A Strange View

For years, my mother would save articles from the Charlotte Observer’s sports section to show me how unevenly they covered State and UNC. Her “favorite” writer to shout about was Ron Green (Sr.) and his commentaries. My mom eventually reached the breaking point and cancelled her subscription. So I haven’t heard or thought much about the CO in years until Jeff mentioned that Tom Sorenson was starting a me-too blog there.

I went to their website to check out the blog and read his pre-game thoughts on the State/UNC game. Overall, his comments were very complimentary of State and Sendek. For example:

Last season, he took his team to the Sweet 16. I was with them in Worchester, Mass., when he did…Sendek was masterful…..He was cool [after falling behind Charlotte], and his team was passionate….Sendek’s work that afternoon [beating UConn] was as good as any coaching anybody did in March. I finally realized why Herb still has a job. That’s my fault, not his.

Then he includes this:

Duke and North Carolina take turns competing for the title while N.C. State wins one tournament game or, in a great season, two. [emphasis added]

Don’t get me wrong…he is completely accurate in both places. In fact, Sorenson hasn’t said anything that hasn’t been said many times on NC State websites. The big difference is that he took stuff from both sides of the Great Herb Debate and used them in the same piece. Someone needs to tell Tom that that’s not the way we do things. 😉

About VaWolf82

Engineer living in Central Va. and senior curmudgeon amongst SFN authors One wife, two kids, one dog, four vehicles on insurance, and four phones on cell plan...looking forward to empty nest status. Graduated 1982

General NCS Basketball Quotes of Note

37 Responses to A Strange View

  1. Jeff 01/09/2006 at 8:43 AM #

    Honestly — I think both of Sorenseon’s comments are 100% accurate, and the comments provide fantastic insight into the “great debate in Raleigh”

    It is all about the perspective that one chooses:

    Sendek does usually do a great job at winning a game or two at the end of the season — usually in an ‘unexpected’ manner. That is a nice thing.

    Unfortunately, the reason that the wins are unexpected is because we typically haven’t had the most stellar of regular seasons. That is not a good thing.

    If you have the sick ability to pretend as though five years of life didn’t actually happen…then applying an inordinate amount of weight on a single win or two at the end of each year isn’t hard for you.

    If you have the burning desire to truly be at or near the top, then you

    Sendek can be/and is a fine coach without being able to deliver the level of results that NC State should be achieving. Why is that so hard for people to swallow? He’s a great coach…who can’t compete at a true Top 10 level while at NC State.

    For many people, being around the #30 best basketball program over a 5 year period is what great. For others, it is not enough.

  2. Class of '74 01/09/2006 at 9:11 AM #

    So true^. He is somewhere between top 30 and 60 type coach. His problem is he is competing against perpetual 10 ten programs. That is not a recipe for flattering reviews.

  3. Mr. O 01/09/2006 at 9:15 AM #

    I don’t think the statistics support Herb to be a top 30 to 60 coach. Not over the last 4 years anyways.

    We are still a top 20 team right now, so there isn’t any reason to jump off the deep end over 1 game. We can still have a top 10 type of season, so personally I am still very excited about the prospects for this season.

  4. Class of '74 01/09/2006 at 9:29 AM #

    I think, in Herb’s defense, four consecutive trips to the NCAA’s would have to put you in the top 60.

  5. Sam '92 01/09/2006 at 9:54 AM #

    Herb’s keeping us somewhere between the 20th and 30th best team in the country — and that’s the good and the bad of Herb Sendek.

    Herb runs a clean program, will consistently win 20 games (thanks in large part to a soft non-conference schedule), and will routinely, if not every year, get into the NCAA tournament, losing in the first couple of rounds.

    What happened against UNC is the same old story — whenever a Herb Sendek coached team plays a good team with an inspiring coach, you can count on a second half wilt by the wolfpack. Great basketball coaches inspire their players to play with heart and poise down the stretch, making clutch baskets, steals and stops. Herb’s teams don’t do that, and never will, because he doesn’t inspire that kind of dig-down-deep-and-give-it-to-me play.

