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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This Just In: Tracy Smith is Awesome. 31 points in State's 88-68 win


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GoPack.com

At some point it starts sounding like a broken record, but in just 23 minutes of action today, Tracy Smith poured in 31 points, including a perfect 11-for-11 mark from the free throw line, to lead State to a 88-68 win over Towson.

(Continues)


Even going back to last season, you could see that Smith was one of the guys on the team whose motor was always churning at a high level. He's continued that play to start this year; he was at or near the top in offensive rating nearly every game so far. Today, it all fell into place.

Brandon Costner continued his unselfish play of late with 10 assists. Towson played zone most of the first half and Costner attacked it like a veteran, driving into the weak spots, waiting for the collapse and then dishing to a wide open Pack player, often Smith, for an easy bucket. He also chipped in 15 points for another double-double.

The scoring was pretty evenly spread out from there: Dennis Horner in a starting role had 10, along with Ben McCauley, and Courtney Fells had 11.

The Pack struggled at times in this game, however, with Towson jumping out to an 11-point lead in the first half behind the shooting of Josh Thornton who nailed four quick threes in a span of a few minutes to put the Tigers out in front big.

But from there Smith went to work, finishing the half with 19 points as the Pack continued to feed him down on the blocks.

Hopefully Smith will continue to get more and more minutes as the conference season approaches. He'll get to see a stout test against the Florida Gators up next; if he produces against a tough SEC team just two years removed from a national title, then it'll be almost impossible to justify keeping him off the court as conference play approaches.


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SFN: Frank Weedon's wife has passed. Our condolences.


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Per SFN, Weedon's wife has passed after a long battle with cancer.

If you've ever met Frank, you know just what a class act and sweet guy the man is. No one bleeds Red and White more than he. He's been a part of the State athletics department in one form or fashion for as long as just about anyone can remember.

I'm very sorry for him, and I hope you'll join me in sending prayers his way.


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A look at Towson (2:00 PM at the RBC)


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Way back when, during the college years, I was assigned the gymnastics beat at Technician. Towson was one of those programs the State team seemed to face on a regular basis and they were good.

Up to this week, that was the extent of my knowledge of Towson athletics.

Lo and behold they have a basketball team, too, and our old friend Pat Kennedy, the ex-Florida State coach from long ago when they enjoyed some success with Bobby Sura, Sam Cassell and Charlie Ward, is coaching the Towson Tigers these days.

Interesting factoid: He coached alongside Jim Valvano at Iona and succeeded V. as Iona's head coach when V. left for Raleigh, which may partly explain how Towson ended up on our schedule.

As for the Tigers themselves, here's how they shape up:
Record vs. D-1: 5-7
Luck: +0.011 National Rank=152 (+0.0 wins)

Raw Tempo: 67.5 poss/40 min National Rank=174
Adj Tempo: 67.8 poss/40 min National Rank=163

Offense Defense
Raw Efficiency : 99.9 (187) 105.9 (265)
Adj Efficiency : 99.5 (182) 110.4 (313)

Effective FG% : 47.2 (227) 48.4 (151)
Turnover Pct. : 19.9 (116) 20.0 (226)
Off. Rebound% : 34.8 (124) 40.9 (332)
Free Throw Rate: 22.7 (217) 32.2 ( 98)

3-Point FG% : 33.9 (165) 30.2 ( 53)
2-Point FG% : 44.6 (262) 50.3 (248)
Free Throw Pct.: 65.4 (246) 64.1 ( 42)
Block Pct. : 10.3 (242) 11.1 ( 70)
Steal Pct. : 11.2 (255) 10.7 (116)

3PA/FGA : 41.0 ( 32) 38.2 (303)
A/FGM : 62.6 ( 38) 67.7 (342)
As you might imagine, there's not a lot of height on a team at this level...no one player stands taller than 6'-8", and their "height" is all a bit undersized, as well, averaging only 207 and some change. It shows up in their poor offensive rebounding numbers. Their roster reminds me a lot of the early Herb teams--a lot of guys in the 6'-6" to 6'-8" range. Imagine eight skinny Tim Wellses.

