NC STATE BASKETBALL
Barry Jacobs (accsports.com)
Wolfpack Can Dream Big Again
Twenty-five years ago Jim Valvano supervised installation of “The Room of Dreams” in a little-used conference space at the Case Athletic Center on N.C. State’s Raleigh campus.
Acting in his dual capacity as head basketball coach and director of athletics – a marriage of sometimes-conflicting interests soon banned within the state university system – Valvano spent $125,000 on a multi-media experience that immersed a visitor in the historical glories of Wolfpack basketball.
Despite Valvano’s claims the extravaganza was university-oriented, it was clearly a basketball recruiting tool. The room’s crowning glory was a 17-minute video accompanied by original rap music and synchronized spotlights that fell on championships trophies and rings. It culminated with Valvano peering from a huddle and intoning toward the camera, “You will take the last shot. You will win the game.”
Of course nightmares are dreams, too. Only now is N.C. State waking from its long slumber in the land of the competitively irrelevant, thanks in no small part to Valvano’s methods in seeking championships.
That 1988-89 season was the last time the Wolfpack ended the regular season atop the ACC standings. Probation, four coaching changes, and a parade of disappointments followed as the program fell off the national radar.
All that began changing last March, thanks to a talented core recruited under Sidney Lowe, the point guard on Valvano’s 1983 national championship squad, and the guidance of Lowe’s successor, coach Mark Gottfried and his staff.
Now, following an emphatic 84-76 home victory over wounded but top-ranked Duke, there’s no arguing N.C. State belongs among the elite, not just in the ACC but nationally.
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
Wolfpack prepare for familiar face in Maryland’s Dez Wells
For a handful of N.C. State players, there won’t be much scouting needed on Maryland swingman Dez Wells heading into Wednesday night’s game in College Park.
Wells, who’s from Raleigh, is a former high school teammate of Wolfpack forward C.J. Leslie and came through the same AAU program as Rodney Purvis.
“I think players, when they know each other, they know their games, sometimes better than we do,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said in Monday’s ACC coaches teleconference said. “I think that probably works the other way with Dez because he probably knows some of our guys too. I do think that becomes a factor a little but at times.”
ACC media relations (TheWolfpacker.com)
NC State expects to remain focused for Maryland
“I think first of all, we’ve got a tough road game at Maryland, and I think they’re much improved from a year ago. Watching film on those guys, I think with [Dezmine] Wells and [Alex] Len’s improvement inside, you’ve got two elite level players.”
Coach, do you feel any type of letdown there for Saturday and then going into a team that’s lost a couple of games in a row?
“No, we’ve got four returning starters that have been through this league. I think they’re very well aware of the fact that each game counts as one game. Saturday was fun, but it’s one win, and that’s it. Now you’ve got to go do it again 15 more times. We have an 18-game schedule and we have 18 opportunities. I think the fact that we’ve got some veteran players that have played, that should not be a factor for us.”
Just to follow up on that, does your team play based on where it started in the rankings? Did they have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder or is that not part of their make-up?
“We don’t ever talk about that. Where we were picked or projected is irrelevant. It comes down to how you play. Last year we weren’t picked very high. It still came down to how you play so we’re just not a team that’s caught up in all of that. Those things are things that people are weighing in on. So we just need to concentrate on us, and it’s not something that we talk about ever.”
Jeremy Lundblad (ESPN.com)
Numbers to Know: Weekend Recap
Stat Sheet Stuffer – Richard Howell, NC State
Howell had 16 points and 18 rebounds, as NC State knocked off No. 1 Duke, 84-76. Over the last 15 seasons, he’s the fourth player with those numbers in a win over the AP No. 1, joining UNLV’s Mike Moser, Pitt’s DeJuan Blair and UNC’s Antawn Jamison. In the second half, Howell alone outrebounded the Blue Devils 14-13.
