Mission Accomplished!

What a great weekend in Wolfpack Athletics!!

Both the basketball program and the football program took advantage of their opportunities over the weekend and logged solid wins. Yeah….I think “solid” is the perfect adjective for the wins.

On Friday, I called the weekend’s games an “opportunity” for both programs “not to screw up”. Both programs succeeded with flying colors on that mission. In fact, had football exercised more offensive proficiency when given the opportunity, both programs could have elevated themselves from “not screwing up” to “making a helluva statement”.

By all accounts, football’s win in the Meineke Car Care Bowl was boring. Who cares? It was a win. It was a shutout win against a team that beat Louisville by 30 points. (I’m sure some of our friends remember Louisville.

Basketball’s win over George Washington was more impressive.

Of course, I am tempted to ask just how good GW really is? Who wouldn’t be after watching that performance last Friday night. I know after watching them that they aren’t a fundamentally sound basketball team; I also know that their record is grossly inflated against horrible teams as evidenced by their current computer records – #94 RPI; #50 Sagarin; #297 strength of schedule But, who really cares right now? We will find out how good GW is by the end of the season.

The key element on which fans should focus is that for only the second time in ten years, NC State has performed acceptably well against our non-conference basketball schedule. State has avoided the inexcusable losses that have plagued us in the past and succeeded in building a record that produces confidence on the team and cushion in their quest to play for NCAA Tournament seeding throughout the year (as opposed to playing just to get into the NCAA Tournament).

At this point, I am not as concerned with how strong/weak the OOC schedule has been. We have the ACC to help us with more tests against good competition. I want to focus on the fact that to this point – we’ve lined ’em up, and we’ve knocked them down. We haven’t been able to say that nearly enough in the Robinson/Sendek era. The Wolfpack is now being rewarded for consistency with a #12/#13 current national ranking, a #43 RPI, and a #16 Sagarin. Time to focus on the ACC.

There are tons of thoughts to share from the experiences of the weekend….so, I hope I get the time to get to the computer this week.

Happy New Year!

General NCS Basketball NCS Football

43 Responses to Mission Accomplished!

  1. Class of '74 01/03/2006 at 10:14 AM #

    Could not agree more. The upcoming ACC games will confirm or deny the giddy feelings we have not experienced in such a long time in b-ball. It looks like the best balanced team with regard to inside vs. outside attack we’ve had since the ’80’s.
    Football was ugly but a win is a win regardless. Boy do we need a QB next year! Memo to Brent Schaeffer: please sign with us as we are in desperate need of a QB.

  2. VaWolf82 01/03/2006 at 11:22 AM #

    While the OOC SOS is still 200+, it is marginally better than last year’s. UNCG is at #159 and Seton Hall is currently at #73. If State does well in ACC play (10-6 or better), State should get a reasonable to good seeding.

    If State has a marginal ACC record (7-9 to 9-7), then the weak OOC schedule and the weakened ACC will come into play. The last two years, the ACC was the #1 rated conference. Currently the ACC ranks #4. The unbalanced ACC schedule will add a complicating issue of ACC SOS when comparing ACC bubble teams.

    Here’s State’s ACC schedule sorted by current RPI

    1 Duke
    33 Maryland
    36 Boston College
    36 Boston College
    47 North Carolina
    47 North Carolina
    68 Wake Forest
    68 Wake Forest
    97 Clemson
    105 Florida St.
    107 Virginia
    117 Virginia Tech
    139 Miami FL
    139 Miami FL
    162 Georgia Tech
    162 Georgia Tech

  3. Jeff 01/03/2006 at 11:36 AM #

    ^ Doesn’t look like we will have to worry with failing against too many teams ranked #11-#25 this year.

    Last year, there was a time when the ACC didn’t have a single team rated worse than #100 in the RPI. This year, we play 7 games against teams ranked #97 or worse.

    Yet, some people want to argue that the ACC is not down this year?

    Thanks for the great numbers, VaWolf

  4. SaccoV 01/03/2006 at 11:55 AM #

    The adjective that best describes this year’s conference is definitely top-heavy. Always a tough conference to get 12 wins in and this year will be no different from State. 11 wins are necessary for a good seed though.

