Flashback: Beowolf’s Top 10 Excuses

At 9:35am on March 10, 2001, the (in)famous Beowolf posted an article on the original Statefans.com When the article was originally written, WolfpackNation was in the midst of heated debate regarding the future of Herb Sendek’s leadership of the NC State Basketball Program. Sound familiar?

I draw your attention to Beo’s article from almost four years ago. Looks like it could have been written four hours ago…which is the EXACTLY the problem (with the management decisions that have created this problem.)

Beowolf’s Top 10 Non Excuses for Next Year

Fellow Wolfpack fans,

This article is based on an email I sent to some friends back in late January (of 2001). I revisited it once this godforsaken basketball season (the 2000-01 season, just in the awful albeit highly probable case that this article is being recalled) mercifully ended during the conclusion of NC State’s quarterfinal game in the ACC Tournament.

When I sat down in utter disgust and wrote out this list (in Jan. 2001), I had no intention of writing a Top 10 list; it so turned out that there were exactly ten stupid justifications being used to excuse yet another poor season (the poorest to date, in fact) of Wolfpack basketball under Herb Sendek.

I believe that the past informs the future, and that in matters of speculation it is wise to know and learn from the past, especially your own past mistakes of judgment. Those who fail to learn from the past, runs the old saw, are doomed to repeat it, and in some instances — Wolfpack basketball under Herb Sendek being a notorious example — those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to look progressively stupider year after year.

“Stupid” is a strong word, and I don’t expect it will make some people happy. Therefore, I’m going to put all the focus of this article on next season (that’s 2001-02, in case this article is being brought back from the archives) and put this one behind me. Take note: this list and its conclusions apply to next year.

At this writing, it appears that Herb Sendek will return as head coach of NC State men’s basketball next year. As long as he is head coach, the following list applies:

Top 10 Excuses I Hope I Never Hear A Wolfpack Basketball Fan Say Next Year

Alternate title: If you utter at least one of the following excuses next year, you are stupid

1. Wait, just think how good we’ll be with all these great recruits coming in next year!

2. It’s not the coach’s fault the players miss the shots and turn the ball over.

3. You can’t blame the coach for injuries.

4. You can’t expect us to beat a ranked team.

5. NC State has been so down for so long that it takes longer than it did at Virginia, Georgia Tech, Clemson …

6. Just wait till we have the horses to run the Kentucky offense.

7. Dean Smith was hung in effigy in his third year, and Coach K didn’t make the NCAAs until his fourth!

8. Just because you fire a coach doesn’t mean you’ll get one better than the one you have now.

9. Firing Herb now only sets us back another three years or more.

10. Don’t give up! Don’t ever give up!

Now, why would I choose the following excuses to highlight? Well, let me explain:

1. Wait, just think how good we’ll be with all these great recruits coming in next year! This excuse is as old as Sendek’s tenure at NC State, and it has consistently failed to validate itself when those “great recruits” wear NC State on their chests. Think of all the “impact” freshmen Sendek was supposed to have: Archie Miller, Adam Harrington, Damien Wilkins, Cliff Crawford, Scooter Sherrill … If you’re having to resort to this excuse again next year, then not only have you missed the non-impact of those players, but you’re blind to the non-impact of current freshmen, and this demonstrated lack of ability to detect a pattern is a distinct sign of stupidity.

2. It’s not the coach’s fault the players miss the shots and turn the ball over. Oh, how enticing this excuse is. It assumes that 18-year-olds are complete ballplayers as soon as they enroll. It’s a matching pair with the “great recruits” fantasy; coaches are to recruit, players are to play. But the fact is coaches are responsible for imparting the basic fundamentals of the game to their players. A variation of this excuse was used during the final years of Mike O’Cain at NC State; under him, the coaches supposedly weren’t responsible for the players missing tackles, dropping catchable passes and fumbling. Surprisingly, many of the same people who made those excuses for O’Cain missed the fact that players began making the tackles, catching the passes and holding on to the football better under a different football staff well-known for drilling the fundamentals of that sport. The inability to understand this fundamental fact is stupidity.

3. You can’t blame the coach for injuries. This excuse is also enticing, but the more the years drag on and the more the same injuries occur, the more they should give thinking men pause. If this excuse is used next year (2001-02, that is), that would mean that for SIX straight years NC State’s basketball team has been wracked with injuries. Most of the injuries over the (so far) five years of Herb Sendek’s tenure have been stress-related injuries, which points to either poor conditioning or over-coaching (or both). Both of those factors point to coaching. Now you can believe that it’s just unprecedented bad luck that’s causing these injuries or you can blame some “curse” (of Valvano, of Spangler, of whatever bogeyman you wish to blame), but doing either is stupid.

4. You can’t expect us to beat a ranked team. Any fan of Wolfpack basketball caught saying this should be strapped down like that chap in A Clockwork Orange and forced to watch the Wolfpack teams of Case, Sloan and Valvano (to name a few) to know what Wolfpack basket ball used to be, then given the sickening drug and forced to watch Wolfpack basketball circa 2001 while a soundtrack of Herb Sendek press conferences plays in the background. It should never be an expectation that a Wolfpack basketball team will lose just because the opponent is ranked. The expectation for Wolfpack basketball should be that it should be one of the elite programs in the country, and not being so shouldn’t be an excuse for losing, it should be a catalyst for change, not to mention a source of great shame. (Obviously, any Wolfpack fan caught saying such a thing out loud is stupid.)