    Our program has gone as far as Herb can take it. The only question is whether or not we alums are willing to live with that. It’s not so bad, and it certainly could be worse, but with Herb we will be forever in UNC and Duke’s shadow.

  6. Mr. O 01/09/2006 at 10:01 AM #

    Sagarin Rankings:
    2002- #23
    2003 -#46
    2004 -#16
    2005 -#26
    2006- #17

    Average – 25.6

    If the season was over, then I would be moaning with the rest of you guys.

  7. Mr. O 01/09/2006 at 10:02 AM #

    That was supposed to show our finish each of the last 4 years and this year’s ranking. #23, #46, #16, #26, and currently #17.

  8. Jeff 01/09/2006 at 10:14 AM #

    MrO…stop using the # sign as the first character on a line. That will fix your posting problems.

    Averaging #25 in the most attractive rankings possible…with NO signature success to tout….and a horrible record against both rivals and anything resembling good competition.

    NO CASE can be made that we are a Top 20 program. None. #25 is a huge stretch.

    This is our peak. Yee-haw

  9. Class of '74 01/09/2006 at 10:15 AM #

    One year, one day maybe the WPC will say enough mediocrity is enough. Until that day arrives Sam’92 has it about right: clean, not real bad but not really good and no banners. Just what everyone strives for mediocrity. And a Clemson like record in Chapel Hill.

  10. VaWolf82 01/09/2006 at 10:42 AM #

    Herb’s keeping us somewhere between the 20th and 30th best team in the country — and that’s the good and the bad of Herb Sendek.

    In other words…..Stuck on Pretty Good

  11. Trout 01/09/2006 at 12:07 PM #

    “And a Clemson like record in Chapel Hill.”

    I’m disappointed in Saturday’s game as well, but let’s not go overboard in our statements.

    Herb is 3-7 in Chapel Hill. Clemson is 0 and forever in Chapel Hill.

  12. Jeff 01/09/2006 at 12:23 PM #

    I don’t want to focus on the ‘negative’….but, if you go back and analyze six of our seven losses in Chapel Hill you will find six games where we led in the second half and choked away a victory. In fact, Saturday’s game was actually one of the more complete Carolina victories of that subset.

    You’d think that after a decade of getting raped and pillage by officiating, somebody would try to deal with the bullshit with a different approach.

  13. Trout 01/09/2006 at 12:31 PM #

    ^ Very painful. What approach would work? What NC State coach has ever gotten calls in Chapel Hill? Hell, I think V was 1-9 in Chapel Hill, with the only win coming when Mickey Hinnant, of all players, got hot one game.

    Different subject: is BC’s Al Skinner the first ACC coach you can remember to NOT wear a tie during games.

  14. Class of '74 01/09/2006 at 12:45 PM #

    ^Trout, my Clemson like record comments were in reference to this day forward Roy vs. Herb. Which I think are very realistic given the direction of the programs and who’s on the two benches in the suits.

  15. Alpha Wolf 01/09/2006 at 12:59 PM #

    Really, besides Duke and Maryland, who wins regularly in Blue Hell?

    Not many teams, that’s for sure.

    State needed to come in and play hard-nosed poised basketball, and a complete game on top of that. With 2:32 to play, they are still in the thing, and you think it would be then that the experience of the Wolfpack would provide the difference in the ballgame. What actually happened is that Carolina looked like the well-schooled been-there-done-that squad, and the Wolfpack was left floundering.

    To me that says leadership. Not neecessarily leadership on the bench, but leadership on the floor. Someone who’s willing to take control and marshal the team through the most critical part of the ballgame. State sorely lacked it on Saturday, and it was painful to watch the confusion on the face of “the committee” with not one single guy willing to step up and carry the team. Cam Bennerman may have tried, but if the others won’t follow, then you are not a leader.