  5. BJD95 01/03/2006 at 12:14 PM #

    Georgia Tech head-first plummet into the crapper is quite the story. I also expect Maryland to tumble quite a bit, and for NC State and BC to battle it out for 2nd. In the past, I’ve broken the ACC into various “tiers.” Here’s what I see so far:

    Tier I: Duke
    Tier II: NC State, Boston College
    Tier III: Maryland, UNC, Wake Forest
    Tier IV: Miami, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson
    Tier V: Georgia Tech, Virginia

    You could argue that Clemson slides into Tier V after losing to Elon. I also wouldn’t be shocked if GT rights the ship enough to get into Tier IV. The rest are pretty well set, I think.

  6. Jeff 01/03/2006 at 12:39 PM #

    Currently, can’t argue with that. Potential for a lot of movement in those. I wouldn’t be surprised if Seth Greenberg had VPI fighting in Tier III. Clemson could have been in there had it not been for their academic loss

  7. VaWolf82 01/03/2006 at 1:21 PM #

    The only game I’ve seen Md play was the second half against GW. After watching State play GW, I’m really interested in watching MD play some games. GW handled MD pretty easily and State certainly had no problems with GW. Living in “Comcast Hell”, I’m sure that I will get plenty of chances to see MD.

    Comcast showed ODU beat VT instead of the State/GW game. State’s BB game was rebroadcast on Saturday at the same time as the bowl game

  8. Ken Babb 01/03/2006 at 1:49 PM #

    As far as using the two games against GW to predict the result of NCSU vs. Md, one grain of salt. I do think the two games show NCSU to be the superior team, but not by as much as you would think just from reading the scores. The reason is this: the Md defense is based on stealing the ball and failing that, forcing the offense into playing faster than it is comfortable. When Md was unable to generate enough turnovers against GW they were in trouble because there almost is NOT a speed too fast for GW. Trying to make GW play fast is like throwing Brer rabbit into the brier patch. Not a good way to defeat them.

    In contrast, NCSU’s defensive plan seems to be to force the offense to play deep inot the clock, prevent passes and force one-on-one drives into the shot blockers. This scheme seemed to frustrate GW and cause them to force up bad shots.

    NCSU’s defense may have the same effect on Md (it certainly did last year, even without the shotblocking), but Md’s defense should be at least somewhat more effective against NCSU than it was against GW.

  9. Sammy Kent 01/03/2006 at 2:02 PM #

    The GW game was by far the most enjoyable game I’ve seen a Wolfpack team play since the 1997 ACC Semifinal against Dook. And it’s the BEST I’ve seen a Wolfpack team play since Les’s 1992 team took the Holes in Chapel Hill for the sweep. Norm Sloan would have been very proud of that game. 16 fast break points, only 1/3 of the shots attempted were threes, and only five of those were by front court players–none of which were named Cedric Simmons–, 32 points in the paint, guards handling the ball keeping turnovers to a minimum, no circle the wagons or four statues formations, no last-second three point heaves, no possessions with twenty passes that still don’t advance the ball toward the hoop, and players actually in rebounding position. If we play that way all year (and by that I mean that style of play–fast break, going inside, pushing tempo, playing POSITION basketball–) we will be a legitimate final four threat.

  10. Alpha Wolf 01/03/2006 at 2:03 PM #


    I think that the ability of all five of the Wolfpack player’s ability to handle the ball will largely negate the style of defense that UMD plays. Given that some are better than others, it is still true that all of our players (out of the top 7 or 8 who regularly play) can handle the ball and pass it well enough to not be easily trapped into a turnover.

  11. Jeff 01/03/2006 at 2:05 PM #

    Ken, great perspective! Thanks for sharing.

    Even the announcers during the State-GW game commented that Maryland wasn’t themselves and laid an egg against GW. Additionally, Gary Williams (historically) wrings out significant improvement from his teams as the year progresses. (Don’t forget their injury problems last year that stunted the team’s development).

    State definitely feels better than Maryland again this year. But, using BJD’s tier system, the Terps are definitely in striking distance.

  12. Trout 01/03/2006 at 2:37 PM #

    Happy New Year to statefansnation as well.

    I’m very impressed with the basketball team, to date. Tony Bethel scored a measly 2 points, yet we still dominated GW. Having a true shot blocker (Simmons and Brackman), IMO, makes our team better, as a whole, than last year.