Akula Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
Why We Storm
Saturday was a celebration of validation as much as anything else–NC State finally is good enough to go head-to-head with the ACC’s best and win the league, and the Pack proved it with their performance against the Blue Devils. We are playing–and winning–big games again, and that is enough cause for celebration. The name on the jersey didn’t necessarily matter, though certainly beating Duke in this fashion was icing on the cake.
It’s nice to be able to win a game like that against an in-state rival. But let’s not go crazy — it’s not always about you, Duke.
Where to start on last night’s game? Mark Turgeon’s young squad looked sloppy, dispassioned and discombobulated. It might have been the worst offensive performance I’ve seen in my 15 years watching Maryland basketball. So with that out of the way, let’s look at what we learned from last night’s loss to Miami.
1. Maryland has talent and potential, but it lacks a key ingredient that most good teams have: an identity.
Over the weekend, I was struck at the difference between watching a team like the Ravens (sorry non- Baltimore people) Saturday night and then watching the Terps the following evening. The Ravens know where their center of gravity is. They know where their heart comes from. There is no question who’s team it is and the general has his team ready to play each time they step on the field. He demands it.
As I watched the Terps struggle to run anything resembling an offense last night, it hit me that Maryland has no such guy — No one to get in a teammate’s face and say “Lets wake up, guys”. No one who other players refuse to let down.
Now, maybe it’s unfair to compare any of these 18-22 year olds to a guy like Ray Lewis (or insert your own iconic sports leader here) but I feel like the good teams in the ACC have guys that fill that role (albeit to a lesser degree). Duke has Mason Plumlee. NC State has CJ Leslie. Who’s going to be that guy for Maryland?
The most likely candidate seems to be Dez Wells — a guy who teammates look up to and the player who seemed to take over for the Terps last might when nothing was going for them. Or maybe it’s Alex Len, who showed in the last two minutes that he’s capable of demanding the ball and dominating a defender 1-on-1. (Although it did leave me wondering where that assertiveness/will to dominate was the first 38 minutes of the game).
Whoever that guy is, he needs to emerge and take the reigns of this team now. When the Terps have another stretch of 7 minutes with no points, someone needs to be able to grab the rest of his teammates and wake them the hell up.
4. Wednesday’s game is really really important.
Wednesday’s game against NC State was always going to be significant. With the events over the weekend, it just became that much more important.
For those that live under a rock, NC State upset #1 Duke this past weekend, while Maryland lost its second ACC game of the season. Wednesday night represents one of the few chances the Terps have of adding a quality win to their resume. A NC State team ranked #20 just last week, now comes in at #14 and once again as a legitimate favorite to win the ACC. Comcast Center should be packed (edit: it’s sold out!) for its first ranked opponent all season.
Win, and Maryland will stand at a respectable 2-2 in the ACC, have added a marquee win, and have gained momentum going into a game against an underachieving, but still dangerous North Carolina team. Lose, and the Terps will be 1-3 in conference play, with a very real shot at falling to 1-4. I err on the side of caution when calling games “make or break” so early in the season, but Wednesday night’s game is pretty damn close to one.
It’s been a tough 5 days. There’s no way to sugar coat that. But this team has the makeup to be really good. It might come together next week, or next month, but i think it will come together. Let’s go out Wednesday night and create an awesome environment at the Comcast Center. It’s a week or two early to be pushing the panic button.
Don Markus, (The Baltimore Sun)
Changes could be in store for Terps heading into tough stretch
Turgeon said that his biggest concerns in terms of position are point guard and power forward, and disclosed that he is considering another change in the backcourt. After benching junior Pe’Shon Howard for freshman Seth Allen against the Hurricanes, the Terps might turn to sophomore Nick Faust (City).
As for power forward, Turgeon went back to senior James Padgett after freshman Shaquille Cleare, who he planned to start against Miami, was limited because of recurring back spasms. Freshman Charles Mitchell was benched at the start of the game for discliplinary reasons.
“It’s not going to change overnight. It did change overnight from good to not-so-good,” Turgeon said of his situation at the point. “We’re addressing it; we addressed that for the last game. We’re trying to figure it out.