  16. Rick Jernigan 01/09/2006 at 1:06 PM #

    Let me say how much I enjoy reading this blog. It really forces you to think about our program in an in-depth manner. In my opinion, there are 6 Division I head coaching jobs out of 334 that are better than NC State’s; Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA, Kansas and Indiana. This is not to say that NC State is necessarily the 7th best job in the country. There are probably 10 to 15 more jobs as good as NC State. It is certainly interesting to note that 2 of the 6 are so close to us geographically. This is not a coincidence. Everett Case is the reason. Many wonderful NC State fans will disagree and even disparage this assessment as a ridiculously optimistic view of our program. As a comparison, I believe there are 20 Division I head coaching football jobs out of 117 (Texas A&M & Washington would probably be the last 2 on this list) that are better than ours with another 15 to 20 about the same.

    The conclusion that we should be a top 20 – 25 program and a top 3 to 4 in the ACC position is a reasonable baseline expectation for our basketball program. There seems to be a decent consensus on this but some valid debate if we are there yet. It clearly has taken a long time for Herb to get us to this point and his main defense is the historically poor point in which he took over our program. We clearly need to make another jump to put us at a level that everyone can agree is acceptable. Can Herb make this jump? To me, this is the central question that sprouts forth the most disagreement. The camp that says he can’t has a lot of data to back their claim but the historical data of Herb’s first five years wouldn’t have predicted the success of the last four. Time will tell.

    Again, thanks for the great discussion.

  17. Class of '74 01/09/2006 at 1:46 PM #

    ^Hard to argue with your assessment of our place in both sports.

  18. Jeff 01/09/2006 at 2:08 PM #


    You should develop that those thoughts a little more into a full blog entry. I think that you are right on the money and very interesting.

    The guy that posts here as “Stormin Normin” has the perspective that you have to be an absolute idiot/moron to not succeed/get fired from coaching basketball at NC State. He’s been telling me for years that our inherit advantages are so strong that it takes absolutely nothing special to put together the type of program that we currently have (and you really have to be bad to be as unsuccessful as we were in the past)

    I can’t disagree at all. Your comments help set that stage for that kind of conversation.

  19. VaWolf82 01/09/2006 at 2:33 PM #

    The camp that says he can’t has a lot of data to back their claim but the historical data of Herb’s first five years wouldn’t have predicted the success of the last four.

    However, there were alot of people that used recruiting rankings from those first five years to predict success levels that have yet to be achieved.

    Another distinction that I would like to make is that I am not aware of anyone here that claims that analysis of the past can be used to predict the future. Most of the work that I have done has been directed at State fans that tend to gloss over pretty much everything other than 4 straight trips to the NCAAT.

    Wouldn’t you admit that climbing over Clemson, FSU, Virginia, and Georgia Tech is much easier than climbing over WF, Maryland, UNC, and Duke?

    The conclusion that we should be a top 20 – 25 program and a top 3 to 4 in the ACC position is a reasonable baseline expectation for our basketball program.

    Doesn’t some level of post-season success have to be included as well?

  20. Rick Jernigan 01/09/2006 at 3:06 PM #

    Vawolf – Completely agree on the comment regarding recruiting rankings.

    “Wouldn’t you admit that climbing over Clemson, FSU, Virginia, and Georgia Tech is much easier than climbing over WF, Maryland, UNC, and Duke?”

    Absolutely. I would break it down one more level – It will be a lot easier to climb over WF & Maryland than UNC & Duke.

    “Doesn’t some level of post-season success have to be included as well?”

    For sure. The good news here is that on this standard we’ve already climb over WF.

  21. Astral Rain 01/09/2006 at 3:32 PM #

    Right now, we’re ranked 18 in coaches poll, dropped about 5 spots. It’s not like a loss to a ranked team at their place is the Hindenburg. It’s a game most teams would lose, outside of the top 5 or 6 teams in the country.

    I’ll admit, Herb was in neutral a lot of years, he should have been fired a few years ago, but wasn’t. However, he’s doing better now- and if NCSU is a 4-5 seed in this year’s tourney, that’s good. I don’t remember NCSU being a high seed a lot in the old days either. Of course, NCSU’s glory days they only had 16-25 teams in the thing, and the dunk was banned.

