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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Carolina 93, State 76; Tempers Flare At The End


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This post from Bryanth1a from the PackPride boards pretty much sums up my thoughts:
How can anyone really be pissed about the outcome of this game? The team played reasonably hard the entire game. We got burned consistently on the defensive end by not being able to match their speed and athletic ability.

This game was not a result of bad coaching or stupid TOs. Even in our best years we could have lost this game.

We biatch and moan about the team for good reasons, but today they performed to their ability. We just have to accept the Holes have a lot of Studs in the stable while we're trying to build a stable.

Hear hear. By all accounts, this was a game that State would've needed to play perfect wire-to-wire to win. The Pack's not a good enough team offensively to play sub-par defensively for any length of time, and when the Pack let the Heels double a six-point lead to 12 over the final 2:38 of the first half, that essentially killed off any hope of the upset.

(Continues)

The game was not without drama in the final seconds, though. The Heels' infrequently used role player Mike Copeland came off the bench and in the closing moments tried to notch a couple of points on a breakaway. Ben McCauley would have none of it, fouling Copeland hard, sending the big man to the floor. Copeland took exception to the foul; he popped off the floor and charged McCauley:

Copeland had to be restrained and was sent to the locker room early by Roy Williams. To Roy's credit I think he handled the situation with class, taking the time to talk with Sidney and Ben to smooth over any hard feelings.

I imagine Copeland's got an interesting week of practice ahead of him.

As a fan, I always enter games against Carolina -- especially in the RBC Center -- believing an upset can happen. Sidney's first game coaching against the Heels and the game in 1998 over in Chapel Hill prove it can be done, no matter the odds. But like the poster above said, we just don't have the horses yet. Not many teams do.

I thought we played pretty well, avoiding a lot of the bugaboos that have done us in against lesser opponents. We only had nine turnovers -- a tremendous feat considering how poorly we protected the ball just weeks ago. We shot 54% from the field, and only suffered one minor, five-minute scoring drought in the first half. Courtney Fells had another good game, leading all Pack scorers with 22. Playing that well in most games will get you a victory.

But Carolina's just too good offensively to play lax transition defense. The Heels got plenty of easy baskets, shooting 63% for the game. When the Heels are playing that well, it's darn near impossible to beat them.


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Friday, January 30, 2009

SI's Seth Davis Either High or Suffering From Major Head Wound


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...'Cause homeboy has us winning tomorrow:

North Carolina NC State
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

When 7-foot freshman forward Tyler Zeller broke his wrist in North Carolina's second game of the season against Kentucky, not many people paid attention. After all, Zeller was just a beanpole freshman who was going to be a minor cog in a well-oiled, invincible machine. Well, now that it looks like senior forward Marcus Ginyard might not play at all this season, Zeller's absence is a little more pronounced because it has left Roy Williams with basically a six-and-a-half-man rotation. Freshman Ed Davis was the only reserve who played double-digit minutes during Wednesday's great escape at Florida State, and he probably wouldn't have played nearly as much if Tyler Hansbrough hadn't gotten into foul trouble. The reality is, North Carolina knows it will be a high seed in the NCAA tournament, so it's not surprising it would be in a tough game on the road against an inspired yet inferior opponent like Florida State. They will be in the same situation Saturday against a North Carolina State team that will be very mindful that a win over the Tar Heels could make their season. Wolfpack guard Julius Mays's buzzer-beater to beat Miami in overtime Tuesday broke a lousy stretch during which the Wolfpack lost five out of six. You know I love desperate home teams, and considering this may be N.C. State's last chance to put itself in position to make the NCAA tournament, I'll take them to pull off the upset.

N.C. State 74, North Carolina 71


I know private school nerds score good weed, but man...even I think that's reaching a bit.

I may not agree with his assessment, but I sure hope he's right!


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ACC Now Podcast: State versus Carolina


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A look at UNC


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Steven's preview at Section Six

State enters this game after an overtime win; Carolina, after narrowly avoiding a road loss on a last-second shot by Ty Lawson. It's tough to know if either outcome will have any bearing on this game, but likely neither result means a whole hill of beans in this series.

(Continues)

This is State's big rivalry game, after all, and as 2006 showed us, one team valuing the game's importance more can play a big role in who comes out as the victor. State won that year's contest and Roy Williams rightly ripped his squad for not understanding the rivalry aspect.

Somehow I doubt we'll see a mental collapse like that from the Heels again. Roy will have them focused, for sure.

The question is, if the Heels launch out to a big lead in the first or second half, can they maintain it? They've shown at times that they lack the killer instinct, letting teams like FSU on Wednesday get back up off the mat when they've had them down big.

State, of course, has shown the same propensity, perhaps to an even larger degree. The Wolfpack's M.O. this year seems to be:

1) Get up big early
2) Go on a scoring drought
3) Pray for mercy from the basketball gods.

Florida State rallied late in their game (noticing a pattern with the Noles?) against State to eventually take the lead and win. Miami came from 19 down in the second half to tie it and send it to Lowe-vertime (where, of course, State is money).

I think if you're Sidney Lowe, you've got some big decisions to make defensively. It's never fun picking one poison over another, but Carolina can beat you inside with Tyler Hansbrough, outside with Danny Green or Wayne Ellington, or down the lane with Ty Lawson.

If Sidney plays his Big Lineup (Costner, McCauley, Smith, Fells and Degand), I imagine they'll try to force Carolina to beat them from outside and pray for an unkind rim. Ellington can run hot or cold (unless your team's name is Clemson, in which case he scores 90), and Green can disappear at times as well. Expect Fells to guard Carolina's best three-point threat in much the same way he did against Miami's Jack McClinton. You just have to hope that his ankle holds up for extended minutes of action.

On offense, State has to do just about everything perfect. Rebound, take care of the ball, shoot high percentage shots when they're available and hit your threes when they present themselves. Avoiding a 5-8 minute drought is imperative...the droughts are what have allowed teams to get back in it against State of late. If the Pack can put points on the board nearly every trip down the court (sounds easy, right?), that would help maintain the team's confidence and put the Pack in position to make a run of their own if the Heels suffer another late-game swoon.

I have no idea what the line is, and I really don't think it matters. This game could easily be a 30-point blowout or a 10-point State win, with any possible result in between.


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Beat UNC wallpaper; The Daily Tar Hell


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A couple of items to pay homage to my Technician roots:

Marko has his latest artwork up at Wolfpackcartoons.com featuring Tuffy gettin' nasty on Ramses:



Second, the annual tradition of spoofing the Daily Tar Heel the day before the State/Carolina game lives on in this year's edition.


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Share your photos or stories of Kay


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I was listening to 850 the Buzz this morning and the discussion of the impact Kay had on so many peoples' lives, and it got me thinking about creating a post where you could share your stories or photos of Kay with the rest of us. I'll try to "pin" this post for the rest of the week leading up to Kay's services.

Please feel free to share, either in the comments section or directly through email.

