There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of today. We played hard, played reasonably well, we just lost. In many ways, 2004-05 has been similar to 2002-03. We entered the ACC tourney without an NCAA bid, and earned one during tournament play. We also played a pivotal game against Duke – albeit in the semifinals this year, as opposed to a gut-wrenching final. Like 2 years ago, we lost (though blowing an 8-point lead is easier to take than a 15-point lead).
Here is the key – just like in 2002-03, we played with reckless abandon in the ACC tourney. We played aggressive and confident, making even the most jaded skeptics hopeful. But Herb Sendek took the wrong lesson from the 2003 Duke game – he decided that the loose, aggressive play was the reason for State’s loss, as opposed to the reason we were in the finals to begin with. We played tight and tentative – like in the regular season – and lost to Pac Ten lightweight Cal.
We can’t do the same thing in 2005. Coach Sendek, PLEASE let the team play just as it did in the ACC tourney. Don’t rein it in. Let Brackman create off the dribble. Keep Cam in the playing rotation. Let Gavin Grant stay confident with the ball. Don’t let a shooting exhibition from J.J. Redick force us back into anal retentive mode. When this teams plays loose and aggressive, it can accomplish great things. When it doesn’t, Wolfpack Nation pulls its collective hair out. Remember 2003 against Cal, and don’t let it happen again.