……crunch….. Carolina’s third ranked baseball team beat the Wolfpack 5-2 yesterday (I thought we had some new authors who were excited about covering baseball on SFN? hello? anyone out there?).
The Tar heels are 21-4 overall and 8-2 in the ACC. After a one-hit loss to Marshall, the Wolfpack are tracking just perfectly to an average Lee Fowler led program with an indistinguishable 14-9 overall record and 4-6 in the ACC. The program could still squeeze into the NCAA Tournament on the bubble and make no national noise but still provide the Sports Information Department a chance to contrive a statistic about how many of our programs compete in post-season play.
When Eliot Avent was hired as NC State’s Head Baseball coach in the mid 1990s the Wolfpack’s baseball program was clearly ahead of UNC-CH’s (then coached by Mike Roberts). In the years that have followed NC State has upgraded our facilities with a multi-million improvement while UNC fired Roberts and hired Mike Fox. During the same time period the Tar Heels have vaulted to a Top 10 program in the country (two consecutive CWS appearances) while NC State has slid into the bottom half of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Now the Tar heels are embarking on a huge renovation to their stadium that will catapult it far ahead of the poorly executed renovation at Doak Field in Raleigh. Since NC State’s athletics department clearly believe that the impact of individuals and human capital is irrelevant and facilities supposedly deliver Championships then I guess it won’t be long until they come back to WolfpackNation and ask for more money to go build a new stadium so that we can keep up off-the-field (since we don’t care about keeping up on the field).
……crunch….. We talked about Davidson in this entry on Friday before the Wildcats went out and manhandled Wisconsin to advance to the Elite 8.
I was thinking about the Wildcats’ success and was struck with a depressing realization – After growing up a die-hard Wolfpack fan, I entered NC State as a college freshman in 1989. In the twenty years that have transpired since, the Davidson Wildcats have advanced to as many Sweet 16s and more Elite 8s than NC State’s Basketball program. All hail the Wildcats! At least they wear red.
……crunch…..The Wildcats’ run to the Elite Eight contains tons of sad irony for NC State fans. Try some of this on for size. Davidson, whose school colors are a shade of red that resembles NC State’s colors:
* won their first two games of the NCAA Tournament on NC State’s home court at the RBC Center in Raleigh.
* defeated Georgetown in Raleigh to advance to the Sweet 16. Georgetown defeated NC State in the Sweet 16 in 1989 as the beneficiary of ‘the worst call in NCAA Tournament history’. (Must see link here).
* defeated the same Georgetown program team eventually won the recruiting battle against NC State for top point guard prospect, Chris Wright, whom the Wolfpack clearly could have used this year.
* defeated Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 last night to advance to the Elite 8. In 15 years as a Division One Head Basketball Coach, Herb Sendek’s only Sweet 16 team (at NC State) was defeated by…Wisconsin. The Wolfpack led by approximately double digits at halftime of the Sweet 16 game against the Badgers before pulling one of a series of disguisting collapses in postseason play during the early part of this decade in the Sendek years (Duke in ACC Title game; Maryland in ACC semi-finals; Vanderbilt in NCAA R32; Wisconsin in NCAA S16)
* defeated Wisconsin in the the Sweet 16 last night. Wisconsin is coached by Bo Ryan who employs an offense very similar to Coach Sendek’s at NC State. One of the most secretive items related to the NC State Head Basketball Coaching search two years ago was a meeting between Wisconsin’s Ryan and Lee Fowler (and NC State’s screening committee). ESPN was the only major media outlet to mention the smoke between the two parties at the time but no specifics were confirmed. Since the search, we have confirmed the conversations with a very guarded Ryan who was extremely sensitive to a leak and his fan base learning of his interest in our job. Ultimately, NC State’s contingent were not impressed.
* will play Kansas in the Elite 8. The Kansas Jayhawks defeated NC State’s last Elite 8 team in 1986 to advance to the Final Four before losing to Duke in Coach K’s first Final Four team.
* will play Kansas in the Elite 8. The Kansas Jayhawks were coached by Larry Brown when they defeated NC State’s last Elite 8 team in 1986. NC State’s Lee Fowler spoke with Larry Brown multiple times during Fowler’s search for a new NC State coach two years ago. Brown was a very vocal supporter of — Sidney Lowe for the Wolfpack’s job. In fact, many people close to the search reference a late push by Brown on Lowe’s behalf as a key factor to the late momentum that Lowe’s candidacy received.
* As RickJ shared in our comments section, Bill Self, the current Kansas coach replaced John Calipari on Larry Brown’s staff at Kansas. Self was an assistant in the 1985-1986 season when Kansas beat NC State in Kansas City – our last Elite 8 appearance. Self was still the coach at Tulsa and was identified by the folks on this blog as a super potential candidate for the Wolfpack when NC State fans started clamoring for removal of Herb Sendek in the late 1990s and 2000. Lee Fowler chose to stick with Herb Sendek and Self moved on to re-build Illinois struggling program before replacing Roy Williams at Kansas.
……crunch….. As we mentioned ^above, Bo Ryan’s name was one of the ‘quietest’ that was legitimately connected with NC State’s coaching search two years ago. Ryan was not very impressive to those close to the search. Another quiet name (but more public than Ryan) that was also poorly received by NC State was Lon Kruger, whom met with NC State representatives in Atlanta (if I remember correctly). At the time, we did a “Lon Kruger Entry” and a “Long Kruger Media Entry”.
Do you need more irony in this entry? How about the connection that Lon Kruger was replaced at Illiniois by none other than…Bill Self!?
CBS ran a detailed biography of Kruger’s career that we thought would be relevant to link in light of today’s entry.