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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Previewing UNC-G


Tonight at 6:00 p.m., broadcast on Fox Sports South

NCST 67.9 45.7 63.6 34.2 36.8 11.6 25.2 15.1 14.0 6.6 5.5 16.2
UNCG 61.9 38.5 69.9 31.1 35.9 15.1 20.8 9.4 16.5 6.2 2.5 17.0

Rank and Records NCST
Strength of Schedule#162
Top 250-0
RPI Top 502-0

For an in-depth look at UNC-Greensboro's roster and who to watch for, swing by Backing The Pack for one of Steven's excellent pregame breakdowns.

This is a potentially dangerous game for the Pack...on the road, on a holiday eve, following a win and preceding a huge game against Florida. A lot of factors that could add up to bad news for State IF they don't come out prepared and focused. And given that they didn't exactly put away Winthrop after jumping all over them early, I have to wonder about this team's focus for 40 minutes.

Still, I expect State to win tonight. This is a team that's mediocre-to-bad at both ends of the court and should be vulnerable to State's size up front. If State executes and shows full-game focus, the Pack should be ringing in the new year with a "W."

View the complete entry of "Previewing UNC-G"

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back From The Dead: Winthrop Recap



No, I'm not dead. I did not perish in a horrible Christmas-lights stringing accident, nor did I choke on a chunk of 130-year-old re-gifted fruit cake. Work has been, well, work. Need I say more?

In any event, to my loyal readers I apologize, to both of you. I can't promise I'll be here any more than I have been of late, but I will try to not leave you wandering through the vast N.C. State sports blog wilderness--cold, naked and hungry--again.

Moving on...

I attended the Winthrop game last night. Following the box scores I'll share some thoughts:

Points 52 68
FG Att 63 53
FG Made 20 26
FG Pct 31.7 49.1
FT Att 17 15
FT Made 9 6
FT Pct 52.9 40.0
3pt FG Att 18 21
3pt FG Made 3 10
3pt FG Pct 16.7 47.6
Rebounds 40 42
Off Rebs 14 8
Def Rebs 26 34
Team Rebs 4 3
Assists 9 21
Steals 8 3
Blocks 3 5
Turnovers 7 14
Fouls 17 16

  • I thought the team looked great to start the game, but as we have seen lately, they tend to either lose focus or take their foot off the gas once they build a big lead. That can lead to playing down to a team's level, which then leads to having a team like a Winthrop sneak up and beat you. Thankfully that wasn't the case last night, but there were times where I felt the Eagles might make a push.
  • State shot the ball really well at times, especially in the first half. It was great to see Scott Wood knock down three 3s in a row. Boy, if his confidence gets back to where it needs to be, look the hell out. My only beef regarding Scott Wood last night was not seeing him enough in the second half. If he starts a game that hot, he should stay in and keep shooting. He plays well enough on defense to justify his presence on the court even if he cools off a bit. It doesn't surprise me that Scott sat the bench most of the second half--Sidney's substitution pattern seems to be that he has no pattern--but I wasn't thrilled by it. Tough to complain about it after a double-digit win, though.
  • Tracy Smith had a merely average game, which is remarkable given the opponent. It was good to see Richard Howell step up, however, and provide some more scoring and rebounding from the froncourt.
  • Javier Gonzalez continues to grow as a point guard. Julius Mays continues to disappoint. The offensive flow with Javy in the game versus Mays is like night and day. I say let Mays get locked in at the two and spell Javy with Degand at the point, but only sparingly. In my mind, Javy should be playing 30+ minutes a night at the point and spelled only when needed.
  • Just three more tune-ups remain before the ACC season starts in earnest. The Pack faces UNC-G tomorrow night in a New Year's Eve affair, then Florida and Holy Cross come to town once the new year arrives. I can't say we know enough about the team now to reasonably predict how they will fare against the league competition, but I have a strong feeling State won't finish last. An NIT bid should be considered a good finish for a team picked 12th preseason, and is well within reach.

