NC STATE FOOTBALL
Joe Giglio (N&O)
O’Brien, Pack want to end ‘roller coaster’ trend
If there’s one thing N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien knows, it’s his team can bounce back after a tough loss.
But life after big wins?
Prosperity has created a different set of problems for the Wolfpack, which had a week off to digest its upset of then-No. 3 Florida State and to get ready for Maryland, an old foil, on Saturday.
“We’ve handled adversity much better than we’ve handled success,” O’Brien said.
The numbers support O’Brien’s statement, which is a perfect summation of the program since the start of the 2010 season. N.C. State is10-1 after a loss, including two wins this season, since 2010, compared to a 9-9 record after a win (which does not account for the gap in between seasons). The Wolfpack has only won consecutive ACC games twice over the same time span.
O’Brien called it a “roller coaster” before the season and he reiterated Monday he wants to get off the ride. With the 17-16 win over then-No. 3 Florida State in the rearview mirror, typically there’s only been one way N.C. State will go.
You mix in the recent history against Maryland and the Wolfpack’s woes on the road in the Atlantic Division and a repeat of recent history is in play. For their part, the Wolfpack players are cognizant of all the factors in Saturday’s game.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for N.C. State
Consider that for as long as the memory can recall, the Wolfpack has almost always seemed to win at least one game a season it has no business winning while turning around and giving it right back by losing at least one game it has no business losing.
Also take into account that State has yet to win a road game against an ACC Atlantic Division opponent in the five-plus seasons Tom O’Brien has been its coach.
Those are clearly ominous signs for the Wolfpack as it prepares to follow up its upset of then-No. 3 Florida State with a trip to Maryland – a place at which State has lost five of its last six tries.
But as much as history appears to be working against the Wolfpack, there’s also some working in its favor.
O’Brien’s teams have traditionally been better after their bye weeks than before. And they’ve been significantly better since his arrival at State.
Since 2007, the Wolfpack is 3-12 against ACC competition before its annual week off. That includes a loss at Miami earlier this season. After the break, its record improves to 16-11.
Add to that the fact that O’Brien’s State teams are 4-1 the week immediately after a bye during that same period and you have to like the Wolfpack’s chances against a Maryland team whose 4-2 (2-0 ACC) record is as fraudulent as a faux Rolex purchased from a street vendor in Times Square.
Andrew Jones (FoxSports)
N.C. State must refocus for Maryland
Historically, O’Brien’s Wolfpack clubs have done quite well following open dates, having gone 3-2 with the losses by narrow margins at FSU. But this weekend, N.C. State must visit a disliked nemesis in Maryland, a program that has given NCSU and its fans fits perhaps more than any other ACC club in the 2000s.
Add to it that the Terrapins (4-2, 2-0 ACC) are the ACC’s surprise team of the season so far, alongside Duke, and playing with tremendous confidence, the task is considerable for the Pack.
“You’ve got six conference games (remaining), you have to go to Maryland, who is second to Florida State in every defensive category in the conference with the exception of scoring defense,” O’Brien said about the Terps. “They are second in total defense, ninth national, playing really well. The front seven is formidable.”
The Terrapins are 8-4 versus the Wolfpack in the 2000s, which includes last season’s finale when they blew a 41-14 lead in the third quarter and lost 56-41 at Carter-Finley Stadium. The victory put the Wolfpack in a bowl game and may have saved O’Brien’s job.
It was payback of sorts for the N.C. State program and its fans, whose angst for the Terps began in 2001 when Maryland fans tossed oranges onto the Carter-Finley Stadium turf after securing an ACC championship and Orange Bowl berth with a win in Raleigh.
And the manner NCSU has suffered most of its losses to Maryland must have all of Wolfpack Nation biting its nails this week.
Akula Wolf (backingthepack.com)
Let’s Please Make The Hurting Stop This Time
Jacey Zembal (TheWolfpacker.com)
Maryland’s defense undergoes drastic changes
NC State offensive coordinator Dana Bible doesn’t expect to see anything close to the defense that Maryland played last year against the Wolfpack.
