Basketball issues for the upcoming year

After the performance on Saturday I do not want to think about football right now, so I thought I would address some challenges that I believe the basketball team will face this year.

(1) The loss of Julius Hodge – Besides being responsible for 23% of the points, 20% of the rebounds and most importantly 31% of the assists, Jules was the heart of the team. He was the player that wanted to take the final shot and was the emotional leader on last years team.

(2) The loss of Larry Hunter – Hunter came into the fold at the perfect time. He has been a steadying influence on the NCSU team and coaching staff.

(3) Finding a leader – Who is going to take the last shot? Who is going to energize the team?

(4) Integration of an interior offense – With the exception of Josh Powell, we have not seen an interior player with the potential of both Cedric Simmons and Andrew Brackman. How will these players be integrated into the offense?

My conclusions:

(1) Herb has not been to the NCAA without the aid of both Hunter and Hodge, but the loss of the only Wolfpack player Sendek has had drafted into the NBA was expected and something for which the staff should have been managing. The very nature of college basketball is transitional. We will also miss Larry Hunter, but if Herb has learned from Hunter then fresh blood in the staff could be a good thing.

(2) Who will take the “last shot” and how will we use the big men? There two types of players – those that want to take the last shot and those that do not. Someone will emerge as the former, the question is will he be able to hit the big shots? We have some impressive talent at the 4 and 5 spots and an interior offense can help to offset scoring droughts. Will the coaching staff leverage that interior strength in an effective manner?

These two questions will probably not be answered until late December or January. It seems to take our team a while to hit full stride so I expect us to stumble early in the schedule. If Cedric is averaging 15 points and has developed into an effective go-to player on the post, this could be a very good team midway through the ACC season.

About Rick

1992 and 2002 graduate from NCSU. Born and raised an NCSU fan. I remember the good ol' days and they weren't in the last 20 years.

General NCS Basketball

24 Responses to Basketball issues for the upcoming year

  1. VaWolf82 11/14/2005 at 1:14 PM #

    The $64,000 question is obviously how will State’s BB team react to the loss of Hodge. Will they struggle with no one to take control of the offense or at the end of the game? Will several players step up, making State less predictable (and more successful) at key points in the game?

    Clearly there is enough talent to have a successful season without Hodge. There is even potential to finally have a good rebounding team. Hopefully the pieces will fit together instead of falling apart.

  2. Class of '74 11/14/2005 at 3:30 PM #

    More than ever this will determine if Herb can be the coach we want at NCSU. They may not be very good at the start but by year end they should be very good.

  3. BJD95 11/14/2005 at 5:12 PM #

    If Sendek seriously contends for an ACC title, or makes Sweet Sixteen or better with this team, I will be duly impressed. It would be hard to give even the subjective credit (although I prefer the objectivist “CEO model” of coaching accountability in any event) to anyone other than Sendek.

    I still think the key for this team is devising a player rotation that DOES NOT have Atsur and Evtimov on the court at the same time. The development of four players in particular (Grant, Brack, Cam, and Big Ced) will determine how good we can be come March. That’s where the upside truly lies.

  4. Jeff 11/14/2005 at 5:27 PM #

    ^ BJD, I understand your thoughts…but…by YEAR TEN, shouldn’t we have seriously contended for an ACC title at least once?

    At this point in the tenure, shouldn’t Sweet 16 appearances be much more of a given instead of something that impresses us? Kind of like almost every other coach who made the Sweet 16 last year?

  5. Cardiac95 11/14/2005 at 10:17 PM #

    JB: Along those same lines, I did a close examination of the pre-season mags to get a feel for where other 10 year coaches are in major conferences. I was astounded at what I found….

    In looking at the ACC, Atlantic 10, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 10, & SEC I found 14 coaches that were in at least Year 10 at their respective schools. Given the year after year diet of pre-season cupcakes, would you believe that Herb Sendek has the 2nd worst OVERALL RECORD in that group?

    Of course the Top 10 are a who’s-who of longtime successful coaches (K, Olsen, Boeheim, Calhoun, Sutton, Sampson, Izzo, Donovon, Chaney, G. Williams). But how can Phil Martelli at St. Joseph’s & Ben Braun at California have had more overall success than our guy? Better yet, how can Ricardo Patton at Colorado be the only other coach to survive a near-decade of coaching in a major conference with a sub-.600 overall record? Of course, Colorado & the total of 7 NCAA appearances doesn’t exactly have a hoops history.

