NC STATE BASKETBALL
Omega Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
ACC POY Green to Face Improving Wolfpack Defense
The only times the Pack have struggled defensively of late are when they failed to end opponents’ possessions on the defensive glass. En route to 1.17 PPP Saturday, Florida State grabbed 48% of its misses. It certainly didn’t help the Pack’s cause to have their two leading rebounders, Richard Howell and C. J. Leslie, miss large chunks of the game due to foul trouble. Somewhat flukishly, Virginia Tech grabbed 39.5% of its misses in the overtime scarefest in Raleigh, leading to their 1.13 PPP number. Perhaps the Pack were caught out of good rebounding position as they tried to bother ACC POY Erick Green, but it is more likely that the Pack were on the wrong end of some funky #ncstateshit bounces.
A determined Howell and Leslie on the defensive glass will go a long way in preventing the Pack’s conference tournament run from getting derailed before it gets started in Thursday’s rematch against the Hokies. It would also help if the real Marshall Wood shows up. In the first meeting the reincarnation of Kid from Kid ‘n Play posted the lone double double of his career. His 14 points and 16 rebounds were both career highs. In 104 minutes over six games since then, Kid has grabbed a total of 16 rebounds to go with five points on 2-for-16 shooting.
Jonathan Stout (technicianonline.com)
Gottfried not “The Gottfather” yet
The Sidney Lowe era at N.C. State, as a whole, was miserable. However, everything changed when head coach Mark Gottfried was named the new man in charge.
In Gottfried’s first year, he led the basketball program to a 20-win season en route to a magical run to the Sweet 16. His first full offseason with the team compiled continued success by landing three McDonalds All-American recruits in freshman guards Rodney Purvis, Tyler Lewis and forward T.J. Warren.
The combination of four returning starters, an excellent finish to the 2011-12 season and the addition of three talented freshmen arose expectations that had not been echoed around N.C. State for years.
Fans latched on, but Gottfried did not.
Before the team’s trip to Spain last summer, Gottfried said that the team had a good finish to the season, but it wasn’t a great year. He also said the team still had to grow to be worthy of all the pre-season accolades it acquired.
He was right: It didn’t deserve a No. 6 preseason ranking, but had Gottfried made different decisions, the team could have achieved much more.
In Gottfried’s second season at the helm, the team finished 22-9 and 11-7 in the ACC. Their record is nothing to be ashamed of. Two back-to-back 20-win seasons is great for a team that wants to remain on top in the conference annually.
On the flip side, the team had the potential to win 25 or more games, but Gottfried wasn’t able to get it done. He alone can be credited for the transformation of Howell and Leslie’s game. There’s no doubt that he can win, recruit and help in the growth of players’ skills, but his decision-making at times has been head scratching.
He could lead the team to greatness. He could cut down the nets in Greensboro and Atlanta. But if the team’s season ends sooner rather than later, fans will be wondering “what if” for years. Gottfried’s reputation as a coach could be tarnished if perhaps the best team to grace N.C. State’s campus since the 1983 team fails to mediocrity.
Andrew Schuett (technicianonline.com)
Lay off Leslie
It’s no secret that junior forward C.J. Leslie hasn’t lived up to expectations this year. By no means is his play the sole reason that N.C. State has underachieved this year, but it has definitely been a contributing factor.
Case in point: on Feb. 23 against UNC Chapel Hill, Leslie finished the game with 6 points on 3-of-8 shooting from the field, 4 rebounds and 6 turnovers. He also shot 0-for-4 from the free throw line and the Tar Heels outscored the Wolfpack by 27 points when he was on court.
I know it was frustrating to watch that game. It must’ve been even more frustrating for Leslie. But what’s most frustrating is that it’s happened countless times throughout his three years at N.C. State. He hasn’t learned from his mistakes.
Just this past Saturday, Leslie turned in another wayward performance, picking up three fouls in the first eight minutes of the game to earn a seat on the bench for the remainder of the half.