    We have to let the hate go- we’re a legit program, maybe not top tier, but definitely upper-mid, with a chance to be a top tier program- all it takes is a couple of upsets, which is something Sendek’s good at, so maybe once in my lifetime they’ll win it all.

    Besides, not to take too much of a cheap shot here, but didn’t a lot of Valvano’s team underacheive, and Herb has brought the program up from where he starting, which was Duke in football bad. Remember his first ACC tourney run, and Luke Buffum?

  22. Rick Jernigan 01/09/2006 at 3:49 PM #

    Jeff – thanks for the comments. Don’t know “Stormin Normin� but I agree with his take. The hardest part for me regarding Herb is the unique set of circumstances he faced at the start. How much did this hinder the program? I don’t know the answer but I believe the circumstances are fine now.

    To me, the most difficult task of any college basketball or football coach is to raise a program above the “inherent advantages� that they enjoy. This is one reason I find Rick Barnes record so impressive. At Clemson & Texas, he has taken schools to their highest level of achievement. Clemson is the mirror image of NC State in basketball. It is almost impossible to achieve consistent success. I’m sure this is why Barnes left. Tates Locke also succeeded for a short time at Clemson. In his book, “Caught in the Web�, he chronicles his rising frustration of competing in the ACC as the reason he started wholesale cheating to get Tree Rollins, Stan Rome & Skip Wise. This is an old book but you guys would absolutely love reading it if you haven’t already!

    Our football program is another great example. We have put tons of money into facilities but it is still very difficult to climb over programs with better “inherent advantages�. I love that we are trying but we are starting from a much different place than basketball. Not to sound like a know-it-all but I don’t think that many Pack fans understand this difference.

  23. Jim 01/09/2006 at 5:51 PM #

    For the purposes of this post let me remain agnostic on the “Herb Debate.”

    I think everyone would agree that this is Herb’s best team to date. I think everyone would agree that the ACC is not at it’s strongest this year. This sets up a recipe for a “high water mark” year under Herb. It will be interesting to see where we shake out at the end of the season.

    I’m not going to freak out over one loss, even to UNC-CH. But in a “high water mark” year I think we can expect to beat a team that returned 4 total points per game from last year. Can’t we? Perhaps that game was an aberration, we will stay in the top 15 the rest of the year, and we can chalk up last Saturday to playing in the country’s best conference and running into a hot opponent on the road.

    We won’t really know until we get a lot deeper into the conference schedule, but just as we knew that Hodge’s freshman year was going to be a watershed year for Herb one way or the other, I think this one is also, for different reasons. Herb has been given a long time and has all of the “pieces” for his “system” in place, with talent, depth, and a relatively weak ACC. Having all of those advantages puts the pressure on to see what he can do in the best possible circumstances.

  24. VaWolf82 01/09/2006 at 8:34 PM #

    I think everyone would agree that this is Herb’s best team to date.

    Well, I’m in the minority then. Replacing three seniors with three freshman, I needed to see something before I drank the Kool-Aid. With Costner hurt and the two freshmen glued to the bench, I don’t see that this year’s team is Herb’s best.

    I’m willing to wait, but right now the victories against Ala, ND, and GW don’t look all that impressive. There were very few bright spots in the losses to Iowa and UNC. Oh well, there is another game tomorrow night…a new piece will be added to the puzzle.

  25. Sacco 01/09/2006 at 9:06 PM #

    I think a major point that needs to be made this year in the conference is that, despite several top players leaving for the NBA or graduating, I don’t see that this conference is in “down” year. This weekend was a perfect example of how this league is still strong through the top 9 places. Florida State has beaten Duke in the past, as Clemson has been a tough place for certain teams to win also. BC, Maryland, and State all had losses to lower-ranked or unranked teams. Now I don’t expect the entire league to be 9-7 (the old Vic Bubas dream) but considering that one of the league’s top four teams is 0-2 in conference with a ranked opponent coming to Chesnut Hill to play, this league hasn’t missed much, even if UNC isn’t as strong as they were last year. This is a tough league and 11 wins will be a statement by this NC State team.

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