Some time ago I wrote a brief entry outlining a few factoids about NC State’s history in post-season, post-conference tournament play. When you look at the rich history and tradition NC State has, it becomes quickly apparent that a quick-and-dirty review of NC State’s tournament past really doesn’t do NC State’s basketball program justice. NC State is one of the most heralded programs in college basketball. It’s history deserves a bit more attention by it’s fan base. For that reason, I want to expand on what I started a few days ago with a deeper, more detailed look into the program. Rather than barrage the readers of SFN with a 10,000 word essay, we’ll take this in bits and pieces by first looking at the program chronologically, then picking apart a few overall observations. Join us over the next few days until NC State’s Sweet Sixteen match-up against Kansas this Friday at 10:17PM.
If you didn’t see yesterday’s article on “The Early Years“, please take a moment to honor the accomplishments of those that are so often over-looked. Make sure you also review NC State’s accomplishments during it’s “hay-day” from 1974 until 1989. Finally, read up on the “Generation-Long Rebuilding” of NC State’s basketball program in post-season play.
Despite NC State’s up’s and down’s, it still remains a perennial top-25 basketball program of all-time. It is also 1 of only 14 schools across the nation that have more than one national title and 1 of only 7 schools that can attribute their National Titles to more than just one good coach. Several trends are worth noting between 1947 when NC State first appeared in the post-season game until 2012.
Beating Who You’re Suppose To Beat. Since seeding began in 1980 in the NCAA tournament (and much later in the NIT), NC State has participated in 15 seeded tournaments. Only 4 of these tournaments has NC State been knocked out by a lower seeded team (1980, 1982, 1988, and 2004).
Upset Central. During the 14 seeded tournaments NC State has been to, they have upset at least one team in half of them. In 3 of the 14 post-season tournaments, NC State has had to upset multiple teams before existing the tourney. The most upsets NC State has ever run in seeded tournament play is 4 in 1983.
Tournament Totals. NC State has been to 34 tournaments over a 65 years. That’s one tournament every two years. A total of 25 tournaments have occurred in the last 38 years which is 2 tournaments every 3 years.
Proper Planting. After seeding, NC State spent 9 out of the 14 tournaments seeded in the top half of the field. Seven of those 9 occurred over 20 years ago.
A Level Playing Field. If we placed the expanded tournament teams in the same mold as those prior to seeding, 7 teams from 1980 until present may not have made the 23-25 team tournament: 1982 (28th-ish overall), 1987 (44th-ish overall), 2002 (29th-ish overall), 2003 (37-ish overall), 2005 (41th-ish overall), 2006 (41th-ish overall), and 2012 (42nd). Out of these ‘out’ teams in the old model, obviously ignoring the conference champion criteria, only the 1982, 2002, and 2003 teams would have made the NIT. In this hypothetical scenario, Valvano’s tourneys would drop from 8 NCAA and 1 NIT appearance to 6 NCAA and 1 NIT appearances (from 9 tourneys to 7 tourneys in 10 years). Sendek would have been hurt much more dropping from 5 NCAA and 4 NIT appearances to 1 NCAA and 2 NIT appearances (from 9 tourneys to 3 tourneys in 10 years).
The Administration Connection. Prior to NC State’s national championships, Roy Clogston had served a 21 year tenure as athletic director at NC State. For his tenure, Willis Casey served multiple roles within the athletic department, eventually taking on the directorship himself for a 17 year tenure. In the 26 years since, NC State has held 5 different athletics directors. Is it a coincidence that high turn-over and instability within the directorship at NC State coincides with NC State’s decline from basketball dominance?
This series is going to end on that last factoid. NC State University has a tremendously rich and accomplished history. It truly is a shame that the up-bringing of an entire generation has been marred with poor results that cast a fog over what happened decades ago. Programs such as this can’t survive on a legacy of talented coaches or on tradition alone; they need competent leadership and a supportive university to sustain their achievement. Much talk has gone on this post-season regarding NC State and where they are headed over the next several years. Some may argue that NC State has been to the Sweet Sixteen before, had a 20-win regular season before, and shown signs of life before, only to fall back into their 20-year slump. What those some don’t realize is that for the first time in decades, NC State has an administration that is aware of this history, these ‘factoids’. They are also aware that achievement starts with them. It doesn’t start with the coach search firm, with the recruits, or with the sales pitch to the donors; it starts with the decisions they make and their willingness to fight for NC State.
For the first time in a long time, NC State’s administration has the look and feel of an institution with some longevity, something we haven’t had since the mid 1980′s. Here’s hoping for a return, not to some glorious place that we only dreamed of, but a return back to where we rightfully belong.