Their point man, 5'-11" guard freshman Troy Franklin, is one of the top 20 players in the country in assist rate. Given that State is still struggling at both guard positions, this could be a matchup to watch when Towson has the ball. Can Degand or Mays stay in front of Franklin and keep him from creating looks for his teammates? We shall see.

Pat Kennedy may be in the twilight of his career as a coach but he has been around the block enough to know the game of basketball. I hate to say it, but after the way the team looked against Loyola I expect this to be another game that ends closer than it should.


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Monday, December 29, 2008

...and here come the pretzels: State beats Loyola of MD by two


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GoPack.com




If Loyola of Maryland sounds familiar, it's because they're the team coached by that wackjob Jimmy Patsos who thought it'd be cool to put two guys on Stephen Curry and hold him to zero points for the game--resulting in a 30-point blowout loss.

Fast forward to tonight, where the Pack manages a two-point speaker of a win, 62-60, and one has to wonder just where the collective heads of the Wolfpack basketball squad were tonight. Not in the RBC Center at points tonight, particularly down the stretch.

Costner was largely ineffective from the field tonight--two of nine in 32 minutes of floor time. Courtney Fells, Ben McCauley and Coster all finished in double figures (11, 16 and 11, respectively) but only shot a collective 44% from the floor (12 of 27)...not the kind of production you need from your top scorers.

Turnovers still are an issue...21% of the Pack possessions resulted in a TO, compared to only 13% from Loyola. This continues to plague the Pack ballhandlers and, if not corrected, will doom several games in conference play.

Degand and Mays split time at the point, and both finished with 1:1 A/T ratios, but the number of assists were far two few--just three between the two of them. That's the telltale sign of a team completely out of offensive rhythm and devoid of a floor general. Nothing created by either of the points is a bad sign.

A win is a win is a win...but they don't come much uglier than this.


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PapaJohns.com Bowl Live Blog


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We'll see how this thing works...head here around 2:45 for some pregame talk and discussion, then stick around for a live blog of the game. My work's ISP allows me access to ESPN360, thankfully, so if you're stranded with no means to keep up with the game, this will be an avenue to keep tabs on the proceedings.




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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Word on da street: Ferguson has broken hand; CONFIRMED, out 3-6 weeks


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That's what I keep hearing from several folks that know their stuff. There was a point in the game last night where Ferguson was clearly in pain, grasping his hand. I can't recall if it was his shooting hand or not (I didn't think enough of it at the time to pay attention), but he played through it to the final buzzer.

Losing Ferguson would be a big blow to this squad already short on talent at the guard position. He's a dangerous enough shooter to knock down key threes when open, and he hustles enough on defense to be, if not a shutdown defender, disruptive.

UPDATE: ACC Now and GoPack.com are now reporting it; he'll be out 3-6 weeks with a fracture on his non-shooting hand. If that timetable holds, the earliest he would be available would be the home game against FSU on Jan. 13th; the latest (6 week prognosis) would put it around the NC Central game on Feb. 3rd.


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Monday, December 22, 2008

Marquette Recap: Pack falls 68-65


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As Danny Glover once said, "I'm getting too old for this sh*t."

Another key out of conference game, another heartbreaking loss.

First, credit to Marquette. They did everything they needed to do to win the game. They made the plays, created the turnovers and hit the final shot to down State in their house. We had Dominic James pegged as the guy to create for his teammates but at the end he did what senior guards do--hit big shots. He capitalized on a defensive mistake by Farnold Degand to get free for a final look at the winning three and hit it.

Now to State. Ugh. This team is in desperate need of a true, bona fide point guard. It seems like ages since we've had one because, well, it has been. Engin Atsur filled the role admirably two years ago, but calling him a true point is a bit of an exaggeration. It wasn't what he was recruited for.

State's lack of a true point guard reared its ugly head last night. The offense was stagnant for much of the evening, and when the Golden Eagles pressed, our guards looked like deer in headlights. There was too much hesitation to attack the press, and it manifested itself in the turnover column. Eighteen turnovers on the night, the majority of which came from the guards.

