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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Screw You(tube), NCAA!


Ah, the NCAA...that wonderful governing body of collegiate athletics. That faceless, ruthless organization that makes billions every year off of amateur athletes yet won't let them hold so much as a part time job without a committee hearing. Well, they're up to their same old antics again this March.

You've probably heard about how they've freaked out about the drink cups this year. Anyone so much as drinking Coke straight from the can is quickly whisked away in an unmarked van, never to be heard from again.

Not content to rest on their facist laurels, the NCAA has put in place another dandy rule this year (or perhaps before, but I don't recall it being this big of an issue). TV stations are not allowed to show highlights of ANY game from that day until ALL the games from that day are complete. And since the last game of the day usually concludes after midnight here on the east coast, your local news stations can't show any highlights until the next day, at which point it's stale news and the highlights are essentially useless.

Well Kudos to NBC17 here in Raleigh for not taking things lying down. When Duke beat Belmont in the final seconds, their sports director, Penn Holderness, took it upon himself to recreate the game using dolls and stuffed animals--something that has to be seen to be fully appreciated.

I'm sure the NCAA, in their twisted logic, would love to take partial credit for this gem, born out of the necessity to get around their petty policy. Whatever. Screw you. Thanks to Penn and NBC17 for giving you a big stuffed middle finger.

(Thanks to Matt at The Dare Society for pointing to the video's original home, Ginny From The Blog)

View the complete entry of "Screw You(tube), NCAA!"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Davidson reaping the rewards of scheduling tough


In an era of college sports where football and basketball programs love to load up on cupcakes to pad their win totals, Davidson is validating the notion that getting your teeth kicked in at the beginning of the year by big-name programs has some real, tangible value.

The top teams in Davidson's non-conference schedule read like a murderer's row for a small school from the Southern Conference: North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, Charlotte, N.C. State. Each game ended in a loss, and by the end of December the Wildcats were 4-6.

Kudos to coach Bob McKillop for taking a chance on playing these tough teams; by signing up for games he was likely to lose, he ran the risk of missing an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament had the Wildcats not won their conference tournament.

But now they're in the Sweet 16 after knocking off Gonzaga in the first round and Georgetown in the second. What's more, Davidson twice staged comebacks to advance to the second weekend, down double-digits in the second half in both games.

I've always been a big believer that you learn more about your team in losing to stronger teams than in winning against cupcakes. If you drop 80 on a directional squad from Michigan but distribute the ball poorly or don't have to fight for rebounds, have you improved as a team? Conversely, when you learn to fight and make plays against squads filled with McDonald's All Americans, your weaknesses are easier to spot and easier to improve from game to game.

You also gain poise. The poise that comes with playing the "big boys," often on the road. And poise, when down big in the second half of both games this weekend, is what kept Davidson plugging away when more-talented-yet-less-tested teams would've folded.

Stephen Curry is playing out of his mind at the moment and quickly putting together one of the greatest single-player NCAA tournament performances of all time. But the rest of the Davidson team is not simply standing around watching Curry work; they're supporting him on the defensive side of the ball, rebounding and applying pressure. The Hoyas finished with 20 turnovers to Davidson's four. Four! And all-everything Roy Hibbert fouled out, scoring only six.

This collection of Southern Conference-caliber players isn't backing down just because the names on the front of the jerseys say they should. At this point, playing the country's best is old hat to them, and it shows each time they take the court.

View the complete entry of "Davidson reaping the rewards of scheduling tough"

Nice DT, Maravich video on the Ebays


Red Auerbach, David Thompson and Pete Maravich: Awesomeness X 3. Enjoy.

View the complete entry of "Nice DT, Maravich video on the Ebays"

Friday, March 21, 2008

Damn you, Tampa...


You've killed my brackets so far. But, thankfully, you've tripped up just about everyone else, so it's a push.

Stephen Curry is a hoss. A miniture, scrawny hoss. How in the hell did we beat Davidson this year?

Jack McClinton is a hoss. How in the hell did we beat Miami this year?

And memo to Clemson: WORK ON YOUR FREE THROW SHOOTING. I know you couldn't hit water from a boat in the second half, but when teams integrate fouling you as part of their strategy, you know you've got issues at the line. Shooting below 63% as a team is inexcusable, and it's cost you several games this year (including at least two wins against Carolina and your only game in the tournament).

View the complete entry of "Damn you, Tampa..."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

NCAA Tourney Randomness, Part 1


Tom Crean is one of my favorite coaches, if for no other reason than he looks like a slimmed-down Tom Arnold:

View the complete entry of "NCAA Tourney Randomness, Part 1"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

John Calipari at State: A positive or negative scenario?


As I'm apt to do, I'll listen to the PTI podcast on the way home from work from time to time. I caught some of the March 18th edition last night and heard an interview with John Calipari. It was tough not to enjoy listening to the man talk; he's a born speaker and salesman of both a basketball program and of his own abilities as a coach.

Calipari, of course, coaches the Memphis Tigers and at one point this season they were the number one team in the country. Their only loss to this point has been against a very good Tennessee team, and enter the NCAA Tournament as a 1-seed.

By virtue of his flirtation with the N.C. State coaching search two years ago, Calipari will forever have a footnote in the history the basketball program. His brief but intense negotiations were some of the more entertaining moments of the coaching search, with resourceful folks tracking planes and snapping spy photos at the airport.

His almost-hiring raised an important question for me: "Did we come out ahead or behind by not landing Calipari?"