(Continues)
It's not a very exciting story, but I had the pleasure of interviewing Kay when I was a young student reporter years ago. Most of the coaches I met with at that time (mid-90s) were very gracious and patient, but she went above and beyond. The interview took place in her office; it was full of great memorabilia, but instead of it feeling like it was "her" turf, it just felt like a sanctuary for all the women who had played for her. It was a very comforting environment; very homey. She patiently answered all my questions and even asked things about me. I didn't have much interaction with her afterwards, but it really stuck with how just genuinely nice she was. -- Matt Lail



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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A substitution pattern I can live with


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Take a look at the minute distribution from last night's game:



Only seven saw double-digit minutes. The top three scorers -- Fells, Costner and McCauley -- tallied the top three minute totals. Tracy Smith saw 22 minutes but was hampered early with foul trouble, opening the door for Dennis Horner to play 25 minutes.

I'm not sure yet if this was a conscious move on Sidney's part, but I sure hope so. He kept his major weapons in the bulk of the game and they responded by posting the most points and playing the best defense. Fells and Costner in particular were the ones largely responsible for righting the ship at the end of regulation.

And I'm a fan of The Big Lineup Sidney started with last night. Smith, McCauley and Costner all on the floor at the same time, with 6'-6" Courtney Fells at the two guard. This team's strength is its forwards, and unless the opposing team is coming at you with three guards and two smaller, athletic forwards, I say run with it as long as you can.

Last night's box score shows a glimmer of hope that Sidney will.


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N&O Video of the game winning shot


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fells, Mays down Miami in OT, 84-81


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State's key to victory here on out? Overtime. Every single damn game.

Sidney Lowe's 5-0 in OT as the Wolfpack's head coach thusfar, and notched another victory in his overtime belt with an 84-81 win on a Julius Mays three with 2.6 seconds remaining. Mays had just entered the game for Farnold Degand, who'd fouled out moments before on a violation against Miami's Jack McClinton that led to a tie ballgame at 81-81.

But entering the game cold was no matter for Mays. When the designed play coming out of the timeout broke down, Mays stepped back a foot from the top of the arc and drained the big shot to give the Pack the win.

(Continues)

As clutch as Mays was, however, he can't overshadow a tremendous performance by senior Courtney Fells. He set a new career high in points with 24, hitting 6-9 shots from beyond the arc--four in the first half and a huge one in overtime.

It was yet another chapter in the sometimes maddening saga of Fells, an incredibly gifted athlete and shooter who can run anywhere from cold and invisible to white hot.

But perhaps more key than Courtney's offense in the first half and in overtime was his defensive play against McClinton. Miami's top-threat scored 27 points but was held without a basket over the final 1:23 of regulation and the entirety of overtime. McClinton's three free throws at the end of overtime were his only points during that stretch. Fells expended a ton of energy trying to stay in front of McClinton, but his strong play defensively seemed to fuel his offensive production.

Good thing for the Pack, because they needed all 24 of his points to simply stay in the game. State played extremely well in the first half and at the open of the second frame, building a 19-point lead at one point in the second half. But Miami kept coming and State began floundering, and State would relinquish all 19 of those points and then some. At the 6:53 mark, Miami led 56-53 after a 12-minute, 31-9 run.

But Brandon Costner hit a huge three with 6:30 to go to stop the bleeding for good, tying the game at 56. He'd tie the game again at 70 to send the game to overtime.

Miami out-rebounded the Pack by 15, but State took care of the basketball again for the second-straight game, again only losing 10 possessions to turnovers. This is a good sign. Far too many times this year the Pack has been sunk by lazy passing and a lack of focus on offense. By protecting the ball they were able to capitalize on their trips down the court, and with some hot shooting (53.3% from the floor and 58.3% from three), the Pack kept a good but struggling Miami team at bay despite the big second-half drought.

Up next: The Tar Heels. The task ahead gets tougher by several factors, but a win at home to hold serve certainly can't hurt.


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A look at Miami


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Steven's preview over at Section Six

It seems like the names and the jerseys change, but the story remains the same: another game, another guard.

This time it's Jack McClinton, one of the best scorers in the league and a player who has the potential to get as hot as anyone in the country. He's averaging 17.9 points per game while shooting a staggering 45.5% from three-point range. When he's feeling it, he knows it and will pull the trigger at every opportunity. If he's on, you have to start guarding him at the midcourt stripe.

Miami plays a deep rotation, much like State. Eight players average 13.7 minutes or more per game.

Every game from here on out is important, but tonight's game may be even moreso with Carolina coming to town on Saturday. A win over Miami, at home, would certainly be the preferred way to enter the remainder of the week preparing for the huge annual rivalry game.

If State can rebound better than they did against BC yet duplicate or best those 10 turnovers given up, they'll go along way toward that goal.


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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Funeral and Memorial Information For Kay Yow


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Per PackPride.com:
Funeral arrangements made by:
Brown Wynn Funeral Home
200 SE Maynard Road
Cary, NC 27511
919/467-8108

A public viewing will be held Friday, January 30th from 10:00am till 2:00pm with the
funeral to follow at 3:00pm at Colonial Baptist Church in Cary. The burial will
take place Saturday, January 31st, 10:00am at the Gibsonville Cemetery in
Gibsonville, NC.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations may be made to:

Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund
and mailed to
The V Foundation for Cancer Research
106 Towerview Court
Cary, NC 27513
Phone: 919-380-9505 (Toll free 1-800-4JimmyV)
https://www.jimmyv.org/support-us/donate-now.html

or

Cary Alliance Church
4108 Ten Ten Road
Apex, NC 27539
(919) 467-9331


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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kay Yow passes after more than 20 years of battling cancer


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WRAL video tribute



Kay Yow, State's iconic women's basketball coach, passed away this morning from breast cancer.

She was 66.

Her passing comes after a steady decline in her health over the last few months. When she announced that she was stepping aside and would not coach the remainder of this season earlier this month, it was an indication that things were serious. Kay, more than perhaps anyone I can recall, was not one to let the difficulties posed by cancer get in the way of her calling. Her place was on the court, with her players, teaching and coaching. It was not until the very end that cancer prevented her from doing so.

As soon as I hear more about services and arrangements, I'll try to post them.

UPDATE: Per GoPack.com, State's women's basketball game against Wake Forest has been rescheduled for Feb. 10 in Winston-Salem. Also, per this release,
Additionally, anyone wishing to leave flowers on campus in Coach Yow's memory should leave them at the Belltower. Reynolds Coliseum is preparing for Monday's Millennium Seminars / Harrelson Seminar Lecture featuring former President Bill Clinton.

Flowers can also be sent to the Brown-Wynne Funeral Home

200 SE Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC 27511
(919) 467-8178
As sad a day in N.C. State history as I can recall.


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Friday, January 23, 2009

A quick look at BC


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Work beckons, but here's a quick look at BC before the weekend comes:




I think the big key this week, of course, will be neutralizing Tyrese Rice. He killed the Tar Heels and he'll kill a good number of teams that don't take him out of their offense. Stop Rice and you have a good chance of winning. Don't, and well...