“I do think Pe’Shon is capable of playing better than he is playing. Seth the same way. Seth is going to have to score for us and that puts a lot of pressure on him. Our point guard play hasn’t been good enough. It’s been obvious our last couple of games.”
Turgeon was quick to add that it’s not just the sloppy point guard that has caused his team’s recent slide.
“There’s a lot of areas that haven’t been good enough the past couple of games,” he said. “That’s why you’re 0-2 in those games.”
But the normally glass-is-a-quarter-full Turgeon was uncharacteristically upbeat about his team after the second-lowest scoring performance since he took over at Maryland.
“I thought we played hard [Sunday] night — really hard,” Turgeon said. “We never quit. We rebounded pretty well (41-37 in favor of Maryland). I thought we competed on the road against a good team. We came up short.”
Considering how lousy the Terps were at times on the road last season — including a second-half meltdown that led to a 71-44 loss at Virginia, as well as defeats by 18 and 24 points at Duke and North Carolina, respectively — Turgeon called Sunday night’s defeat “a step in the right direction.”
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
Sidy Mohamed Djitte has huge game for Northwood Temple in win over Fayetteville Academy
Division I prospect Sidy Mohamed Djitte had 26 points, 25 rebounds and seven blocks to lead Northwood Temple to a 65-54 win against Fayetteville Academy on Monday night.
Zane Waterman and Jaron Withers, juniors who are also attracting Division I interest, scored 24 points apiece for Fayetteville Academy.
Djitte, a 6-foot-10 senior, has offers from N.C. State, Connecticut, Clemson, Cincinnati, Old Dominion and Coastal Carolina, according to Rivals.com. Coaches from Wake Forest, Ohio State and South Carolina had made plans to attend Monday’s game in Fayetteville.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
BEYOND THE ARC: N.C. State-Duke doesn’t disappoint
1. Another 1 bites the dust: N.C. State’s upset of top-ranked Duke on Saturday marked the sixth time in school history that the Wolfpack has knocked off a team ranked No. 1 in the nation and the second time since 1994 that it’s been the Blue Devils. Richard Howell was a beast on the boards with 18, to go along with 16 points, while Lorenzo Brown had all 13 of his team’s assists as State won its 10th straight and improved to 3-0 in the ACC for the first time since 1988-89.
2. Back in their shell: After winning 13 straight, one shy of a school record set in 1931-32, Maryland lost to both Florida State and Miami this week to fall to 1-2 in the ACC. What’s worse, there may be some off-the-court the court, too, after coach Mark Turgeon announced he planned to discipline freshman forward Charles Mitchell for some “immaturity issues.”
4. Dexter’s 10 trillion: UNC senior Dexter Strickland had one of the strangest stat lines ever in Wednesday’s loss to Miami. He had one missed shot (an airball, at that), followed by 13 zeroes in perhaps the most unproductive 26 minutes in Tar Heel basketball history. Strickland’s line looked like this on the official: 010000000000000. Add a few commas, and that comes out to 10 trillion.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE WEEK
There’s still a long way to go in this young season, but with its emotional 84-76 upset of Duke, N.C. State justified the high expectations created by its selection as the ACC’s preseason favorite. Even in defeat, the Blue Devils also showed something in Saturday’s game by hanging tough until the end despite the absence of starting forward Ryan Kelly. Regardless of the order, State and Duke proved themselves to be far and away the best two teams in the league.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
This was a tough call, considering all the amazing individual performances posted this week, but in the end one player shined above the rest (though only slightly). N.C. State’s C.J. Leslie started the week with 19 points and seven rebounds against Georgia Tech, then showed why he was picked as the preseason ACC Player of the Year by hitting for 25 points, six rebounds and two blocks to lead the Wolfpack’s upset of Duke. Leslie also picked up an assist after the game when he saved a wheelchair-bound State fan who was knocked to the floor and nearly trampled during the postgame court rush.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I was in the middle of it and when I saw a kid in a wheelchair fall, that’s when I got scared. I just saw him flying. When he fell, I wanted to get out of there.” N.C. State forward Richard Howell on the celebration following Saturday’s upset of No. 1 Duke.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
‘Beast’ of a performance earns Howell ACC Player of the Week honor
Howell’s effort, which tied his career best for rebounding in a league game, was a major factor in leading the Wolfpack to its emotional 84-76 victory Saturday. He also went 7 of 12 from the floor, blocked two shots and recorded two steals.