View the complete entry of "Back From The Dead: Winthrop Recap"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wake Forest LiveBlog Tonight


View the complete entry of "Wake Forest LiveBlog Tonight"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Georgia Southern Recap


Points 57 75
FG Att 55 51
FG Made 22 33
FG Pct 40.0 64.7
FT Att 16 9
FT Made 11 4
FT Pct 68.8 44.4
3pt FG Att 12 17
3pt FG Made 2 5
3pt FG Pct 16.7 29.4
Rebounds 26 31
Off Rebs 11 6
Def Rebs 15 25
Team Rebs 2 4
Assists 8 20
Steals 11 6
Blocks 3 4
Turnovers 8 15
Fouls 10 12

Obviously this game's a few days in the rear-view mirror but I did want to touch on it briefly before moving on.
  • State lost three of the four factors (off. rebounding %, turnover % and free-throw rate) and still won by nearly 20. That tells you just how much better the Pack was at generating buckets. They shot an effective field goal % of nearly 70%, and that number was hindered by their 3-point-shooting.
  • Dennis Horner continues to play well in his senior season. Sixteen points, nine rebounds (both career highs), three assists and a steal was his line against the Eagles. The question now becomes, as we start to wrap up the gimmies, can he step up at this level the rest of the way? He'll need to insist on remaining a factor in the games against Wake, Arizona and Florida instead of being content to let Tracy and/or others carry the load.
  • Twenty assists on 33 field goals...that's some damn good sharing of the basketball. And this on a night when Javy Gonzalez sat out the game nursing a sore hamstring. C.J. Williams led the way with five.
  • The only negative I can think to mention is that State gave up 11 offensive rebounds to a much smaller team. That simply can't happen. Granted, GSU was missing a lot of threes (2-12), which can lead to some long rebounds. Their off. rebounding % of 30.6 is a respectable number relative to the average of Div. 1 (33.1%). Still, given that State had a decided size advantage and still gave up that many offensive boards is concerning.
All in all, a nice win in the old barn, setting the table for Elon on Thursday night.

View the complete entry of "Georgia Southern Recap"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Suck On THAT, Caulton Tudor! (GoGoRaleigh)


GoGoRaleigh's Dana McCall fired off an excellent rebuttal to Caulton Tudor's meandering piece on the RBC Center, Wolfpack basketball and Herb Sendek (?) with his piece entitled "RBC Center Filling Fine."
Is Mickey McCarthy back from the dead? Today’s News & Observer Sports section features a hit-piece on the RBC Center by Caulton Tudor. The article implies that NCSU’s basketball attendance in the RBC Center is so poor, that NCSU should have stayed in Reynolds. It offers historical recounts by Tom Fetzer, Herb Sendek, and perennial Play-In-Game mastermind Les Robinson. When the RBC Center was merely a proposed project, each said that the planned building was too big, and NCSU basketball would suffer. Unfortunately the arguments put forth by these three as well as Tudor, ignore key factors and give weight to irrelevant ones.
Perhaps the best part of the piece is where he counters Tudor's blatant inclusion of second-hand quotes from Herb Sendek with this:
So why did average attendance during Sendek’s tenure fall so far short of the capacity of his ideal building? Probably because of Herb’s inability to recruit more than a handful of potential NBA players, his persistent scheduling of irrelevant non-conference foes, and the playing style of his teams. Upon Sendek’s departure his supporters said that Herb will finally go “somewhere he is appreciated”. Really? If Arizona State is that place, then why did only 7,948 bother to show up for last week’s game against Baylor? Why did only 6,800 people show up for the Arkansas-Pine-Bluff game just after the team had taken Duke to the bitter end on national television? Those numbers would make Reynolds look cavernous. On TV, his 14,000-seat arena looked absurd.

View the complete entry of "Suck On THAT, Caulton Tudor! (GoGoRaleigh)"

Javier Gonzalez Part Of Growing Trend Of Latinos In Basketball (SI Article)


Sports Illustrated filed a piece regarding the growing number of Latinos in high-level basketball (Div 1 college and the pros), and I felt it was an article worth mentioning, given State's own Javier Gonzalez of Puerto Rico is starting at the point this season. Maryland's Greivis Vasquez of Venezuela is mentioned in the piece, as well.

