Monday Basketball Bytes

Let’s kick off the week with some basketball.

Crunch =====> I have been accused by some of my friends of being too ‘soft’ on the current basketball situation and being more optimistic than the average fan. But, I am feeling more and more vindicated every time the Wolfpack steps on the floor. There is no doubt that a lot of fans are starting feel a renewed sense of optimism in basketball. It’s hard to believe there are only 4 remaining regular season games for NC State Basketball, especially since mid-January saw many hoping for a quick end to the season since their attention was Russell Wilson’s injury more than Sidney Lowe’s team.

Crunch =====> Hindsight can be a wonderful tool — looking back at the past 12 ACC games, if you are honest with yourself, this team has not lost any surprising games. Two come close – the blown lead against Florida State and the blown lead at Virginia Tech. Now, go check the ACC standings you’ll see Florida State sitting in second place with a surprising RPI of 16. The loss at Va Tech, will forever sting.

Crunch =====> This hindsight supports a point that I made to a friend shortly after the Florida State loss when I recognized that the Seminoles were putting together a better season than I was expecting — NC State hasn’t lost to a single team that will not be in the NCAA Tournament. (VPI is obviously the big ‘bubble’ team at the moment; by the same token, the Wolfpack didn’t lose that game as much as had it taken from them under ridiculous circumstances.) Additionally, State has defeated a Top 5 (at the time) Wake Forest and a Miami team that sits on the bubble.

Crunch =====> The Wolfpack dominated the Hokies for 30+ minutes before hell broke loose. A win there, NC State would be 6-6 in the ACC, ahead of VT in the standings, with a great chance to finish .500 or better. Can still do that, but it will be tough. Losses @Clemson, @UNC, @Duke and UNC – those are better teams and all NCAA locks. The loss against FSU doesnt look so bad now. The loss @ BC, on the road is somewhat understandable, especially since they have one of the leagues best players in Rice.

Crunch =====> Speaking of ‘dominating…can anyone tell me the last time that an NC State Basketball team had the offensive efficiency and the ability to take twenty point leads in multiple ACC games? The Wolfpack have led by at least 18 points in three of our last four games – against Wake Forest (Top 5, NCAA team), Virginia Tech (NCAA bubble) and Virginia. Forget the comebacks that followed for a moment; when have we been good enough to even be able to get that far ahead of multiple ACC opponents?

Crunch =====> Looking at the next 4 games to close out the season: at Wake will be tough. Wake is a talented, but young team. Likewise, they tend to struggle on the road and play well at home – wins against Duke and UNC in the The Joe). This is the toughest of the 4 games remaining. Maryland and BC at home are two winnable, but very tough games. Both teams feature a point guard that can go-off and dominate a game (MD’s Vasquez and BC’s Rice). Control the PG position against MD and BC, and NC State will come out with wins. @Miami to close to season will probably be a standings game, meaning identical or close records with the winner getting the higher seed in the ACCT. Miami’s arena has never been intimidating, but Miami’s Jack McClinton doesn’t seem to care. Additionally, dead environments don’t necessarily work well for traveling teams. Let’s hope that game is for .500 or better for NC State.

Crunch =====> Speaking of Vasquez, his performance Saturday was one for the ages – a triple double with 35 points. He is the main reason Maryland is now squarely on the NCAA bubble. Maryland does not have a talented team across the board, but they do have a talented PG. Looking at all the ACC teams, those with very good point guards are in position to make the NCAAT. Those without, are struggling or on the outside looking in when it comes to the NCAAT. The 2 exceptions are Duke and Clemson – both have servicable PGs, but not stars at the position. GT, UVA, NC State, VT and Miami all have major questions at PG – and those are the 5 teams on the outside as we head into the home stretch.

Crunch =====> Kudos to Florida State and Leonard Hamilton. This is Hamilton’s 7th season, and he finally will lead the Seminoles into the NCAA Tournament. FSU has not been to the big dance since 1998 and Hamilton’s seat was getting really warm in Tallahassee. Having an All-ACC performer at the point guard position in Tony Douglas has given the Seminoles the leadership needed to win close games against tough opponents – something FSU lacked in previous seasons under Hamilton. Would Hamilton have been given an 8th season to make the NCAAT? Probably not, but that’s all a moot point now.

