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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Per Seth Davis, Herb Sendek tried to land the Virginia job


How dangerous is it to try to report on the coaching carousel while it's still spinning? Well, I spent much of Monday on the phone chasing down rumors about who was going to get the vacant Virginia job. Most people "in the know" told me it was down to Tubby Smith or Sean Miller, and two reputable sources told me that Arizona State coach Herb Sendek was trying to get into the mix.
SI.com article, with a H/T to Joe Ovies at 850 for bringing it to my attention.

Wow. I figured Herb might get a look as a potential candidate, but it's interesting that Herb was the one to put out feelers to the UVa folks. Had Sendek been hired by UVa, there's no telling what sort of storylines would've been written for years to come each time State and Virginia tipped off.


That Craig Littlepage passed on Herb -- while opting for a lesser-known coach that runs an even SLOWER offense than does Herb -- is somewhat telling. Perhaps Herb's asking price was too much for Littlepage's tastes, or maybe it's further confirmation of something I think we all know but that the media and coaching community refuse to acknowledge: Herb, as a coach, has a limited and well defined ceiling for success.

When faced with two options -- Herb, or recently hired Tony Bennett from Washington State -- they opted for the relatively unknown commodity rather than the proven one. Herb's a good coach; there's no doubt about it. He can bring a program quickly up to a competitive level, just as he did at State in the 90s. But his ceiling falls short of the level all ADs and fans ultimately strive for.

This is, again, not to denigrate Herb as a person or coach -- he's a good coach and an even better person. But after years of articles from the media about how foolish State fans were to let him go, it's worth noting that when two major coaching vacancies presented themselves this offseason he didn't get a look at one where he was employed previously as an assistant (Kentucky) and couldn't even interject himself into the running for another (Virginia).

The interest level the actively hiring ADs have of him as a coach is a small measure of validation that Herb's departure from State was ultimately the right thing for both parties.

View the complete entry of "Per Seth Davis, Herb Sendek tried to land the Virginia job"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

ESPN posts K.K. Challenge video, story


Pretty cool stuff.

If you'll recall, way back when the race was run, there was talk that ESPN would be sending one of their correspondents to run the race. Greg Garber was your man, a contributor with a background in competing in running and triathlons. He was the natural fit for the job.

If you ran the race or stopped by the Krispy Kreme to observe (as I did with the kids that day), you probably saw Gerber running with a film crew chasing in a golf cart.

But after the race, things were pretty quiet on the ESPN front...no mention of it on their site for several days, nor any sign of the report on any of the weekend SportsCenters.

No worry, though. Gerber posted his story today, along with the above video. And all indications are that ESPN will be running additional coverage of it on Sunday morning's SportsCenter.

Gerber finished the event in just over 1 hour and 10 minutes -- not too shabby given he was running the event for the first time, in a suit, being filmed and chased by two dudes on a golf cart in heavy foot traffic.

View the complete entry of "ESPN posts K.K. Challenge video, story"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Costner, Ferguson leaving the program; Josh Davis commits


Brandon Costner and Trevor Ferguson are leaving the basketball team.

Well, we kind of all saw this coming, I think. At least the Costner decision.

Both players -- who are on track to earn their degrees this spring or summer -- had diminishing incentive to return after graduating. With the graduation of Ben McCauley, Costner figured to be placed back at the four instead of his more preferred position out on the wing. Ferguson saw his playing time go to essentially zero (save filling in for Courtney Fells following his late-season injury) during the back-half of the year.


Costner will spend the spring prepping himself for the NBA draft. At this point if he's drafted, he'll most likely be picked in the latter part of the second round. As of this evening, NBAdraft.net did not have Costner on their mock 2009 draft board, though the news of Costner entering the draft is still fresh. It's worth noting that their mock 2010 board does have him going to Minnesota with the 35th pick, so when they update their 2009 board he stands a good chance of making the list.

For Ferguson, his playing career is likely over at this point. I'll miss getting to say "Turd Ferguson" on a regular basis and post pictures of Norm MacDonald in a funny hat, but more importantly the Pack will miss his hustle and willingness to play defense. In Fells' absence, Ferguson held Jack McClinton to 3 of 15 shooting -- no small feat -- in State's loss to Miami in the final regular season game of the year.

Within the hour of both of these players declaring their exit from the program, State received the verbal commitment of a local small forward from Athens Drive High School, Josh Davis. Davis, at 6-5 and 180, averaged good numbers this past season, 25 points and 10 boards, but is a project at the next level. He had offers from some smaller schools -- Gardner Webb, High Point and Charleston Southern -- prior to getting an offer to play at State.