Degand--bless his heart--just didn't have it last night. It's got to be very, very tough to come back from a knee injury and play with the kind of abandon you need to be effective at this level, but I just didn't see an attacking Degand last night. I saw a hesitant one.

I think there are good things in store for Julius Mays. He had three turnovers against only one assist, but I saw more from him last night than any of the other guards on the floor. I'm hopeful that he can blossom into a capable option before the year is through.

I've got to address the coaching, too: I have no idea why Costner and McCauley spent as much time on the bench in the second half as they did. Costner was unstoppable all night long, and McCauley's minutes were sprinkled so haphazardly that I think it kept him from getting into a rhythm offensively. At the end, when we needed him to produce on successive trips down the court, he missed two key free throws and turned the ball over. I've been as critical of McCauley and Costner as anyone for the way they handled the Hickson situation last year, but the facts are, right at this moment, they are the two best players on this team. Period. And if you're going to keep your two best players on the bench in crunch time, you can expect a result similar to last night.

Overall, I'm disappointed, but I see signs in this team that they can compete with all but the best teams out there. That means the Pack will probably end the year in the middle of the ACC, battling it out with all the mid-tier teams for 5th or 6th in the league, which will be a major improvement over last season.

I'm not ready to shovel dirt on this squad, by any means.


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Previewing #24 Marquette


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Alright... Up 'til now (save for the Davidson game), we've just been kicking the tires and babying it on the back roads...now it's time to see if this 2008-09 Basketball squad has anything under the hood.



PackPride Notebook entry

Golden Eagles scouting report from KenPom.com

                      Offense               Defense
Raw Efficiency : 112.9 ( 30) 94.3 ( 89)
Adj Efficiency : 109.8 ( 53) 94.5 ( 86)

Effective FG% : 51.5 ( 86) 48.1 (143)
Turnover Pct. : 19.0 ( 70) 22.2 (123)
Off. Rebound% : 40.0 ( 25) 30.1 ( 76)
Free Throw Rate: 38.1 ( 6) 37.2 (189)

3-Point FG% : 34.1 (156) 31.6 (100)
2-Point FG% : 51.6 ( 58) 48.5 (188)
Free Throw Pct.: 71.0 (104) 66.4 (111)
Block Pct. : 4.9 ( 18) 7.9 (188)
Steal Pct. : 8.7 ( 99) 11.7 ( 67)

3PA/FGA : 33.7 (149) 35.7 (260)
A/FGM : 62.2 ( 43) 49.3 ( 75)

As you can see from the pretty colors up above, Marquette does one thing extremely well: get to the foul line. Wesley Matthews, their primary offensive weapon, has shot 106 FT attempts thus far and made 90 of them for a .846 conversion rate. Listed as a guard but 6-5 and 215, Matthews has the size to take the ball inside against smaller forwards. He's also capable of shooting from outside, as well, hitting 36.4% of his perimeter attempts. Look for him to get a lot of touches tonight and be the focal point of their offense.

Marquette's first option from outside will be Jerel McNeal. He's hitting 43.6% of his looks from downtown. Playing point will be Dominic James who's dishing out 5.4 assists per game.

The 24th-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles enter the game as two-point favorites, but don't be surprised if the Pack wins tonight. The Pack is doing its best to break free from last season's perceptions of this squad, playing with a lot of energy, effort and teamwork--three key ingredients that weren't there at many times a year ago. They've played particularly well--again, Davidson game and the Steph Curry freak show aside--in perimeter defense. They clamped down on a very good outside shooting East Carolina team and forced the Pirates to beat the Pack inside the arc. Look for a similar strategy tonight.

Should be a good one! The tip is at 7:00, on ESPNU


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Reviewing Lipscomb


1 comments


  • Julius Mays played extremely well as a starter at the point. Seven assists and 0 turnovers, and nine points in 24 minutes. Hopefully he can build on this performance.
  • Trevor "Turd" Ferguson continues to shoot well from the perimeter, as well as bring energy and hustle to the Pack lineup. I see us needed to lean on his offense greatly over the course of the year, particularly if Fells continues to be hobbled.
  • State continues to shoot the ball well. They posted a 56.7% eFG percentage against Lipscomb and are averaging 52% eFG for the year.
  • The Pack protected the basketball much more this game than last. They only had nine turnovers, three below their season average, and finished the game with a 2.2 A/TO ratio (largely on the strength of Mays' performance).
  • The team short HORRIBLY from the free throw line: just 10 makes on 22 attempts. State has shot very well at the stripe overall this year, so hopefully this is just a one-game aberration that we never see again.