The name "Calipari" seems to carry with it an air of scandal, sanction and suspension. After Calipari left UMass in 1996, the school got dinged with with a variety of penalties when it was learned Marcus Camby accepted money from an agent. The NCAA cleared Calipari of any direct responsibility, but as is often the case with these things, it seems hard to believe that he wouldn't have noticed his star player noticeably wealthier in a matter of months.

So far, however, he's kept his nose clean at Memphis. The guy that seemed as likely as any to jump ship for any lucrative offer that came along (read: the State job) has spent over seven years slowly building Memphis into one of the premier programs in the country.

I just have to wonder how Calipari--having seemingly put the ghosts of Camby-past behind him--would've been received at State. Would we have embraced him with open arms, or would we always have been waiting "for the other shoe to drop?" Would it look like State was taking a win-at-all-costs approach by hiring a guy with a checkered past?

There's a good chance that State would be more competitive right now with Cailpari at the helm. Cal, love him or hate him, is a good basketball coach with a lot of experience.

I just think there's a huge "Buyer Beware" sticker attached to him. With our recent history of academic issues (Chris Washburn), I just think it would've been too big of a gamble for us to try and bring him in and pray that his players graduate with regularity. His recent graduation rates have been in the lower half of the country (in 2007 is was in the 25% range), and he's been known to take on players that other schools would consider high academic risks.

And not to disparage Memphis as a school, but the classes at State are likely more difficult for your average student. As a member of the ACC, State has a greater obligation to attempt to educate those athletes that come through our doors. I'm just not so sure about the quality of the education the players at Memphis receive under Calipari's watch.

I think the ultimate judgment on whether or not we missed out by not landing Cal will have to be determined once we see the majority of Sidney's tenure at State transpire. The level of his teams' successes in the classroom and on the court can then be measured. Who knows? If we land John Wall, the fantastic point guard prospect from Cary, then maybe we'll enjoy some quick success in a similar fashion that Wake Forest did with Chris Paul.

If that occurs, then "what-if" games, like this post, won't get played as often as those years when your team finishes 12th in the conference.

View the complete entry of "John Calipari at State: A positive or negative scenario?"

Yahoo Spring Football Preview


Everyone else has it listed from their blog...might as well join the party.

View the complete entry of "Yahoo Spring Football Preview"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hickson Gone (sortof)


According to 850 The Buzz, the Sporting News is reporting that J.J. Hickson is entering his name into the draft.

As college basketball players have the option of doing, Hickson will not be hiring an agent during this process. This allows Hickson the option to return to the Pack if he learns there is not enough interest in him from teams to warrant an early departure.

The real shock would've been had Hickson not declared, frankly. He had been very open about exploring his pro options from the day he arrived on campus, and most pundits figured him for a one-and-done player from the start.

The question is, will Hickson be the next Josh Powell? Powell, if you'll recall, had a fantastic ACC tournament his sophomore season, and despite a low projected draft position decided to sign an agent regardless, ending his college career. He went undrafted, relegating himself to Europe ball on a long road back stateside. He's now on an NBA roster (the Clippers), but it's a road that few players successfully navigate. I'm happy for Josh, but it was nevertheless a mistake for him to declare when he did.

Whether it will be a mistake for Hickson to enter now, assuming he doesn't return to State, is as of yet unknown but there's a good chance he'll get drafted outside of the first round. There's no guaranteed money past the first round, meaning Hickson could find himself out of an NBA job just months after getting drafted if he isn't careful.

I wish him well. He played great at times, but disappeared at others. It's tough to say if that's entirely his fault (the rest of the team disappeared for most of the year, quite frankly), but he's got a lot of growing to do before he'll be starting in the NBA.

View the complete entry of "Hickson Gone (sortof)"

Monday, March 17, 2008

Message board Quote-O-Teh-Day


In response to the injury report posted here,

JamesHenderson wrote:

HB 22 Toney Baker (5-10, 225, *Jr.) knee

QB 7 Daniel Evans (6-2, 191, *Sr.) shoulder

SS 31 Bobby Floyd (5-9, 211, Sr.) shoulder

OL 75 Mike Golder (6-4, 286, *Fr.) knee

TE 83 Anthony Hill (6-6, 265, *Sr.) knee

OL 68 Ahmad Jaradat (6-4, 290, Fr.) shoulder

SS 4 Javon Walker (6-0, 188, *So.) knee

B Pack tossed out this gem:
My guess is that Daniel Evans' shoulder was injured when he was stretched from
5'11 to 6'2.

View the complete entry of "Message board Quote-O-Teh-Day"

Spring Football Organizational (Depth) Chart


Posted over at PackPride.com

A couple of notes:

  • Harrison Beck heads into practice as the top quarterback. Daniel Evans is out with a shoulder injury and will miss spring practice.
  • The same is true for Toney Baker, who's still nursing the knee injury that sidelined him last year. Jamelle Eugene currently is in the top slot.
  • Former defensive tackles John Bedics and Ted Larsen have been moved to the offensive line to shore up the guard positions. The offensive line is obviously an area of concern for Tom O'Brien. Hopefully the recruiting classes in coming years will eliminate the need to convert any more D Linemen into blockers. It never seemed to work for Amato (sans Sean Locklear).

View the complete entry of "Spring Football Organizational (Depth) Chart"

Sour grapes? Ehhh...maybe.


The NCAA Tournament field was set yesterday evening, and one of the first teams left on the outside looking in was Arizona State. Herb Sendek's Arizona State.

It may be sour grapes on my part, but frankly I'm glad they didn't get in.

Had they gotten a bid, it would've been just another feather in the cap of Carolina, Duke and college basketball fans in general who said we ran off a great coach in Sendek. I had this very debate with some coworkers yesterday while watching the selection show. I can only imagine what kind of nonsense I would've heard had Arizona State made it in.