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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Andre Brown, Anthony Hill getting some praise from the Senior Bowl reports


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From Todd McShay's piece at ESPN.com (it's an Insider piece, but the Andre and nearly all of Ant Hill's verbiage is visible):
North Carolina State RB Andre Brown has admittedly had durability and academic issues, but he's healthy now and shining in this environment. In fact, of all the South backs we saw Wednesday, he made the best impression. Brown is a decisive downhill runner who has good size, shows good burst to the hole and runs with enough forward body lean to pick up yards after contact. Although he's not the most elusive back, he catches the ball well and can contribute as a receiver out of the backfield. We now think he has a chance to come off the board early on Day 2 of the draft, and that's noteworthy because he didn't put up great numbers in college.

I highlighted the "academic issues" line because, as best I can recall, I don't remember Andre missing any games due to academic suspension. He had to prep before attending State, but in 2005 in his freshman season, he was a first team Academic All-ACC selection.

Odd.

In any event, here's what McShay had to say about Hill:
The gulf in natural ability between [Southern Miss TE Shawn] Nelson and the other two tight ends on the South roster is vast. Still, NC State TE Anthony Hill has some developmental qualities and projects as a middle-round pick. The 6-5 254-pounder is the premier blocking tight end in the 2009 draft class, and every time we've seen him in one-on-one blocking drills this week he has won the battle. In addition, Hill is a big target who isn't afraid to throw weight around and has strong hands. As long as he is facing the quarterback, he can make the tough catch in traffic. On the other hand, he looks like a fish out of water trying to catch the ball on the run and/or over his shoulder. At one point, the tight ends were running seam routes against air; Hill didn't get his head turned in time to locate the ball, a...

...and that's where it ends for us non-subscribers.

So it looks like Brown and Hill are going to both be second-day picks, which is about where you'd expect them to be. Great to hear both are impressing, though, and I can see both players sticking at the next level for the right teams. They're both hard workers and have good heads on their shoulders, and if history has proven any maxim to be true in the NFL it's that the smart, hard-working players are the ones that separate themselves apart from the rest of the pack.


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DBR knocks it out of the park WRT State, Lowe.


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A fantastic game recap/assessment from Duke Basketball Report on the game last night and the State program that gives us this gem:

It must be the most frustrating thing in the world for Lowe, who wore his big-game red jacket to Cameron. If you look back at his stats when he was at State, they were never overwhelming. Yet he was a superb leader for his team who got his guys to be steady and when they were in a close game hell would freeze over before he made a critical mistake. He was not just a good leader, he was an excellent leader.

He sits there and he is bound to see the mistakes coming, and he’s surely told his guys what to do and not to do. And they are effective for most of the game. But at the end, when his knowledge and experience should be most valuable, they simply can’t do what he has tried to teach them. They rush, they dribble too far, they try to make passes that are a stretch, and slowly, his team crumbles under the pressure and fails.

You can think back to any number of reasonable point guards in the past (or contemporaries for that matter), and they don’t have to be great ones, just good ones, and imagine them at State. How much better would they be? What about Terrell McIntyre? Bobby Frasor? T.J. Bannister? Charlie Ward? Keith Gatlin? Larry Drew II? For that matter, Sidney Lowe?

Just one steady guard who knew what to do in the clutch would make this team a viable tournament team. One steady guard and one reliably intelligent small forward could put them deep into the tournament.
(Continues)

I can only imagine how maddening it must be for Sidney Lowe to watch his guards perform the way they do given the type of player he was. You can hear that utter frustration in his voice and read it in the quotes following each game.

There's a disconnect between Sidney and his guards that he's trying desperately to bridge, and that is this: How does a coach instill in his players something that came so easily to him? As coach Lowe has said time and again, the staff is stressing the importance of protecting the ball and staying aggressive while playing within yourself and your abilities. We admire the greats who innately possess this gift, like Tiger, MJ, Jack Nicklaus and others. Julius Hodge had it, and it turned a gangly 6'7" stick into a scoring, steals and assist machine.

Somehow, someway, Sidney, Monte Towe and Pete Strickland must find a way to unlock this in Mays, Degand and Gonzalez. It appears to be coach Lowe's greatest task since taking the State job two years ago.


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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

State 56, Duke 73


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Here are my thoughts from the game:

  • State seems to have the ability to "infect" the opposing team with their "suck." No matter the opposing squad, they seem to get pulled down to our level in terms of pace and poor ballhandling. Duke looked just as inept as we typically do in the first half.
  • Another game, another late-game swoon. Somehow, we need to figure out a way to close out games. 30 minutes of good basketball doesn't earn you squat in the W/L ledger.
  • I thought we played pretty solid defense, for the most part, aside from some lapses here and there. For the entirety of the first half and, again, about the first 10-minutes of the second half, we played with intensity--if not savvy--on the defensive end. It paid off on the scoreboard. We've got to find a way to stretch that kind of play out for 40 full minutes.
  • I'm done with the Javi Gonzalez experiment. Done. Finished. That's it. Farnold Degand and Julius Mays played well enough between the two of them to keep Javi off the court, and yet he kept getting minutes and kept making mistakes. Turnovers, blown defensive assignments leading to wide-open threes...there's no reason in my mind that Mays and Degand shouldn't be the only two options at the point. That's 100% on Sidney.
  • State has no answer for a player like Gerald Henderson. He's as tall as a power forward He's apparently only 6'4", but plays much taller than that, and he's as athletic as a two-guard. Johnny Thomas is the only man on the team that could match his athleticism, but Henderson continually found ways to get separation for easy shots. Henderson was the catalyst that started Duke's decisive run in the second half.
Overall, I was impressed with the fight the team showed. They shot the ball well, for the most part; they just ran into a team that shot the ball even better down the stretch. Duke was hitting over 76% over their shots at one point in the second half, and it's darn near impossible to beat a team in their house--be it Duke or anyone else for that matter--when they're shooting at that kind of clip.

Up next: Boston College. If State can bottle up some of what it brought tonight and play that way in Chesnut Hill, then I think State can get a key road win.


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For those looking for a LiveBlog tonight...


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...head over to Section Six. Enjoy the carnage!


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Kansas' Bill Self commits a violation meeting with John Wall


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More "accidental" recruiting slip-ups, this time from a coach trying to get in with John Wall.

From the Springfield, MO News-Leader, via Deadspin, via the ACC Sports Journal:

(Continues)

Best Watergate-like moment: Like us reporters normally do when seeking interviews, we wait outside locker rooms for players and coaches to come out. Since there weren't enough locker rooms to hold all eight teams, some were placed back at Hammons Student Center.

Yes, it's a haul from JQH to HSC, so I was the only one hanging out. There was no accidental foot traffic.

That's what was so curious when Kansas coach Bill Self came rolling through. I was puzzled because it's an evaluation period in the NCAA's eyes, meaning coaches and recruits can have no contact, except for an exchange of greetings.

Of course, Wall is the top uncommitted recruit. Self had to know I was a reporter and even said hello to me.

I just thought he'd stand there, maybe even wave to Wall to let him know he was there. Instead, when the Holy Rams poured out of the locker room, Self was excited:

Self: "Johnny, great win man. You really played well."