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Thursday, December 18, 2008

A tip of the hat to Tom Suiter


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Tonight is Tom's last 6:00 sports segment

A little background info on yours truly.

I grew up in North Carolina. I was born here, raised here, went to college here...I'm about as "N.C. Native" as it gets.

I've been watching Suiter do the sports on WRAL for as long as I can remember: When I thought "Sports Anchor," he was who I envisioned.

In high school, I was part of the high school football gameday atmosphere. In other words, I was a band dork. Every Fall Friday, after the equipment and the uniforms were put away and after our friends parted ways from the Hope Mills Taco Bell, there was one ritual I ALWAYS made sure to partake of, and that was to catch the highlights of my South View Tigers on Football Friday. Tom provided the commentary track to some great Tiger moments over the four years I was there, and some heartbreaking ones, as well.

The sports broadcasting world has changed a ton in the last two decades. It seems you can't get on the air these days unless you scream "Booyah" or "Jumanji!" every other word. But Suiter has a way to make his signature catchphrase--"Jamburger!"--seem almost dignified by comparison. He didn't need it, and he seemed to pull it back years later after the explosion of ESPN seemed to highlight the broadcaster more than the sports news he/she delivered. It was if he'd said, ok, been there, done that. And he had.

He's a class act and the greater Triangle market will miss him on the airwaves for sure, though he thankfully isn't completely retiring--he'll still be there for future football players and band dorks alike to run home and catch their team's highlights on The Big 5.

Thanks, Tom!

P.S. If it's not too much to ask, see if you can work in a jamburger or two tonight, just for ol' times sake!


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ECU game post: State wins 87-76


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I know there are going to be some of you out there in Wolfpack Land that view a close game with ECU as sign for concern. You thought last year's loss was the lowest point in State basketball history and assumed we'd crush the Pirates in our house this year by 30. And as such, since we only won by 11, somehow you think that's disappointing.

I'm here to tell you that last night's win over ECU was a quality win, over a good team, and that there's reason to feel good about that game and the team after winning it.

(Continues)

The Pirates are a scary good offensive squad. They shoot the ball extremely well, especially from the perimeter, and feature outstanding guard play from both their point (Brock Young, one of the nation's top assists men) and their two guards (Sam Hinnant and James Legan). And in last night's game they started out strong, hitting over 50% of their first-half threes.

But Coach Lowe made a concerted effort in the second half to take that aspect of their game away and force their point, Young, to beat the Pack on his own. He damn near did, as the Pirates cleared out the post and let Young attack Javy, Degand, or whoever else we tried to throw in front of him. But the Pirates' perimeter game was effectively shut down in the second half as they shot just 2-15 from three. Young got his 25 but State won the war.

This was my first time seeing the team in person this year. I can say they look worlds better than they did the year before--exerting much more effort on both ends of the court, hustling for loose balls, getting downright nasty at times. You could tell this was a game the whole team wanted badly. The key will be channeling that type of emotion and effort over an entire 35+ game season.


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Motorhead + Ozzy + N.C. State/Miami highlights = Awesome


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Just a little something to keep you pumped up about football heading into the Bowl Season:


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Double Snubbed! Rivers snubbed from SI's 12 Biggest Pro Bowl Snubs list


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I'm pretty sure I've never used the term snubbed so many times in a one-week span, but the snubs keep 'a coming for Philip Rivers: Philip snubbed from SI.com's photo essay on top Pro Bowl snubs.

Is that a double snub? A snub squared?

Insult to injury: On Chad Pennington's "snubbed" page, they mention Rivers, saying:
Pennington's numbers might not be as flashy as Phillip Rivers', but you can't argue that the Dolphins have been more successful than the Chargers.

