March 20, 2012
Good Morning Wolfpackers, enjoy your daily web run.
NC STATE BASKETBALL
LUKE DECOCK (N&O)
Mark Gottfried turns N.C. State around
JP GIGLIO (N&O)
Lowe enjoying Wolfpack’s NCAA success
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Sweet 16 success profitable for N.C. State’s Gottfried
According to incentives written into the contract he signed with State last April, Gottfried earned $62,500, or the equivalent of one month’s salary, for getting his team into the second week of the NCAA tournament. He is in line to collect an additional bonus of $125,000 (or two month’s salary) if the 11th seeded Wolfpack can beat No. 2 Kansas on Friday in the Midwest Region semifinals in St. Louis.
The former ESPN analyst is now under contract through the 2018 season at a base salary of $1.2 million a year. The new contract also increases his buyout to $4.5 million, although that figure will decrease by $750,000 after each season he stays with the Wolfpack.
Associated Press (accsports.com)
Spartans, Wolfpack React Differently To NCAA Wins
In the first game, North Carolina State took a giant step toward relevance in college basketball.
The Wolfpack won national championships in 1974 with David Thompson and in 1983 when Jim Valvano was the coach, but haven’t been among the elite teams in the country for quite a while.
But they believe that’s about to change.
“We always talk about how we have such a great history at NC State,” said Mark Gottfried, in his first year coaching the Wolfpack. “But it’s also time to build some new history.”
A lowly 11th seed coming in, they had to survive a furious comeback by the Hoyas (24-9).
C.J. Williams, Scott Wood and C.J. Leslie each had 14 points, and Brown added 12 for the Wolfpack, who overcame an eight-point deficit with a 12-0 run late in the half.
The Hoyas (24-9), riding the shooting of Hollis Thompson, who had 23 points, drew to 63-61 before freshman Otto Porter missed a 15-foot jumper under pressure with 14 seconds left.
Brown, a 74 percent shooter at the line, made two foul shots with 10.6 seconds left for a 65-61 lead. Jason Clark, who finished with 10 points, then went the length of the court for a layup before Brown was fouled again with 4.6 seconds left. He hit the first but missed the second, and the Hoyas raced down court for a potential tying 3.
They got a great look, with Clark, defended by Williams, stopping and getting off a rushed shot.
“We pushed the ball up the court, tried to get a last shot,” Clark said, his eyes brimming with tears. “I felt like it had a chance, but it didn’t.”
Unlike the restrained approach Michigan State took, there was a wild celebration at the end by the Wolfpack.
Three teammates hefted Brown to their shoulders and carried him across the floor, while guard Alex Johnson popped his jersey and yelled to the roaring North Carolina State faithful, “We back baby! We’re going to the Sweet 16!”
March Madness Turns Into A Big Boy’s Game
“To play in the NCAA tournament is great,” said Kansas coach Bill Self, whose Jayhawks are one of two Big 12 teams left in the field. “But to feel the full benefit from an exposure standpoint for your program, you need to get to the second weekend.”
Though there are few truly small teams left in this year’s draw – such as the Butlers and VCUs and George Masons that have crashed the Final Four over the last decade – there will be three squads bringing double-digit seeds to the final 16.
The list starts with No. 11 North Carolina State, the program that pretty much set the standard for March Madness upsets and gave us one of the most memorable moments in college sports: Coach Jim Valvano running around the floor at The Pit, looking for someone to hug after Lorenzo Charles grabbed Dereck Whittenburg’s air ball and put it in at the buzzer for an upset over powerhouse Houston.
That was in 1983.
In 2012, the Wolfpack snuck in as one of the last at-large teams to make the field. On Sunday, they upset No. 3 Georgetown 66-63 to gain their Midwest Regional matchup against Kansas.
“We always talk about we have such great history at NC State, but it’s also time to build some new history,” coach Mark Gottfried said.
Barry Jacobs (accsports.com)
Jacobs: The ACC’s Mixed NCAA Bag
The only ACC team to take unalloyed pleasure from the NCAA tournament’s first weekend was NC State.
Making its first tournament appearance since 2006, the 11th seeded Wolfpack notched consecutive upsets, knocking off No. 6 San Diego State and No. 3 Georgetown. The advance to the Sweet 16 is just the second since 1989 for the once-prominent basketball program.