The schemes might be the same or similar, but the Terrapins haven’t resembled anything like the defense that surrendered 35 points in the fourth quarter of NC State’s miraculous 56-41 come from behind victory in the regular season finale, which helped the Wolfpack become bowl eligible.
Maryland allowed 34.2 points and 457.2 yards per game in 2011 during an injury marred 2-10 season. The memory of that porous defense is gone under new defensive coordinator Brian Stewart.
Maryland’s ranked third in the ACC through six games in allowing 20.3 points per game, just slightly better than NC State’s defense (20.5). The Terrapins are also second in the league in allowing 278.7 yards per game, tied for first with 18 sacks and are particularly stingy in run defense at 95.5.
Maryland is also second in pass defense in the ACC, but are 11th with just three interceptions, though one of which helped set up a touchdown in last week’s 27-20 win at Virginia.
Maryland’s front seven features four players in the top 15 in the ACC in sacks, led by senior outside linebacker Darin Drakeford, who has 4.5.
“It’s not just one guy, but he’s one of the players they feature in the pass rush,” Bible said. “You have to know where he is.”
Maryland moved star senior defensive tackle Joe Vellano out to defensive end in its 3-4, and he leads the league with 11 tackles for loss, to go along with 37 tackles and three sacks.
“I like the way he plays,” Bible said. “He’s a tough guy. He’s a high motor guy, and you can tell he really enjoys playing this game. He leaves it on the field.”
The Terrapins version of a 3-4 defense features three defensive linemen all over 285 pounds, which is relatively rare in college football. Vellano is the “smallest” at 6-2 and 285.
Maryland In A Rush To Fix Poor Running Game
It won’t get any easier this Saturday against North Carolina State (4-2, 1-1), which ranks fourth in the ACC in rushing defense.
“The running game is our emphasis every week. It’s going to be our emphasis this week,” Maryland senior tackle Justin Gilbert said. “North Carolina State, they twist a lot, they bring a lot of blitzes. The running game, it’s something that’s going to come. There are plays that are there. We see it on film. There are plays we leave out on the field. We just have to execute a little better.”
N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said, “You’re playing with two freshmen in the offensive line and playing with a freshman quarterback, it’s awful difficult sometimes to run the ball in this league.”
Gilbert, however, wouldn’t blame the shortcoming entirely on youth.
“It’s a collective effort,” he said. “The line, there’s plays when we’re doing good and the back does something wrong. Then there are plays when the back is doing his job and we’re doing something wrong. As an offense, we’ve all got to kind of mesh together to get the running game going.”
NC STATE BASKETBALL
Joe Ovies (WRALSportsfan.com)
NC State hype train has left the station
The rational takeaway from all of this? It says a lot about the improvement of NC State’s off-the-court perception under Gottfried. Their performance last March peaked the interest of national pundits and the continued transformation of C.J. Leslie into “Calvin” is the type of narrative writers lap up. But somewhere along the way, the off-season momentum of improvement somehow evolved into an expectation that NC State is in position to overtake the Tar Heels and Blue Devils.
Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com wrote last month, “things are about to get irrational in Raleigh.” Except it’s not the coach, the fans or the local media that covers NC State making things irrational. It’s the national folks driving the hype machine for a change.
It’s important to point this out because if the Wolfpack don’t live up to that hype, it’s highly probable the stories blaming fans for expecting to much out of NC State based on a couple weeks of great play last season have already been written and produced. Pack fans always seem to take the bait and give them what they want — reaction and web hits.
The NC State women’s basketball team was picked to finish eighth in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 2012-13 preseason poll, as announced by the league office on Tuesday. Votes were made by the Blue Ribbon Panel, which consists of national and local media, as well as school representatives.
Duke received 29 first place votes, followed by Maryland with 18 to top the poll. Georgia Tech was picked third, followed by Virginia, North Carolina, Miami and Florida State. The Wolfpack, picked eighth, is followed by Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Boston College to round out the predictions.