Should I even mention that they spell his name wrong?


View the complete entry of "Double Snubbed! Rivers snubbed from SI's 12 Biggest Pro Bowl Snubs list"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Williams, Wilson make Pro Bowl roster; Rivers snubbed


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Mario Williams followed up his breakout year of 2007-08 with solid 2008-09 campaign, and as such was named to the 2009 Pro Bowl.

Williams, after logging 14 sacks last year, has 11 sacks through 14 games this year and has anchored the defense on a much-improved Houston Texans team that's making a late charge for the playoffs.

Arizona's Adrian Wilson, still regarded throughout the league as one of the hardest hitting safeties out there, made the NFC list at strong safety.

In the snubbed category, Rivers did not make the AFC list.

Rivers is one of the few bright spots on a Chargers squad that has struggled all year despite lofty post-season expectations. He leads the NFL in passer rating, yards per attempt and touchdowns thrown, and ranks in the top 10 in nearly every passing category. The AFC quarterbacks selected ahead of him were Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Jay Cutler.

UPDATE: Apparently NFL.com's Vic Carucci agrees with me...Pro Bowl picks miss some deserving players -- especially Rivers

Congrats to both Wilson and Williams for their accomplishments and for making Pack fans proud!


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Monday, December 15, 2008

Looking at ECU


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Point blank, the Pirates are not a team the Pack can take lightly. They are 8-1 so far this year and are a scoring machine thus far. As you can see from the numbers here from Ken Pomeroy's site, the Pirates are one of the most efficient teams on offense, rating in the top 20 nationally in both raw and adjusted efficiency. They have a very high effective FG%, take very good care of the basketball and get to the line reasonably well.

2009 scouting report for East Carolina

                      Offense               Defense
Raw Efficiency : 120.2 ( 2) 101.0 (190)
Adj Efficiency : 117.7 ( 16) 108.0 (281)

Effective FG% : 56.2 ( 16) 45.1 ( 66)
Turnover Pct. : 14.6 ( 4) 16.5 (328)
Off. Rebound% : 33.3 (175) 36.1 (247)
Free Throw Rate: 27.8 ( 91) 30.5 ( 66)

3-Point FG% : 38.8 ( 49) 29.8 ( 56)
2-Point FG% : 54.7 ( 24) 45.3 (103)
Free Throw Pct.: 69.7 (130) 68.6 (184)
Block Pct. : 8.4 (156) 7.8 (194)
Steal Pct. : 6.6 ( 6) 9.0 (228)

3PA/FGA : 44.1 ( 22) 33.9 (202)
A/FGM : 64.2 ( 27) 58.7 (254)

If there's an area of weakness, that bright red item staring back at you is their turnover percentage on defense. They're not doing a good job of creating turnovers--good news for the Pack considering how poorly they held on to the ball against Winston-Salem State. They're also allowing teams to operate at a high efficiency and give up a sizable percentage of offensive rebounds.

The key will likely come down to defensive play from the Pack. It has to start on the perimeter, as the Pirates love to hoist up threes (44.1% of their shot attempts)--primarily from the duo of Sam Hinnet and James Legan. Force them to work the ball inside where State's forwards should be able to hold the Pirate interior tandem of Darius Morrow and Chad Wynn in check.

This game means a lot to both squads, obviously. For State it's an opportunity to redeem themselves from last year's road loss to the Pirates and further put last year's season behind them. For the Pirates, it's an opportunity to prove that they're for real and a team to be reckoned with this season. This will be one of the biggest pre-ACC games to this point, and the best gauge of where State is heading down the backstretch of the out of conference slate.


View the complete entry of "Looking at ECU"

Kids in the front row, get your tarps ready: Cowher Winter 2008 Commencement Speaker


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GoPack.com article

Do they make ponchos that fit over a mortar board?

Ok, ok...so I'm making light of coach Cowher's spittle projection propensity. But the man is one of State's most recognized and notable alums, and he's speaking at this winter's commencement ceremony.