Then at the end of the game, when the Wolfpack was losing, Leslie was called for a walk and then, only seconds later, lost control of the basketball while on a fast break. At the end of the game, when every possession counts, Leslie committed two inexcusable turnovers.
But before we criticize him for two poor performances at the end of the season, let’s be real. Anyone who’s been watching the Wolfpack play since Leslie’s poor game at Chapel Hill has seen Leslie’s effort level increase exponentially. Regardless of the results, he’s sure as hell trying much harder than he used to.
The knock against Leslie was that he always looked detached from the game, almost like he didn’t care. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reason Leslie came back to State was because he wanted to win basketball games. He gives his all for this University every day, and he just wants to help his team win. Winning is all that matters to him, nothing else.
Nothing is more infuriating for a competitor than losing. Despite the almost indifferent expression on Leslie’s face, he is a competitor at heart.
Joe Ovies (WRALSportsfan.com)
Pack with final opportunity rewrite season
NC State failed to get a bye into Friday’s round of the ACC Tournament, but the bracket actually has potential to work in their favor with a series of winnable contests.
Before moving forward, it’s important to be honest about the Wolfpack’s regular season. The bottom line is that NC State showed tangible progress in Mark Gottfried’s second season, but it could have been better. The disappointment in NC State’s year thus far comes from their failure to take advantage of certain opportunities, including the golden one to leapfrog Virginia in the standings with a win at Florida State. It’s not because they failed to meet the expectations of a bunch of media gathered in Charlotte.
And that disappointment manifested itself into a perception of underachievement after Gottfried publicly demanded his best players start playing great basketball a few weeks ago. It wasn’t his intent, since Gottfried specifically talked about C.J. Leslie after the loss to North Carolina, but that demand could have easily been applied to the entire team.
Luke DeCock (N&O)
Howell, Strickland, Thornton are working men
As the ACC submerges itself in the glitz and glamour of Greensboro – just ask Jim Boeheim how bright those lights can be – let us take a moment to pause and recognize the opposite. Each of the Triangle’s three teams gets its grit from one player in particular, selfless and willing, perhaps without the talent of his teammates but with the right attitude.
No one works visibly harder than N.C. State’s Richard Howell, perhaps the ACC’s most prodigious generator of sweat. North Carolina’s Dexter Strickland has taken on defensive responsibilities for an offensive-minded team. And for Duke, it’s Tyler Thornton, who brings what Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski calls “anger” to the job.
“The dirty work that’s done in a game is better done by somebody who has that type of attitude, than someone who’s like, I’m going to be cool and happy-go-lucky,” Krzyzewski said. “I don’t know if you get down and stop a guy or get a loose ball or take a charge and do those things.”
Or, as Strickland put it, “you have to realize what you have to do to stay on the floor.”
Howell does those things. His hard work on the boards and willingness to mix it up under the basket are critical to N.C. State’s success, and on a team where the collective effort isn’t always total, Howell is invariably fully committed.
Over the course of the season, Howell has earned plaudits many opposing coaches, all of whom have talked about how much they’d like to have Howell on their team. And why not? What team couldn’t use a hard-working rebounder who accepts his role silently and works tirelessly?
“I love that kid. He’s my kind of guy,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said after Howell had a double-double against his team in January.
Typically, this kind of work goes unrecognized, but Howell was honored on the all-ACC’s first team this week, ahead of higher-profile teammates Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie. It was a rare personal accolade for a player in his role, an acknowledgement of just how important Howell’s hard work is to the Wolfpack’s success.
For all three players, that will be the real measure of their contributions: How far their teams go in Greensboro this week, and beyond.
Pick 6: Potential Impact Players In ACC Tournament
Kenny Kadji, Miami – The 6-foot-11, 242-pound fifth-year senior is averaging 13.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He’s also shooting 49 percent from the floor and nearly 39 percent from behind the arc. That makes Kadji a versatile and valuable presence in the lineup for the Hurricanes, who are the No. 1 seed for the first time in program history. While things typically focus on first-team all-ACC performer Shane Larkin, this second-teamer could be a matchup headache for opponents heading through the weekend with his ability to post up smaller defenders or lure bigger guys away from the rim.