Coach Mark Gottfried’s squad next faces No. 2 seed Kansas at St. Louis. Should the Pack prevail, and wounded North Carolina top overachieving Ohio University, a No. 12 seed, the two old rivals would play for a chance to reach the Final Four.
The Tar Heels won three previous meetings this season, most recently a controversial 69-67 verdict in the ACC Tournament. That game left NC State conspiracy theorists buzzing.
NCAA folks revel in creating provocative tournament matchups. We can just hear the reaction if well-respected referee Karl Hess is assigned to the regional final.
Jim Young (accsports.com)
ACC In The NCAAs: Sunday Review
A Truly Sweet Run
Let’s end this otherwise depressing blog post on a happy note, shall we? While FSU suffered a crushing loss and UNC endured the very definition of a Pyrhhic victory, N.C. State’s Sunday experience was just pure, unadulterated joy. Just ask these people.
The NCAA tournament, in addition to being awesome and brutal (see above) also has its share of irony. Remember how the Wolfpack kept getting snagged by foul trouble all season long? This time foul trouble benefited the Pack, specifically foul trouble on Georgetown center Henry Sims.
In the Princeton-style offense that Georgetown runs, a center with passing skills is vital. That description fits Sims who led the Hoyas in assists this season, perfectly. So even though Georgetown held an 8-5 lead when Sims went out with his second fould – and then built on it for a while – the Hoyas were destined for trouble with their star center rooted to the bench.
For 14 minutes of the first half, that’s where Sims stayed. He watched helplessly as State finally got its bearings and then got rolling, turning a 25-15 deficit into a 28-27 lead. When Sims did eventually get back in the game, it took some time before N.C. State’s momentum finally slowed. By then the Hoyas were faced with an uphill climb they never quite completed. For the game, Georgetown was plus-8 during the 21 minutes when Sims played but minus-11 during the 19 minutes when he sat.
Of course, it’s one thing to be given an opportunity through an opponent’s foul trouble. It’s quite another to seize it – which is exactly what N.C. State did. It wasn’t just Sims’ absence that caused Georgetown problems on offense, it was also the Wolfpack’s disciplined defense. Trying to get ready for Georgetown’s style of offense in just two days is sort of like having a short week to prepare for Paul Johnson’s option offense – usually things don’t go well. But the Wolfpack players were rarely out of place and almost never got fooled by back cuts. Give the coaching staff – and Bobby Lutz in particular – a ton of credit for that.
Another hero for N.C. State was swingman Scott Wood. He’s taken criticism – at times justifiably – for not contributing enough when his outside shot isn’t going down. But Wood’s jumper was falling on Sunday – he made four of five from 3-point range – and it was falling at critical times during the second half.
Akula Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
NC State Vs. Georgetown: Inside The Box Score
Keeping the turnover margin close, and actually winning that battle by a hair, was a bonus. And obviously the rebounding differential was a huge factor in State’s win. With the way the team’s first shot attempts were going, they needed those second opportunities to help generate some offense at the free throw line and just pick up some easy buckets to help with morale. Besides that, Georgetown is as good an offensive rebounding team as NC State is, so that effort on the defensive glass is really impressive.
Joe Ovies (WRALSportsfan.com)
Sweet & Sour 16
Let’s rewind to this time last year when NC State AD Debbie Yow went about the business of finding a replacement for Sidney Lowe. Outside of Rick Barnes, an obvious call that had to be made, the search was intended to be a silent running. Unfortunately for Yow, coaches are just too into themselves and leaks were bound to happen. Josh Pastner “gave her the Heisman.” Mark Turgeon an Chris Mack added some other own spin. Shaka Smart understood his market value was in no danger of plummeting after VCU’s Final Four appearance and did the wise thing staying put with a nice contract extension.
Throw in the Gary Williams drama and an sobering search assessment email to the Wolfpack faithful, it was not a pleasant week following the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament. Yow threw a Hail Mary and Mark Gottfried ended up catching it. Out of coaching for 2 years after an abrupt end at Alabama, everyone was understandably skeptical.