Crunch =====> Take a step back for a minute. It would be an amazing feat for NC State to finish anywhere near .500 in the toughest basketball conference (by a mile) in the country during Coach Lowe’s third season and after what happened last year. Don’t forget — NC State plays the TOUGHEST schedule in the ACC. So, reaching .500 for us is a helluva a lot different as it is for everyone else.

Crunch =====> The NC State baseball team had a tough beginning to its season, losing 2 of 3 in the round-robin tournament played at Doak Field over the weekend. Now, baseball is different than football and basketball in that even good teams lose many games. However, giving up 11 and 8 runs to Atlantic 10 opponents Rhode Island and Xavier is cause for concern for a NC State pitching staff that lost its complete starting rotation from last year. Plenty of time to recover from the 1-2 start, but you have to consider this a red-flag on what the season might hold going forward.

Crunch =====> For folks that keep their eye on the numbers, the following are the latest RPI’s for the ACC from Now that Quinten Jackson is no longer around to lazily construct the basketball schedule, perhaps we can be more strategic in the future and try to target OOC games against opponents in the #150-#250 range as opposed to a menu of games against teams sub-300.

3. UNC
4. Duke
8. Clemson
17. FSU
18. Wake
46. Miami
52. Maryland
55. Boston College
66. VT
90. NC State
100. UVA
161. GT

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08-09 Basketball General

100 Responses to Monday Basketball Bytes

  1. Trout 02/23/2009 at 10:25 AM #

    The OOC schedule is killing us. UVA sits at 9-14 overall, but is only 10 points away from NC State in the RPI. We have almost identical records (+/- 1 game) with VT, Miami and Maryland, yet all of them are on the NCAA bubble, while we are not. The difference, OOC schedule:

    New Orleans (10-16) – RPI 284
    High Point (5-18) – RPI 328
    Winthrop (8-18) – RPI 244
    UNCG (3-23) – RPI 324
    Davidson (21-6) – RPI 59
    Winston Salem ST (5-18) – RPI 319
    ECU (10-13) – RPI 187
    Lipscomb (12-13) – RPI 247
    Marquette (23-4) – RPI 21
    Loyla (11-18) – RPI 183
    Townson (9-20) – RPI 241
    Florida (21-6) – RPI 41
    NCCU (1-24) – RPI 339

    Only 3 teams have a winning record out of that group.

  2. Trout 02/23/2009 at 10:28 AM #

    BTW, I love “Bytes” because it reminds me of the old InfoPack, which kinda started it all in terms of NC State sports via electronic media….then came Wolfchat, the original StateFans, etc….

  3. Girlfriend in a Coma 02/23/2009 at 10:36 AM #

    The special edition InfoPacks Brock put out during Carolina Weeks almost got me fired several times.

    Also, you have to mention Radford’s NC State football site when talking about the early internet and NC State. I remember being excited when I read on Radford’s site that we got a verbal from Tremain Stevens.

  4. choppack1 02/23/2009 at 10:39 AM #

    Good info Trout and Statefans.

    I’m surprised not many comments on our RPI – we appear to have created a schedule this is hurting us. I was expecting a bigger boost this week after beating UVa and losing @ UNC, but we didn’t get one.

    *I saw Lunardi’s prediction yesterday and he had 6 ACC teams BUT 7 BIG 10 TEAMS. If there’s one thing I cannot understand, it’s this love affair w/ the Big 10. They suck – every year, they lose to the ACC head to head in the ACC-Big 10 challenge, yet, these results are ignored, because come conference season – go figure, ACC teams lose a lot of games.

    *As I stated in the previous post – for an NCAA bid, I have our magic # at 5 wins.

    *our RPI is 88 (this is killing us and even if we win 5 of our next 6 games, I don’t know if we end up w/ a respectable #.)

    *Our Sagarin and Kenpom #s are 68 and 70 respectively. If we win 5 of our next 6 games, I expect significant movement here to place us on their bubbles.