Senior guard Marissa Kastanek was the lone member of the Pack named to the Preseason All-ACC Team. Maryland led all teams with with three players selected to the squad, including reigning and Preseason ACC Player of the Year, Alyssa Thomas, Tianna Hawkins and Laurin Mincy. Duke’s Elizabeth Williams and Chelsea Gray, joined Tyuanna Marshall (Georgia Tech), Natasha Howard (Florida State), Ataira Franklin (Virginia) and Stefanie Yderstrom (Miami) to round out the choices.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Brett’s preseason basketball All-ACC, poll ballot
C.J. Leslie, F, N.C. State – Leslie’s maturity has finally caught up with his immense talent and he’s poised to put the Wolfpack on his back this season. Although his season averages were 14.7 ppg and 7.3 rpg last season, they increased to 18.3 ppg and 9.1 rpg over the final 11 games.
Lorenzo Brown, G, N.C. State – A third-team All-ACC selection last season, Brown is the best, most experienced returning point guard in the league. He’s adept at both distributing the ball to his teammates and scoring on his own while keeping the accelerator down on coach Mark Gottfried’s fast-paced attack.
1. N.C. State
3. North Carolina
5. Florida State
Andrew Jones (FoxSportsSouth)
ACC looks forward to more competitive slate
Florida State winning the ACC Tournament last March was the first real step in making ACC basketball more inclusive than it has been for some time. The next one might be N.C. State’s ascent this winter to the top league annually dominated by Duke and North Carolina.
Throw in a veteran team such as Miami, the potential of Maryland, and the stability of FSU, and the Blue Devils and Tar Heels may actually spend all season rubbing elbows with the perceived lower classes.
ACC basketball may be rekindling a flame of sorts this season. UNC was always in the title picture in the 1980s and ’90s, but plenty of other clubs rose to the challenge, not just for ACC supremacy, but also on the national stage.
From 1980 until 1996, six different schools won the ACC Tournament, and keep in mind the league had just eight members until 1992 when FSU came aboard. Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College didn’t arrive until the 2000s. UNC won five titles, Duke four, Georgia Tech three, N.C. State and Wake Forest two each, and Maryland captured one championship.
Is there a national title contender in the ACC this season?
I have a feeling a certain fanbase in Raleigh answered, “yes”. After all, NC State is certainly talented and who can deny the experience that the Pack picked up making a run to the Sweet 16 a year ago? On top of that NC State added a highly touted freshman class, but let’s rewind back to Mid-March for a second. On March 10th, NC State played in the ACC tournament semifinal against UNC. CJ Leslie fouled out with 8 minutes left (seems like forever ago) and NC State’s chances seemed slim. NC State ultimately fought back in that game but just missed out on an opportunity to play in the ACC Tourney Championship game against FSU. Ultimately, NC State was the very last team announced on Selection Sunday. If NC State wasn’t selected that Sunday, where would your expectations be? NC State was that close to not making the tournament.
Ultimately, there is a NCAA Title Contender recipe that you can compare your team to to determine if they are a contender or pretender. In general, if there are 3 or more NBA players on your roster then you have a good shot at a national championship. If you have 2 NBA players on your roster, then you have a shot but it will take a greater team effort for your team to become a national title contender. If you have just 1 NBA player, then your margin of error is even smaller. Let’s go through team by team in the ACC and see if any of the teams are contenders.
* Duke: If Miles Plumlee is a NBA player than Mason likely is as well. The only other NBA caliber player on the roster is Rodney Hood and he isn’t eligible due to transfer rules. There are a lot of fringe guys on the Duke roster that will have to continue to progress to get to the league including Alex Murphy and Rasheed Sulaimon.
* FSU: Michael Snaer is a fringe guy due to his size.
* Miami: Kenny Kadji is a pro without a doubt in my mind. Other than that, Rion Brown stands out as a guy that could warrant attention, but his game needs to progress.
