's time to face the facts.  NC State basketball is dead.  In fact, it died in 1990 when we refused to stand behind the man who led the Wolfpack to one of the most inspiring, uplifting championships in sports history.  Or maybe it died in 1989, when Chris Corchiani was called for a phantom travel late in State's Sweet 16 game against Georgetown, causing a 5 point swing and effectively ending what Jimmy V believed was his best chance to win another title.  This could be considered the beginning of "NC State Shit."  (For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, Google can help you out.)  But I digress.  The point is that NC State basketball has been dead for 20 years.  Despite moments of hope courtesy of Julius Hodge and the signing of this year's freshman class, State has never recovered from the death blow dealt from within our own beloved institution.

State Still Alive... Barely

Last week: After playing 20 minutes of competitive basketball against Duke, State finally got a quality win, beating RPI #48 Miami at home on Sunday.  State found a couple interesting new lineups that provided a boost- going big against Duke and going with experience against Miami.  Ryan Harrow seems to be finding his comfort zone as the Pack's top point guard.  Harrow is now averaging 11 points, 3.6 assists and only 1.5 turnovers.

The week ahead: The Wolfpack, as in each of Lowe's first four seasons, has to play its way out of a hole, sitting at 2-3 in the ACC.  The upcoming week is huge for NC State with winnable road games at Clemson and North Carolina.  State could fight its way back into the top 1/3 of the league standings and onto the NCAA bubble with two wins.  Two losses would likely signal the beginning of the end of the Sidney Lowe era.

The Duke-NC State Rivalry

Al Featherston posted an excellent article on the Duke-NC State rivalry at GoDuke.com.  In it, he explores the history and significance of the rivalry. 

From the article:
That rich, deep historic link between N.C. State and Duke should be remembered. For veteran Tobacco Road fans, N.C. State’s long absence from the ranks of the ACC’s powers leaves a sad void. There is no reason that N.C. State shouldn’t be an ACC power – the school has great facilities, a rabid fan base and a wonderful tradition.
And it would be great to see a revival of the long-dormant Duke-State rivalry.
I couldn't agree more with Mr. Featherston. 

Be sure to check out the article for some historical perspective on the big game tonight.

Preview: Wolfpack vs. Seminoles

Coming into this week, I felt that State needed to go 1-1 to keep any realistic hopes of an NCAA bid alive.  State blew one of its few remaining opportunities to get a good win by losing at Boston College.  Thanks to FSU's upset of Duke, a win in Tallahassee could end up being a better win than one in Boston.  Sitting at 2-1in the conference with a home game against Duke up next would not a bad place to be.

While Florida State is an excellent defensive team, the Noles struggle on offense.  State has the ability to be a good offensive team, but loses games because of defensive effort  I'd really like to see the Pack turn up the defensive intensity.

Wolfpack Destroys Deacons

It was a fun game on Saturday. Of course, watching NC State best Wake Forest is always fun. State destroyed the Deacs in an exciting, efficient manner, including highlight reel dunks, toughness and just overall solid basketball. The Pack looked like a deep, talented, well-coached for a good portion of the game yesterday. As a graduate of Wake Forest's law school with no love for their athletics programs, I couldn't be more pleased.

This game doesn't mean that State has arrived, but it is an indicator that the team is improving, playing together and is starting to figure things out. While the next three games will be a better barometer of what this team can accomplish, State needed to show dominance over a poor Wake Forest team, and did it. With a tough road ahead, let's enjoy this one.

Highlights from WRAL:


On the Eve of ACC Hoops: Updated ACC Predictions

State must get off to a quick start and has no room for error if it hopes to get a bid to the NCAA Tournament after failing to get a quality out of conference victory.  The ACC is perhaps the weakest it has ever been, and the race for second place is wide open.  The only thing that looks certain is that Duke is the best and Wake Forest is the worst. 

I still believe NC State has the potential to finish as high as second in the league.  Other than Duke and maybe North Carolina, there is not a more talented roster (though I'm not sure State's isn't better than Carolina's).  Boston College seemed to be playing well, but has lost twice to Ivy League teams.  Maryland has been up and down.  Virginia Tech, thin before the season started, has now lost two more players, including starting guard Dorenzo Hudson, for the season. 

Revised ACC predictions (final standings):

Keys to ACC Success for the Wolfpack

As the ACC season approaches for NC State, the Pack is headed in the right direction.  There are a few areas where State must improve in order to contend for a top four finish.  The keys for a successful ACC season: 

        1.  Coach Lowe needs a point guard to step up and become "the guy."  More specifically, he needs Ryan Harrow to be the point guard that the program has lacked during his tenure.  Javi Gonzalez is a nice backup capable of running the team and providing some depth.  However, he is not productive or efficient enough to play 30 minutes per game at a high level.  Harrow needs to get to the point where he is able to play 25+ minutes per game productively and without wearing down.  Harrow has a great knack for scoring and getting the ball to his teammates in a position to score- he just needs to do it consistently against good teams and bigger, stronger defenders.  He must also improve his defense.  Harrow is starting to show signs that he will take the position over sooner than later, and hopefully he'll continue that trend.