    *Sid has set a personal best for the second half of the ACC regular season and there are 4 games left.

    *Good points on what we’ve actually accomplished when compared to expectations. I think Sid has done a much better job preparing the team and the team has done a much better job executing this year than the other two. As I used to say when we had another coach, I don’t think it’s a bad sign of your team and coach if you build big leads – regardless of outcomes.

  5. Girlfriend in a Coma 02/23/2009 at 10:43 AM #

    Maybe the RB commitment I remember was from Spikes now that I think about it.

  6. Trout 02/23/2009 at 10:47 AM #

    ^ yeah, Tremayne Stephens would have signed in Feb 1994, which I think predates InfoPack and Radford’s site.

    grantwolf has some interesting OOC schedule info, last year vs this year:

    New Orleans: 17-13 last year, 10-16 this year.
    High Point: 13-14 last year, 5-18 this year.
    Winthrop: 20-11 last year, 8-18 this year.
    UNCG: 19-12 last year, 3-23 this year.
    Davidson 25-6 last year, 21-6 this year.
    Winston Salem St.: 10-18 last year, 5-18 this year.
    ECU: 9-18 last year, 10-13 this year.
    Lipscomb: 14-16 last year, 12-13 this year.
    Marquette: 23-9 last year, 23-4 this year.
    Loyola: 19-14 last year, 11-18 this year.
    Townson: 13-18 last year, 9-20 this year
    Florida: 21-11 last year, 21-6 this year.
    NCCU: 3-23 last year, 1-24 this year.

    In total:
    2008: 206-183 .529 % win
    2009: 139-197 .413 % win

  7. Trout 02/23/2009 at 10:49 AM #

    New Orleans: 17-13 last year, 10-16 this year.
    High Point: 13-14 last year, 5-18 this year.
    Winthrop: 20-11 last year, 8-18 this year.
    UNCG: 19-12 last year, 3-23 this year.
    Loyola: 19-14 last year, 11-18 this year.

    Those 5 have really taken major tumbles compared to last year

  8. RSP123 02/23/2009 at 10:51 AM #

    Good reminder about our league schedule being the toughest. IIRC it has been rated the toughest the past several years. As for the OOC schedule, we simply must do better in scheduling tougher opponents as well as winning these games.
    That more than anything will put us back into the natiional limelight the quickest. Finally, the phrase “one game at a time” is more true then ever. Stay the course and keep the faith. If you win out, you can have your cake and eat it too as it relates to postseason play! As a longtime Wolfpack fan, I’m hungry and ready to eat!

  9. Shadow722 02/23/2009 at 10:58 AM #

    Least I sound like an eternal optimist, I see flashes of the 1983 team, in this current team. Looking beyond our current standings and past meltdowns, I find the following Team four factors from the KenPom Scouting report:

    Effective FG%: 53.8 [23] 47.0 [88] 49.1
    Turnover %: 22.0 [248] 17.3 [325] 20.6
    Off. Reb. %: 36.7 [52] 33.1 [184] 33.0
    FTA/FGA: 39.7 [86] 27.0 [13] 36.5

    Our current team has somehow managed to look like a top 25 team in E Fg% offense and Defensive FTA/FGA, and a top 100 team on E Fg% defense, Offensive Rebounding, and offensive FTA/FGA. Only on turnovers do we look worse than mediocre. The keys therefore for our next 4 games, plus the ACC tourny, is to keep scoring, rebounding and limit stupid turnovers.

    Anybody opponent that takes this team lightly, may be in for a rude awakening. The three amigos (or enigma’s), are McCauley, Costner, and Fells. Can they or will they show up for the next 4 games? This is their last chance to excel, and show us what they are made of.

    Can anyone fathom the true impact on this team, that 12 games into the ACC schedule, we look like we have found a ACC caliber point guard in the body of one Javi Gonzalez? I have now watched the UNC game I DVRed twice, and Javi for 40 minutes played toe to toe with Lawson, and looked good? Yes, we lost that game, but his progress is staggering. And yes, against the Wahoo’s he had 7 turnovers, but 3 of those are because our big 3 amigo’s are playing behind our PG’s power curve, not ahead of it.