Wall: "Thanks."

Self: "I'm not supposed to be talking to you, and you know that, but I just wanted to tell you that was a great win."

Then Self vanished.

I called Missouri State NCAA compliance officer Kyle Yates, curious of Self's behavior. Yates insisted what Self did was wrong, but not unique, as I suspected.

"(He) definitely shouldn't have done that, but it's not uncommon," Yates said. "If he would have sat him down and had a conversation, that would have been a big deal."

Still, it was no accident he was there in that isolated location. And Memphis coaches John Calipari and Orlando Antigua didn't do it either.

John Wall better be LeBron, KG and Kobe all rolled into one to warrant this kind of blatant rules violation. Kansas to date has never really been a frontrunner in the JW sweepstakes, and yet here is Self, basically putting his job and team on the line, trying to get a word in--if ever so briefly--with Wall.

That Self admits, in the moment, that he wasn't supposed to be there is the kicker. How more blatant can one be about flaunting the law? This, of course, was no accident, despite what Self will tell you about how he wanted to just meet with the coaches after the game. This was calculated, as was Duke assistant coach Chris Collins' "accidental" appearance at the GSK Holiday Invite back in December in which Ryan Kelly--one of Duke's most coveted recruits--was participating. No one "forgets" when the evaluation periods end and begin, especially not at Duke or Kansas.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this. If this is brushed aside, much like the Reggie Bush/USC incident appears to have been, it speaks further to the uneven playing field with which certain programs know they can operate. The NCAA knows who butters their bread in basketball and football, and they seem very, very reluctant to upset the apple cart with respect to these programs.

Expect nothing to come of this more than an "aww, shucks, we'll remember next time" from the Kansas coaching staff.


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This Week's NC BBall Report


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Monday, January 19, 2009

A look at Duke (read: "How in the f*** are we supposed to win this game?")


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Badass Courtney, Activate!


After hanging tough with Clemson in Littlejohn for 30 minutes, then struggling at home against FSU and Georgia Tech, State faces its first true heavy-hitter on the conference schedule: Duke, in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

(Continues)

Duke is back to its perennial top-five form the way they've always done it under K--tough, smothering, borderline illegal clutch-n-grab defense. They're ranked second nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency over at kenpom.com, allowing just 82.3 points/100 possessions. Pretty nasty.

You can play great defense and still be an average team...Duke mates a tremendous offense--ranked 12th by Pomeroy--with their fantastic defense. Duke expects to score 116.8 points/100 possessions--meaning Duke projects to outscore their opponents by about 23 points a game (assuming 67 possessions per game). Downright filthy.

Sophomore Kyle Singler has blossomed into the all-everything he was made out to be coming out of high school. He's consistently chipping in 16.8 points, 8.4 boards and 3.1 assists per game. Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer are second and third in scoring, respectively, on the Blue Devils roster, adding 14.0 and 13.8 points per game.

Any way you slice it, there's little hope for victory over in Cameron. Pomeroy gives us all of a 2% shot at pulling it off, and the pessimist in me says that's being generous.

Then again, Michigan--a pretty average team--was able to knock off the Blue Devils in Ann Arbor back in early December. So if even by only the slimmest of chances, victory can be had if everything--and I do mean EVERYTHING--falls the Wolfpack's way.

Julius Mays and Farnold Degand will have to play the games of their lives if State's to have a shot. The number of turnovers the Pack has been averaging will have to be cut in half, if not by more. Giving Duke easy points in transition will doom State.

If State and Duke played this game 100 times, State might win enough to count on two hands, barely. That there's a chance of pulling off a major upset is why you play them and hope for the best.


View the complete entry of "A look at Duke (read: "How in the f*** are we supposed to win this game?")"

Sunday, January 18, 2009

State 76, Georgia Tech 71 (OT)


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After all the grief heaped upon the shoulders of the "old guard" (including some from myself) following the loss to FSU, State's veteran duo of Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley were the driving forces of a come-from-behind win in the RBC Center on Saturday.

(Continues)

McCauley scored 22 points and snagged 10 boards, and Costner poured 18 more to lift the Pack to a 76-71 overtime victory.

The Pack was down 10 with 4:44 to go on a Gani Lawal layup, but the Pack closed the game on a 13-3 run to tie it with :31 to go. Another member of the old guard, Dennis Horner, took over in overtime, scoring six points in the bonus frame including the winning bucket and foul to put the game away.

The guard situation continues to ebb and flow...Julius Mays, starting by virtue of his strong performances of late relative to his backcourt teammates, turned the ball over six times, yielding the floor late in the game to Farnold Degand. Degand came through...it was his bucket and free throw that tied the game at 67-all.

Which only makes one wonder where Sidney goes from here. It's got to be frustrating when--from game to game--you have no idea which of your 10 players will show up to play that day. As a coach you're not afforded the ability to tinker with the lineup for 15 minutes with the scoreboard off to figure out who brought their game that day. Lowe is having to do just that, praying that the team can keep it close long enough to nail down the rotation willing to play that day. It worked against Georgia Tech, but it won't against just about any other team in the conference.

Also, turnovers continue to be a bugaboo. State logged 22 more--nearly 30% of the team's possessions--and were bailed out by GT's 22 turnovers to put the turnover margin at break-even. State's now faced the worst two teams in the league in terms of turnovers (FSU and GT) and won one of two. The teams from here on out will take care of the basketball much better, and State--if they don't take better care of the ball--will consistently find themselves on the wrong end of a pretty nasty turnover margin.


View the complete entry of "State 76, Georgia Tech 71 (OT)"

Friday, January 16, 2009

A look at Georgia Tech


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Steven's preview at SectionSix

For the most part, Georgia Tech would like to play at a faster pace. So far they're ranked 16th nationally in tempo, averaging 72.8 possessions per game. But they can be held to much under that by a team that dictates the pace. Against Maryland they played the fastest-paced game of the year with 82 possessions...four days later they played their slowest with just 66.

(Continues)

Now, granted, that 66 possession game came against Duke, possibly the best defensive team in the country. Duke's going to take a lot of teams out of their gameplan.

Coach Paul Hewitt landed one of the nation's top prep players this week in Derrick Favors, but Favors can't help the Jackets' thin rotation this season. Only nine players have seen any significant minutes this year, with three players -- Gani Lawal, Iman Shumpert and Alade Aminu -- averaging over 71% of their potential minutes. Conversely, the Pack doesn't have a single player averaging more than 68.7% (Ben McCauley) and goes 12-strong in meaningful minutes played.

The bulk of Georgia Tech's offense will come from inside the arc (64.2% on 2PT shots, 2nd nationally), so State will need to find an answer in the post defensively that it did not have against Florida State. Lawal will be their primary go-to man, as he's scoring over a fifth of Tech's points (22%).

The Jackets are one-point favorites on the road -- not surprising given how down everyone is on the Pack after the blown game against the 'Noles -- but if the Pack can once again limit their turnovers while turning the other team over, they stand a good chance to win this game at home.