I wish Herb no ill-will. He did a fantastic job rebuilding this program out of the depths it had fallen during the Les Robinson years. He brought in one of the best players in the program's history in Julius Hodge and he took us to five straight NCAA Tournaments. I hope he has all the success in the world out in Tempe.

But not right now.

Not while State tries to find itself as a basketball program. Because while we fight amongst ourselves--both the team and the fans--as to how to attack the problems of returning to where Herb left off as a tournament-caliber team and then exceeding that level of success, local fans of the blues and even members of the media will continue to snipe at us for being unreasonable, unrealistic and irrational.

One of my coworkers said something to the effect of, "Who could you bring in better than Herb? Who would want to have to compete with Duke and Carolina right up the road?" My response was, "Was Rick Pitino afraid to go to Louisville with Kentucky up the road?" I suppose I could've made a case for Bob Huggins going to Kansas St. with Kansas right in their backyard for one season before leaving for his alma mater at West Virginia, but the Lousiville comparison is very appropriate to our situation--a team with multiple national titles but whose recent success had faded (prior to Pitino's arrival).

I guess Carolina and Duke fans just don't GET it. I don't know if it's their own success that clouds their perspective, or our lack of any tangible success over the last 20 years, a combination of the two or none of the above. But they really, TRULY believe we had the best coach we could ever expect to have in Herb, and that the level of success we were experiencing with him (1 win over a non-Doherty-coached Carolina team in 10 years, 1 Sweet Sixteen appearance) was the best we should hope for.

Nevermind the fact that when one of their programs experienced a brief blip of ineptitude, they kicked his hindquarters to the curb just as fast as you please. And when you ask them about their lack of patience as a fanbase for ousting one of their own, they'll simply reply, "But, we're Carolina."


I still think Sidney can get us where we want to be as a program. It will take time, and these knuckleheads asking to fire Sidney after two freaking years are idiots for doing so. I can't see throwing any coach out until he's coached a full squad of his players--especially given the grumblings of separate factions within the team forming of Herb's players versus Sid's. If, after year four or five, the same lack of effort and execution are there or our young talent hasn't developed any from year one to year four, then we can re-examine the argument.

But for right now, I'm 100% behind Sidney to get it done, and I'm 110% sure we're better off in the long run without Herb here in Raleigh.

View the complete entry of "Sour grapes? Ehhh...maybe."

Friday, March 14, 2008

ESPN: Marketing Geniuses


Tip of the hat to Joe over at 850 The Buzz for snagging this.

Seriously, ESPN. What were you thinking? Were you reaching out to that crucial "18-35 hip hop opera fan" demographic? Working the failed American Idol contestant angle?

There's thinking outside the box. Then there's thinking outside the realm of sanity. You be the judge.


View the complete entry of "ESPN: Marketing Geniuses"

And so it ends.


Welp. I guess that's that.

With a 63-50 loss to Miami on Thursday afternoon, State's worst basketball season in a decade came to a merciful end. Granted, the 2000-'01 season ended with a worse record, but I don't recall feeling worse at the end of that year than I do now.

I think you knew early on in that year that the team was not that good. They lost the second and third games of the year against Charlotte and Fresno State, respectively, which set the tone for the rest of the year. And despite their struggles, they won one more in-conference game to finish 5-11, good for seventh in the league.

This year, ugh. Not a single win over the last five weeks of the year. Nine straight losses. A team that seemed content to watch more than play. A coaching staff that tried desperately, sometimes in puzzling fashion, to find a rotation that gave a damn on the court.

And all this after a season that ended so well the year prior. Who, among State fans, didn't feel great about things heading into '07-'08 with Costner, McCauley, Grant and Fells returning with a 5-star forward/center in Hickson joining the mix? To crash from such lofty expectations is a hurt that exceeds any of the frustration experienced in 2000-'01.

Looking ahead to year three, the Pack should be one of the more experienced teams in the league with eight juniors and seniors. The question is, do we really want a team laden with players responsible for the train wreck that was this year, possibly missing the player that scored over half of our points in the ACC Tournament? It could possibly get worse before it gets better.

That's a scary thought.

View the complete entry of "And so it ends."

Thursday, March 13, 2008



View the complete entry of "Poop"

State Vs. Miami: One Man's Opinion


State Vs. Miami

It's make or break time for State. One bullet left in the revolver, one last chance to do something positive to build on for next year.

Miami is a team State has beaten once already this season, so that alone is reason to believe we can pull a win off today. State's recent history in the tournament (8-5 over the last 5 years) also suggests that we could pull the upset.

The downside is that Miami is playing better than they were when State shocked them in January. Jack McClinton is playing out of his mind at the moment, commanding enough attention in the Pack's gameplan that Sidney pretty much plans to blanket him for the entire game. Could we see a box-and-one defense today?

As for State, they have got to get more production from both their starting lineup and their bench. Too many players have disappeared this season for me to feel comfortable about this team. Costner, of course, is the big piece of the puzzle missing this year, but role players like Dennis Horner have completely gone MIA this year, as well. Horner's perimeter scoring is especially missed; were we a more dangerous team from outside I feel fewer teams would sag down on our "bigs." And Courtney Fells is a here-one-game-gone-the-next type player. It goes without saying that today we need him in the former category, not the latter.

Short of an upset, I want to see State look like a "team" on the court. I want to see effort; I want to see hustle; I want to see good ball movement and a sense of purpose on the offensive end of the court. If McClinton gives us his best shot against reasonable defensive pressure (I'm realistic about our defensive capabilities) and we lose, so be it. Going down swinging is better than quitting.