For the week, Howell averaged a double-double at 11 points and 15 rebounds while helping State to its first 3-0 start in the ACC since 1988-89.
Jim Young (accsports.com)
ACC Hoops Power Rankings, Jan. 14
ACCSports.com Power Rankings
1. N.C. State (14-2, 3-0, No. 11 RPI)
I agonized over this one for quite some time.
Yes, the Wolfpack is on top of the ACC with a 3-0 mark. Yes, State just beat Duke head to head.
However … (Use your best Stephen A. Smith voice here)
Duke’s overall resume is clearly superior to State’s (note that the Blue Devils are still No. 1 in RPI by a comfy margin), the Wolfpack didn’t exactly roll in its two previous ACC games – at BC and at home against Georgia Tech – and the Blue Devils played in Raleigh without Ryan Kelly.
We don’t know how long Ryan Kelly will be out for the Blue Devils. So while Duke wins the body of work argument, State wins the current snapshot and future potential arguments – at least until we know for certain how long Kelly will be sidelined.
Also, I love Richard Howell. So there’s that.
Previous ranking: No. 2
This week’s schedule: Jan. 16 at Maryland, Jan. 20 vs. Clemson.
2. Duke (15-1, 2-1, No. 1 RPI)
So I did a little number crunching and noted that the gap in RPI score between No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Kansas – .0249 – is wider than the gap between Kansas and No. 6 Michigan – 0.207.
Yeah, I’m going to be going back and forth over dropping Duke all week, I suspect.
Then there’s the fact that the Blue Devils actually found out that freshman forward Amile Jefferson – thrust into the spotlight at State because of Kelly’s injury – can handle the heat. He scored 10 points and blocked two shots in 15 minutes.
Still, Kelly is oh so valuable in so many ways. It’ll be hard for Duke to maintain its lofty level of play without him. If, though, for some reason the Blue Devils do – and they’ll get a good test next Wednesday at Miami – then I could see myself returning Duke to the top of these power rankings even without a corresponding State loss.
Does that make sense? No? Let’s just move on.
Previous ranking: No. 1
This week’s schedule: Jan. 17 vs. Georgia Tech
3. Miami (12-3, 3-0, No. 5 RPI)
No Reggie Johnson, no problem!
The Hurricanes struggled in the immediate aftermath of Johnson’s injury (see: State, Indiana) but have righted things in a big way, with two ACC road wins and then a slugfest 54-47 victory over Maryland on Sunday night.
The sheer ugliness of that game had plenty of national folks on Twitter making cracks about how the No. 3 spot in the ACC was a position of dubious distinction. I get that, but I’d also note that the final unbeaten team in the nation, Michigan, went down by a 56-52 score on Sunday. Ugly, low-scoring hoops is almost the norm these days, I’m afraid.
And sometimes you have to just embrace getting dirty to get a win. That’s why I’m pro Julian Gamble. Reggie Johnson’s backup isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing player, but he knows what he can and can’t do. And he’s done plenty of good things in the rebounding and defending department to help the Canes flourish without Johnson.
Previous ranking: No. 4
This week’s schedule: Jan. 16 at Boston College
5. Maryland (13-3, 1-2, No. 82 RPI)
Well it appears I read a little too much into the Terps’ string of easy non-conference wins.
I still think there’s plenty to like about Mark Turgeon’s team, but there are also flaws that can’t be ignored. Most notably, terrible ball handling. The Terps are 253rd in the nation in turnover rate (353rd in defensive turnover rate as well). Against Miami, Maryland had just four assists to go with 14 turnovers. Yuck.