The national folks are rightfully using NC State’s Sweet 16 appearance to revisit the story and how it appears to worked out just fine for Yow and the Wolfpack. But Gottfried didn’t need a couple of wins in the NCAA Tournament to win over fans. It started early on the booster circuit, where he demonstrated an ability to “get” the NC State base. Gottfried continued to win them over during the course of the season, where the Wolfpack slowly developed. They took care of business against the lower tier members of the ACC and were competitive against those teams in the upper half. Not much in the grand scheme, but not if you consider where NC State was a year before under Lowe. He’s also making waves on the recruiting circuit.
Adam Gold (WRALSportsfan.com)
The good, the bad and the ugly of the ACC in the NCAA tournament
Mark Gottfried has his players convinced – and Wolfpack fans with them – that they’re flat-out good enough to beat anyone, anytime and any place. San Diego State? Check. Georgetown? Check. And, we’ll meet you in St. Louis where Kansas and (potentially) North Carolina await. I’ve been saying this for weeks, but the Wolfpack always looked the part of an NCAA tournament team. State always had enough size, enough strength and enough skill to play with anyone. What they lacked was the proof. But, towards the end of the season and especially into the ACC tournament, State was obviously playing their best basketball and with Calvin Leslie and Lorenzo Brown playing like NBA draft picks, the Wolfpack have the 1-2 punch that most teams don’t possess. In no way is State going to be favored over Kansas in the regional semi finals, but it’s a game that the Pack can absolutely win. And then wouldn’t we all just devour a fourth installment of the North Carolina-N.C. State rivalry?
North Carolina State Team Report
Quote To Note: “I think we know who we are. We know who we are. We just got to keep playing. We know we’re on the stage. We’re growing.”—F C.J. Leslie on the lack of attention the Wolfpack generally receives, though that might change with a Sweet 16 appearance.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Scouting Report: The Wolfpack has a good blend of interior and perimeter scoring options and that balance has been reflected with five players averaging in double figures for most of the season. F C.J. Leslie has raised his performance for the past month as he’s the team’s leading scorer for the second year in a row. F Scott Wood is one of the ACC’s active leaders in 3-point shooting as a junior and he’s had an ACC record of consecutive made free throws earlier in the season. G Lorenzo Brown has made a relatively smooth transition to point guard as a sophomore and his athleticism adds another element at that position. F Richard Howell is the second-best rebounder in the ACC, though he’s prone to foul trouble.
Futures Watch: The Wolfpack made it to the postseason with a limited amount of depth, but it hasn’t stopped it in the NCAA Tournament. N.C. State goes with a seven-player rotation for the most part. Even with senior G C.J. Williams’ impending departure and the uncertain status of forward C.J. Leslie, who could be tempted to jump to the professional level, there should be a replenished roster as coach Mark Gottfried’s first full recruiting class will arrive highly rated. Gottfried adapted well to the limited number of players in his rotation, though foul troubles, especially for junior F Richard Howell, tended to complicate matters at times. The influx of new players, though, should fill in the gaps.
Regular Season Review: The Wolfpack took care of business in most games that it should have won and that tended to be an upgrade from some past teams. Playing at times a rigorous schedule, the rap on the Wolfpack is that it didn’t win enough of the big-time games, but at least it was competitive in those and performances such as those might have created a good foundation. It was a breakthrough season for senior G C.J. Williams and it eventually became a season during which sophomore C.J. Leslie lived up to his reputation.
Nicholas J. Cotsonika (Yahoo! Sports)
C.J. Williams isn’t ready to let N.C. State’s run end
His man threw up the last shot, and he prayed. The ball sailed wide, and he ran – ran back toward the bench, ran into a teammate, ran wherever his legs carried him. No. 11 seed North Carolina State had upset No. 3 Georgetown 66-63 Sunday, and C.J. Williams was going to the Sweet 16.
“Honestly, I think I did a Jim Valvano,” Williams said. “I didn’t know what to do. I just started running around.”
His father stood still in the second row. Wendell Williams looked down and tapped his heart. He covered his face with his hand to hide his tears. The late-night practice sessions, the money and the miles, the slump and the pep talk – all of it had led to this moment.
C.J. Williams, a 6-foot-5 swingman, had spent four years wondering if he would make the NCAA tournament. He had struggled down the stretch of his senior season. Now he had helped the Wolfpack erase a 10-point first-half deficit, beat the kind of team it hadn’t beaten and advance in the Midwest Region. The Wolfpack, in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005, will face No. 2 Kansas or No. 10 Purdue on Friday in St. Louis.