5. NC State has been so down for so long that it takes longer than it did at Virginia, Georgia Tech, Clemson … This is another excuse linked to the inability to detect a pattern, and it also denies how devastated those programs, especially Virginia’s, was. It also assumes a linear relationship between depth of failing to eventual reentry into the field of 64. It is demonstrably false, and all of the above reasons mean anyone who says that next year is stupid. Furthermore, anyone who uses the “great recruits” excuse in combination with this one is especially stupid and should be given the same treatment as those who utter Excuse No. 4.

6. Just wait till we have the horses to run the Kentucky offense. If this excuse is aired next year, that means that for SIX (for 2001-02) straight years NC State is NOT running the Kentucky offense despite six straight years of Herb Sendek promising to do so. Buying this canard from Sendek is a failure to recognize a pattern, so the speaker of that statement is stupid.

7. Dean Smith was hung in effigy in his third year, and Coach K didn’t make the NCAAs until his fourth! Speaking of canards, here’s one that should have been mercifully put to rest by Herb Sendek’s fourth year at the latest. It hasn’t, owing to folks who like to quote Excuse No. 5. Lloyd Bentsen would have the perfect comeback for this one, and for those who miss that aside, it means that Herb Sendek is obviously no Dean Smith or Coach K. Those who don’t find this fact obvious after six years (for 2001-02) are stupid.

8. Just because you fire a coach doesn’t mean you’ll get one better than the one you have now. Folks who say this are telling a technical truth, but to say this in defense of keeping a terrible coach is, to be frank, stupid. There’s an old saying that “You can’t fall off the floor.” If this excuse is being made next year (2001-02) and people are still afraid to shop around for a better coach than Sendek, they have the same non-aspirations for Wolfpack basketball as those who like to use Excuse No. 4, and they deserve the same treatment, because they are clearly stupid.

9. Firing Herb now only sets us back another three years or more. This excuse is similar to Excuse No. 8, except that it has no empirical basis and is a complete fabrication. It also relies on the same assumption of linearity as Excuse No. 5, but it adds another factor to the assumption. It is stupidity dressed up as multiple regression, but multiple regression without a single datum is sheer stupidity.

10. Don’t give up! Don’t ever give up! It’s a nice sentiment. And when uttered by the right person, it is a powerful sentiment and a reason to believe. Excuse No. 10 under Coach V was Reason No. 1 to Watch the ACC Tournament in 1987. And people who employ this excuse are hearkening us Wolfpack fans back to the days of V and the Cardiac Pack in trying to bolster our spirits — even perhaps to suggest that it’s not the individual called “Coach” at NC State who’s responsible for imparting the “Don’t give up!” attitude, but that it’s just something that comes with the mantle of “Head Coach, NC State men’s basketball team.” Again, Lloyd Bentsen could answer this one; Herb Sendek is no James T. Valvano. Folks who use this excuse next year (2001-02) may have their hearts in the right place, but their heads won’t be (which is a polite way of saying they are stupid).

I’m sure these explanations will still raise the fur on a few wolves’ backs, but I make no apologies for that. All I hope is that — for a multitude of reasons (the top one being that my assumption in the paragraph introducing the list is wrong) — Statefans.com won’t have to pull this article out of the archives next March.

Sincerely, Beowolf

Flashback General NCS Basketball

2 Responses to Flashback: Beowolf’s Top 10 Excuses

  1. JPS 02/06/2005 at 12:07 AM #

    JB — You beat me to this. I was going to post it after tonight’s game. I admit I had it ready to go before the game. I was about 60 percent sure we were going to lose, but you never know when we’ll have one of those rare halves of basketball when the three’s are going in.

    You say this article sounds as if it could have been written four hours ago. True except for one thing. No. 6. Nobody — especially not Herb — says word one about the Kentucky offense anymore. We brought Herb Sendek to NC State on the strength of his familiarity with the Pitino system of constant ball pressure and up tempo basketball on offense (and championships), and the fact that he had taken lowly Miami of Ohio to the NCAAs. The Wait Till Next Year crowd used to point to the Future Kentucky Offense at NC State once we had a full stable. But once Sendek did get that full stable, we were given the booby prize of the Princeton offense instead.

    It was like taking thoroughbreds groomed for the races and slapping a kiddy saddle on them and a bridle hooked to one of those circular contraptions at the fair where kids ride the ponies.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. StateFans Nation » Blog Archive » ESPN: What we learned in Tampa - 03/12/2007

    [...] Wolfpack Nation is not so far removed from a time when we were told that the coach wasn’t to blame for players continually and reliably missing shots, game in and out (see Excuse No. 2). But I would like to point out that this year’s team shot 49.4 percent from the field, which was the highest shooting percentage since 1988-89. [...]

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