  6. Slader4881 11/15/2005 at 12:35 AM #

    I think the fact that Herb has been here so long kind of reflects just how down NCSU basketball was when he took over. No one wanted to come to NCSU to play, we were the basement of the ACC. The encouraging thing is that Herb seems to have found a system to run, (albeit mind boggling at times) and with this system he is now getting the RIGHT players that fit it. Remember the post guys with no post moves or jump shots (Inge, Kelly, Thorton, even Powell) now we may have one (Ced) but other than that we have guys that can run the floor and shoot. On top of that we are getting 6’7″ and up guys that can shoot wanting to come to State to play, and most are highly regarded. To me this really sounds like a program on the upswing. Now if we could only get Herb to yell at someone during the game.

  7. Rick 11/15/2005 at 9:30 AM #

    This is some amazing and not surprizing information.

    The post above mentions the system. The system is an unproven one that seems to be good enough to keep making the tournament but has flaws that will keep it from winning a championship.

  8. BJD95 11/15/2005 at 10:35 AM #

    My general opinion is this is a “cream rising to the top” year in the ACC. Opportunity abounds, and no team should scare anyone other than Duke. Our roster is fairly intact, except for Hodge (did he really carry Sendek on his back the last four years? I may subjectively suspect this, but now we’ll find out…), and Hunter is also gone. We saw a “Prague Spring” of sorts from Brack, Cam, and Grant late last year – will that blossom into something special, or be eclipsed by an over-reliance on Evtimov (which I fear) and the “system that gets you to pretty good and no farther”? This year sets up as a real opportunity for Sendek to show us something, or fall flat on his face.

    Given what we’ve seen the last 9 years, it’s probably wise to expect something in the middle.

  9. Cardiac95 11/15/2005 at 11:13 AM #

    More about the 14 coaches above –

    In the Top 10…..6 have won National Championships, the other four each have at least one Final Four appearance; at least one Conference Championship.

    (11) Martelli – has multiple A-10 Championships
    (12) Braun – has been to 4 NCAA’s, 1 Sweet 16, & won the post-season NIT
    (13) Herb – you know the story.

    So whether we’re looking at an OVERALL Record or a SINGLE-YEAR peak performance, Herb has outpaced only the guy from Colorado.

  10. Cardiac95 11/15/2005 at 11:15 AM #

    I have no idea how I did the “inviso-ink….big-type” thing there. Drag & click over the blank space to see all comments.

  11. Mr. O 11/15/2005 at 1:52 PM #

    Comparing Martelli’s success in the Atlantic 10 to Herb’s in the ACC simply isn’t exactly an apple to apple comparision.

    How does Herb compare in the last 4 years to Martelli, Braun, and Donovan? My guess is that there levels of success are at least similar.

    I have come well back to the middle on the great Herb debate. IMO, there simply is no reason to hold Herb’s overall record against him based on his successes the last 4 years. 4 NCAAs, 3 top 4 ACC finishes, multiple final top 25 rankings, and a Sweet 16 have at least earned us to forget about the first 5 years.

    We have more good players on our roster than any other year Herb has been our coach. Honestly, I haven’t felt this good about a team going into the year with Herb as our coach. If he does make the Sweet 16, then that in and of itself isn’t a major accomplishment. However, it would be a continuation and the beginning of a streak of Sweet 16 appearances. There wouldn’t be that many programs with streaks of Sweet 16 appearances, so IMO back to back Sweet 16 appearances is significant for our program.

    We could very well disappoint this season, however I don’t see the need to keep giving Sendek a hard time about his first 5 seasons at NC State.

  12. Rick 11/15/2005 at 2:16 PM #

    Mr O,
    If I had to guess, I would bet we have a so-so regular season (we will probably have to dig ourselves out of an ACC hole) and do just enough in the tournament to give us hope that we have turned a corner. We will then lose in some bizarre and frustrating manner. And going into year 11 we will have the same questions about the direction of our program.

  13. TVP 11/15/2005 at 3:13 PM #

    At this point, I’m just happy that at least one of our two major sports is relatively certain to have a decent record and make the postseason. That’s how far things have fallen from the heady days of January 2003.

    Back on topic, I agree w/ Mr. O that there is no need to hold the early Sendek years against him anymore. I understand that this may seem intellecutally dishonest to some, but those years don’t have any relevance to the current state of our program or our prospects of future success anymore. Glory is fleeting, but so is failure.

