“Five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances”
You hear it all the time. This^ factoid has become this year’s primary and almost exclusive battle-cry of the Herb Sendek Sunshine Squad. It is the foreward written for the 2006 edition of the HSSS Handbook. It is everywhere. You cannot hide from it. And, it is quite an accomplishment…isn’t it?
The HSSS crew certainly thinks so. Mr. Bob Kennell, a former member of the University’s Athletics Council and staunch supporter of Herb Sendek, recently called the achievement “one significant measureable” on the Pack Pride Message Boards. Many may argue that it is the ONLY measureable that plays in Coach Sendek’s favor, but we need clarify the description of the subjective term “significant” that sits in front of “measureable” in Kennell’s statement. (Of course, anyone that closely follows the management style of Lee Fowler wouldn’t be able to control their laughter that suddenly the concept of “measureable” are being introduced to the conversation by a Sendek Supporter. Hilarious)
Coach Sendek is constantly pleading with the fanbase to take a “wholistic view” of situations — except, of course, you were/are supposed to ignore the ‘wholistic view’ of his failure to make an NCAA Tournament appearance in his first five seasons. (Understand how this works?)
The new buzz-phrase mandated for use in the updated-for-the post-season HSSS Talking Points is “whole body of work”. In fact, poor Gary Hahn was on Charlotte sports radio yesterday pleading with folks to take a look at this year’s “whole body of work”. Yet, he failed to mention State’s #51 RPI; 1-5 record vs the RPI’s Top 25 and 3-5 record vs the RPI’s Top 50.
(StateFansNation will be HAPPY to take some detailed looks at the “entire body of work” in the coming days…but, before we do our research we need to know if we are allowed to count those first five seasons of Sendek’s tenure that we have been told didn’t happen and shouldn’t count. I get so confused by all of the shifting of “standards”. Are we to look at the “entire body of work”…or just the parts of the body of work that Fowler/Sendek/Kennell/and crew mandate?)
I struggle with the practice of blanketly drawing conlcusions in a vaccuum without taking the time to look at the ‘accomplishments’ against the backdrop of actual data. It’s easy to conclude that something is “significant” when you so desperately want it to be, and when you don’t have the foggiest idea who it compares to other achievements.
Statistics, achievements & data should be comparatively judged against the achievements of what NC State’s program has shown that it can historically accomplish; what NC State’s direct competition accomplishes; and programs with resources similar to those of NC State accomplish.
So, let’s review NC State’s “Five Consecutive NCAA Tournamant Appearances” in the wholistic spirit of Coach Sendek’s request of reviewing the entire body of work. Just how significant? is this “streak” in which 4 of the tournament appearances had NC State sitting on the bubble in the last two weeks of the season?
Atlantic Coast Conference Comparison
Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, how does State’s “5 in a row” compare with other streaks of schools throughout the country? Just cuirous, but “wholistically”….How does 5 in 10 years compare with other schools throughout the country?
For the record, the following are NCAA berths of ACC teams in 5 more consecutive seasons:
In the Atlantic Coast Conference — Duke, Carolina, Maryland, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Virginia have all BESTED 5 in a row (some have done it more than once) since the tournament expanded in 1985. Heck, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech & Virginia bested 5 in a row with coaches that they then pushed out for not winning enough. IMHO, it doesn’t look like our peers considered this achievement THAT signficant.
How “significant” can an achievement be if the only schools in the ACC who haven’t achieved at least SEVEN IN A ROW are Clemson and Florida State. (and, NC State, of course).
When you step back and look at this parameter of consecutive NCAA streaks more wholistically…the fact that NC State’s Basketball program has failed to attend more than five consecutive NCAA Tournaments in the last 21 years actually highlights how horribly the program has been managed. You know, Herb Sendek’s streak would be longer if Herb Sendek would have made the Tournament before his SIXTH YEAR of coaching Raleigh…but, somehow I am sure none of that is his responsibility.
It is a very nice achievement that NC State is one of only 15 schools that has been invited to the NCAA Tournament in five consecutive seasons. When you hear this factoid, you cannot help but pick-up on the inference that NC State is performing in the same level as the top programs in the country. Come on…only 15 schools in the country have been as “consistent” as we have (to manipulate weak schedules into NCAA Tournament Bubble Berths). That is an achievement.
Ironicly, the same folks that claim that they want you to look at the “entire body of work” want you to stop right here. But, we cannot. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers behind the statistic. The following is a table of schools that have made at least five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances sorted by average seeding in the tournament. Additionally, we have tracked the number of times the school exited in the Sweet 16 or advanced at least to the Elite Eight; the % column is how often team advanced to at least the Sweet 16 in the last 4 tournaments (since the 5th one hasn’t been played).
Wow! That data does a super job of highlighting the chasm between the performance of NC State and the performance of the other schools.
* State rankes 14th out of 15 in average seed (at least we are better than Southern Illinois!!!)
* State’s “best seed” in the last five years ranks better than only three programs – one of which has made multiple Final Fours and won a recent National Title (Michigan State), and one of which knocked us out of last year’s NCAA Tournament.
* State’s “worst seed” in the last five years is better than only one program – Southern Illinois.
Many in the media are criticizing Wolfpackers for not being happy with making five in a row in light of the company that we keep in this achievement. This is based on the natural assumption that NC State is performing similarly to the other schools. As you can see from the table above, NC State is much more of an anamoly than we are a statistical norm.
In fact, of the 15 schools that have played in five consecutive NCAA Tournaments, NC State is the ONLY school that has failed to advance to at least one Final Eight or won a single conference championship.
I know that this won’t change any of the media’s mind. It also won’t change the minds of those who foolishly believe that making the tournament should be the goal of the NC State program or that just making the tournament provides a legitimate opportunity to win it despite evidence to the contrary.
But, perhaps this holistic look at the true details of the situation explains why NC State fans may respond differently about our streak than other fans. It is because our streak IS different.