The good news on Davis is that he plays with a lot of heart and hustle -- think of an undersized Simon Harris, perhaps. Someone that can come in off the bench and spark the team with some big boards, diving for loose balls, etc.

Since Davis isn't a blue chipper and hasn't spent a lot of time on the AAU circuit, there's not much out there on him. As such, take this writeup on him from a poster on the PackPride boards with a grain of salt given they're an average joe from the stands, but he/she claims to have seen Davis over the last four years:
I've watched him play the last four years, and this is what I can tell you about him:

He's definitely a late bloomer via late growth spurt. He went from 5'10" sophomore year to 6'4" junior year, and played his senior year around 6'6", and is still growing. This past weekend he participated in the NC/SC All-Star game with the likes of Earnest Ross, Garrius Adams, etc. and took home MVP honors. Also, right after the game Seton Hall and UNCW had already extended an offer. About his game: The problem with him is that he has a wing man's body but a forwards game. He has the potential to play on the perimeter but he has made his living in the pain the last two years. He is a high caliber ACC rebounder right now, really gets after loose balls and has great instincts, and he has the same mentality with shot blocking which he also excels in. He can handle the ball really well for a big man, probably due to the growth spur effect. He can drive and finish with ease, and has shown that he is extremely athletic around the rim. Basically, he knows how to get the ball in the basket, as shown by being top 3 in the state in points. His big weakness right now is his jumpshot. He turned from deep threat to shaky shooter during said growth spurt, however his ineffective shot can most likely be attributed to poor coaching in that he tried to fix it himself. He has shown that he can consistently hit about a 15 footer with relative ease, however. Defensively, he is a deceptively good defender. Watching him guard players such as Ross and Adams really reminded me of watching Hansbrough guard the perimeter, in that he looks to be off balance and easily broken down, yet still effectively shuts his man down most of the time. He is a tireless worker and constantly hones his game. Overall, he is an under the radar kid most likely due to being a late bloomer, but he could develop into a solid ACC talent.
So the Pack loses two and gains one. Did the Pack come out ahead in the transaction? Some would argue addition through subtraction on the oft-sulking Costner's part. I'm not so sure...as thin as State looks to be already up front for 2009-2010, losing a 6-8 big body that happens to be your team's leading scorer seems problematic to a degree. We'll have to see.

One thing's for certain now: there's no longer anyone left to blame from the previous regime*. No more fingerpointing at Costner as one of Herb's guys dragging the team down. That argument no longer holds any water. It's 100% on Sidney now.

*Dennis Horner was recruited by Herb, but never played for or was coached by him.

View the complete entry of "Costner, Ferguson leaving the program; Josh Davis commits"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ok, this is just getting ridiculous...a diving national title AND a gymanstics conference title!?!


Davies Wins National Championship in Platform Diving

Gymnastics Wins 2009 EAGL Championship

Wow...the non revenue sports are kicking ass this weekend.

Kristin Davies captures the first ever women's platform National Championship with a 339.51 and the women's gymnastics team captures their fourth EAGL title with a 195.700.

View the complete entry of "Ok, this is just getting ridiculous...a diving national title AND a gymanstics conference title!?!"

What's that you say? A national title!?!?


And not one of those fake Helms Foundation ones?

Darrion Caldwell stuns Iowa's Brent Metcalf to win 149-pound title.
The consensus heading into the championship round of the NCAA Wrestling Championships was that Iowa’s Brent Metcalf was just plain unbeatable, that no one could stop him in his quest to repeat as champion at 149 pounds.

NC State’s Darrion Caldwell apparently didn’t get the memo.

Caldwell took the defending national champion down twice in the first period and was in control of the match throughout, defeating Metcalf 11-6 to become NC State’s fifth national wrestling champion and its first since Sylvester Terkay in 1993. And the final score does not indicate just how one-sided the match was. Caldwell, who improved to 38-1 with the decision, took Metcalf down just seconds into the match to take a 2-0 lead.
Start the banner maker...it's probably got a good bit of rust since the last one we cranked out, so bring some WD-40. Nevertheless, a tremendous win for Caldwell and the Pack.

View the complete entry of "What's that you say? A national title!?!?"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Time for a short sabbatical...


My wife brought into the world baby #3 on Friday, so I'm going to take a few days off for obvious reasons.