“I’m just overcome with emotion,” Wendell Williams said, sniffling. “I’m just so happy for him because he’d worked so hard since he was 4 years old to do this, and I’m just … just … I’m just without words.”
Nicholas J. Cotsonika (Yahoo! Sports)
Mark Gottfried’s got N.C. State jumping up in class
He was going to jump out of an airplane. Even though he is afraid of heights, he was going to sign a waiver, strap himself to an expert and parachute onto the field at a North Carolina State football game.
Why? Partly to draw attention to the Armed Forces during military appreciation week, but mostly to draw attention to Wolfpack basketball. The program had plummeted from its glory days, well below next-door neighbors Duke and North Carolina, out of the NCAA tournament since 2006.
New coach Mark Gottfried was asking the Wolfpack to make a leap of faith.
Bad weather canceled the stunt Sept. 17 – and make no mistake, that’s what it would have been, a stunt. Joke away: What goes down does not necessarily come up. If you get a dead-cat bounce, you’re still dead. The goal is not to fall but to fly.
“We want to become a program that’s relevant on the national scene,” Gottfried said. “Jumping out of planes is great, but at the end of the day, it’s winning. It’s winning. And we know that.”
But give Gottfried credit for ambition and guts, and know this: NCSU is back in the tournament, the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region, set to face No. 3 Georgetown in the round of 32 on Sunday. Gottfried has been selling himself since he arrived in Raleigh less than a year ago, and now people are buying in.
Jeff Eisenberg | The Dagger (Yahoo! Sports)
N.C. State goes from last team unveiled to the Sweet 16
One week after erupting with joy at being the last team to hear its name called during last Sunday’s NCAA tournament selection show, North Carolina State certainly hasn’t wasted that opportunity. The 11th-seeded Wolfpack followed up their minor upset of San Diego State by toppling third-seeded Georgetown 66-63 on Sunday to advance to their first Sweet 16 since 2005. They’ll face either second-seeded Kansas or Purdue on Friday in Saint Louis.
“It has been a nice ride,” first-year NC State coach Mark Gottfried told reporters after the game. “And the good thing about our team is I think they’re a hungry bunch. They are hungry right now. I don’t see a satisfied group at all in our locker room.”
It’s a testament to Gottfried that he has NC State making noise in March the year before his heralded 2012 recruiting class arrives.
Former NC State coach Sidney Lowe recruited some talented prospects to Raleigh during his four-year tenure, but he never molded them into a winning team, going a dreadful 19-45 in ACC play. Gottfried took those leftover spare parts and assembled a functional engine, one that is running far more smoothly in March than it did earlier in the season.
Austin Johnson (PackPride.com)
JOHNSON: Sweet Balance
There was no hero on Sunday afternoon. There were five.
No one put the team on its shoulders and carried them to the Sweet 16. They all got there together, each making big plays when the team it in the biggest game any of them had ever played as a collegiate player.
Balancing the pressure of the day got all of them where they would have never gotten trying to do it alone – into the Sweet 16.
“You never think you’re going to be this far from where you were last year,” Scott Wood said. “But I think we did a good job of coming together. Coach did a good job of putting in the system and gaining the trust of his players, and we just continued to get better.”
Even lately as the Pack lifted its play down the stretch in March, not everyone was clicking together. Wood would have a stretch of good games, then struggle. CJ Williams went into a slump for a couple of weeks. There were great individual performances throughout, but on Sunday the Pack had its best team performance of the season.
Eamonn Brennan | ESPN.com
A first look at the Sweet 16 field
Kansas Jayhawks: On Sunday night, when Purdue guard Ryne Smith’s last-second prayer banked off the front iron (with shades of Gordon Hayward), Kansas coach Bill Self went through three emotional stages in three seconds flat. The first, characterized by a smile and a “Wooo,” was relief. The second was the realization of joy: Self pumped his fist and let loose with a “Yeah!” The third was lament: As he walked to midcourt to shake Purdue coach Matt Painter’s hand, Self’s first words were, “What a game.”