    Can or will this team play up to their potential? I don’t know, but for the first time in more than a decade, I feel positive about a Wolfpack team. And that my friends is Progress……..

  10. CStanley 02/23/2009 at 11:00 AM #

    Lunardi has EIGHT Big Ten teams in in his latest projection. WTF???? That means everyone not named Iowa, Northwestern & Indiana are all projected to go dancing. What’s hilarious is that Northwestern & Iowa could probably win the Big 10 tournament as crappy as that league is. There is a reason why Carolina & Maryland both obliterated that conference’s supposed #1 team. Duke dominated the other one. Clemson beat Illinois. That conference can’t hold a candle to the ACC, Big East, Big 12, SEC, Pac-10…hell even the A-10. What a f’ing joke. Example numero uno why the tournament should NEVER be expanded beyond what it is today.

    And Coma, it had to have been Spikes…Gore was still working on the internet when Stephens would have committed, :)

  11. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 02/23/2009 at 11:46 AM #

    State OOC schedule isn’t much different than any other ACC school.

    SFN: LOL! Yet…we play the worst OOC SOS of any team in the league and only two teams are within 100 spots of us!

    This comment is obviously factually incorrect; so much so that the 180 degree opposite of the comment is the truth. Would it really have been so hard to look up some of this before just throwing it out as if this were the idiot boards on Pack Pride?

    NC State has the worst overall SOS of any ACC School this year by far.

    The following are the OOC SOS for the ACC.
    40 Duke
    43 Virginia
    81 Clemson
    83 Florida State
    113 UNC-CH
    141 Maryland
    164 Virginia Tech
    195 Miami (FL)
    216 Boston College
    245 Georgia Tech
    294 Wake Forest
    314 NC State

    We didn’t have the Big 10 game or any other early season tournament which can hurt. I love that people expect the coaching staff will know how well their opponents will do 6 months before the season starts.

    SFN: Yet somehow…11 other ACC schools were able to put a tougher schedule together. And…somehow…9 of the other ACC schools were able to better our schedule rank by 98 positions or more!

    I love how people that ‘know basketball’ can’t take a look at how a team did the previous year and what they return the next year and draw some common-sense conclusions. Herb used to do it every year — we would strategically choose ‘name’ teams that

    Throw in the Big 10 game and I don’t think I would want a much more taxing schedule in November and December than Marquette, Florida (Jan) and Davidson. If State would just win the games they do have on the schedule this wouldn’t even be a question. If State beats Marquette, Florida and Davidson they are not only on the bubble but comfortably on top of it.

    SFN: Note the difference — I didn’t say that the schedule should be more ‘taxing’. Playing teams with a #220 RPI should not be very much more ‘taxing’ than playing teams with #320 RPIs. It is about the math and the strategy of appearing to build a tougher schedule; not necessarily building a tougher schedule.

  12. Trout 02/23/2009 at 11:48 AM #

    using data, here is the overall SOS for the bubble teams plus NC State:

    Miami – 9
    Maryland – 28
    BC – 45
    VT – 46
    NC State – 87

    We are full 40+ positions below in terms of SOS

  13. choppack1 02/23/2009 at 11:50 AM #

    CStanley – I would say I can’t believe Lunardi has 8 in there, but the fact that he has 7 already shows that something, somewhere is crazy. I mean, I’m not saying Lunardi is off his rocker, because ultimately he may be right. If he is Swofford and Wellman (who is now on the committee) should have something to say.

    We’ve seen the “ACC is top heavy” argument before. However, any time you have 2 great teams, you’ll be top heavy. Guess what, in 82, 83 and 84 the ACC was top heavy…but we saw other some of the “lightweights” do pretty well in the tournament. Honestly, what do these knuckleheads think would happen if UNC, Clemson and Duke were added to the big 10 – do they think thegood teams in the league would go 3-3? They wouldn’t, they’d go 1-5 and then these same idiots would be talking about how DEEP the big 10 was.