(Sidenote: how is it that the Pack has only turned the ball over 20.8% of the time, and is still middle-of-the-road in this category [180th]? I swear it feels like 40.8%)


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Nate Irving and Willie Young are staying in Raleigh


3 comments

Good news if you're a Pack football fan...none of the Pack's underclassmen are leaving for the NFL. The deadline to declare, Jan. 15th, came and went without news of any Pack players departing ahead of schedule.

The top two potentials were junior defensive end Willie Young and sophomore Nate Irving.

(Continues)

Young was probably a little undersized to play defensive
end in the pros, and likely would've had to project as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Given that his speed isn't world-class, he'll probably need to spend 2009 bulking up to aim for a spot as a rush end in a 4-3.

Nate Irving is probably still a little raw for NFL scouts, but there's no doubt in my mind that he can become a Bob Sanders-type linebacker at the next level. He's got the speed and ability to read the quarterback to play in pass coverage, and the athleticism to break up running plays behind the line of scrimmage
. What he lacks may simply be size and proof that he can be durable for an entire college season. Irving spent too much time on the shelf in 2008 to have a truly breakout year, but if he can play all 12 (hopefully 13) contests next season, he should be a first-day pick for sure.

For the Wolfpack, having both of these guys back on the squad is great news, as the Pack's defense will continue to be thin until O'Brien can fill the voids left by the 2006 and 2007 recruiting class debacles. Irving's absence over the course of the season, in particular, showed what a vital part he played in defensive coordinator Mike Archer's zone defense. With Irving, the Pack defense was much more stout against the run and better at creating turnovers in the passing game. Without him, the middle of the field was easy pickings for opposing squads. The Boston College game, in particular, highlighted what one player missing from the lineup can mean.

A larger, stronger Young rushing off the end, decreasing the time the opposing team has to throw the football, should also help improve State's passing defensive numbers.

With both of these players in the fold for 2009, State's defense should be improved.


View the complete entry of "Nate Irving and Willie Young are staying in Raleigh"

Frank Dascenzo piece on media bias


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Frank talks media bias over at The Big Tailgate

I always enjoy reading pieces from media members that fall into the "ACC Historian" category about the history of ACC basketball. Al Featherston is probably the king of ACC historians...the man could tell you everything about anything that ever happened about this league. His books on ACC basketball are consistent best-sellers.

Caulton Tudor falls into this category, as well. He grew up in the state and has been covering ACC sports for longer than most of you folks out there have been alive (assuming my core demographic is 18-35 year olds).

Then there's Frank Dascenzo. Frank's worked at the Durham Sun (and the Durham Herald-Sun, following the merger in the 90s) from 1969 through August of 2008, covering Duke, Carolina and State for nearly 40 years. As you'll read in the piece linked above, he's seen and heard it all, and he captures it well.

(Continues)

Frank recalls meeting coach Valvano one time in January of 1983...two months before the miracle run in the tourney.

Jim Valvano once sat with me in the back of Amedeo’s Restaurant on Western Blvd., near the N.C. State campus. A somewhat worried look crossed his face, his eyes were thick with wonder, his hands waving one way, and then quickly in another, when he blurted aloud, “What’s it gonna take to beat Carolina?”


...

The topic of the piece is media bias, and Frank candidly admits that, yes, it does exist. Media members do root for certain teams over others, though he seems to say that it has more to do with personal gain (a team making a deep run into the NCAA tourney means a sweet trip to the Final Four) than sheer fandom. He doesn't deny that that exists, as well.

State fans, coaches and players have beaten the "Media Bias" drum for decades and have been roundly accused of being nutcases for it. This article seems to shed some light to the fact that there is some bias at play in the ACC media. It's likely not to the extent that most State fans would believe, and there's not a conspiracy against the success of State, I don't think. It would be foolish for a local media outlet to purposely sabotage the success of the team with the largest fanbase in Wake County--as we saw when Philip Rivers was at State, the N&O couldn't print papers fast enough to keep up with the demand for more ink on #17. A run to an NCAA title would mean HUGE dollars for a paper desperate for cash.

Nevertheless, if you ever find yourself wondering why Team A made it above the fold and Team B didn't, you may not be crazy after all.


View the complete entry of "Frank Dascenzo piece on media bias"

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wolfpack Alums Behaving Badly


6 comments

Gavin Grant in trouble with the law.

Ex-Wolfpack Player Faces Drug Trafficking Charges.

This must be "kick a Wolfpack fan in the junk" week.

Sheesh. After losses to Clemson and Florida State -- and the accompanying cacophony from both sides of the "can Sidney coach" debate, having two former players from your school show up on the police blotters is not the way you'd like to see the week wind down.

Grant's credit card fraud is more stupid than anything else; cocaine trafficking charges, though, is some serious business and hopefully will be dealt with accordingly by the authorities.

Now if we can just make sure that Chris Washburn, wherever he may be, decides against any sort of grand larceny, that'd be nice. Hopefully we've gotten all our off-the-court black eyes out of the way for the year.


View the complete entry of "Wolfpack Alums Behaving Badly"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

North Carolina Basketball Report, via Dare Society


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Each week during basketball season, a good friend of mine--Kevin Brewer, formerly of The Washington Times--puts together a review of where all 19 Division I basketball programs in the state of North Carolina stand. You can find it at the Dare Society blog.

He ranks them by RPI, probably the most fair way of doing it (though I'm a Pomeroy man myself), and lists any wins and losses these teams have against other schools in the state.

There's also some interesting miscellaneous info each week. This week's is a collection of videos from the ACC's best shooters from '85-'94, including Rodney Monroe, Mark Price and others.

Good stuff and worth a look.


View the complete entry of "North Carolina Basketball Report, via Dare Society"

If I'm Sidney Lowe...


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...and today, I'm glad I'm not, but if I were, here's the lineup I take forward for the rest of the year:
  • PG Mays
  • SG Williams
  • SF Johnny Thomas
  • PF Costner
  • C Tracy Smith
with a bench of
  • PG Degand
  • SG Ferguson, when healthy
  • SF Fells
  • SF/PF Horner
  • PF/C McCauley
Play your starters as long as you can, for as long as they can expend the kind of effort they showed last night in the second half, and spell them with your bench only when necessary for rest/fouls.

There will be growing pains putting a lineup that young out there, and probably some grumbling from the old guard relegated to the bench, but at this point it's time to move forward with the lineup of the future. Trying to placate the remaining members of the previous coach's lineup with playing time hasn't worked; in fact, it blew up in Lowe's face last night as cold, unused players that had rightfully ridden the pine for most of the second half entered the game and promptly shot the team out of it.

There will be talk and debate about Lowe's lineups and substitution patterns for the rest of this season if Lowe continues to play two different lineups--old guard, new guard--in the same game. Screw that. Reward your young players that hustled last night, let them gain some ACC experience, and see where the chips fall.

(The one exception to the old guard/new guard theory you'll notice is Brandon Costner in the starting five. I think he's the most talented player on the team right now, and he plays well when he goes all out. His effort level at the beginning of the FSU game was the primary factor in State jumping out to a 12-4 lead. I think if you surround him with guys going all out, playing smarter basketball, his effort and level of play should rise to that of the guys on the floor with him.)