Conveniently, State decided it wasn't in the mood to play anymore basketball this season and the NIT, CBI and Whateverthehellthatothertournamentis decided to oblige in ending State's season.

So I'll be back soon...ready to talk Spring Football and Wolfpack Baseball.

View the complete entry of "Time for a short sabbatical..."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

State 69, Maryland 74


I'll post a recap once I sober up and cool down.

View the complete entry of "State 69, Maryland 74"

ACC Tournament LiveBlog


View the complete entry of "ACC Tournament LiveBlog"

Great Moments in Overproduction: ESPN's Opera Man Tournament Intros


Oh, ESPN...you thought you had completely wiped this off the face of the earth. But thankfully, someone out there took the audio and saved it for posterity.

Who could ever forget the horridicity of the ACC Tournament intro videos from last year? Somehow, the idea of having a dude stand in an empty gym belting out "HURRICANES! HURRICANES, HURRICANES, HURRICANES!" made it past all the various levels of production quality control.


Maybe Roy Williams is right...maybe the ACC Tournament really has fallen off the radar. Otherwise, how does one explain getting the third-rate production treatment?


View the complete entry of "Great Moments in Overproduction: ESPN's Opera Man Tournament Intros"

How to get fired: Watching the ACC Tournament at work


For those of you looking to keep tabs on the tournament while at work, you can watch all the games (but one...ours) on your computer at Raycom.com

Just click on the "Watch Live" link in red beside each game. Fill out a quick registration form and voila! Instant ACC tournament!

For those not interested in pushing your luck with the bossman (or bosslady), I'll be posting a LiveBlog here with updates on the games during the 9:00-5:00 hours.

View the complete entry of "How to get fired: Watching the ACC Tournament at work"

It's Tournament Time!


It's been a long four days, it seems, since State's final game of the regular season.

I think a lot of folks, like myself, are eager for the ACC tournament to get underway for a couple of reasons. One, it's the ACC tournament. Two, and more importantly for State fans, it's an opportunity for the team to regain some momentum lost on Sunday. The loss against Miami still stings -- given that State was up nine at the half -- and that loss, coupled with the news that Demarcus Cousins is heading to Memphis, has allowed some pessimism to creep back in.

The tournament will put the Miami game officially behind the team and its fans.

State will face off against Maryland in a game most folks are talking about because of Greivis Vasquez's in-your-face three at the end of the game. Truthfully, though, I don't get the sense from anyone other than the media that his three was all THAT big of a deal. Compared to the furor over Mike Copeland's attempted dunk and Ben McCauley's hard foul to prevent it at the end of the Carolina game, Vasquez's three has gotten significantly less rise out of the State team, fans and coaches.

Nevertheless, it happened, and State will get a chance to redeem itself this evening at 7:00 in the third game of the day.


The 7:00 Thursday game also happens to be the only game that folks without cable can see. It's the one game ESPN has exclusive rights to -- all the remaining games can be seen on Raycom. So if you tune into WRAL or your local Raycom affiliate at 7:00, don't expect to find the game. You'll need to head over to The Duece, ESPN2. Plan accordingly.

This is a winnable game for the Pack tonight. State proved as much in its loss to Maryland at home three weeks ago when Vasquez put on a one-man show. Had the Pack simply contained Vasquez, I think State would've won that game easily. They'll attempt to do that tonight.

As State fans, you kind of feel good about your draw. The bracket shapes up nicely for a deep run if things fall your way. Maryland is a winnable game, for sure. If you get past them, Wake awaits on Friday. Wake has lost to State once this year in Raleigh and the Pack played them well in Winston Salem. A win against the Deacs would pit State against Duke, most likely, and State played the Blue Devils well in Cameron (though Elliot Williams was not in the lineup at that time and Duke has looked much stronger since his insertion). And beyond Duke, if the Pack gets to Sunday, they could be facing the winner of the FSU/Carolina game and with Ty Lawson's toe acting up (and Roy Williams' "eh" attitude toward the tournament) it could be the Seminoles the Pack faces for the title.

That's a ton of "ifs," though, and it's a very unlikely scenario. But, as we saw in 2007, stranger things can happen. We'll need a performance from someone like Brandon Costner's that year (90 points in four games) to propel us that far. Costner wouldn't be a bad choice to fill that role.