Basketball has certainly become a global game, which means college coaches like Sidney Lowe have a potentially MUCH larger recruiting pool than they did 30, 20 or even just 10 years ago.

View the complete entry of "Javier Gonzalez Part Of Growing Trend Of Latinos In Basketball (SI Article)"

Thoughts Regarding Recruiting Budgets


You probably saw this story from The Triangle Business Journal's Chris Baysden (friend and Technician alum) outlining the recruiting budgets of the local colleges.

If you have a subscription to TBJ you can read the full article (I don't), but the folks at SFN have shared the numbers of interest:
In 2008 NC State’s recruiting budget was $275k on football and $125 on men’s basketball.

UNC’s budget expenses totaled $629k on football and $175k on men’s basketball.

The league averages, according to an anonymous survey, were $350k (FB) and $133k (MBB).

When asked, Duke reported that it spends more than the league average on football.

Since Butch Davis has been in Chapel Hill, UNC’s budget for football recruiting has increased 24% up from $506k in 2006-07. The really sad part? Reports indicate that our trend is heading in the opposite direction. TOB’s budget was $325k last year, but has been decreased to $275k for 2009-10.
If you read on at SFN you can tell the folks are rather peased at the situation, and there is cause for concern, but my take is not as dire.

Yes, State should be spending more on its recruiting budget. There's no reason we should be below the league average and there certainly should be no reason why the number should ever decrease moving forward.

However, there's no reason we should ever spend $629K for football, either. After all, that $304K difference has to come from somewhere. How many football scholarships could you endow forever with that money? Five? Ten?

The article states that the vast majority of these expenses are travel and lodging; if Butch and his staff insist on flying first class and staying in five-star spots while Tom flies Southwest and kicks it at the Holiday Inn, who am I to argue? If at the end of the day it's about getting in the door of a recruit's home or attending a game in person, what difference does it make where the coach stays or how he got there?

Now, you want to ensure that the budget never limits a coach's means to get in front of a recruit. If the budget ever stands in the way of coach O'Brien flying out to see a player on the west coast or keeps him from bringing along a position coach, then that's a major problem and entirely unacceptable. And with the numbers as low as they are, maybe the budget is hamstringing the coach a bit. It's worth mentioning that Sidney Lowe offered up comments saying it's no big deal, but Tom wasn't quoted at all.

But assuming there's nothing holding coach O'Brien back in his recruiting efforts, monetarily, I don't have a huge problem with it. Let Butch wave his blank checks in front of our face...to me, I just see a coach wasting valuable athletic dollars.

View the complete entry of "Thoughts Regarding Recruiting Budgets"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Marquette Recap And Ramifications


Points 77 73
FG Att 56 66
FG Made 30 25
FG Pct 53.6 37.9
FT Att 20 18
FT Made 10 14
FT Pct 50.0 77.8
3pt FG Att 12 22
3pt FG Made 7 9
3pt FG Pct 58.3 40.9
Rebounds 33 41
Off Rebs 10 20
Def Rebs 23 21
Team Rebs 3 5
Assists 22 17
Steals 14 9
Blocks 2 0
Turnovers 12 15
Fouls 16 18

I can't begin to tell you how big this game is for a young team like State. To go on the road, following a tough loss at home, and beat a superior team on their court after trailing 11 at the half is just remarkable. I'm not sure what Sidney told the team at halftime, but if you bottled it up and sold it, you'd make a fortune.

As bad as the team shot in the Northwestern game, they tipped the scales the other direction in the second half. State shot a mind-blowing 81.3% eFG% (20-28 from two and a perfect 4-4 from three) and scored 52 points to go from 11 down to 14 up, all in a matter of about 15 minutes. They got to that margin on this NASTY alley oop from Javy Gonzalez to Tracy Smith:

The final five minutes were an adventure at the free throw line. After pushing the lead back to 12 on an and-one from Tracy Smith at the 1:04 mark, State missed 7 of its last 10 free throw attempts. Further complicating matters was State's inability to prevent the Golden Eagles from drilling three treys in about :45.

But in the end the lead was large enough to hold and State settled the score from last year's buzzer-beater loss in the RBC Center.