If we play like we did against Carolina in the RBC Center, that will be unacceptable, and the players will have no one but themselves to blame.

View the complete entry of "State Vs. Miami: One Man's Opinion"

Sidney Lowe interview


"If you see [Jack McClinton] get an open shot, then you know someone missed an assignment."

Sounds like the Pack will be playing the white-on-rice defense against McClinton and Miami today.

(I wish the video from WRAL would load, but for some reason it will not. Use you imagination. Or go here)

View the complete entry of "Sidney Lowe interview"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

From the Wake Boards:


Zoobs has got a long way to go, though, to catch up with Scheyer in the funny mug department.

View the complete entry of "From the Wake Boards:"

Statistical breakdown @ SectionSix


If you've not checked out sectionsix.blogspot.com before, you really should. Steven runs a hell of a website rooted heavily in statistical analysis of State's sports teams and their opponents, based primarily on Ken Pomeroy's formulas for ranking and comparing teams.

Here's his breakdown for the Miami game tomorrow.

(Sorry on the low-rent graphic Steven...all I could find was a big honking "6".)

View the complete entry of "Statistical breakdown @ SectionSix"

ACC Tournament Eve


Ah...can you smell that?

That crisp...something...in the air that lets you know that the best four weekends in sports is right around the bend?

Yes, it's tournament time. The time when all the highs and lows (Lowes?) of the last four months of college basketball get condensed into seeding for the two best events in college sports, possibly in ALL of sport, the ACC and NCAA Tournaments.

I'm a North Carolina native; born in Charlotte, raised in Fayetteville and schooled in Raleigh. The ACC Tournament is a birthright of mine, and I heartily claim it as such.

I grew up a State fan, and loved the Pack, but I truly got hooked back in 1990 when Georgia Tech was tearing it up with "Lethal Weapon 3"--the tandem of Dennis Scott, Brian Oliver and Kenny Anderson. I remember watching the championship game that year at the house of one of our church members who'd invited our family over for some cards and drinks. No one downstairs seemed to care that the title game was on, but I snuck away to the homeowner's bedroom to catch it. It seemed like Dennis Scott could hit from anywhere, and Kenny Anderson was easily one of the best point guards I'd ever seen play the game.

In school on Fridays--back when the league was only eight members deep--TVs from the AV room were tough to come by; they were all rented out by teachers showing the games in class. I consider those moments, watching early-90s tournament basketball in class, as crucial a part of my North Carolina education as anything else.

In 1995, Randolph Childress gave us one of the great moments in tournament history, scoring 107 points over three games--including the winning two in overtime--to beat Carolina in the finals. He also gave us one of the greatest crossovers of all time, breaking down Jeff McInnis and daring him to get back up before drilling a three. (And you can't mention Jeff McInnis in one breath without mentioning Phil Ford's wife in the next, but I digress...)

I remember as a freshman at State in 1997, hanging around the dorm as Spring break was starting, delaying my departure so I could catch our games Thursday and Friday. Then watching the game Saturday at a friend's house. Then dying on Sunday. It was glorious and devastating.

I suppose there's no reason to think that it can't all happen again this year. The deck looks as stacked against us as it ever has this year, but we potentially face two teams in the opening rounds that we've already beaten this year, Miami and VT, so to say that we CAN'T make another run would be a fallacy.

After all, it's tournament time.

View the complete entry of "ACC Tournament Eve"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hickson named to ACC All-Freshman team



Good for Hickson, though his roll and level of contribution on the team faded a bit down the stretch. He scored only 35 points over his last four ACC contests for a 8.75 per-game average. But his game needed a better option at PG to feed him the ball and better shooters on the perimeter to open up the interior a bit more in order for him to be more effective.

It'll be interesting to see how things will change for him next season if he's here when the three-point line moves back nearly a foot. Theoretically that will create more space inside, which may allow more room for him to operate. There's no question that he's a skilled offensive player around the basket.

Will a focus on improving defensively this offseason, he could potentially be a first-team All-ACC player next year. All that depends, of course, on whether he sticks around for 08-09.

View the complete entry of "Hickson named to ACC All-Freshman team"

Monday, March 10, 2008

Message Board Quote-O-Teh-Day


You people are friggin nuts if you want to get rid of Sid after year 2.


What if Clemson decided to get rid of Purnell after year 2.......or Haith at Miami after year 2.....or any other coach in the country. Damn. Sid may be great, he may not be, but he deserves more than 2 years.


View the complete entry of "Message Board Quote-O-Teh-Day"

Comparing the bubble teams


Hey, let's talk about some ACC teams with good problems, like, "Will we make the NCAA Tournament?"

The top three teams of the league--Carolina, Duke and Clemson--are bona fide locks. No debate about it, the ACC is guaranteed these three, and it's only a matter of seeding from this point forward.

The next three are Virginia Tech, Miami and Maryland. Back in pre-expansion days when the round-robin was in place, usually all it took was a cursory look at the conference record to get a feel for who was in and who was out. A record of 9-7 was all but a lock, and you felt pretty good sitting at 8-8.

But today's post-expansion ACC makes things a little more difficult. Teams now play unbalanced conference schedules, making it tougher to look at conference records and compare apples to apples.

Here's a breakdown of the three teams:

TeamRPIPomeroyAvgConfOppoPomRatLast 10
Virginia Tech57.8928.8637696-4

Maryland, pssh. You're dead. Yeah, 8-8 would've looked good three years ago, but with an RPI of 69, 6th-place finish in the league and a 5-5 record over the last 10 games, including a BAD loss to Virginia in the final regular season game, you can stick a fork in Maryland. I don't think even a run to the ACC finals could save this team.