I wish the tournament meant as much now as it did when I was a child. The success of Carolina and Duke and their coaches' insistence on downplaying it has taken the shine off it some. When the ACC essentially became a two-team league, the tide of public opinion on the tournament went with them, but I know that for all the teams in the ACC not named Duke or Carolina, winning the ACC tournament is a very, very big deal, and would mean a great deal to their fanbases, as well. After all, the ACC still considers the tournament champ -- not the regular season champ -- THE ACC champion for that season. With the imbalanced schedules of today, it seems like, more than ever, a tournament is the most fair way to determine the champion for the year. But the folks in Chapel Hill and Durham don't see it that way and most folks have been content to follow their lead in downplaying it.

It's a shame, because for as long as the tournament has been in existence, demand for tickets was so great that they were never available for public sale. One could only get them through your school. Those days are gone as for the first time ever, public tickets for the tournament were made available this year. Certainly the size of the venue (The Georgia Dome) and the state of the economy have played a part in that, but the poo-pooing of the tournament's value has taken its toll, as well.

But that's just how things are these days, I suppose.

View the complete entry of "It's Tournament Time!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nice Read: N&O's piece on Bernie Mock


N&O link.

Bernie Mock said he will "definitely" be wearing his Wolfpack-red sweater as he watches the ACC Tournament this week. But as long as North Carolina isn't playing N.C. State, he'll also be cheering the Tar Heel blue "at least a little bit."

Mock, 86, is believed to be the only basketball player to captain both teams. He played forward for the Wolfpack (then known as the "Red Terrors") in 1941-42 and in '42-43, then was an All-Southern Conference center for UNC's "White Phantoms" in 1943-44.

"I never wanted to change schools, change teams,'' said Mock, who is now retired in Waynesville. "But Uncle Sam said I had to go -- so I went."
Gotta love the fact that it took the U.S. government to force Mock to suit up for the Heels.

View the complete entry of "Nice Read: N&O's piece on Bernie Mock"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

State 64, Miami 72


Bad things happen when you go 12:22 seconds without a bucket. That's just what happened as State watched a 42-36 lead at the 13:22 mark in the second half evaporate over the course of 12 straight missed shots until Javier Gonzalez's three with 1:00 left. At that point it was 56-63 Miami, and State's chances of a road win were dashed.


Neither team shot the ball well, including Miami's megaweapon Jack McClinton who finished three of 15 from the field. Trevor Ferguson -- starting in place of the injured Courtney Fells -- did a solid job of staying in front of McClinton for most of the game. Miami's senior guard finished with 24 for the game, but 16 of those came from the foul line at the end of the game.

Turnovers were again an issue -- 15 for the Pack against Miami's five. Javi played well at the point, with four assists and two TOs, but he stepped up offensively big time, leading all of State's scorers with 19.

With the loss, State finishes 6-10 in the conference and in sole possession of 10th place. State will face Maryland, the seven seed, Thursday evening at 7:00 in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

View the complete entry of "State 64, Miami 72"

Friday, March 6, 2009

Reason #1,024 to never pose with a ton of cash: Facebook ads


When Ken Page, an offensive line recruit last season with Clemson showed up on the internet holding $10,000 in cash, the rumors started flying that the Tigers were paying recruits.

Page's family/handlers responded that no, Page's uncle owned an ATM business and was helping him fill the machines with cash and just wanted to hold that much money at one time.


Whatever the truth may be, the fact of the matter is that once a photo like this gets out, like the contents of Pandora's box, there's no way to get it back under wraps.

Case in point -- this ad that showed up on Facebook, featuring his famous photo:


But hey, that's bed you make when you:

A) are a four star recruit and
B) pose for a photo with $10,000 in cash in your hand, wearing a Clemson orange shirt.

Here's the original photo, for reference, and the story on Page at Brahsome.com:

View the complete entry of "Reason #1,024 to never pose with a ton of cash: Facebook ads"

A look at Miami, again


Rank and Records NCST
Strength of Schedule#67
Top 251-6
RPI Top 501-7

Looking at Miami's Four Factors chart, you can see that they've been trending in the wrong direction in three of the four in the month-plus since the Pack last faced them: Offensive Rebounding Rate, Free Throw Rate and Turnover Rate have all gotten worse since late January.


As such, it's not surprising that Miami is a team who's been one of -- if not THE -- biggest disappointment of the conference this year. A preseason top-20 team, the Hurricanes enter their final game of the year with no hope of a winning conference record and no realistic shot at an at-large bid to the big dance.

So the only thing left to play for (other than a #9 seed in the ACC tourney) is pride on senior night. Jack McClinton will be playing his final home game as a 'Cane, and will go down in Hurricanes history as one of the best ever.