Another issue – Maryland’s best passer and ball handler, Pe’Shon Howard, is a total non-factor in terms of scoring. He’s averaging just 3.6 ppg and shooting a woeful 25.9%.
Previous ranking: No. 3
This week’s schedule: Jan. 16 vs. N.C. State
12. Clemson (9-6, 1-2, No. 158 RPI)
It feels weird putting the Tigers last after they just thumped Virginia at home but, well, somebody has to be last. Really you could look at this as a three-way tie for 10th, if you want. Heck, maybe even a five-way tie for 8th. The lower half of the ACC isn’t nearly as stratified as the top half.
Thus, I think the Tigers have the potential to move up significantly in these standings if they get a few things in order. Getting Milton Jennings to build off his 21-point, 11-rebound performance against Virginia is one thing. Getting a home win on Tuesday against Wake would be another.
Previous ranking: No. 10
This week’s schedule: Jan. 14 vs. Wake Forest
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
ACC Power Rankings: Wolfpack’s jump to top spot is one of many moves
1. N.C. State (14-1, 3-0)
Last week: 2
My take: You know things are going well in Raleigh when not one, but two, fans reach Internet celebrity status off of one game. Saturday’s victory against Duke was this season’s thrilling high point thus far. Hopefully, the rematch on Feb. 7 will match it.
2. Duke (15-1, 2-1)
Last week: 1
My take: The news that Seth Curry should be ready for Thursday’s game against Georgia Tech should have Blue Devils’ fans breathing easier. The senior guard’s ankle injury late in Saturday’s loss added a final bitter note to an afternoon that was probably hard to swallow for Blue Devils fans.
3. Miami (12-3, 3-0)
Last week: 6
My take: The rapid improvement of center Julian Gamble has helped blunt some of the impact of Reggie Johnson’s hand injury. If Gamble keeps playing well and Johnson returns, the Hurricanes could be trouble.
5. Maryland (13-3, 1-2)
Last week: 3
My take: Losses to Florida State and Miami didn’t exactly help the Terrapins’ case when it comes to proving that their perceived progress wasn’t a result of a soft schedule.
11. Clemson (9-6, 1-2)
Last week: 11
My take: By beating Virginia, Clemson is able to hold strong to that No. 11 spot. Get excited.
Andrew Jones (FoxSportsCarolinas.com)
ACC Power Rankings: Wolfpack prevails
Unpredictability was the theme of last week for ACC basketball along with a changing of the guard.
Virginia Tech wasn’t supposed to win again this season, many of its panicking fans feared, but grabbed a big road win over the weekend. Wake Forest won twice, North Carolina showed it still has life in leaving Tallahassee, Fla., with a hard-fought victory, Miami keeps rolling and N.C. State flexed its muscles in taking out Duke, knocking the Blue Devils from their top-ranked perch above college basketball.
Here are this week’s power rankings:
1. N.C. State (14-2 overall, 3-0 ACC)
Duke has still compiled more pretty points this season, but over the last month the Wolfpack have climbed closer and closer. With Duke not fielding its full complement of players and NC State healthy and playing better, the Wolfpack climbed right to the top on Saturday. Even if Ryan Kelly had played, N.C. State might have won Saturday. Mark Gottfried’s team is playing that well and has been trending this way for a while.
2. Duke (15-1, 2-1)
Not having Ryan Kelly plays into this. As it is, N.C. State is the better team. N.C. State has been the better team overall since Christmas and nailed home that reality over the weekend. Duke is more than capable of reclaiming this spot in another week, but it has to figure out what must change in its approach, as Josh Hairston and Amile Jefferson are not remotely close to serving as Kelly did.
3. Miami (12-3, 3-0)
The Hurricanes have fully adjusted to not having Reggie Johnson and they are once again one of the top teams in the ACC. Julian Gamble had a great week and gives them more of a lengthy presence defensively, and Kenny Kadji is playing some of the best hoops of his career. Sunday’s win over Maryland wasn’t pretty, but it was impressive.