* North Carolina: James Michael McAdoo is a NBA talent in the same mold as Mason Plumlee, lots of athleticism but needs to add the skill to go with it. Marcus Paige is young but said to be the real deal, hard for me to add him to this list. The other guy for UNC that might deserve to be here is Reggie Bullock but consistency is needed before I could write him down in pen.
* NC State: If head matched skill, Calvin Leslie is a no brainer here. Lorenzo Brown may be good enough as well, but his perimeter shooting needs to come a lot further before he is a NBA player. Rodney Purvis is undersized for the NBA game at the shooting guard position.
Jason Jordan (USAToday)
Crazy stuff college coaches tell elite basketball recruits
There’s a running joke among elite high school basketball players that college coaches “probably just change the names and forward the same texts,” according to Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) senior forward Aaron Gordon.
He would know. The No. 6 overall prospect in the ESPN 100, Gordon has caught coaches double-dipping with their sales pitches.
“I had a school tell me that if I came there I’d definitely be Player of the Year, but then I talked to my friend and he told me that they told him the exact same thing,” said Gordon, who’s being courted by the likes of Kentucky, Arizona and Stanford. “I don’t know how we’re both going to be Player of the Year.”
Julius Randle, Prestonwood Christian Academy (Plano, Texas) Forward, Uncommitted “They all say the same things. All of them. You can almost say it with them after a while. But that’s their job, so I understand. The funny thing for me is hearing that they tell another player he’s the priority in the class when they told me the same thing. We just laugh about it.”
Inside Wolfpack Sports
In today’s episode Don Shea visits with Associate Athletic Director for Academics, Carrie Leger.
The Audible: Hoops preseason polls and a gridiron rivalry
Mike and Mark discuss the ACC preseason basketball coaches’ selections and take a peek at Saturday’s rivalry game between Duke and UNC in this week’s The Audible presented by Goodnight’s Comedy Club.
Amanda Albright (dailytarheel.com)
System schools discount clustering
The top five most popular majors for UNC-CH athletes are:
1. Exercise and Sport Science
4. Journalism & Mass Communication
5. Management and Society
Two years after evidence of academic misconduct at UNC-CH surfaced, several UNC-system schools are launching investigations to ensure they are not making the same mistakes.
While UNC-CH has still not determined whether major clustering — which occurs when 25 percent or more of an athletic team’s players take the same major — is a problem for the campus, other schools have found nothing to worry about.
The summer investigations at Appalachian State University and East Carolina University were prompted by the evidence of a higher percentage of athletes in some African and Afro-American Studies classes at UNC-CH.
But ASU and ECU, along with UNC-Charlotte and N.C. State University, have not found clustering to be a major issue for them.
Dan Kane (N&O)
Martin’s probe at UNC focuses on no-show classes
A typical suggestion for college students looking for easy classes is to go visit a fraternity.
Former Gov. Jim Martin did just that recently as part of a probe he’s leading into academic irregularities at UNC-Chapel Hill, except he wanted to know if the fraternity brothers had been aware of classes that didn’t meet.
They knew where to find plenty of easy classes in many departments, Martin said Tuesday.
“But they said they never heard of a course that was a lecture course that didn’t meet. It was there. It was there in plain sight, but it wasn’t seen.”
Martin is now nearly two months into a quest handed to him by Chancellor Holden Thorp to dig deeper into an academic fraud case that has drawn national attention, largely because of its connections to athletics. An internal review of the past four years found 54 such no-show classes that were filled predominantly with athletes, with the only requirement that a paper be turned in at the end.
“We are looking to see if we can find when (the no-show classes) began and if other departments have had similar or the same kinds of mischief,” Martin said.
‘Don’t worry about that’
He said so far his probe, one of four looking at the academic fraud, has included interviews with nearly 30 individuals, including academic support staff for athletes and several former players. He said they all knew about the no-show classes, and some knew they were easy. But they did not suspect the classes to be a problem.
Martin faults the classes for not challenging the students, and for being advertised as lecture courses when they weren’t.
“I haven’t found anyone that knew the courses were phony,” Martin said.