This is the kind of win where, if everything breaks right over the course of the year, it would look really good on the resume of a bubble NCAA team. State would have to steal some wins in the league just to get to 8-8 and get into the conversation, but with the way this team is playing--fighting through adversity, sticking together even when the shots aren't falling--a .500 conference mark is certainly possible.

First things first, though: it needs to win the games it should win (Elon and Georgia Southern) to set the table for a big conference-opener against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem and a quick turnaround road-trip to Arizona--two very winnable games. Finish this stretch 4-0 and...well, let just say that some heads will start turning State's way as one of the surprise teams of the league thus far.

We just need to put some fannies in the RBC Center to cheer them on...

View the complete entry of "Marquette Recap And Ramifications"

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Marquette LiveBlog


You can watch the game online here (MANY thanks to PackPride user frankcal20!):

password: redskins

View the complete entry of "Marquette LiveBlog"

Friday, December 4, 2009

News And Notes


There's a good bit of random State what-not floating around the innerwebs today, so instead of cranking out a bunch of tiny posts, let me knock 'em all out here:

Let me know if I missed something.

View the complete entry of "News And Notes"

Sidney Blowin' Up The Phone Lines: 620TheBuzz Interview


View the complete entry of "Sidney Blowin' Up The Phone Lines: 620TheBuzz Interview"

David Glenn Interview With Sidney Lowe


I caught most of this on my lunch break yesterday. It's good stuff. Sidney is a great interviewee and you can tell folks like David Glenn love interacting with him.

Here's a link to the ACCSports.com page with the audio link, and for those that can't listen at work, some of Sid's quotes are transcribed.

View the complete entry of "David Glenn Interview With Sidney Lowe"

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dereck Whittenburg Fired From Fordham


Sad, but not surprising, news in the Wolfpack coaching tree:
Dereck Whittenburg has been fired in his seventh season as the basketball coach at Fordham after the Rams' 1-4 start.

Athletic director Frank McLaughlin announced the move Thursday and said assistant coach Jared Grasso will take over on an interim basis.

Whittenburg, the player who took the long shot that led to the winning basket for North Carolina State and Jim Valvano in the 1983 championship game, was 69-112 at Fordham.

His only season with an over-.500 record was 2006-07, when the Rams went 18-12. Fordham was 3-25 last season, including 1-15 in the Atlantic 10.

Whittenburg was head coach at Wagner for four seasons before going to Fordham. He led the Seahawks to the NCAA tournament in 2003.
The timing is a little interesting. Five games in? Really? Did you find out something in the fifth game you didn't know before the season started?

My guess is that, in an ever-competitive coaching job market, the folks at Fordham wanted to give Whitt time to get off to a blazing start but short of that they were probably going to ahead and get out in front of the job search process. You never want to be the last program looking to fill a vacancy, so in some senses, firing a guy-mid-season gives a program that headstart on other programs that may make a move after the year ends. It's sad, but it's business, too.

If he's planning to stay in coaching, here's hoping Whitt can land somewhere as an assistant with a top-level program and start working back up that ladder.

View the complete entry of "Dereck Whittenburg Fired From Fordham"

Set Your DVRs: Bass Pack To Be On TV Dec. 6th


The Versus network will be airing on Sunday afternoon coverage of State's regional bass fishing title from lake Norman that occurred earlier this fall.
National Guard FLW College Fishing Northern Regional - Lake Norman Davidson, N.C. 12/6/09 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. ET
In other news, congrats to the fellas for getting the Wuffies right...someone must've busted their chops from the last time they took the stage.

View the complete entry of "Set Your DVRs: Bass Pack To Be On TV Dec. 6th"

Big 10 Takes The Challenge Title For First Time, 6-5


And good for them. The way some of the teams played (Clemson, I'm looking right at you), the ACC didn't deserve to win it. Kudos to the Big 10 for taking the title and giving the ACC its first opportunity to reclaim it in 2010-2011.

I can't remember there being this many upsets in the matchups in recent years. State, Duke, Michigan St., Michigan, Minnesota and Clemson all dropped games to underdogs, with State, MSU, Michigan and Clemson all losing on their home courts. Credit to the unlikely victors in Miami and Boston College for keeping the score close.