Which makes this game a very difficult one for the Pack. Just as we saw Ben McCauley and Courtney Fells (prior to his injury) come out firing in their final home game, State should expect the same from McClinton. And when McClinton gets it going, he's nearly unstoppable.

Making this an even dicier proposition for the Pack is that the aforementioned Fells -- the man State turns to as a defensive stopper -- is out with a groin injury. Javier Gonzalez will likely draw the short straw as the man assigned to get in McClinton's jersey and stay there for the night.

If I'm coach Sidney Lowe, I'm tempted to force McClinton to attack the basket by applying close pressure on the perimeter. I know he's just as deadly inside the arc as outside of it, but if McClinton is reduced to driving to the basket he's at least limited to two points per bucket versus three. If the help defense is effective inside, perhaps you can challenge enough shots to keep him under 50% for the game. Further, if he's taking shots closer to the basket rather than farther away, it should limit the long redounds that so often wind up back in the offense's hands and improve State's defensive rebounding numbers.

As they say, you can't stop him, but perhaps they can contain him to ONLY 15-20 points or so on sub-50% shooting, forcing the rest of the Miami squad to beat the Pack.

For the Pack, they just need to keep feeding Tracy Smith and hope that the absence of Fells in the lineup doesn't hinder them too much offensively and defensively. The Big Three Two will need to show up, and whoever fills Fells' slot in the lineup (CJ Williams?) will need to contribute in some form or fashion.

This game will further shape the tone of the program as it concludes year three heading into the postseason and year four of the Lowe era.

View the complete entry of "A look at Miami, again"

Kentucky, NC State basketball and the danger of "settling"


Kentucky fans, I feel your pain.

Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports wrote a column yesterday outlining the grief Billy Gillispie is catching from Kentucky fans as he struggles through his first two seasons at Kentucky.

Reading the first few paragraphs, it struck me how similar the Kentucky situation of today sounds like State's of 2008 and 2009. A successful coach "run off"...new coach struggling mightily...old coach succeeding elsewhere.

Here's Goodman's piece, slightly modified. See if it doesn't sound like something you've heard before:
Be careful what you wish for.

Kentucky N.C. State fans drove Tubby Smith Herb Sendek out of Lexington Raleigh despite a national title and 10 5 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

They wanted a guy who could recruit McDonald's All-Americans.

Someone that could take them back to the promised land — where Big Blue The Pack was competing for national championships again.

Instead, they got Billy Clyde Gillispie Sidney Lowe.

At first, they accepted him like their first-born. It didn't matter that he had only been a head coach for five years never been a college head coach and was a virtual unknown who had been pegged by arguably the one of the most storied program[s] in the history of college basketball.

Billy Clyde Sidney was theirs and they stood behind him — no matter what I or anyone else said. They went nuts when he was unveiled on Midnight Madness at the first open practice two years ago, emerging triumphant from behind four large curtains.

But now, after nearly two ho-hum seasons in the Gillispie Lowe Era, his act is starting to wear thin with the Wildcat Wolfpack Faithful.

It was as if Goodman were filling out the fields of a Herb/Lowe template article. "Be careful what you wish for." Hasn't that been the mantra of the media with respect to Herb and Sidney for the last two years?

The Herb articles have continued through this season, and were at their highest din a few weeks ago when the Sun Devils were knocking on the door of the top 10 and marching toward a Pac-10 title. Now that ASU is taking a March swoon -- at the same time the Pack is showing some improvement -- I doubt we'll hear much bleating from the press on the matter for the time being (save for a miracle title of some sort for ASU).

But to the point, I have sympathy for Kentucky fans.

There comes a time with every fanbase, no matter how successful a coach may have been at one point, that it's clear the coach has plateaued. Smith had reached that point with Kentucky. He'd won a national title early on in his tenure at Kentucky but it was clear that he was just Sweet 16/Elite Eight-good for the long haul, and that's not good enough at Kentucky.

Herb plateaued here, as well, and (for the most part) we all knew it. Even worse, the media knew it -- yet somehow for the media, a coach whose proven level of success is barely getting into the tournament was supposed to be good enough for State.

The same of Smith at Kentucky. He was good enough to win the SEC and get past the first weekend of the dance, but somehow that was supposed to be enough for Kentucky.

For the majority of fans, settling for a plateaued coach is not an option. It shouldn't be. If the ultimate goal of every coach, team and fan is to win a championship and it's become abundantly clear that it won't happen under that coach's watch, then what's the point? Why even play the games? If everything is a prelude to an "eh" finish, then it's time for a change.