Now, take a look at the average Pomeroy rating of the conference opponents for the remaining two, VaTech and Miami. You can see there's a sizeable difference between the average rating of the teams VaTech played and those Miami played. Virginia Tech played the top three teams of UNC, Duke and Clemson only once apiece. Miami played both Duke and Clemson twice, and beat them both once.

Miami's RPI is clearly stronger at 28th versus VaTech's 57. Their Last 10 records are both the same, but looking closer, Miami lost only two over the last eight; VaTech lost four.

Ironically, State could potentially spoil BOTH Miami and VaTech's NCAA hopes. Miami faces us in the first round of the ACC Tournament, and a loss in the first round with an 8-8 record could keep them out, despite their RPI. State would advance to Friday's game, and a win against VaTech would give THEM a first-round tournament loss, and really put a hurt on their NCAA bid.

By having two fewer teams in the NCAA tournament field, State could potentially end up costing the rest of the league a LOT of shared NCAA tournament revenue.


View the complete entry of "Comparing the bubble teams"

Sunday, March 9, 2008

MOSTLY dead...


Oh, Billy Crystal...if there were only some magic turd pill you could give this Wolfpack team heading into the tournament, then maybe we'd stand a chance.

Alas, this ain't Hollywood and Cary Elwes ain't walking through that door.

It's been a while, but State is back in some familiar territory heading to Charlotte: The Les Robinson invitational.

State wrapped up the 12th seed by ending the season on a strong eight-game losing streak, with especially painful losses at Maryland, at Boston College, at Virginia and at Wake Forest.

The Wake loss might have been the most painful of them all, as the team had shown what looked like some life in giving Duke everything it could handle. I felt like State would stand a decent shot against Wake Forest and build some momentum heading into the tournament.

Opening the game as poorly as they did, however, it was clear that the same team that lost the six games prior to Duke was not gone, nor forgotten. True, they did make a game of it a couple of times, closing large gaps with some impressive defensive stretches. But the same bugaboos that have done the Pack in all year long--getting out-rebounded and committing a high number of turnovers--did the Pack in again this final game of the year.

Good on Gavin Grant for closing out his regular season on a high note with 16 points, and Brandon Costner cracked double figures with 10.

But we're definitely limping into the ACC Tournament this year, much less confident at the guard position than last year. Making it to the finals this year would surpass last season's miracle run, or even Herb's run in 1997, in improbability.

View the complete entry of "MOSTLY dead..."

Friday, March 7, 2008

36% Don't Give a Damn



In a recent poll conducted prior to the Feb. 5th matchup between Duke and Carolina, 40 percent of the 969 respondents said they would be pulling for Carolina.

Twenty-four percent said they'd be pulling for Duke.

So what of the the missing 36%? They, apparently, could care less.

Yikes, Duke fan...fewer people in this state will be pulling for your team than the folks that just don't care.

I guess I'm somewhat amazed, despite one of the most impressive streaks of prolonged winning dating back to the late 80s, that there aren't more Duke fans in this state. Yeah, they are a smaller private school, and Carolina has a much better alumni base in the state. Still, if winning is what builds your non-alumni fanbase in the area, then why aren't there more Duke fans in this state?

Maybe it's because Duke--by virtue of its Chicago-born coach and student body comprised of mostly New Jersey-nites(?)--just doesn't connect with a southern audience? I don't know...that seems overly simplistic.

In any event, I think it's funny that nearly as many folks really don't give a crap about who wins this game than those pulling for one of the teams. Maybe this game isn't the megaspectacle, at least here in NC, that ESPN and everyone else would have you to believe.

View the complete entry of "36% Don't Give a Damn"

Message Board Quote-O-Teh-Day


This team has the ability to win this tourney. Whether or not they have the will to win it remains to be seen.

View the complete entry of "Message Board Quote-O-Teh-Day"

Eve Carson, and the death of one of our own


The tragic death of UNC's student body president, Eve Carson, has dominated the local news headlines the last couple of days. The death of a student is no doubt a terrible thing; losing your student body president somehow seems to magnify it.

Her loss got me thinking about one of our own student body presidents who lost their life far too soon, Jenny Chang. Jenny lost her life on April 29th of 2006, not at the hands of a criminal, but to an aggressive breast cancer that took her at the age of 28.

I should state up front: I did not know Jenny very well. She, by virtue of being part of student government, had her office in the same building as us media nerds, and she would spend time in our offices at Technician from time to time. This was, for the most part, the extent of my interaction with Jenny.

But one did not have to know Jenny well to know she was something special. She--like all born leaders--had the ability to command the attention in a room. She wouldn't dominate a conversation heavy handedly, but in a matter of minutes she could drive whatever was the discussion at hand. It was effortless to her, and it made her the perfect person to run for, and win, student body president.

Since I didn't know her as well as others, I'll point you to www.changgang.org for a better description of her and her life story. Here's an excerpt:

Born in Taiwan, Jenny’s family moved to Raleigh when she was three. Jenny grew into a vivacious young woman who was among the first Park Scholars at NC State University, a Caldwell Fellow, student body president, senior class president, and dean’s list student, graduating in 2000 with a degree in biochemistry and minor in economics. She was also awarded a Truman Scholarship. After graduation, Jenny worked on Capitol Hill with US Reps. David Price (NC-04) and Carolyn Maloney (NY-14).
Her website, in fact, was born out of her desire to face her breast cancer head on. She literally traveled the world speaking out on the danger of breast cancer and the steps to fight it.