Joe Harris, Virginia - Harris has been terrific for the Cavaliers all season and helped them earn the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye. In his first year as a go-to guy, the 6-6 junior upped his scoring average from 11.3 points last year to 17 points this year. He’s also scored in double figures in 12 straight games, including a 36-point performance in an upset of Duke and a 27-point outing in a loss at North Carolina. He’s shooting 48 percent from the field and 44 percent from the 3-point arc, and earned first-team all-ACC honors Monday. Harris will have to come up big considering his defensive-minded team averages just 64 points per game and has only one other scorer averaging in double figures, but he’s met that challenge all year against defenses that know the ball is coming to him. “When Joe gets that look in his eye that he’s not going to be denied, he’s hard to stop because of his strength and size,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said after the Duke win.
Lorenzo Brown, North Carolina State – When the 6-5 junior point guard is at his best, preseason ACC favorite N.C. State is a dangerous transition team. Brown can take defenders off the dribble and finish at the rim, but he has also proven he can knock down the outside shot. He’s also shown the ability to frustrate opposing point guards with his size. But Brown still isn’t fully healed from a sprained left ankle that sidelined him for nearly three games and coach Mark Gottfried has said Brown hasn’t fully recovered his burst. But Brown guided this team to an appearance in the NCAA round of 16 last year and can still be a game-changer for the No. 5 seed Wolfpack.
David Morrison (News-Record.com)
Insider: How they’re lining up on their way to Greensboro
ACC POWER POLL
1. Duke (27-4, 14-4; NCAA.com RPI 1): Blue Devils are 18-0 with Ryan Kelly in the lineup this season.
2. Miami (24-6, 15-3; RPI 4): Rebounded a bit by beating Clemson, but had dropped three of four before that. And two of those losses were inexcusable.
3. North Carolina (22-9, 12-6; RPI 19): Was the hottest team in the ACC before Senior Night. Now just another ACC team with more questions than answers.
4. N.C. State (22-9, 11-7; RPI 28): C.J. Leslie has picked up a bad habit of making mistakes at the worst possible times.
5. Virginia (21-10, 11-7; RPI 66): Showed good poise in coming back against Maryland when it was about to get run off its home court. Still doesn’t fully excuse the swoon since the Duke win.
11. Virginia Tech (13-18, 4-14; RPI 173): Erick Green, the Hokies’ new single-season record holder for points, gets to cap off one of the best performances for an utterly forgettable team in NCAA history.
— Lower seeds have won three of the four first-round games in the past two ACC tournaments. Good news for three teams out of N.C. State, Florida State, Maryland and Boston College. But bad news for one of them.
Erick Green ended up scoring 39.6 percent of Virginia Tech’s points during the ACC season.
Winston Salem Journal
ACC practice times set
The practices are free of charge and open to the public.
Boston College (9 a.m.-9:55); Georgia Tech (10 a.m.-10:55); N.C. State (11 a.m.-11:55); Virginia Tech (noon-12:55); Maryland (1 p.m.-1:55); Wake Forest (2 p.m.-2:55); Florida State (3 p.m.-3:55); Clemson (4 p.m.-4:55); Miami (5 p.m.-5:55); and Virginia (6 p.m.-6:55).
Duke and North Carolina are not scheduled to practice in Greensboro on Wednesday.
Jay Coleman, Mike DuMond, & Allen Lynch
NCAA Tournament “Dance Card”
Below are rankings of all NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams through the games of Monday, March 11, 2013, according to the “Dance Card” formula developed by Jay Coleman of the University of North Florida, Mike DuMond of Charles River Associates, and Allen Lynch of Mercer University.