    I’m going to be very interested to see how we do in four fairly tough non-conference games (GW, @ Notre Dame, @ Alabama, @ Iowa). Given our prior record in such contests, a 2-2 record would be a pleasant surprise.

  14. Mr. O 11/15/2005 at 3:43 PM #

    We have had a nice run the last 4 years. We have a team that looks strong on paper in terms of experience, depth, athleticism, size and overall skills.

    Since year 5, everything about the program has changed. We play a different style. We recruit a different type of player. Our results since these changes have been almost a complete 180. With our teams outlook, I think we have certainly made the step where we are as good as any program in the ACC except for Duke and UNC. We have a chance to finish in front of UNC in the ACC standings for the 3rd time in 4 seasons. We have had regular season success(three tied for 3rd or better finishes in four years) and meaningfull NCAA tourney success (a Sweet 16).

    All I am saying is that I think Sendek has enough accomplishments for all of us to move past the first 5 years. We all would have liked it to turn around faster, but either way he has turned it around and our program is in solid shape in every area.

  15. Sacco 11/15/2005 at 8:10 PM #

    As one State fan who is impressed, I don’t think anyone holds Herb’s first five years against him. Things NOT to hold against Herb:
    1) Shea Cotton
    2) Les Robinson

    Things TO hold against Herb:
    1) Zero conference titles (with 3 appearances in the Tourney finals)
    2) Four straight NCAA tournament appearances with only ONE Sweet 16
    3) Kenny Inge
    4) Roughly ten transfers of players HE brought into the university.

    To Herb’s credit, he got great junior and senior play out of guys like Gainey, Crawford, and Grundy, but he’s lost so many players to transfer and injury that it can’t be merely a coincidence. Even ONE ACC tournament title or a first place finish in the regular season shouldn’t be too much to ask considering the time he’s spent here. Yes he has to fight with Duke and Carolina each year but that’s just what Bubas and McGuire said when Case was in Raleigh. There is a reason the Triangle is the best hub of College basketball now and this coach needs to be held to the highest standard possible. Nevermind this program WAS terrible when he arrived. Where is it now?

  16. TVP 11/15/2005 at 9:23 PM #

    Actually, I don’t think anyone has talked about it, but isn’t this summer/fall the first offseason Herb has had without any defections?

  17. Cardiac95 11/15/2005 at 10:18 PM #

    Re: Transfer…..Indeed! We are rapidly approaching a full calender year without one (Adam Simons announced late-November 2004). And if we can hold on until next May….Herb will have finally graduated more of his recruited/signed players than he has had leave the program early.

    O: Peak seasons don’t hold Herb’s first 5 years against him. Herb’s peak seasons just don’t stack up with this peer group of “tenured” coaches at major conference schools. I could agree to throw out the A10 guys if you want….it still won’t change the comparison. Also…Billy Donovan won the SEC Championship last year.

    I’ll agree with this much….we have a deep, talented, & experienced team this year and as such have no reason not to expect an excellent season. Who knows….maybe this is Herb’s year to cut the nets down in Greensboro?

  18. Mr. O 11/16/2005 at 10:12 AM #

    Cardiac: There aren’t many coaches in the country that would stack up with Calhoun, K, Olsen, Izzo, etc….

    Duke, Arizona, UCONN, Florida, Mich. St., Ok. St., and NCSU have made the tourney the past 4 years.

    Maryland, Temple, Colorado, Cal, Syracuse, St. Josephs, and Oklahoma have all missed a year (at least).

    RPI the last 4 years:
    Coach Team RPI
    ———– ——— —–
    K Duke 5.25
    Sutton OK St 12.75
    Calhoun UConn 13.50
    Olsen Arizona 14.25
    Donovon Florida 15.75
    Sampson Oklahoma 20.25
    Boeheim Syracuse 27.25
    G. Williams Maryland 28.50
    Izzo Mich St 31.25
    Martelli St. Joe’s 39.75
    Sendek NCSU 42.75
    Braun Cal 74.25
    Patton Colorado 79.25
    Cheney Temple 92.50

    Winning percentage the last 4 years:
    Coach Team PCT
    ———– ——— —–
    K Duke 0.844
    Sutton OK St 0.780
    Olsen Arizona 0.775
    Sampson Oklahoma 0.773
    Calhoun UConn 0.769
    Boeheim Syracuse 0.760
    Martelli St. Joe’s 0.750
    Donovon Florida 0.736
    G. Williams Maryland 0.696
    Izzo Mich St 0.658
    Sendek NCSU 0.645
    Braun Cal 0.595
    Patton Colorado 0.557
    Cheney Temple 0.526