State had reached that point.

So had Kentucky.

I don't know if Gillispie is the answer at Kentucky. I don't know if Sidney is the answer at State. But if there's anything I can say to Kentucky fans, it's that there's absolutely no shame in wanting more out of your basketball program, and self-righteous media members should never convince you that "settling" is a viable option. Especially if Kentucky or State is on the front of your jersey -- two programs with multiple NCAA titles and rich basketball traditions.

I would say give Gillispie his due time -- five years. Sidney is turning things around in year three; perhaps Gillispie can show he can do it, too, in Lexington. But if five years pass and either one isn't getting the job done and the fanbase clamors for another change, it's unfair for the media to come after them for aspiring for more than simply "good enough."

View the complete entry of "Kentucky, NC State basketball and the danger of "settling""

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Women's ACC Tournament: Wake 59, State 54


For those looking for women's basketball updates, I'll update this post as the game goes along.

UPDATE 1: 13:56 to go in the first, State up 8-4.

UPDATE 2: 7:23 to go in the first, State 16, Wake 17.

UPDATE 3: At the half, State 22, Wake 29. The Deacons have outscored the Pack 25-14 over the last 3/4 of the half. Neither team is shooting well -- State is 8-25 and has not attempted a three pointer, and Wake is 10-30 and 4-12 from three.

UPDATE 4: 4:44 to go in the second half, Wake is starting to run away with this one -- State 39, Wake 53.

UPDATE 5: 1:33 to go in the second half, State's on a 10-2 run to make it interesting, State 49, Wake 55.

UPDATE 6: FINAL, State makes a charge late but Wake wins, 59-54.

View the complete entry of "Women's ACC Tournament: Wake 59, State 54"

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Torry Holt asks for release from the Rams


WRAL.com link

Could Torry be heading home to play for the Panthers? Possibly, now that Holt has asked to be released from his contract with St. Louis.

Per the St. Louis Dispatch via WRAL, Holt has been on the trading block for a while now with no takers and is due a $1.25 million signing bonus on March 17th.

It will be interesting to see if he winds up in Charlotte. Holt's made no bones about enjoying the idea of being a Panther, and the Panthers could use a savvy counterpart to Steve Smith to help keep the defensive double teams at bay. It's not hard to imagine Holt signing for below market value to retire in Charlotte, close to his home of Gibbsonville. The flip side of the equation is whether the Panthers have the cap room and need to take on an aging wide receiver (Holt is 32). They resigned Muhsin Muhammad last year after a sabbatical in Chicago and have six receivers listed on their two deep at the moment, per NFL.com.

Holt played at State from 95-98 and is the Pack's all-time leader in nearly every pass catching category. He was drafted sixth overall by the Rams, won a Super Bowl ring his rookie season and has been selected to six Pro Bowls.

View the complete entry of "Torry Holt asks for release from the Rams"

State 74, BC 69


The Pack puts the clamp down on Tyrese Rice in the second half, holding him to just 14 points, and Ben McCauley goes out in style on senior night to help the Pack score a big victory at home in their final home game of the season.

Rice in fact hit his final bucket with 15:35 left on the clock. Javi Gonzalez stepped his defensive intensity up in the second half on Rice and kept him from hurting the Pack from the field.


Gonzalez had some big plays on the offensive end, as well. He hit a big breakaway bucket late in the game, flipping the ball over the BC defender and into the basket in a shot even Rice would be proud of. He tracked down a huge offensive rebound off a McCauley miss late in the game, as well, helping to seal the deal. Overall, Gonzo finished with six assists against only one turnover -- the kind of play you need in order to succeed in the ACC.

Rebounding and turnovers were big factors tonight. Boston College is a tremendous offensive rebounding team but State beat the Eagles on the glass at both ends of the court, pulling down nine offensive boards to their seven and beat them 20 to 16 on the defensive glass. The Pack controlled the ball well when they had it, only turning the ball over nine times. Both elements combined to limit the Pack's empty possessions, and when the Pack values the basketball, they've shown they can be a very efficient team offensively.

McCauley had a huge game in his final game at the RBC Center. The senior from West Newton, PA, scored 20 points to go with six boards, had two assists, one block and brought a lot of much-needed emotion to a team that could've folded after the tough loss to Maryland Sunday. He hit the final two free throws that sealed the game, holding the release on his last one an extra second just to savor the moment.