I could go on and on about people like Jenny, and Eve, who are able to make such a profound impact in such a short span of life. I'll just conclude by saying that we lost a great one in 2006, and I hate that I didn't take the time way back when to get to know her better.

View the complete entry of "Eve Carson, and the death of one of our own"

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Yay...it's that time again.


Well, here we are again...wrapping up another year of ACC basketball. You know what that means boys and girls! It's time for the second installment of this year's BATTLE OF THE BLUEZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!


Look, we all get it. These are two of the top college basketball programs. They're playing for the mythical "regular season championship" (the true champion being decided, of course, in the ACC tournament...this game is for the #1 seed, essentially). It features great players and great coaches and great fans on both sides and the tickets cost a bazillion dollars a piece and yada yada yada.

We get all that.

It just makes me, and and I think a lot of State and ACC fans, sick to our freaking stomachs.

Say what you will about expansion ruining ACC basketball (and it's hurt), but the real poison to the league to me has been the over-adulation these two teams receive leading up to these games every year. The national sports networks are glad to cram every Duke and Carolina highlight down your throat at every opportunity during the week prior, but did anyone notice (or care) that Duke and Carolina actually PLAYED other games this week?

Apparently the Carolina fans didn't care so much about their game against Florida State, and the Carolina players called them out for it. You think there would've been a different story had Duke's game against UVA been in Cameron? These two games only mattered insomuch as they could've been spoilers for TEH GREATEST MATCHUP KNOWN TO MAN (this month).

Oh, did anyone give a sh*t that Miami--a team picked to finish dead last in the league--all but punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament with a win over Boston College? Probably not. Not hard to fathom, though, since the highlights for the game probably came after some extended interviews with Quentin Thomas and his burgeoning rap career.

Yes, pretty much the rest of the league is here only to prop up The Blues. To increase their RPI, give them some quality wins, a couple of losses to make them seem somewhat-less-than-perfect, and then to GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY when these two teams face one another.

It's the ultimate "The Rich Getting Richer" scenario. With ESPN and every other major sports network fawning over these two, the other 10 teams in the league have been relegated to "also ran" status, and if you're a recruit out there trying to decide whom to play for, can you really ignore the preferential treatment these two teams receive? It's why each and every year Duke and Carolina pick three-four McDonald's AAs, and you might have six or seven sprinkled throughout the rest of the league.

So America, here it is, THE BATTLE OF THE BLUES. Lap it up all you want. You'll get heavy doses of it, for sure.

Me, I could freaking care less. I'd tell both of them to go jump in a freaking river. Is it sour grapes, envy, jealousy? Yeah. But so what. F Duke, and F Carolina.

View the complete entry of "Yay...it's that time again."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Message Board Quote-O-Teh-Day


Regarding Lee Fowler, N.C. State's much-maligned athletic director who made the profound statement in an interview on 99.9FM that "Winning is good, losing is bad,"

I wouldn't trust the guy to successfully manage a Dippin' Dots kiosk, let alone a Division IA athletics program. Yet, there he sits atop all things NC State. Outstanding.

- WolfpackSeven

View the complete entry of "Message Board Quote-O-Teh-Day"

Missing: Brandon Costner


Brandon, if you're out there and can hear the sound of my, uh, blog(?), come home. We miss you.

Kinda of lost in all the warm fuzzies after the near win against Duke was the continued disappearance of Brandon Costner. Zero points on 0-3 shooting. Five boards and not much else.

It's been a hard fall from grace for Costner, who was cementing himself as one of the ACC's bright young stars by this time last year. He had one of the great ACC tournaments of any State player, and had the Pack won against Carolina he probably would've placed himself alongside Randolph Childress as two of the top ACC tournament performers of all time.

But this year has been a "Promise Unfulfilled" year of staggering proportions. Early on there were hints of chemistry issues with he (and McCauley) and the new guard being brought in by Sidney Lowe, particularly with the amount of minutes and attention J.J. Hickson was getting.

I can't speculate as to how valid any of those reports are or were, but they definitely seemed validated by Costner's play throughout the year. He rarely has seemed "involved" in the flow of the game while on the court, and his sieve-like defense has been particularly painful to witness. In the home game against Carolina, Brandon all but pulled up a chair to watch Tyler Hansbrough rotate to his side for an easy dunk.

Coach Lowe has tried desperately to get through to him in a manner of ways; letting him try to play through it, later benching him to try to send a message, then blending him in with other player combinations. Sid has figuratively thrown everything and the kitchen sink to get through to him, and to this point it's not worked.

But with the ACC tournament on the horizon, perhaps the opportunity to shine in Charlotte will awaken the Brandon Costner we remember from last season. If he does find his game there, Lordy Moses, imagine what this team could do! We haven't had a consistent long-range threat all year, and his size and athletic skill presents all sorts of matchup problems on the perimeter.

If he starts hitting a string of threes to open Thursday's game and can continue to shoot well from there on out, just about every other piece of the offensive puzzle for State could fall into place: Hickson will have more space inside to operate and face fewer double teams from Costner's man sagging inside. J.J. would also have more space to pass from the interior, allowing him better opportunities to find other open shooters. Teams would be less-apt to play zone against us.

The key question to ask Brandon is: "Are you will to give it everything on the defensive end?" To this point he seems stubbornly content to only play on one half of the court, and we're not a good enough offensive team to overcome 5-on-4 basketball on the other end. If he gives enough defensively to simply not be a liability (forget lockdown defender), and shoots as well as we know he can, this team could do some great things.