JMO.


View the complete entry of "If I'm Sidney Lowe..."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Florida State 78 - State 65


1 comments




Poop. Poop poop poop. Maybe I'll post more tomorrow. Maybe not. I need some Mylanta and a shitload of Tums to digest this one.


View the complete entry of "Florida State 78 - State 65"

LiveBlog tonight...theater-of-the-mind-style


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I, like most of you Standard Cable folks like myself, do not have access to ESPNU. So it's Gary Hahn and Tony Haynes for me tonight. So if you want to converse during the game tonight and, perhaps, invent drinking games based on the number of "check it"s Gary drops on us, feel free to login at 6:45 p.m.


View the complete entry of "LiveBlog tonight...theater-of-the-mind-style"

Get Your Doughnut On! Krispy Kreme Challenge Feb. 7th


2 comments

On the matter of traditions at State, this is a great new one.

I know what you're saying to yourself.

You're saying, "Damn. I love running. I love eating doughnuts. I love vomiting. If only I could do all three things at once, for charity!"

If only I had a nickel, right?

Well, that's why every year in winter, folks by the dozens decide to don running shoes, running wear and even a costume or two as they participate in the Krispy Kreme Challenge, a 4-mile roundtrip run from the belltower on State's campus to the Peace St. Krispy Kreme and back.

(Continues)

From the Challenge's website:
The Krispy Kreme Challenge is an annual,
student-operated race in Raleigh, North Carolina
benefiting the NC Children's Hospital. Beginning
in 2004 with a mere 12 participants, the race
has grown exponentially to a whopping 3,000
runners in the 2008 race
and has rapidly become
one of NC State University's newest traditions.

Beginning at the NC State Belltower, each runner
runs 2 miles to the Krispy Kreme store located
on Peace St. in Raleigh. After downing a full dozen
of the famous Krispy Kreme doughnuts, the runner
must run the two miles back. All in one hour.


The challenge attracts a wide range of runners from
beginners to serious competitors hailing from all
corners of the country. With an expected participation
of 5,000 runners, we are expecting the 2009 race
to be our greatest (and most beneficial) race yet.

As of today, the 13th, there are still 22 days remaining to register for the Challenge. If you haven't done any "training" yet--either running or eating--expect this to truly be a challenge. Vomiting is a common occurrence for many of the participants (the human body wasn't designed to exercise after ingesting 2400 calories in a five minute span?) and no doubt makes for interesting walking along the sidewalks of Peace St. for several days. Pray for rain, I suppose.

I won't be running this year, but hopefully you--the faithful readers of this blog (both of you)--will run (and eat) in my stead.


View the complete entry of "Get Your Doughnut On! Krispy Kreme Challenge Feb. 7th"

Monday, January 12, 2009

A look at Florida State


3 comments




Ken Pomeroy's breakdown of the 'Noles

You may find this hard to believe--in fact I'm even having a hard time believing it as I type--but there are worse teams out there than the Pack at protecting the ball.

Florida State is just one of those teams.

(Continues)

The Seminoles are turning it over (depending on which stat house you pull from) about 24% of the time they possess it, which is atrocious. Think State's performance against Clemson every single game of the year.

You'd think that would be good news for the Pack, but as bad as State is at holding onto the ball, they're just as bad at pressuring it, ranking 339th (yes, six from the bottom of all Div. 1) in turnovers forced at just 16.1% per game.

So while it may not be the irresistible force meets the immovable object (perhaps in reverse), it will be interesting which side "wins" out in this battle for ball insecurity. My guess? a WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLE lot of sloppy play.

Florida State's main weapon at guard will be Toney Douglas, who shoots the ball over 30% of the time for the 'Noles when he's in the game--which so happens to be nearly the entire game (35.4 mins/per). Consequently, Douglas is filling up the stat sheet quite well: 18.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.6 apg, 2.0 spg, 0.8 bpg.

I have an idea that Trevor Ferguson, based on the job he did on Oglesby in the Clemson game, could be called upon to be the defensive stopper against Douglas. It may work, but I imagine Douglas is a good bit more athletic than Oglesby and may eat him alive on drives to the basket. It will be interesting to see if Ferguson ultimately ends up defending Douglas or not; whoever draws that task will certainly have their hands full.

The rest of the FSU roster is big and solid...not a ton of points to be had amongst them (Douglas is the only player averaging in double figures), but five players averaging better than 6.8/game. Some names to look out for: senior Uche Echefu, the 6-9 forward who ranks among the nation's best at getting to the free throw line, and 6-8 freshman Chris Singleton who's getting plenty of minutes and also making plenty of trips to the free throw line.

If State were in another boat I might say it's too early to be playing the "must win" card--hell, we're just two games into the conference slate!--but there won't be many opportunities on the table for the Pack for conference wins this year, and this is one of them.


View the complete entry of "A look at Florida State"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Clemson recap


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Clemson wins three of the four factors, and as predicted, State had plenty of problems hanging onto the ball, turning it over on nearly a third of their possessions. Absolutely horrid.

(Continues)

Horrid could also describe the shooting percentage for both teams, but State looked particularly horrific. Plenty of missed shots close to the basket, including a gimmie layup that would've given the Pack a 35-33 second-half lead that instead led to an easy bucket on the other end for the Tigers. That Clemson basket ignited a 15-3 run that essentially put the game away.

Guard play will continue to haunt this team this year...there really just doesn't seem to be any other way to slice it. Costner and McCauley can't do it all, and until we get at least one confident ballhandler that can defeat the press, don't expect the turnover issues to get solved anytime soon.

One bright spot: the return of Trevor "Turd" Ferguson, who struggled offensively but played tremendous perimeter defense against the Tigers' Terrence Oglesby. Ferguson was in his hip pocket all afternoon, denying him the ball at every turn. Oglesby was averaging over 12 points per game prior to the contest...he finished with just three, shooting one of five from the floor, missing his lone three-point attempt. Tremendous work from Turd.

All in all, though, there's not much shame in losing to the #12 team on their homecourt. If the turnover issues can be corrected, this team can win their fair share of games in the league. Like, for instance, against Florida State, whom the Pack will face on Tuesday.


View the complete entry of "Clemson recap"

Friday, January 9, 2009

Random items heading into the weekend


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View the complete entry of "Random items heading into the weekend"

Clemson stuff


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Wolfpack Blogging Nation is all over previewing the Clemson game this weekend, and for good reason: it's the first conference game of the year and State's first opportunity to turn some of these close losses into conference wins.

Since everyone has essentially beaten me to the punch, I'll skip the write up and just post the StatSheet.com chart along with links to where you can find excellent previews from SectionSix and StateFansNation.




SectionSix's preview

StateFansNation's preview


View the complete entry of "Clemson stuff"

New art from Wolfpackcartoons.com featuring Yow


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View the complete entry of "New art from Wolfpackcartoons.com featuring Yow"

Video explanation from Julius on split with 36ers


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(H/T to Wolfpackhoops.blogspot.com for the find)



Here's Julius' side of the story. It's kind of tough whom to believe. I'm inclined to believe Jules over the 36er's management because I'm a State fan, and he mentions that he's not the only player that's dealt with payment issues.