So to those graduating this winter, two things: One, congratulations on getting a tremendous education from one of the best universities in the country, and two--while you may get soaked--just be thankful that your graduation speaker wasn't Dr. Harm J. de Blij (mine, back in May 2001)...a speaker as bland as he was unknown to the vast majority of the audience. Nothing screams riveting speaker like Emmy-Award winning geographer!


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Reviewing the WSSU game


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The good: State shot an sFG% of over 57%.

The bad: State turned the ball over in nearly a quarter of its possessions (24.2%)

(Continues)

Listening to the game on the radio, Tony Haynes made a point to note that Winston Salem State was really pressuring the passing lanes and the ball handlers, doing everything they could to create turnovers. They did, to a fault. While it led to some turnovers it also gave the Pack some easy layups when they were able to break the pressure or hang on to the ball.

So what can State take from this game? Not a whole lot, really. Certainly it gave coach Lowe another reason to work on protecting the ball, and that's a good thing. If our guards reach ACC play and are still having difficultly hanging onto the ball then the Pack could be in for a world of hurt.

Other than that, though, there's not a lot to glean from this game. Take your win and prepare for the Pirates on Wednesday.


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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Going bowling? Here's your free crap


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Here's a story that's getting kicked around quite a bit this week: Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal put together a breakdown of all the free items given to players participating in a bowl this year.

State's players will be making out alright. A free digital video recorder, a knit hat and an Ogie backpack/bag/thingy. Some of the bigger bowl participants will get a few hundred bucks to blow in closed-down shopping parties at retailers like Best Buy.

This is one of those weird rules in place by the NCAA that doesn't seem to jive with the rest of the rule book. There are stiff penalties if a player sells shoes or complimentary tickets, or gets post-playing-days graduation gifts from boosters of the team, but somehow a $400 shopping spree is kosher? Seems counter-intuitive.

But enjoy your free crap, State players. Can't wait for it to show up on eBay.


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CollegeFootballNews.com: Three Non-BCS Bowl Games You Should Watch


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The Pack's matchup with Rutgers comes in at #2.

This bowl game is a bit of a sleeper on the national radar because of the teams' records (6-6 versus 7-5), but these are definitely two of the hottest teams in America not named Oklahoma or Florida.

That State finished the year with 4-straight conference wins to become bowl eligible was remarkable and one of the better stories going. But look at what Rutgers accomplished: After a 1-5 start, they rattled off SIX wins in a row and looked dominant doing it.

Russell Wilson is one of the nation's hottest QBs, but Mike Teel may be hotter. Rutgers, and Teel in particular, looked atrocious in the early stages of the season. They dropped a close game to Navy to start 0-3 for the year and Teel, in frustration, took a swing at one of his players:



But from those depths, Greg Schiano resurrected his team (and his image as a top-notch coach) and refocused his quarterback into the leader of a scary-good offensive squad that put up 54 points against Pitt, ranked 17th at the time. They dropped 63 for good measure on Louisville to end the season, and probably could've hit 75-80 had they wanted to.

This game scares me silly, to be honest. Rutgers passes the ball well; State struggles at times in pass defense. The Pack's not nearly as bad as their 90-something-ranked pass defense numbers suggest, but no one would ever confuse this team with one that's impossible to pass against. Teel is playing lights out, as is Wilson, so it may come down to which quarterback dazzles more when the lights come on.

I'll pick the Pack to win when the time comes, as I nearly always do, but anyone out there that thinks this game will be a snoozer isn't paying attention. This is one HELL of a matchup, and should State win it will be their biggest win of the season.


View the complete entry of "CollegeFootballNews.com: Three Non-BCS Bowl Games You Should Watch"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Great piece at ACC Now regarding the Davidson game


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Joe Giglio knocks it out of the park with this entry regarding the Davidson game and the blown opportunity State let slip away.

I turned off that game after the final horn feeling horrible. Yeah, Steph Curry's incredible. We knew that already. He was going to get his points no matter what we did, short of committing 4-on-3 basketball suicide. But as poorly as everyone else played, from both teams, the opportunity was there for State to capture that game for the taking and make a statement that this team was back on track on its climb up into the upper half of the league.