Rank… Team…….. Chance of Bid
2…… Duke…….. 100.00%
8…… Miami….. 100.00%
10….. Michigan……. 100.00%
20….. Oklahoma St…… 100.00%
28….. UNC……… 99.99%
31….. NC State…. 99.92%
50….. Kentucky……… 66.80%
THE BUBBLE BURST HERE
51….. Virginia… 57.15%
57….. Stanford…. 20.82%
65….. UMass….. 0.53%
68….. Arizona State…. 0.09%
70….. Florida State…. 0.06%
N.C. State Wolfpack NCAA Tournament Bracketology Projection
Make Tournament: 99.1%
Prediction Seed: 8 (18.1%)
NCAA Tournament Odds To Advance By Round
Round of 32: 51.6%
Sweet 16: 19.8%
Elite 8: 8.2%
Final Four: 3.0%
Bracket Projections – Men’s Basketball (2012-2013)
Last update: 2013-03-12 11:44
Duke (1), Miami (1), UNC (5), NCSU (7)
The 2013 Bracket Matrix
Matrix Last Updated: 3/12/13 8:14 PM
Seed… Avg Seed… # of Brackets… Team
1……… 1.00………… 92……………… Duke
2……… 2.49………… 92……………… Michigan
3……… 2.51………… 92……………… Miami
4……… 4.30………… 92……………… Oklahoma State
7……… 7.17………… 92……………… North Carolina
8……… 8.08………… 92……………… NC State
OUT…….. 11.75……….. 24……………… Virginia
Jerry Palm (CBSSports.com)
2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament Prediction
Bracket updated on: Tue Mar 12 22:39
Duke (1), Miami (3), North Carolina (8), NC State (9)
Joe Lunardi (ESPN.com)
Updated March 12, 2013
Duke (1), Miami (2), North Carolina (7), NC State (8)
Eamonn Brennan (ESPN.com)
College Basketball Bubble Watch
Locks: Duke, Miami, UNC, NC State
Work left to do:
Virginia [21-10 (11-7), RPI: 66, SOS: 132] If any Virginia fans were celebrating after Sunday night’s win over Maryland, they might want to pull back just a bit. The Cavaliers still have a really depressing fact of bubble life working against them: too many bad losses. As ESPN Stats and Info’s Ryan Feldman wrote on our blog this week, UVa has seven losses to teams ranked outside the RPI top 100 (ranging from 118 to 317). In the past 20 seasons, no team with that many bad losses has received an at-large bid to the tournament. And in fact, only three teams — 2011 USC, 2005 Saint Mary’s and 2004 Washington — have gotten a bid with more than four such “bad” losses. Also working against Virginia? Nonconference schedule. This is nothing new, of course, but the selection committee has long since put the word out that bad noncon schedules will be judged harshly come March; it’s the type of quality that has kept more than a few otherwise (apparently) deserving teams out in recent seasons. Virginia’s nonconference schedule strength — No. 299 — is very much in that group. Of course, the Cavs also won at Wisconsin and beat Duke, UNC and NC State at home, and had players missing for some of those ugly losses early in the year. But even so, while Virginia remains alive, it may be more difficult than anyone thinks for the Cavs to actually seal that bid come Selection Sunday.
Maryland [20-11 (8-10), RPI: 83, SOS: 116] Maryland, on the other hand, is just about totally cooked. The Terps had a chance to keep pace with the rest of the bubble at UVa Sunday, but they let it slip away, and with the exception of their home wins over NC State and Duke, the only other top-100 wins this team has came against Stony Brook and Boston College. Just look at the Terps’ chintzy collection of 16 sub-150 wins; they simply HAVE to schedule better in the years to come.
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
Notre Dame’s arrival likely means 15-team basketball league with 18-game schedule in 2013-14
A year from now, Notre Dame men’s basketball team will be preparing for the ACC tournament instead of its annual trip to New York, where the Irish are a frustrating 9-17 all-time in the Big East tournament and have never made it to the league title game. The school announced Tuesday it is leaving the fractured Big East a year sooner than originally anticipated for the ACC in all sports except football and hockey.