    NCAA Record last 4 years:
    UConn: 12-3
    Duke: 10-4
    Maryland: 9-2
    Arizona: 8-4
    Oklahoma: 8-3
    Syracuse: 8-2
    Michigan St.: 7-4
    Oklahoma St.: 7-4
    NC State: 4-4
    St. Josephs: 3-2
    Florida: 2-4
    California: 2-2
    Colorado: 0-1
    Temple: 0-0

  19. Rick 11/16/2005 at 10:23 AM #

    “There aren’t many coaches in the country that would stack up with Calhoun, K, Olsen, Izzo, etc….”

    Of course not. But why is that? Probably because once they get to the ten year point they are either successful or gone. Herb is neither. So the only coaches that have been in the major conferences as long as Herb have all out performed him.

  20. Mr. O 11/16/2005 at 11:05 AM #

    Rick: I would say that Herb has been successful the last 4 years.

    In this group, you have most likely have 7 Hall of Fame coaches. Boeheim, Calhoun, K, Olsen, Sutton, G. Williams, Izzo. Do we really expect Herb to be in a peer group of 7 Hall of Fame coaches after only being a head coach for 12 years and only 9 years as a coach in a major conference?

    Of the rest of the group:

    RPI average – 4th of 7
    Win percentage – 4th of 7 with a much harder SOS then Martelli
    NCAA record – 2nd of 7
    Coaches w/ 4 consecutive NCAAs – only Donovan and Sendek

    In addition, Herb has 3 ACC regular season finishes of tied for 3rd place or better. Maybe only Sampson at Oklahoma can match those finishes in a major conference.

    Additionally, if you are looking at the future, then you might have the two best consecutive classes Herb has ever signed at NC State that represent our sophmore and freshman classes. Those two classes are stronger than any program in the ACC the last two years except for possibly Duke and UNC.

  21. Jeff 11/16/2005 at 11:09 AM #

    I don’t think stuff should be “held against Herb” from long ago. I think that you let the HSSSers frame the conversation too much when you make such comments.

    I also think that anyone who chooses to completely ignore five years of performance from their analysis of, “Can this guy get us back to a consistent Top 10-15 program” isn’t being very smart.

    I don’t hold ANYTHING against Herb. The guy does the best that he can do. I hold decision making regarding the program against the buffon in the AD chair. By the same token, I don’t think that it is wise to ignore a half of a decade of results as you seek to come to a conclusion if this guy can get us back to the top.

  22. Mr. O 11/16/2005 at 11:37 AM #

    I can agree to disagree there. The half decade is almost irrelevant because of the changes in results and because of the successes in recruiting the last two years. This doesn’t get Herb a lifetime contract, but I think he has earned some good faith from the fanbase at large.

  23. Sacco 11/16/2005 at 9:18 PM #

    Mr. O, there’s no reason why St. joe’s SOS would EVER be above NC State’s because of CONFERENCE play. Irrespective of Sendek’s recruiting “success,” measuring a small A-10 school’s SOS against ours is meaningless because the ACC is THE powerhouse in college basketball. That’s like measuring App State’s strength of schedule in football versus Auburn. It doesn’t add up. And according to recruiting, yes Sendek has done quite well. He would be much better had so many guys not either left for the NBA or transferred. Josh Powell alone would have been a great addition the last two seasons. Lastly, I can’t excuse injuries under his watch. Thornton, Evtimov, Bethel, Kelley are just a few whose careers were NEVER what they could have been because of injury. Williams, Wilkins, Powell, O’Donnell, Mejia, Flatt highlight the transfer list. Cameron Bennermen is the only senior remaining from his recruiting class. The other three are gone.

  24. Jeff 11/17/2005 at 7:32 AM #

    Mr O…and you believe that the last 4 years have been so successful that you truly have legitimate faith that we will be a consistent, true national player again. NOW? We will have to agree to disagree.

    I see us “projected” 3rd through 5th in the ACC AGAIN. I see us projected as basically a bubble team (around a 9th seed) in the NCAA Tournament AGAIN. I see us clearly NOT competing for any kind of title AGAIN.

    I don’t argue that the last 4 years have been ‘nice’ and have not meritted the removal of Herb Sendek as NC State’s Basketball coach. I do argue that the last 4 years has done nothing to instill a swell of excitement that we really will be a national program any time soon.

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