  14. Wulfpack 02/23/2009 at 12:02 PM #

    I am beginning to feel very good about this season regardless of what the season ending holds. The big disappointment is still the nonconference performance, but we played well enough to win those games. It’s just a shame we didn’t.

    One thing is for certain. We control our own destiny. Let’s go Pack!

  15. Alpha Wolf 02/23/2009 at 12:11 PM #

    It’s damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

    If we are a balanced league with everyone beating everyone we’re down. If we have two dominant teams followed by a very solid middle, we’re top heavy.

    As for being on the NCAA bubble, it’s really simple: win three of four remaining and two in the ACCT and we should go dancing. If we don’t with an 10-9 overall league record, we’d have every right to pitch a royal fit.

  16. choppack1 02/23/2009 at 12:31 PM #

    Yep Alpha – I think that’s a good summary of where we are. Win 5 games like you outlined or win out and lose in 2nd round of ACC tourney and I think we dance.

    The dance card is updated and it contains good news: BC and UMd are both in (Miami is one of the first 4 out and VaTech is 8th team out.) It contains bad news in that we didn’t improve our position. I can accept that as we went 1-1 in games where an NIT team would go 1-1.

    Even if we beat UMd and BC, I still think we need to do something to knock them out of the box OR have them collapse to take them out of contention. As I stated earlier, we need the “U” to remain respectable – so it would be nice if they went 7-9 w/ us being their only loss.

    In addition, we REALLY need one game that announces to the college basketball world that NC State deserves consideration. I think we’ll do this by default if we win 5 more games (in other words, we’ll have to beat someone good to win 5 games.)

    I like to think of this year for us in terms of horse racing terms, we started back in the field, in essence, we’re charging hard to get a “show”…If you make that charge and you don’t finish in the money – no one pays any attention to you. If you somehow squeak in the money, folks that matter will take notice. (To complete this analogy, we need a few of the teams in front of us to fade.)

  17. StateFans 02/23/2009 at 12:51 PM #

    If Wake can regain some of their momentum and clearly re-establish themeselves then our dream scenarios would include two wins over them — that could be ‘arriving’.

    Additionally – in this DREAM scenario – we *could* end up with SIX wins vs Top 50 teams in the country under this scenario (before the ACCT)

    You want to hear something CRAZY? In Herb Sendek’s ten years at State he only had one season with more Top 50 wins. (03-04 he had 7 wins). In fact, he never won more than four games vs Top 50 teams in a single year other than 03-04.

    In Sendek’s third year he won a single game against Top 50 competition. With just one more Top 50 win, Sidney could achive the same 4 wins that served as Herb’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best seasons. The following are Sendek’s # of Top 50 wins per season:
    4, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 7, 4, 3

    I just found that a very interesting point in light of the OOC SOS conversation. In short, with poorer relative performance against Top 50 competition, Sendek learned how to manipulate OOC to build a formula/philosophy that was able to get him closer to the NCAAT bubble. Same or worse performance but closer to the Tournament; all because of strategic scheduling.

  18. Clarksa 02/23/2009 at 12:56 PM #

    I have upgraded my outlook for basketball from zero expectations to cautiously optimistic…we could easily win out or lose out in our remaining games.

  19. SouthernWolf 02/23/2009 at 1:08 PM #

    I know i have not posted in a while, it has nothing to do with the excellent nature of this blog however. Rather i have felt that others have said what i thought before i could post and therefore my thoughts would have been redundant. There are a few things i would like to say here about strength of schedule.
    First- strength of schedule has a lot more benefits besides making your team look better to the NCAA tournament committee. I play a lot of Basketball in Carmichael with people of many different skill levels. Even i can tell you that it is when i play against the toughest defenders that I improve the most. In fact playing with bad people actually makes me worse because even if i only play a few games agianst inferior competition i develop bad habits. I begin to dribble carelessly, make careless mistakes, take bad shots because i know i will get the rebound, etc… I think this was somewhat of a factor with our turnover inconsistency at all positions. We developed habits of lazy passes and lazy dribbling by both point guards and forwards because we were playing teams that could not handle our athleticism so it did not matter. Those habits have carried over into the acc play and cost us games.
    Second- In addition to improving skills and preventing the development of bad habits, playing tougher opponents makes a team mentally tougher. If they lose, they learn how to pick themselves up and when they win (and they will eventually just ask Wake Forrest) they will gain the mental confidence of knowing they have beaten a good team.
    third-playing tougher competition also forces the team to play together and move the ball. Brandon Costner can take NC Central by himself. No one on that team can really guard him if he is having a decent day and he knows it. However that mentality does not apply when playing a Florida or UConn or a Michigan St.