(Continues)

Joe nails it here:
N.C. State, which closed the 2007-08 season with a school-record nine straight losses, could have used the shot of confidence from beating No. 22 Davidson.

Playing well was a start. Leading at the half was a good sign, so was leading with less than 3 minutes left.

There's no shame in losing late to Curry, ask Gonzaga or Georgetown (both in N.C. State's building, by the way).

But if N.C. State is serious about making progress in Sidney Lowe's third season, it has to take advantage of the chances it gets. Out of the ACC, Davidson was the first shot at credibility and erasing the disastrous finish from last March.

And as Joe goes on to mention, Marquette and Florida are the last two legit opponents this team will face in trying to bolster its NCAA resume when the time comes. Lose both those games, and a trip to the dance--short of a solid 10-win-or-more in-conference mark--looks nearly impossible.


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Sunday, December 7, 2008

All Things PapaJohns.com Bowl Related


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Papajohnsbowl.com/

PapaJohns.com Bowl wiki entry.

The game will be held at historic, if also decrepit, Legion Field in Birmingham, AL. Originally built in 1926, Legion Field hosted the "Iron Bowl" from 1948 to 1988, the intrastate rivalry game between Auburn and Alabama. In fact, the game being held in Birmingham--a major iron and steel manufacturing city--is what branded the game its name.

Legion Field wiki page


View Larger Map

No doubt Tom O'Brien is the most relieved at this point in garnering the bid, as it opens the door for the Pack to begin its series of practices leading up to the game.

They'll need every one of them to prepare for a red-hot Rutgers team that finished the season on a six-game winning streak. They outscored their opposition 243-94 over those six games, capping off the streak with a 63-14 ASS-WHOOPIN' over Louisville.

No doubt this will be one of the toughest games the Pack will play all year. If State has really turned the corner as a team, particularly on defense, this game will be the ultimate litmus test of it.

Rutgers' ESPN.com team page

Rutgers Scout.com forums


View the complete entry of "All Things PapaJohns.com Bowl Related"

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Davidson 72, State 67


1 comments



Despite being 9.5 point dogs in this game, State fans have to feel pretty disappointed about how this game ended. It was there on the table and for whatever reason the Pack just didn't step up to take it.

The rebounding woes continue, particularly on the defensive glass. Loose balls weren't dived for; passes weren't crisp; there was far too much inactivity on the offensive end against the zone, and when time ran out on the shot clock the shot selection went all to hell. All around just a sloppy effort.

The story of the game is Stephen Curry's 44 points, but we all knew he was going to score a ton. I could care less if he scored 34, 44 or 64, but State, had it played up to its abilities, could've easily won this game despite Curry's effort and didn't.

It's frustrating to see what this team fall short of what it is capable of.


View the complete entry of "Davidson 72, State 67"

Davidson Player Impact Chart


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No real surprise here...All Curry, all the time.


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Friday, December 5, 2008

What Can Change in 10 Years...


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As the muddled nature of securing a bowl bid continues to unwind itself, I thought I'd take you back 10 years to look at the bowl picture for the Pack a decade ago.

State entered the 1998 season on an optimistic note. Embattled head coach Mike O'Cain, after back-to-back 3-8 seasons, finished the 1997 season with three straight wins to save his job.

The team started strong and inconsistent, winning huge games against Florida St. and Syracuse with a baffling loss to Baylor wedged in between. A loss to Georgia Tech followed the win against the Orangemen, followed by a win against Duke, then another loss to Virginia.

Three straight wins against Clemson (in Death Valley) Wake Forest and Maryland had the Pack sitting at 7-3 and looking good heading into the first of two trips against the Tar Heels in Charlotte. The final game of the season, against a weakened Heels team, seemed to be setting up for a wonderful conclusion to the year. A win against the Heels -- which would've been O'Cain's first -- and the Pack would be looking at a pretty nice bowl, the team's first since the 1994 season.

(Continues)

But fate was always so unkind to O'Cain at the end of his tenure...a 37-34 loss to the Heels not only meant yet another loss to the Pack's bitter rivals, but it also downgraded the Pack's bowl prospects to the (then-titled) Micron PC Bowl.
The team they would face would be non other than the hometown team, The Miami Hurricanes, also experiencing a bit of a town year by their standards at 8-3 but featuring one of the nation's best tailbacks, Edgerrin James, who entered the game with six-straight 100-yard rushing performances.