In a way, I'm glad that the Big 10 finally won. It gives ACC schools something to get riled up about next season--reclaiming the "title." I know a lot of folks think that the Challenge is hokey and made-for-ESPN (which it is), but at this time of year leading up to exams, are there any other compelling storylines to talk about? Would folks rather talk about Georgia Tech's 13-point route of Siena last night? Just like the preseason tournaments, the Challenge doesn't mean much more than bragging rights, but at least it's something.

Hats off to the Big 10. We'll get you next year.

View the complete entry of "Big 10 Takes The Challenge Title For First Time, 6-5"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

IndyWeek.com: "Being Dennis Horner"


The Independent, a largely liberal weekly magazine produced locally here in the Triangle, will occasionally step out and do some sports articles of local interest. They usually come with a unique twist or different perspective than your run-of-the-mill sports piece from one of the local rags.

This one is no different. It's a look at Dennis Horner and the rest of the State basketball team as told by, well, Dennis Horner. But not really. The title is a play of off Spike Jonze's "Being John Malkovich," and the piece is meant to give you a look at the team from inside the mind of Horner. If you've seen the movie, it makes a bit more sense, but if not then the article may seem a bit odd.

Well, it's a bit odd either way.

In any event, it's not a slam piece so it has that going for it. Enjoy.

View the complete entry of "IndyWeek.com: "Being Dennis Horner""

State Pockets $640K+ From U2 Concert


From yesterday's Charlotte Observer:
According to documents obtained through a public records request, Live Nation, the concert's promoter, paid N.C. State $300,000 to rent Carter-Finley Stadium.

Under the agreement with Live Nation, N.C. State also kept the proceeds from parking ($166,000) and food-and-beverage concessions ($175,858). The concert resulted in a net profit for N.C. State of $641,858 after expenses.

That's a significant one-day haul for a department whose operating budget for 2008-09 was about $39.1 million.

"It's a nice chunk of change," N.C. State athletic director Lee Fowler said. "It's something you'd like to do every year."

View the complete entry of "State Pockets $640K+ From U2 Concert"

Northwestern Recap


Points 65 53
FG Att 49 56
FG Made 24 19
FG Pct 49.0 33.9
FT Att 16 19
FT Made 11 13
FT Pct 68.8 68.4
3pt FG Att 14 18
3pt FG Made 6 2
3pt FG Pct 42.9 11.1
Rebounds 38 31
Off Rebs 10 12
Def Rebs 28 19
Team Rebs 5 5
Assists 11 10
Steals 9 9
Blocks 9 6
Turnovers 16 13
Fouls 16 15

Cold-shooting from the Pack and solid play from Northwestern defined this game. The Pack shot an abysmal 11% from beyond the arc (Javier Gonzalez hit the only two threes made by the Pack all night) and never shot better than 40% from the floor.

Northwestern, on the other hand, shot a filthy 58% from the floor in the first half. State stepped up the defensive pressure in the second half and got that number down to a more reasonable sub-40%, but the Pack offense never came around well enough to capitalize.

Gonzalez, Tracy Smith and Dennis Horner were the only effective players on the court last night. The contributions of everyone else were negligible, which is somewhat troubling if you're Sidney Lowe. The last thing you want is to have to keep shuffling lineups like last season in an effort to find a combination that works. The Pack needs more consistent play from its role players if it's to exceed this team's low expectations.

View the complete entry of "Northwestern Recap"

Stephen Tulloch Wins Wager With Alge Crumpler; Hilarity Ensues


College rivalries die hard in the pro ranks. They usually manifest themselves in the way of friendly wagers between teammates when their alma maters face off against one another. Exhibit A: Stephen Tulloch and Alge Crumpler of the Tennessee Titans. With the Pack's 28-27 win over the Tar Heels, Alge had to man up and pay up:

Alge obviously looks thrilled. Maybe next year, big man.

View the complete entry of "Stephen Tulloch Wins Wager With Alge Crumpler; Hilarity Ensues"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Look At Northwestern And The ACC/Big 10 Challenge


Tonight at 7:00, ESPNU.