On the other hand, whenever a player sits out and misses team activities on purpose, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth.

All I can say is that I hope Julius is acting with the proper motivation in this situation and that he lands on his feet at another basketball opportunity soon.

Strange...


View the complete entry of "Video explanation from Julius on split with 36ers"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Julius Hodge's basketball career in Australia comes to an end in bizarre fashion


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Julius Hodge Quits Adelaide 36ers

After a stellar career at State and four arduous years trying to get back into the NBA after a shooting incident in 2005, Julius Hodge, on the advice of his agent, has asked to be released from his contract with the Adelaide 36ers of the NBL.

The ongoing rift between Hodge and his team stems over a payment issue. Hodge claims the 36ers are behind on their payments...the 36ers claim they took Hodge to the bank to prove that the funds were there:

"I met with Julius yesterday and we went through any concerns he had," said 36ers owner Mal Hemmerling. "We shook hands and it was all resolved.

"We then physically took him to the bank so he could see he'd been paid til the end of the season.

"We expected him to front (last night) after the handshake with me and our agreement."

Instead Hodge went to ground, refusing to answer phone calls as the club waited to see what had occurred.

Hodge was advised by his agent not to play.

This was the final straw in a rift that seems to have been growing over time between Hodge and his teammates and coaches. The video at the AdelaideNow link above has some particularly scathing comments about Hodge, his work ethic and the way he's carried himself as a teammate of late.

His play on the court hasn't been in question. He dropped 31 points and pulled down eight rebounds in a 109-91 victory to earn NBL Player of the Week just two short weeks ago. In true Hodge fashion, he was filling up nearly every column on the stat sheet, averaging 25.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.4 steals a game through the end of 2008.

For him to walk away, after playing so well, seems so out of character for Hodge, a player most State fans will recall being one of the most ardent defenders of Herb Sendek when times were tough. He may have been one of the more hated Pack player by other ACC teams and their fans, but it was his akin to the hatred folks have of Tyler Hansbrough--you hate him because he's good and crushes your team on the court, but you respect the way he gets after it and would love to have him on your own team.

I can't help thinking there's more to this story than just what we've heard from the 36ers camp. But Hodge isn't talking, yet, and until he does it'll just be their side of the story out in the press.

I don't think many folks, State fans included, thought Hodge would be a perennial All-Star in the NBA. But to see the path his pro career has taken thus far--with this being the most bizarre chapter of them all--is saddening and puzzling.


View the complete entry of "Julius Hodge's basketball career in Australia comes to an end in bizarre fashion"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Yow steps down as N.C. State women's basketball coach for remainder of 09 season


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GoPack.com

WRALSportsFan.com

“Stepping away from coaching is one of the hardest decisions I have had to make, but I have great confidence in the experienced staff I have been working with for such a long time and the character of everyone involved in the program to respond positively to my decision.”


Not surprising news, given the string of games Yow has missed of late and the status of her health.

The question now is, "Is this it for Coach Yow for good?"

I'm inclined to believe so. Or that the chances of it are very, very good. She's fighting a very aggressive batch of cancer that has spread from her breast to her liver and her spine. The treatment regimen from here on out will be very taxing (it already has for an extended period of time). This disease will sadly take her life, sooner rather than later, and now that she's conceded coaching the remainder of this year to fight it, one wonders just how much time and energy she has left. Even with an extended period of treatment, mustering the strength to coach in 2009-2010 seems like a very tall order.

I wouldn't count her out, though. When this most recent bout began, most prognoses at the time predicted she shouldn't be with us today. That she's just now relinquishing her coaching duties tells you what an indomitable spirit Yow has. If anyone can come back from the brink and coach again, Yow can do it.

It's sad that we as State fans will ultimately see two of our greatest coaching legends claimed by cancer. It's inspiring, however, to see how they both--V and Yow--have carried themselves in the face of it. Yow embodies every ounce of the spirit Jimmy poured forth in his ESPY speech. She'll refuse to let cancer take away her heart and her mind, even if it strips away her ability to tread the same patch of court she shared with V in Reynolds.


View the complete entry of "Yow steps down as N.C. State women's basketball coach for remainder of 09 season"

Russell Wilson's knee injury will not require surgery


1 comments

Per GoPack.com, it's a sprain that should heal successfully with rehab.

Good news for Pack fans, obviously. The next question is how the rehab timetable will impact his availability for baseball. The season begins next month and it's tough to imagine that he'll be completely healed come the beginning of the year.

If he's not, does Coach Avent sit Wilson for a while early on to allow more than enough time to heal (you just know with Wilson's competitive streak that he'll be eager to play before the doctors think he's 100%)? I would hope so. Wilson is dynamic enough of an athlete in both sports that risking too early of a return isn't worth it.

Take your time, Russell. We can wait for your healthy return, even if maybe you can't.


View the complete entry of "Russell Wilson's knee injury will not require surgery"

Monday, January 5, 2009

Skip Bayless = dumbass


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Look, I know I'm no exactly breaking some new ground here. Bayless has amazingly made a career out of firing off poorly thought-out arguments at a high volume. So what you'll see in the clip below isn't remarkable in the sense that Bayless is off the mark. It would be more remarkable if he were. Pay close attention to the tangent he takes with about a minute to go.

(Note: If you don't want to "feed the troll," then don't click the below clip. Somehow I doubt losing a few hits via this blog will result in Bayless' unemployment, but feel free to pass on general principle...I'll have a recap below.)



Here's the gist of what Bayless had to say with respect to BC and the Jeff Jagodzinski situation:

In defense of Gene DeFillipo,
"They (BC) got wrecked two years ago by Tom O'Brien, who was very popular there, and all of sudden--with recruiting hanging in the balance--he bolts for North Carolina State, out of the blue..."

OK. First off--I have no real rooting interest in the Jags V Gene soap opera. I couldn't care less which way things play out, though I do enjoy the drama. So I was wholly prepared to avoid mentioning anything about the situation here because it doesn't have anything to do with State, aside from the stale O'Brien/BC connection.