It wasn't a fair fight, to be honest. James rushed for 156 yards and two scores. James Jackson also ran for two scores and some guy named Santana Moss caught a touchdown, as well. State didn't do itself any favors, as Jamie Barnette was intercepted five times and All-Everything Torry Holt was held to just 52 yards. The Hurricanes trounced the Pack 46-23.

Flash forward 10 years.

The Hurricanes left the Big East to join the ACC.

Its former coach, Butch Davis, left the team to coach the Cleveland Browns, only to return to the ACC to coach the very team that helped seal the fate of O'Cain.

An alum of the Pack came and went within those 10 years as its head coach, and State hired a guy who 10 years prior had been coaching against Davis in the Big East (whose team also left the Big East to join the ACC).

Micron PC no longer exists. It's gone through restructuring and re-missioning over the years, and now known as "MPC," on November 7th filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The bowl is now known as the Champs Sports Bowl. One can hope they fare better down the road than did Micron PC.

A lot can change in 10 years...

(For a game preview chart, head to the archived page at cnnsi.com/)



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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nice Q&A With Mario Williams in the Sporting News


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It's tough not to be a Mario Williams fan.


He's genuinely nice.

He represents State when given the opportunity.

He'll break you in half on the football field but shake your hand afterwards (assuming you're able to stand upright)

So it's tough not to throw some love his way anytime you can. This time is no different. After recording three sacks against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday night, The Sporting News's Tim Montemayor caught up with the former Wolfpack star to talk with him about various sundry topics.


View the complete entry of "Nice Q&A With Mario Williams in the Sporting News"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Duh.


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Russell is your ACC Rookie of the Year

Other notables:
  • Wilson was also named offensive ROY, as you might imagine
  • Sean Spence of Miami was named defensive ROY
  • Paul Johnson beat out Jeff Jagodzinski for Coach of the Year by a fairly sizable margin, 46 votes to 12. Tom O'Brien did manage one vote for COY.


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Monday, December 1, 2008

Russell Wilson named first team All-ACC


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GoPack.com


ACC Now

PackPride.com

850 the Buzz

Given how great Russell Wilson has played over the last month and a half and given the lack of any real contender throughout the rest of the league, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Wilson would win this honor. Thaddeus Lewis finished a distant second in the voting, garnering 28 points to Wilson's 106 (67 voters/134 maximum total points).

This makes Wilson the first freshman quarterback in the ACC history to ever be named to the first-team. Pretty heady stuff when you consider all the great quarterbacks that have come from the league (Rivers at State, Boomer Esiason at Maryland, Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke at FSU, Michael Vick at VT).

Nate Irving, Willie Young and TJ Graham all earned honorable mentions for their contributions (Graham as a special teamer).

Coach of the year and rookie of the year will be announced tomorrow. Tom O'Brien will get a couple of votes for coach of the year but will likely miss out to either Paul Johnson or Jeff Jagodzinski at Boston College. Wilson's first-team selection all but seals the Rookie of the Year award up for him, and he may have a shot at the Offensive Player of the Year award announced on Wednesday if he can beat out Jonathan Dwyer from Georgia Tech. It doesn't look good, though, given Dwyer was a unanimous first-team selection.

Nevertheless, an incredible achievement for Wilson who spent most of the first part of the year injured in some fashion.


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Player impact, through four games


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Some interesting things from this chart:

  • Ben McCauley is tied with Javy Gonzalez in steals with eight. He's playing with a purpose on defense so far this year, which is great to see.
  • Costner leads the team in blocks with six...again, another hustle stat that's good to see.
  • Tracey Smith has nearly 21% of the team's offensive rebounds despite playing only 12.3 minutes per game. Compare that with McCauley snagging 18.6% of the offensive boards while averaging 27.8 minutes per game. Smith is really getting after it on the offensive glass when on the court.


View the complete entry of "Player impact, through four games"