He was right. It was a shame someone had to lose, because Painter had coached a brilliant game and Purdue senior Robbie Hummel — in his final shot at tournament glory after recovering from two straight ACL tears — couldn’t possibly have played better. But KU survived, and the result was as clear a shot at the Final Four as any top-two team in the bracket.
The Jayhawks get streaking 11-seed NC State first, and the other side of the Midwest Region contains 13-seed Ohio and a North Carolina group that will either have no Kendall Marshall or a limited Kendall Marshall. Kansas is an overachieving team that has somehow remained slightly underrated — despite winning its eighth straight Big 12 regular-season title and featuring player of the year candidate (and human highlight reel) Thomas Robinson. Nothing’s easy at this point in the tournament, but things couldn’t have worked out much better for Kansas on Sunday.
Indiana Hoosiers: On Saturday, Indiana nearly drowned in VCU’s “Havoc” press, which forced the Hoosiers into a season-high 22 turnovers. For much of the game, IU stubbornly stuck to its high-ball-screen offense despite VCU’s perfectly game-planned strategy — which saw two defenders rush at undersized and overwhelmed point guard Jordan Hulls, forcing Hulls into hurried decisions and turnovers and even an apparently willful backcourt violation, when he just flat-out ran out of room. The Hoosiers’ vaunted offense had been fully erased, and surely VCU and coach Shaka Smart were on the way to another big tournament run.
Instead, the Hoosiers got a huge lift from Christian Watford, key late buckets from Cody Zeller and stops on 14 of their last 16 defensive possessions — many of which, including the final one, were the result of VCU’s poor outside shooting — and survived to tell the tale of the time “Havoc” nearly ended their season. Close call.
Indiana’s next task? Taking down the behemoth that is the Kentucky Wildcats. No easy feat, that. But for IU fans desperate for some measure of basketball glory — for the return to prominence that has defined this season — finding themselves just two games from the Final Four, no matter how difficult those games may appear, is a victory unto itself.
Still, like Ohio State, we can cross-categorize Indiana (in this case, in the second-tier contenders field). The Hoosiers boast one of the nation’s best offenses, and if things go perfectly against UK — a team it has already beaten once this season, albeit at home in December — IU might just shock the world. It would be crazy, but hey, this is March.
North Carolina State Wolfpack: The story is much the same for NC State, but with an added twist of surprise. Unlike the Hoosiers, which had no problem getting in the tournament, the Wolfpack were a big-time bubble team, one that practically threw a party when it discovered its name was indeed the last one called on the selection show.
After two upsets, the Wolfpack are really partying now. Mark Gottfried’s team took down 6-seed San Diego State on Friday and held off 3-seed Georgetown on Sunday thanks in large part to the continued development of talented forward C.J. Leslie. Speaking of fan bases craving some measure of success: After five years in the tournament hole, NC State fans were just happy to be back in the field. Now they’re contemplating the possibility of a win over second-seeded Kansas — and a crack at their hated rival, No. 1 seed North Carolina, in a rematch of UNC’s hotly disputed ACC semifinal win. As revival acts go, Gottfried is putting on one for the ages.
Final impressions from first weekend
Myron Medcalf from Columbus
1. Michigan State’s Draymond Green won’t stop without a trip to New Orleans. He’s on a mission. There are certainly more talented teams in the field, but none as driven. And it starts with Green. He had a triple-double against LIU Brooklyn. And he proved why he’s the most versatile player in America when he played point guard in the second half of his team’s win over Saint Louis on Sunday. I don’t see any squad getting past Kentucky, but with Green in charge and Tom Izzo on the sideline, anything seems possible right now.
2. I like North Carolina State’s potential to upset Kansas in the Sweet 16. The Wolfpack are long, athletic, talented and motivated. C.J. Leslie has always been an elite prospect, but he’s been a consistent catalyst for Mark Gottfried’s squad during the NCAA tournament. NC State has finally realized how good it can be if its energy level is consistent. Watch out for the Pack.
3. The Columbus matchups offered proof that looks can be deceiving, especially in March. Memphis had more length and athleticism than any team here. And yet the Tigers were baffled by a more disciplined, albeit undersized Saint Louis squad.