  20. choppack1 02/23/2009 at 1:12 PM #

    If there was a strength for Sendek, it was avoiding those “bad” losses. Also, I think if you take out his ACC tournament performances in the years we made the big dance – I’m speaking specifically of years 5, 6 and 9 of his tenure – you see a guy who had a year very similar to what we’re seeing now. He would beat the middle of the packers and lower-tiered teams in the ACC, but lose to the big boys…at the end of the day you had this team that was strong enough to eliminate a lot of pretenders (we probably eliminated UVa from at least 2 at large bids and Wake from at least one), but you couldn’t say was a contender.

    The one thing Sendek never did was go 8-8 in the ACC, or be on the “bubble” and lose a first or even a second round game. The year we went 7-9, we had a run VERY similar to the one we’re on right now. One key difference was that we had a big OOC win over GW (one of the mid-major glamour teams)…That year, we got into the tourney by beating FSU and a Chris Paul-less Wake.

    As far as the schedule goes, Trout brought up a point – it could be bad luck, but it could also be that a simple look at those squads rosters would lead you to believe that there are certain problems. One thing is certain – Arizona State and Sendek have once again gamed the system. We’re talking about a team that was taken to OT by IUPUI…

  21. Trout 02/23/2009 at 1:14 PM #

    choppack: “what do these knuckleheads think would happen if UNC, Clemson and Duke were added to the big 10″

    IMO, if Clemson was added to the Big 10, it would be the Big 10 Champion this year.

  22. VaWolf82 02/23/2009 at 1:16 PM #

    Sendek learned how to manipulate OOC to build a formula/philosophy that was able to get him closer to the NCAAT bubble.

    You give him more credit than I do. Sendek got extremely “lucky” in that State came up with a big win in the ACCT three different times (’02, ’03, and ’05)….twice against the #1 seed. It’s doubtful that State would have made the NCAAT any of those three years without that big ACCT win.

    Sendek’s luck ran out on him last year at ASU. A miserable OOC schedule finally cost him when ASU lost in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament. Their weak OOC schedule got them a lousy RPI ranking and off to the NIT they went.

    The key point from all of the OOC SOS discussions remains unchanged….there is no reason to intentionally create a liability for your team with a horrible OOC schedule. There are plenty of teams that you can play to build up the wins without choosing the dregs of the basketball world.

  23. VaWolf82 02/23/2009 at 1:18 PM #

    If there was a strength for Sendek, it was avoiding those “bad” losses.

    Strange, I remember plenty of horrible losses to terrible teams in the only five years that the HSSS chose to remember….especially in 2003 and 2005.

  24. Trout 02/23/2009 at 1:20 PM #

    ^^ To defend Herb, those teams DID get those ACCT wins when they needed them….

    SFN: Yes they did. They also got pretty lucky to get to play Wake Forest without Chris Paul and also get a first round match-up with FSU. Again, we did win. But, we all know how much luck and smoke and mirrors were involved in those “Five Straight NCAA Appearances” that evidently are some kind of gold standard.

  25. txpack 02/23/2009 at 1:23 PM #

    State can go as far as our point guards take us. Not long ago, some of us here predicted 0-16, 1-15, 2-14 conference record, that was based on our PGs’ play.

    Gonzalez has been playing much better in past 4-5 games. Degand had his flashes over Wake. I was critiquing Gonzalez’s shooting form (releases) in one thread few weeks ago. Right after that, he started to hit 3s:). Now, Degand, you were sucked in UVA game, man up against Wake Thursday!

    Off topic, just picked up a pair of very cheap NCSU foot wear here:

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