Northwestern NW 68.0 45.0 72.3 35.5 36.0 8.3 23.3 17.0 11.5 7.0 3.7 17.5
North-carolina-state NCST 66.0 44.4 71.6 35.1 39.4 10.6 26.0 14.0 13.8 6.4 5.6 14.8

Rank and Records NW
Strength of Schedule#204
Top 251-1
RPI Top 500-0

State faces Northwestern tonight in the second night of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. Nobody does a better job of previewing opponents than Steven over at Backing The Pack, so I'll post a snippet here and encourage you to read the rest over there. It's good stuff.
"Perimeter-oriented" does not begin to describe Northwestern's offensive inclinations. It's more like "oops, we accidentally scored inside the arc" or "EXTREME!!!!!!" More than half of their field goal attempts have come from outside (25 3FGA per game) and they have five guys averaging 5+ 3FGA/40 minutes, which has those five on pace for 100+ 3FGAs this season. Bill Carmody's teams have always put up a lot of threes, but never quite like this. You can probably chalk it up to early-season wackiness.

The Wildcats had a top-50 offense in 2009 on the strength of those first two factors; 42.2% of their attempts came from outside, and they hit an impressive 38.6% of those threes. This year's team hasn't been as successful from beyond the arc--they miss Kevin Coble and Craig Moore, who combined for 390 3FGAs and hit them at a 40% clip in '09--and their offensive efficiency has suffered as a result, but this is still a good offense. The biggest test to date for NC State's defense, no question.
Expect a lot of zone tonight, so State's shooters will need to be on target from the perimeter, particularly Scott Wood and Dennis Horner.

Regarding the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, this could be the year where the Big 10 finally breaks through and wins this damn thing. They're off to a good start with a come-from-behind win of Penn St. over Virginia last night, and tonight's slate of games could easily go the Big 10's way, as well (Numbers in parentheses are current KenPom ratings):

State(46) vs. Northwestern(87): I'm pretty confident in this State team to take care of business tonight. It's at home which helps their cause, but playing against an unconventional offense and a defense that forces you into jump shots should raise cause for concern. I think the Pack wins a close (and achingly slow) one, 58-55.

Wake Forest(90) vs. Purdue(7)--ESPN, 7 pm: Wake's a good team, but Purdue is playing lights-out defense and is scoring the ball well, also. I don't see this going well for Dino's boys on the road. Purdue comfortably, 75-70.

Maryland(51) vs. Indiana(189)--ESPN2, 7:30 pm: Maryland has been disappointing thus far. Picked preseason as a top-25 team, they fell flat in Maui and are 4-2. Indiana is still rebuilding under Tom Crean but are struggling offensively. I agree with what Joe Ovies had to say this morning--when in doubt, go with Greivis. As in Vasquez. As in their tough-as-nails guard who's a holy terror to stop when he puts his mind to taking a game over. Maryland wins this on the road, 70-62.

Michigan St.(45) vs. UNC(75)--ESPN, 9 pm: The Tar Heels are struggling with guard play...when was the last time you heard that? Not since prior to the Raymond Felton days. Michigan St. has much better guards and still has plenty of talent down low to handle UNC's massive frontcourt lineups. Michigan St. wins this one easily I think, 83-69.

Virginia Tech(145) vs. Iowa(207)--ESPN2, 9:30 pm: Virginia Tech is struggling offensively, one of the worst teams in the country in effective FG% (42.6), and has had trouble putting away four teams with KenPom ratings above 230 for their four wins. They are playing some decent defense though, so they have that going for them. Iowa, however, is even worse. They lost a two-point game at home to Duquesne and have only two wins against two really bad teams. Virginia Tech always plays hard under Seth Greenberg, so I'm going with the Hokies on this one, 68-59.

So I see it shaking out 3-2 in favor of the ACC tonight, evening the series at 3-3. That sets the stage for Wednesday deciding the series, and just looking at the schedule it could go either way. It could come down to one game like it did last year, meaning every team needs to carry their own weight for the good of the league.

View the complete entry of "A Look At Northwestern And The ACC/Big 10 Challenge"