But good ol' Skip has drawn me in by trying to drag O'Brien's name through the mud in defense of a poor assertion. Good work, Skip--mission accomplished. Let me attack your ridiculous assertion in bullet-point form:
  • One: Tom O'Brien did no such thing as "wreck" BC when he left. They actually went to back-to-back ACC title games following his departure. I doubt Bayless knows this.
  • Two: Tom O'Brien, at the end of his tenure, was extremely UNPOPULAR with both the fans and administrators at BC, PARTICULARLY Gene DeFillipo who refused to work with Tom O'Brien on a contract renegotiation at the end despite his success. The fans continue to run O'Brien down to no end with insults I wouldn't hurl at the most deserving Carolina fan, player or coach. They are relentless in their hatred of O'Brien to this day.
  • Three: He did not, to my knowledge, bolt from BC "out of the blue." GDF knew O'Brien was unhappy (due greatly in part to GDF's treatment of him, IMO). He had expressed interest in other coaching positions prior to leaving BC, and if GDF didn't see it coming, he's not only an idiot, he's oblivious to the world around him.
  • Four--and the crux of Bayless' argument: Bayless asserts that TOB up-and-leaving BC "wrecked" BC's recruiting efforts. The year following O'Brien's departure--in Jags' first season recruiting--BC's recruiting efforts were so throughly destroyed by the previous regime that they were only able to manage the country's 22nd-best class. O'Brien's insidious recruiting-killing plan must have been a slow-cooker (hey, revenge is best served cold), because so far BC's recruiting class is ranked 79th by Scout.com. You want to know who's killing BC's recruiting efforts? Hint: It's not O'Brien.
Bayless is an idiot. Again, no newsflash here. But the danger of idiots in his position is that--because of the scope of his soapbox--what Bayless spews can be falsely taken as fact. It's not.

If there's one thing that State fans and BC fans can both agree on, it's that Skip Bayless' take in this clip is extremely off-base.


View the complete entry of "Skip Bayless = dumbass"

Sunday, January 4, 2009

This sh*t's gettin' old: Florida 68, State 66


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Another big out-of-conference game, another last-minute loss. It gets tough having to write the same things after each loss, but once again State sees an opponent sink them in the final moments with a big shot.

(Continues)

Davidson's Steph Curry, Marquette's Dominic James...now you can add Nick Calathes to the list of Pack killers thusfar this year. The 6'-6" megaguard created matchup problems for the Pack all day and scored 32 points--12 of which were Florida's final points of the game, including the floater that won it at the end.

I'll admit, after squandering a 10-point halftime lead, I was pretty doggone mad. The remote is still intact, thankfully.

After having some time to ruminate on it (aided by a big Chargers win), I've come back off the ledge a bit. State entered the game an 11-point 'dog and took a team that won back-to-back National Titles two years ago to the wire in their house. State successfully slowed down an up-tempo team to the point of discomfort. I won't go so far as to say the Pack imposed their will, but they definitely dictated a slower pace throughout the game.

They also held the Gators to just 2-13 shooting from beyond the arc, eight attempts and six made baskets fewer than their season averages thusfar.

Could'a, would'a, should'a, I suppose...Farnold Degand played his best game of the year, but committed the final turnover of the game that sealed it for the Gators. Courtney Fells had two big blocks near the end to keep the Pack alive in the final moments, but overall played a poor game, I thought. He turned the ball over three times in crucial situations and shot the ball poorly (44%). It's become his M.O. to show up for some games and disappear in others. This was a "latter" game.

Costner continues to play well, and McCauley made some big buckets as well. The frontcourt duo seem to be back to their 06-07 ways, and wouldn't you know, as soon as I posit whether Tracy Smith should be getting more minutes from McCauley, Smith lays an egg of a game: three turnovers, zero field goals, 50% from the line in his six free throw attempts for three points.

Up next is Clemson, and honestly I don't know what to expect at this point. Based on the three premier games thusfar, I can only guess it will be close at the end. Whether the Pack will finally win one of these remains to be seen.


View the complete entry of "This sh*t's gettin' old: Florida 68, State 66"

Friday, January 2, 2009

Should Tracy Smith Get More Of Ben McCauley's Minutes?


2 comments

Tracy Smith's 31 points against Towson in just 23 minutes got me thinking: Should Tracy Smith get more of Ben McCauley's minutes?

My gut says yes. Certainly 31 points is a guady number, but I didn't want to give it too much weight because it came against Towson, a team not nearly of the caliber State will face during the conference season. Nevertheless, he always seems to be playing at a high level whenever he's in the game, regardless of the opponent.

So why is it that Smith is averaging 13.0 MPG to McCauley's 27.2? Let's look at their numbers to see how they stack up.

(Continues)

(NOTE: These charts can be a little tough to read with all the lines active. You can disable individual lines by clicking their respective checkmarks in the legend.)

OFFENSIVE:



Offensive Rating - Advantage: McCauley
The offensive rating formula is: Offensive Rating = (Points Produced / Individual Possessions) x 100. Tracy made a big leap forward in catching up to Ben in this regard, but Ben still leads 120.3 to 117.5.

Assist Percentage - Advantage: Smith
This was the one that surprised me. I thought for certain that Smith would've trailed McCauley here, but while Ben started the year hot and Smith essentially a black hole (h/t Slack), Smith has obviously made a point to get the ball to his teammates. He currently leads McCauley 14.5 to 12.6 in this category. Smith's numbers here are boosted by the limited time he's in the game--more minutes make it harder to maintain this ranking. It's questionable whether Smith would perform at this high a level were he getting the same minutes McCauley is currently.

Effective Field Goal% - Advantage: McCauley
Big Ben holds a slight edge here (56% to 55.1%) but both players are shooting the ball at a high level in the paint.

Offensive Rebounding % - Advantage: Smith
Here's where Smith's effort is yielding some tangible results. He's smoking McCauley on the offensive boards, snagging 22.6% of the possible offensive rebounds against McCauley's 10%. Smith doesn't have anyone close to him in this regard; great for Smith, and a sad statement for the rest of the Pack squad.

DEFENSIVE:



Defensive Rebounding % - Advantage: McCauley
Big Ben owns Smith here, which is somewhat surprising given how much of an advantage Smith has over McCauley rebounding on the other end of the court. Ben is grabbing 22.9% of the defensive rebounds up for grabs versus Smith's 9.7%--almost an exact reversal of the offensive rebounding percentage stats.

Steal % - Advantage: McCauley
McCauley has the edge here again, though he's losing ground to Smith. McCauley was at 3.5% versus Smith's 1.1% back on the 29th of December. Since that time Smith has closed the gap--3.2% to 1.7%.

Block % - Advantage: Smith
Smith started the season with a huge advantage over McCauley here (at one point 4.2% to 0.9%), but his numbers are starting to slide over time. This could be at the urging of Sidney Lowe to stop focusing so much on getting the big block at the detriment of his low post defense. McCauley is holding steady, still at 0.9%, but it's evident that Smith is the better of the shot blockers on the court.

So what can we glean from these numbers? McCauley leads Smith in four of the seven categories. Smith's limited minutes played could be skewing things, however, since most of these stats are so dependent upon time played. It'd be an easier comparison to make if Smith played roughly equal minutes per game.

Which brings us back to the original question: Should Smith be getting more minutes? I'd love to see all three big men on the court at the same time--just to see what they can do--but Sidney's stated before that he doesn't want to play all three of his bigs (Costner, McCauley and Smith) at the same time, at least not for extended periods of time. Not to mention it wouldn't make sense against smaller, more athletic teams.

I'd like to see McCauley and Smith's minutes split more evenly than they currently are because I think the team responds to Smith's high effort level when he's out on the court. It's tough to argue against McCauley's production so far, though. He leads the team in points per game, which at the end of the day, there's not much more you can ask for. Ben is a better interior passer at this point in his career, as well.

Let me know what you think. My gut says yes, but I'd like to know what you think.


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