4. Maryland (13-3, 1-2)
The Terrapins couldn’t buy a basket in stretches at Miami on Sunday night but still hung tough. Dez Wells was excellent and worked his tail off, which has a trickle-down effect on the team. A lousy non-conference schedule has hurt two teams in the ACC in preparing for league play: Georgia Tech and Maryland.
8. Clemson (9-6, 1-2)
The turning point in Clemson’s season could have been its second-half performance in the loss at Duke on Tuesday. The Tigers had a measly 10 points at halftime but didn’t quit. They fought hard and used that decent vibe to hammer Virginia over the weekend. They aren’t headed to the NCAA Tournament, but they at least may avoid disaster.
Andrew Jones (FoxSportsCarolinas.com)
ACC Hoops Honor Roll: N.C. State shines
Big Men On Campus
C.J. Leslie, N.C. State: The long-armed, 6-foot-9 junior played with more poise than at any time in his career in scoring a combined 44 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking five shots in two home wins over Georgia Tech and Duke. He put up 25 against fellow future first-round draft pick Mason Plumlee of the Blue Devils.
Erick Green. Virginia Tech: The nation’s leading scorer at 24.8 points per game totaled 52 points in helping the Hokies split a pair of games last week, losing at home to Boston College and winning at Georgia Tech. The senior guard also grabbed eight rebounds and handed out 10 assists.
Richard Howell, N.C. State: The bruising senior forward was a force in helping State beat top-ranked Duke on Saturday. He scored 16 points and grabbed 18 rebounds – 14 in the second half – against the Blue Devils. For the week, he totaled 22 points and 30 rebounds.
C.J. Harris, Wake Forest: The senior guard helped the Deacons win consecutive ACC games for the first time in three years by scoring 45 points, including converting six of 10 3-pointers, and by giving Wake Forest some needed gravitas. The Deacons won five ACC games the previous two seasons, so this was a huge week for the program.
Kenny Kadji, Miami: The long and wiry senior scored 32 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and blocked five shots in helping the Hurricanes win at UNC and at home over Maryland. Kadji’s stats are nice, but his growing leadership, the maturity he plays with, and the manner he scores carries more value than just the points themselves.
Player of the Week
Lorenzo Brown, N.C. State: The junior point guard scored 33 points, handed out 23 assists, registered three blocked shots and two steals in home wins over Georgia Tech and top-ranked Duke. His maturity, game management and leadership don’t show up in box scores but can’t be overvalued.
Coach of the Week
Mark Gottfried, N.C. State: The word on Gottfried’s teams at Alabama were that while quite talented, they didn’t play much defense and sometimes lacked toughness. That isn’t the case with the Wolfpack, who were exceptionally mature in beating No. 1 Duke over the weekend after knocking off Georgia Tech. N.C. State shares the ball well, has terrific chemistry, and plays with a willingness to do whatever it takes to win. Gotta credit the coach for much of that.
Tom Fornelli (CBSSports.com)
Report: The ACC is considering a network of its own
According to SportsBusiness Journal, the ACC and its athletic directors are considering the idea.
While its media rights are tied up with ESPN for the next 15 years, that hasn’t stopped the conference from beginning the process of deciding whether such a channel is feasible. It hasn’t had formal talks with ESPN, which would have to play a big role in any ACC channel since the network controls the league’s rights.
But ACC Commissioner John Swofford has quietly been exploring a branded channel and began floating the idea for it in the fall, around the time that Notre Dame joined the league in all sports but football. The Fighting Irish have committed to play five ACC opponents in football each season, but it will maintain its independence.
Weekly Mark Gottfried TV Show
In this week’s episode head men’s basketball coach Mark Gottfried breaks down the Duke and Georgia Tech games with host Tony Haynes. Also on the show, Mark Thomas visits with senior Scott Wood.
Jerry Palm (CBSSports.com)
2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament Prediction
Bracket updated on: Mon Jan 14 06:39:38 2013
Projected Champion: Miami (FL)
At-large bids: Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State