Fired up about another opp’t 2 watch NC State play basketball! Ball movement! Rebounding! Hustle! Dribble penetration! #realbasketball
…and we couldn’t agree more! I haven’t been this excited about watching basketball since Sidney Lowe’s first season and the beginning of his second season.
After the Wolfpack defeated Morehead State on Sunday night Head Coach Mark Gottfried made a statement that I thought crystallized my feelings — “I like the way we are playing the game”.
AMEN to that! If you haven’t seen the Pack play yet, then you haven’t seen the dribble penetration from quick guards; the excellent dishing and passing from everyone; an offense that moves without the ball; a tenacity for rebounding and outlet passes; and general energy and hustle that has been missing from our program for a very long time.
The Wolfpack plays host to Princeton tonight in Raleigh at 7pm on ESPNU. The Tigers are the third consecutive NCAA Tournament team from last year that NC State has faced to open the 2011-2012 season. Princeton opened this season with a 73-57 home loss to Wagner that saw Junior Ian Hummer, score a game-high 19 points and nine points. Last season, Hummer averaged 13.8 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game.
From a historical context this game actually means something to me. You won’t believe this….but NC State is friggin 1-5 All-Time against Princeton.
I am an ‘old school’ NC State fan that remembers how wonderful it was to have a ‘long-term’ successful program that could match its records against anyone else in the country and come out looking great. For example…consider the following –
In 1988, there were only a handful of programs against which NC State had an all-time losing record. Of that handful, NC State had an all-time losing record against only THREE programs that we had played more than five times — North Carolina, Notre Dame and Kansas. However, the Herb Sendek and Sidney Lowe era significantly changed that (once fantastic) dynamic for our program. Today, NC State has an all-time losing record against a much larger number of overall programs…and – after Sendek and Lowe’s regime – the Wolfpack has added Maryland, Boston College, Alabama, West Virginia, and PRINCETON to the list of programs against which we have an all-time losing record with five or more match-ups!!
Herb Sendek actually lost to Princeton TWICE while coaching NC State! Including a potentially blasphemous NIT loss to the Tigers in his fourth year as coach in what would have been ‘the last game in the history of Reynolds Coliseum’ if we had not started scheduling ‘Heritage Games’ in the Old Barn.
So, you can see what I am getting at with Coach Gottfried and his new start — I want to start taking BACK our all-time records against a lot of the programs that have taken advantage of us the last 20 years. Oddly enough, Princeton is one of those programs. After we beat the Tigers tonight, I hope that we make Princeton an annual fixture on our schedule for the five to seven years and put an exclamation on another piece of our historical record book.
If you want a detailed preview then by all means click here.
Last season was the culmination of Sydney Johnson’s reclamation project at Princeton, or so he must have felt, anyway, since he moved on to Fairfield during the offseason.
Johnson’s rebuilding efforts worked quickly, as the program went from six wins in his first season to 13 in his second, 22 in his third, and 25 in his fourth and final season. He decreased the team’s reliance on the three-pointer and built a defense predicated on solid interior play and defensive rebounding. They won the Ivy League in 2011 and almost upset Kentucky in the NCAA tournament.
They lost a couple of key contributors off that team, though–Dan Mavraides was an excellent outside shooter and a primary contributor. Kareem Maddox was the team’s best interior scorer, defensive rebounder, and shot blocker; he’ll be especially difficult to replace. But new Franklin C. Cappon-Edward G. Green ’40 Head Coach (that’s what they call the position) Mitch Henderson has enough pieces to be competitive in the Ivy League, and Johnson left him plenty of size.
Henderson has spent his entire career coaching the Princeton style (he spent the last decade at Northwestern), and it remains to be seen if he makes the Tigers back into a perimeter-oriented team. Last year just 31% of their field goal attempts were threes, a proportion below NCAA average. This team isn’t really built to hoist up a lot of long-range shots–its go-to scorer attempted zero threes last season–and doesn’t have what one would call a diverse array of deep threats.