For the other senior on the court, Courtney Fells, the news was not as good. He succumbed to a groin injury late in the first half that sideline him the rest of the game. The tragedy of it all was that he was playing so well, having scored 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting from three and four of six overall, with his parents from Mississippi in attendance. He was on his way to a great finish, and now has to wonder if his career is over, depending upon how severe the groin injury turns out to be.

Big win tonight. It gives the Pack energy and momentum heading into the Miami game, who will be reeling after a home loss themselves in their final home game of the year. State will hope to pull off on Saturday what BC could not do tonight.

View the complete entry of "State 74, BC 69"

A look at BC, again


Rank and Records BC
Strength of Schedule#45
Top 253-4
RPI Top 504-6

It's Senior Night tonight at the RBC, and round two of the "Man, we better win at least ONE of these final home games" homestand.

Once again the Pack faces off against a team that leans heavily on its point guard for production, though BC -- moreso than Maryland -- can turn to others to pick up the slack when needed.


Sophomores Joe Trapani and Rakim Sanders are the second and third-leading scorers for the Eagles, chipping in 14.1 and 12.3 points per game to augment Tyrese Rice's team-leading 17.5. Trapani leads the team in defensive rebounds and Sanders is tied with Rice for the top number of steals.

Make no mistake about it, though: This is Rice's team. As he goes, so do the Eagles. That he leads the team in points per game and dishes out over five assists per game is indication enough that the offense of BC flows through Rice, point blank.

As Steven pointed out earlier this week, the Eagles are an offensive rebounding monster, second-best in the ACC and one of the best in the country. Keep an eye on BC's Corey Raji and the Pack's ability to keep him off the offensive glass. If Raji wins too many battles on the Eagle's boards, it could be bad news for State.

For the Pack, tonight not only means the final game of Ben McCauley and Courtney Fells' (and possibly Brandon Costner's) careers, it's also the last good look the team will have at halting a skid that could possibly derail and nullify the modicum of progress the team seemed to be making to close out the year. A loss tonight would be the third in a row, with a road date with a good but inconsistent Miami team to finish the year.

Win both these games and that mojo can be regained heading into the ACC tournament. Lose both, and it won't be pretty.

State is a two-point favorite at home, but as they say the home team gets three points, Vegas feels like this one is a pick-em with a slight edge to the Eagles.

McCauley, Fells and Costner have a golden opportunity to conclude their careers at the RBC Center on a high note. It will be critical that they come out and play to their potential.

View the complete entry of "A look at BC, again"

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

ACCSports.com interview with John Feinstein, story about V


ACCSports.com is doing a two-part One On One interview with author John Feinstein.

In part one, Feinstein relays, among other things, his memories about Jim Valvano and about the times spent hanging out with him in his office 'til the wee hours of the morning:
You’ve told this story before. Valvano wins the national championship in 1983, and he’s still a young, exuberant man in the prime of his career. You two are sitting in his office at 2 a.m. eating pizza, and he’s essentially telling you that he’d already achieved everything he’d ever dreamed of and didn’t know where to go next, right?

Right. “What am I going to do when I grow up?”

I used to go to Jim’s office after home games, and he would order in pizza because he could never sleep after a game. Jim would order pizza, open up a bottle of wine, and start telling stories. I would just hang out until everybody else left, because I wanted the one-on-one time. That’s when he would get serious.

Jim was as bright as anybody I’ve ever met in any walk of life. I mean that — any walk of life. I remember one time, it was 1988, and he was reading Gorbachev’s book, “Perestroika,” and he told me, “The Soviet Union is gone within three years.” And he was right. It was gone two years and six months later.

He would stretch out on his couch and he would say, “OK, now you’re going to be my psychiatrist for a while.” And he said, “I’ve done basketball. I dreamed of winning a national championship. I won one at 37. Now what do I do?” I don’t want to say he was tormented by that, but he was pulled in so many directions because he was always looking for the next thing.

I always thought the tragedy of his life was that he didn’t find the next thing until cancer found him. That’s when he found his next thing, and it was the remarkable work he did during the last year of his life, setting up the V Foundation.

View the complete entry of "ACCSports.com interview with John Feinstein, story about V"

Monday, March 2, 2009

Search continues for Corey Smith, three other boaters off Florida coast


The Coast Guard continue to search for former Wolfpack football player Corey Smith and the rest of his boating crew that went missing late Saturday night off the coast of Clearwater, Florida.