The switch was approved in a vote by Big East university presidents in the wake of a split announced last week of the league’s football schools and seven Catholic schools that next season are forming their own basketball-focused conference with the Big East name. The vote means Notre Dame coaches can move forward with scheduling for the 2013-14 school year.
“It removes the uncertainty that made it hard for our coaches and athletes, so we’re very happy to resolve that for them,” athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a telephone interview.
Primary partners previously set
Boston College – Notre Dame and Syracuse
Clemson – Florida State and Georgia Tech
Duke – North Carolina and Wake Forest
Florida State – Clemson and Miami
Georgia Tech – Clemson and Notre Dame
Maryland – Pitt and Virginia
Miami – Florida State and Virginia Tech
North Carolina – Duke and N.C. State
N.C. State – North Carolina and Wake Forest
Notre Dame – Boston College and Georgia Tech
Pitt – Maryland and Syracuse
Syracuse – Boston College and Pitt
Virginia – Maryland and Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech – Miami and Virginia
Wake Forest – Duke and N.C. State
NC STATE BASEBALL
Daniel Wilson and Jon McNamara (technicianonline.com)
Baseball shuts out Quinnipiac
N.C. State (13-4, 1-2 ACC) managed to keep the Quinnipiac Bobcats (4-2, 0-0 NEC) off the scoreboard Tuesday night, holding them to only four hits as the Wolfpack squeezed by with the victory, 1-0. This game marks the third time this season State has shut out an opponent.
“Winning is good, and losing is bad,” head coach Elliott Avent said. “We find a way to win, but obviously we have to play better than this.”
Sophomore pitcher Logan Jernigan started the game for the Pack and gave up two hits and three walks while striking out five in his four innings of work. Freshman pitcher Jon Olczak followed him by striking out two in the fifth inning, his only inning pitched in the contest.
Junior pitcher Andrew Woeck (2-0, 1.20 ERA) earned the victory for State. After relieving Olczak, he pitched 2.1 innings and struck out five of nine batters he faced.
Redshirt senior pitcher Grant Sasser pitched .2 innings and allowed one hit and one strikeout. Senior pitcher Chris Overman struck out the side in the ninth to seal the game for his second save of the season.
Sophomore catcher Brett Austin was the Pack’s top performer of the game. In his five at-bats, Austin recorded three hits, including a run-scoring double in the bottom of the sixth.
State will return to action Wednesday as Old Dominion comes to Raleigh. The game will start at 6 pm and can be heard on 88.1 WKNC.
“We played them last year,” Austin said. “They are a good team. You cannot take anybody lightly right now. We just have to come out and play like we know how to play.”
NC STATE FOOTBALL
Jeniece Jamison (technicianonline.com)
Huxtable ready to turn around defense
The turnover from former football head coach Tom O’Brien to the current leader of the Wolfpack, Dave Doeren, has brought other new faces to the program as well.
As Doeren filled the positions once occupied by the old regime, he took the team’s past performance into consideration. Last season, N.C. State allowed 25.6 points and 404.7 yards per game. Both stats fell in the middle of the pack of the Atlantic Coast Conference — fifth and eighth respectively.
Defense also struggled in defending aerial assaults. State allowed 249.9 passing yards per game, which ranked it ninth in the conference.
Dave Huxtable, the Pack’s new defensive coordinator, is ready to elevate the expectations of a defense that some would have considered mediocre last season. He will bring 31 years of experience on the sidelines, three conference championships, 10 bowl appearances and a 4-3 defensive scheme to Raleigh.
In his previous stint as Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator, the Panthers were ranked 16th nationally in total defense and 21st in scoring defense.
Huxtable said he will stress getting back to the basics during spring practice.
“We want to be fundamentally sound,” Huxtable said. “We want to be sound in our structure. There’s 11 guys between the white lines that [have] to do their jobs, be where they’re supposed to be.”
“Those are the things that we’re going to stress defensively as we install the defensive package,” Huxtable said.
The Audible: Chalk holds in ACC Tournament
Mike picks the favorites to run the table in the ACC Tournament, while Mark takes the Wolfpack to win it.