Eamonn Brennan and John Gasaway (ESPN.com)
At the Watercooler: Sweet 16 and beyond
EB:: My crystal ball is going roughly the same way. In addition, I think Kansas will struggle with NC State but find a way to get it done in the end — with Tyshawn Taylor and Jeff Withey in the starring roles. Ohio State should win the battle of Ohio with Cincinnati, but Yancy Gates will provide a worthy foil to Jared Sullinger. Baylor’s offensive weapons will overwhelm Xavier … and Michigan State will hold on, just barely, against Louisville. With the exception of IU-UK I’m not willing to say any of these games will be anything other than close, nail-biting affairs. And I’m hugely intrigued by what Wisconsin’s turnover-averse attack can do to minimize the impact of Syracuse’s turnover-forcing ways. Fascinating matchup, fascinating weekend, fascinating tournament. Same as it always was, eh?
JG:: Same as always, exactly. This 2012 tournament has been a wild ride, and we’re only down to 16 teams. Still 15 more to push into the offseason. Here’s to more buzzer-beaters and fewer lane violations.
Matt Norlander | CBSSports.com College Basketball Blogger
Sweet 16 prompts some sweet re-seeding of remaining field
We do not re-seed based upon the two most recent games — that kind of evaluation is too shallow — rather as a combination of recent events and misfires made the first time by the selection committee, when it released the field into the wild, wow, only a week ago. Time flies when your bracket burns. Think of this as a new master seed list molded with an expectation of performance
The more I think about it, the more I know Purdue didn’t give that game away. Kansas, Thomas Robinson and a scary-as-hell will to win ripped it from the Boilers. If I were to rank these teams based on talent alone, Kansas is probably 11th or 12th on this list. But KU has Robinson and Bill Self coaching. And increasingly insane Jeff Withey. And increasingly enigmatic Tyshawn Taylor.
14. North Carolina State
I love the upsets no one calls. The ones that aren’t even incredibly shocking but still camouflaged in the bracket like a lioness in dying beige African vegetation. N.C. State in the Sweet 16 was not one of those upsets. Many people had the Wolfpack getting past San Diego State, and a large subset of those people went a step further and put Mark Gottfried’s team into the regional semifinals. State fans have waited a long time for this. And now they’ll demand it every year, lest they fire another coach who can’t make it happen. Unreasonable expectations! Yes!
OFFENSE vs. DEFENSE
The Wolfpack has been proficient while sharing in defeats of Georgetown and San Diego State, getting 14 points apiece from forwards C.J. Leslie, Scott Wood and swingman C.J. Williams against Georgetown. It had 37 combined points from Leslie and center Richard Howell while beating the Aztecs in its tourney opener, with 17 more from guard Lorenzo Brown. An early 10-point Georgetown lead was snuffed out by a decisive N.C. State run that featured 14 points in the paint. Leslie was averaging a team-high 14.6 ppg entering the tournament and Wood is the top marksman from 3-point range, making 40.8 percent (89 of 218). As a team against the Hoyas, the Wolfpack was 7 of 15 from distance. Meanwhile, Kansas fared “miserably” against Purdue’s shooters in the words of coach Bill Self, particularly 3-point bomber Robbie Hummel — who scored 22 points in the first 20 minutes. The Jayhawks’ triangle-and-2 defense was largely ineffective, uncharacteristic of their 38.3 opposition FG percentage — seventh-best in the country. Kansas allowed 61.9 points per game in the regular season, second in the Big 12 and 35th nationally. EDGE: N.C. State
Pregame and Postgame from the Georgetown Win
For the first time since 2005, NC State returns to the Sweet 16. The 11th seeded Wolfpack knocked off third seed Georgetown, 66-63, in Columbus yesterday to punch its ticket to St. Louis.
GoPack.com went behind the scenes to capture the excitement for Wolfpack fans.
Akula Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
VIDEO: NC State Vs. Georgetown, The Aftermath
More than a thousand fans greeted the North Carolina State basketball team Sunday night as they returned to Raleigh from Columbus, Ohio. The Wolfpack beat Georgetown to make it the Sweet 16 for the first time in six years.
Gottfried: We’ve adapted to the teams we face
NC State head coach Mark Gottfried said the team has been able to adapt to each team they play and get scoring from inside or out.
Brown: We’ve had a chip on our shoulders since we started playing
NC State guard Lorenzo Brown said the team has had a chip on their shoulders since they started playing this season.