View the complete entry of "Missing: Brandon Costner"

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

From the PackPride.com vault: 2004


In the second installment of "From the PackPride.com Vault," we run down the articles posted in 2004. It was a good year for posting on PackPride, and my most prolific year to date with seven articles. I had a good run from about mid-February through March where I posted one article a week. But when the basketball season ended, so did my run of articles, and I haven't matched that pace since. Time gets shorter when you get married and have kids, I suppose.

In any event, here's a look back at 2004:

Football in February (02/12/2004)

If you’re a fan of Wolfpack football, then you have to love Chuck Amato these days.
Defusing a Potential Powderkeg (02/17/2004)
NC State’s Scooter Sherrill learned an incredibly important lesson this past week. There’s a very fine line between “humorous trash talking” and “potentially devastating PR blunder.”
Fond memories of The Trailer in the Sky (02/24/2004)
As has become a recent tradition in winter, it seems, Carter Finley Stadium is undergoing another wave of offseason destruction and reconstruction.
The Shakiest Bandwagon in the South (03/05/2004)
Let’s face facts, folks. It ain’t easy being a Wolfpack fan. It may seem like an easy proposition. You simply pull for the Red and White all the time, in every game, and it’s a done deal, right?
Take A Look At What Case Built (03/10/2004)
Dr. James Naismith may have invented basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts, but the game was honed and polished in the high school gyms of Indiana.
Learning to Eat When You're Full (03/15/2004)
“When we hungry, we eat!”
Third Quarter's the Charm (10/05/2004)
Here’s a memo to the coaches and coordinators of the Pack’s future opponents. Go ahead and save yourself the trouble of planning for the third quarter.

View the complete entry of "From the PackPride.com vault: 2004"

'83: Should we just move on already?


As I was riding into work today I was listening to 850 The Buzz, as I'm apt to do, and the topic of conversation centered around the '83 Championship.

This year, of course, is the 25th Anniversary of said title. Tonight, WRAL plans to run a special at 7:30 on the title run and all the magical moments that surrounded it.

It was a special time for my university, and it's one we--as State fans--always will treasure. But I think I have to agree with the hosts, Adam Gold and Joe Ovies: It's time to move on.

We've been living in the past for too long. When I started at State, '83 was just over a decade away. Now it's a quarter-century. I was at Technician when we put together a 15th Anniversary piece, and I remember thinking then that 15 years was a long damn time away. Now it's a decade longer.

We need to focus on the here-and-now, because that's all we have to show to potential recruits. We can point to some trophies in a glass case--so can San Francisco and Oklahoma State. But kids today know nothing of our past success, unless they just so happened to grow up State fans with parents who shared it with them as a child.

Cold reality: In a year or so, a college freshman will have been born in the 90's. Given that our last real solid team--with Corchiani and Monroe--was the 1990-1991 squad, the entirety of these kids' lives will have been lived AFTER our last great team. Even scarier: The kids born during the year of our last ACC title, 1987, are beginning to graduate college this year.

It sucks, because it means I'm old.

It also sucks because it means there's no legitimate reason a top-flight recruit should know of State ever having been a great program. No more so than they should think the same way of Houston. We haven't posted any measure of real, tangible success (read:titles) in their lifetimes.

All we have are old trophies and great memories, but those can't recruit for us anymore. We have to sell what we have, not what we had.

Unfortunately, we're competing against programs in the area that have tremendous built-in recruiting advantages. Duke and Carolina don't have to recruit at all, really--they choose. I could sign three McDonald's All-Americas with my eyes closed at one of those two programs. The hype for the Duke-Carolina games seems to get bigger each year, and has turned into its own self-hyping phenomenon. Are we surprised that the two top programs in the league by a good margin are Duke and Carolina, and have been for a decade?

All that success builds the recruiting pool for these two schools across the country. Hell, one of the top point guard prospects in the country, John Wall, is right in Carolina's backyard in Cary, and despite his own admission that he grew up a Carolina fan, he wasn't offered because they ALREADY have too many top-flight PGs on their roster! When you have the luxury of not offering the best talent in the country because there's no room on your squad, a trained monkey could coach your team to 20-win seasons year-in and year-out. (Which makes you wonder about Matt Doherty...)

All of this is to say: we've got a tough fight ahead of us, and it's not made any easier by where we're located. But, we've got to shed this anchor of the '83 championship, because all it's doing is weighing us down at the moment. The more we scream about past titles and miracles and magic, the more desperate we appear to the outside world--including recruits.

Sure, show them the trophy case. Make your point about returning to that level of greatness. But if Sidney's wise--and we're wise as a fanbase--the '83 and '74 championships will be near the end of the recruiting tour, not near the beginning.

View the complete entry of "'83: Should we just move on already?"

Monday, March 3, 2008

From the PackPride.com vault: The early years...


I have had the rare privilege over the last few years of being a contributor to one of the largest--if not most-visited--N.C. State sports sites, www.packpride.com. James Henderson and the folks at Scout, who run and host the site, have been kind enough to let me pitch in my two cents on Wolfpack sports over the years.

What follows is a collection of articles I've written throughout the years. Hard to believe the first one I wrote way-back-when in 2002. Remember that time? Yeah, that's when we were lighting the world on fire in football. Seems hard to believe it's been five and a half years since.


Anyways, enjoy some classics from the year of our Lord, 2002:

The Nature of the Rivalry (10/5/2002)

For most of us, it was not a choice we remember making. We were born into it. Raised up in it. Given no other choice but to devote ourselves to it. It’s the Rivalry: State vs. Carolina.

The ACC anything but predictable (10/22/2002)
The conventional notions of who belongs where in the ACC have been thrown out the window.

The Pack--This Year’s Maryland? Hardly. (10/29/2002)
The successes of Maryland in 2001 and N.C. State in 2002 are strikingly similar. 2003 is where the similarities will end.

