Ahhh….some fun stuff for an open entry for tonight’s late session of NCAA Tournament games.
If you are looking for A LOT of Wolfpack talk, then please spend some time on our message forums available by clicking here. The activity and conversation is very dynamic right now.
FWIW, Georgetown has opened as a four point favorite over the Wolfpack for Sunday’s Round of 32 game in Columbus, OH.
I enjoyed this (read more below):
If you follow our Twitter feed then I hope you saw the following observations:
NOT playing basketball that matters anymore in 2012 – Sean Miller, Brad Stevens, Rick Barnes, Gregg Marshall & Herb Sendek. #Gottfather
RT @tucker_andrew maybe Sean Miller & Rick Barnes can meet up this weekend & talk about how crappy the NC State job would’ve been
…now, if only Shaka Kahn would lose tomorrow…
NC State win not an ‘upset’ from Sports Illustrated. (Link)
When the Wolfpack was the last team named on Selection Sunday, they celebrated with a kind of joy rarely seen on Tobacco Road. Their neighbors, Duke and North Carolina, greet such news with a yawn and an expectation to reach the Final Four.
N.C. State has two national championship banners hanging in its own rafters but haven’t been a sure bet in the tournament for years. Wolfpack fans are demanding, their neighborhood exclusive. Gottfried is trying to turn those elements into a positive.
“It raises the bar for everything,” he said. “Our neighbors have been very good and for us it’s a challenge to raise [the bar] higher. We’ve got a hungry fan base. …I think all those things work in our favor.”
N.C. State is the underdog that doesn’t look like one. Or play like one. And may be around for a while.
Luke DeCock (News & Observer):
Only the NCAA thought the 11th-seeded Wolfpack’s 79-65 win over the sixth-seeded Aztecs was an upset. “Confidence” was the word most often mentioned afterward: How the team played with confidence and how the players credited the coaching staff for giving them confidence. It was a reminder of just how much had changed in less than a year.
“I believe in these guys, I really do,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “I have believed that if in fact they could do things the right way, defend the right way, execute offense at key times, that they had a chance. So it’s nice to see all that come together right now.”
If there’s one thing N.C. State’s program didn’t have when Gottfried walked in the door 11 months ago, it was confidence. The players had been beaten down by too many bad losses and unmet expectations.
Yet here they are, exceeding all expectations. Gottfried set the bar low over the summer, describing the talent on the team as “not great” and “not terrible,” but by the time ACC season rolled around, he was talking about the NCAA tournament. Now, the words “Final Four” keep popping out of his mouth with somewhat surprising regularity.
Just about everyone who filled out a bracket, from the President of the United States to the talking heads on television, had N.C. State advancing.
That didn’t put any more pressure on the Wolfpack, especially since Gottfried made sure his players understood the science behind such lofty predictions.
“You’ve got to remember I was two years in that business,” said Gottfried, who worked as an analyst for ESPN after resigning from Alabama in 2009. “I was on TV and what you learn is none of us knew much about anything anyway. We were just saying that.”
“I told them have fun with all that stuff, but the game is about what happens on the floor.”
What happened on the floor was a whole lot of 6-foot-9 Howell and 6-8 C.J. Leslie, combining for 37 points for N.C. State. When the Aztecs were able to effectively double sophomore Leslie, Howell stepped up. When Howell got into foul trouble in the second half, Leslie came through. It was too much for the Aztecs, who relinquished the lead with 5:47 to play in the first half and never led again.
Though San Diego State came into the contest as the more experienced team, they didn’t resemble the squad that made it to the Sweet 16 a year ago. Four of those starters were gone, either to graduation or the NBA.
N.C. State, in contrast, had little tournament experience — the Wolfpack’s last appearance was in 2006. But rather than being overwhelmed or nervous they seemed very much at home. Gottfried said that on Friday morning they were a little bit anxious but mostly giddy.
“They were excited,” he said. “I wasn’t going to curb that. I want them to be excited.”
It’s been a remarkable turnaround for the Wolfpack under Gottfried. They’ve improved by eight wins over last season, which ended with the firing of coach Sidney Lowe, and they made it to the NCAA tournament despite losing four in a row in February.
Howell, averaging 10.7 points a game, hit 7 of 9 shots—including some where he stepped outside to pour in jumpers.
“He does it all the time in practice,” said Brown, who also chipped in with eight assists. “I’m just glad he was hitting good shots. He was just feeling it, I guess.”