Smith, along with Oakland Raider Marquis Cooper and former USF football players Nick Schuyler and William Bleakley, were reported as missing at sea on Sunday. They were out in the Gulf of Mexico in a 21-foot vessel when harsh weather led to extremely rough seas. It's thought that the waves reached heights in excess of nine feet.

The latest on the story can be found here at cnn.com. I'll try to post updates as I can:

- As of 1:30, the Coast Guard appears to have found a capsized boat with a man clinging to it. There's speculation on the boards that it is Nick Schuyler.

- 1:35. It is, in fact, Nick Schuyler. He's alive and reasonably well. That they haven't found the other three is troubling, but Schuyler's recovery is good news nonetheless.

- 3:30. According to Schuyler, the boat the four players were on was anchored in the Gulf when it was capsized by a large wave.

- 12:30 Tuesday. Still no word on the other three occupants of the boat. It's tough to remain hopeful at this point, after having been in the water for over 48 hours, of recovering any of the remaining three alive. The temperature of the water, even if the other three were wearing safety suits, is cold enough to have subjected the men to hypothermia by now. Keep sending your prayers.

- 5:00. According to Tampa Bay's Fox affiliate, the search for the remaining three boaters is being suspended at sundown. (H/T The Struttin' Wolf) This all but ends any hope of finding any of the three men alive. The Coast Guard estimates they've searched over 24,000 square miles of open water during the course of over 50 S&R missions.

Obviously, keep sending out your prayers for all four of the players and their families.

View the complete entry of "Search continues for Corey Smith, three other boaters off Florida coast"

Maryland 71, State 60



With a shot at a .500 conference mark and momentum heading into the postseason on the line, the Pack laid an absolute egg at the RBC Center last night.


Greivis Vasquez was unstoppable, scoring 33 points while dishing out another five assists. The Pack didn't have a defensive answer for him, no matter what defensive look they threw at him.

Compounding matters, the Pack played poorly when they had the ball. They made one careless turnover after another and shot the ball poorly from the perimeter (26.3%). Tracy Smith was a beast down low in the first half, but when Maryland went to zone on defense, State's perimeter players were unable to get the ball to him as effectively and resorted to three-point shots.

Brandon Costner and Courtney Fells were non-factors again, offensively. Even worse for Fells, he struggled defensively against Vasquez, and when you aren't playing well offensively and you're not effective as a defensive stopper, it looks doubly bad.

It's amazing how one loss can completely kill the renewed optimism surrounding the program. Just a week ago, State had won three of its last four and some overly optimistic folks were talking of running the table.

Now State has lost three of its last four, and after losing a winnable game at home, it feels like all the air has been sucked out of the room. Five-hundred in the conference is gone, and 7-9 seems like a long shot with a road game against Miami left. And if BC plays to their ability and the Pack duplicates the same effort it gave against the Terps in their game against Eagles, 5-11 could loom as a real possibility.

View the complete entry of "Maryland 71, State 60"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A look at Maryland


Rank and Records UMD
Strength of Schedule#22
Top 252-6
RPI Top 504-9


With three ACC games remaining, State has a chance to finish 8-8 and .500 in the league. They could also finish 5-11. Finishing the season on a strong note heading into next season starts tonight against the Terps.

The Terrapins, much like Boston College, FSU and Miami, lean on an outstanding guard for their offense. Greivis Vasquez leads the team in points scored, field goals made and free throws made. But Vasquez provides much more than just offense to the Terps. He also leads the team in rebounding, assists and steals. He does it all, and when he's on his game, the Terrapins are very tough to beat.

Maryland will also turn to junior Landon Milbourne for added production. He's second on the team in scoring, and leads the team in offensive rebounding and blocks.

Where the Terps struggle is shooting the ball. They're 11th in the conference in effective FG percentage at 46.4%, and is one of the weaker teams from the perimeter, shooting only 32%. Compounding matters, they don't get to the line nearly enough. Their FTR% is 325th nationally at 29.3%, but they're in the top 10 in free throw percentage, 76.6%. In short, they're leaving a lot of points on the table by not getting to the line more.

This is a huge game for the Pack. State's favored by four at home, and has played well of late in the confines of the RBC Center. However, there's more riding on this game, and the BC game, than in previous contests. If the Pack can hold serve at home they would secure a 7-9 finish and have a good look at that .500 finish heading into the ACC tourney. Lose tonight, and it may kickstart a swoon that will all but negate the positive momentum the Pack has built over the last few weeks.

View the complete entry of "A look at Maryland"