Were we ever so young?

More to follow...

View the complete entry of "From the PackPride.com vault: The early years..."

Who's this dashing young man?


Oh yeah, that guy.

Always wondered what he looked like with hair...

And before you guys get all over me for having a picture of Herb on my blog, I can tell you truthfully that I found it looking for some photoshopping material. I'm not one of these, "Herb, come back!" types. Just thought it was a funny picture I'd never seen before. Chillax.

View the complete entry of "Who's this dashing young man?"

The call.


Man, I hate crap like this.

Not because it's a call that went against us. It's just a bad call to make in that scenario, because when you make it, you open the door for conspiracy theorists who clog up the normal flow of a basketball discussion.

Was there contact between Ben and Demarcus? Of course. But was it enough to justify a call in that situation, with State clinging to a one-point lead and Duke in the midst of a comeback? In my opinion, no.

The conspiracy theorists are also bolstered by the fact that Nelson hooks Ben on the way to the basket. The whistle toots at that moment in the play, not when Ben makes the most contact with Nelson.

It feels kind of like the traveling call against Corchiani in '89 against Georgetown in the NCAA tournament...a whistle blown by an official who felt because of the bang-bang nature of the play that something must be called, but unsure of what, exactly. And he has about .5 seconds to make a decision. And just like the Georgetown game, the team coming in with the higher prestige gets the benefit of the doubt.

I hate conspiracy theorists in college sports. I don't believe that there is any real call from on top to boost Duke or Carolina through uneven officiating. But gosh, doesn't it just seem like they get all the breaks like this?

View the complete entry of "The call."

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rifle wins its second straight SEARC championship



Suck it, Citadel!

It's worth noting that the only reason I even care about rifle results is that way back when, I once tried out for the N.C. State rifle team.

I grew up plinking tin cans with a .22, and thought I was capable enough with a rifle to make the team. So, I tried. Turns out, genetics were more of an enemy than anything else. The proper technique to shoot a competition air rifle is to prop your support arm (in most cases, your left) on your hip by digging your elbow into your side right above the hip bone.

By virtue of either a longer-than-average torso or a shorter upper arm length, I had to bend my back to an exaggerated extent to get my arm into my hip. Haunched over and unbalanced, I shot a solid pattern but not well enough to make the team. My brief attempt to make a varsity sport at State was over before it even really started.

So to this day I still keep tabs on the rifle team, wondering what life as a rifle team member would've been like. Chicks, booze, shoe contracts--the whole nine.

Oh well...

View the complete entry of "Rifle wins its second straight SEARC championship"

So close...


...yet so far away.

(apologies for the Hall 'N Oates reference)

NC State 86

Man, there's nothing that hurts more than losing a home game to Duke by one point. Especially when you've led most of the game and--after shooting ridiculously well from the free throw line the first 3/4 of the game--you suddenly go cold from the free throw line trying to seal the deal.

Three-for-six down the stretch when Duke was charging like a roided-up bull just didn't get it done. You have to play nearly perfect in all phases of the game to pull off that kind of upset. We did it in 1998 against Carolina in the Dean Dome; we didn't do it today.

Two of those three crucial misses were on Javier Gonzalez, but it's tough to get too down on the guy after his gutty performance today. Ben McCauley's 19 points bested his 18 by one, but he had three assists to only one turnover against a Duke defense known for its tenacious D. He repeatedly brought the ball up the court against tough pressure and didn't fold. Kudos to you, young man...here's hoping you use this game to propel you into a productive offseason.

Tracy Smith and Trevor "Turd" Ferguson had good games again. Smith made the most of his 22 minutes in a starting role, scoring 14 on 4-5 shooting and a perfect 6-6 from the line. Turd chipped in with another nine, giving him 37 over the last three games. These two could be the cornerstone, along with Gonzalez, of the rebuilding project Sidney faces next season if Hickson leaves for the pros.

Speaking of Hickson, he pitched in eight in 18 minutes, along with five rebounds. He just hasn't taken over games over the back half of this season like I thought he would. I'm not sure if it's freshman fatigue or just an increased level of competition, but his resume for an early exit at this point looks pretty sparse. I think he needs to return for another year to get stronger physically and more mature mentally. He still breaks down defensively too much in trying to crush an opponent on his way to the basket. Once he learns how to play a tough defensive game within the overall defensive scheme, the blocks and highlight-reel defensive plays will come to him.

I was encouraged to see State play some matchup zone tonight. It kept Duke from beating our players off the dribble repeatedly, preventing the drive-n-kick threes that break a team's will. And offensively, the team played well enough throughout most of the game to get even ol' coach K to play a little zone to slow down our attack.

But at the end of the day, an "L" is an "L." As good as I felt about certain parts of this game, the inability to close it out, when up as much as 13 in the second half and up eight with under 4:00 to go, makes this a tough loss to swallow. It's indicative of how young and inexperienced our guards are. While Duke was surging late in the game, we turtled up and turned off the killer instinct that earned us the lead for most of the game. It's been shown time and time again--when you play not to lose, you almost invariably do. And the two misses by Gonzalez late in the game were probably a function of some freshmen nerves, as well.

Give Duke a ton of credit. They made every big shot and free throw they needed down the stretch to win it. They are an embodiment of their tough-as-nails coach. Beating them is no small feat.

The question for this team now is, "What do you take from this game?" Will they respond to the almost-coulda-shoulda that came as a result of their much higher effort level? Or, will their spirit--already fragile at this point--crumble in their final games of the season?

We shall see...

View the complete entry of "So close..."