    Will be interesting to see what happens in Chapel Hill on 1/7. We have 2 tough road games to start the season (@UNC, @BC), then home to GT, and then @Duke. Could be 2-3 in the ACC after 5 games. If we are 4-1….watch out.

  13. BJD95 01/03/2006 at 2:50 PM #

    ^ I’d be very happy to be 3-2 after that stretch, but 4-1 is possible. We ain’t winning in Cameron, though. But I don’t think we’ll embarrass ourselves, either.

  14. Trout 01/03/2006 at 2:55 PM #

    ^ You still upset with having Atsur and Evtimov in the game at the same time? 🙂

  15. Sammy Kent 01/03/2006 at 3:06 PM #

    It’s a misnomer to say we have five guys that can “handle the ball.” When it comes down to the crunch time of protecting a lead or staying within striking distance with time running down, Atsur, Bethel, and Bennerman should be the only guys putting the ball on the floor. Ilian Evtimov is a turnover waiting to happen. Watch the last five or six minutes of the GW game again. It was an adventure every time he touched the ball to do more than catch and pass. He is most definitely NOT a ballhandler. Fortunately Tony B is, and Engin and Cam have become good ones as well. Whereas in the past we’ve been very susceptible against teams that could press without fouling, this year I feel very good about our ability to protect the ball in the crunch as long as it stays in the right hands. Trout, you are absolutely right about Bethel’s role in controlling the game without having to score points. He was a good PG at Georgetown, and he can be a good one at NC State.

  16. choppack 01/03/2006 at 3:46 PM #

    The combo of Simmons and Brackman is really special. We probably shouldn’t get used to it in this age of college b’ball. Both of these guys flew under the radar and both are freaks in their own way. Brackman is a freak because of his combination of size, athleticism, aggression and guard like skills – Simmons is a freak because of his long arms and his intelligence in blocking shots.

    These traits are extremely rare in even highly- recruited big men. Kudos to the staff to finding these hidden gems and doing a solid job in developing thus far – and kudos to Brack and Simmons as well.

    As usual and as w/ any team, lots of “ifs” out of the control of the staff and players are out there and I’m keeping fingers crossed because we have all the pieces in place for a special season.

  17. Mr. O 01/03/2006 at 3:52 PM #

    Choppack: The fact that Sendek got both Brackman and Simmons as “under the radar” type of guys is what gives me hope for the future. Herb appears to be doing a great job of identifying players that are undervalued by recruiting analysts that also don’t have the long list of suitors that the top prospects normally have.

    Atsur is another guy who fits in this category though he did have offers from several top programs including Texas. The comment last week by Bob Gibbons about Dan Werner being as good as I. Evtimov at the same stage made me very encouraged about his future. Werner isn’t in a single top 100 that I have seen.

    I wonder who is most responsible for the recruiting finds of late. Is it Mark Phelps who heads up recruiting these days for our program? I know he is the one who found Atsur.

  18. BJD95 01/03/2006 at 3:54 PM #

    Trout – I would still prefer that they not, at least not for extended stretches. I still contend that as the level of competition improves, Evtimov becomes less of an asset and more of a liability (when he plays extended minutes). He made a couple of notable blunders against GW, and I think we were harder to defend with Grant/Cam/Brack in the game. I think he’s a very useful role player, but that’s all.

    In short, I would likely give Evtimov the least amount of time in the 7-man rotation, and try to limit his court time with Atsur to 10-15 minutes (b/c Atsur is more effective with 4 premium athletes on the floor, and Atsur already supplies a “keep ’em honest” long-range threat). Atsur needs to play at least 30-35 though. He is the straw that stirs the drink, without question.

  19. Trout 01/03/2006 at 3:59 PM #

    ^ Agree. Atsur is the straw. As he goes, so goes the Pack. He makes everyone around him much better when he is “on.”

    I think what Evtimov lacks in athletic ability, he makes up for in leadership and experience. I do think the guys look to him as a coach on the floor.

  20. choppack 01/03/2006 at 5:11 PM #

    “Choppack: The fact that Sendek got both Brackman and Simmons as “under the radarâ€? type of guys is what gives me hope for the future. Herb appears to be doing a great job of identifying players that are undervalued by recruiting analysts that also don’t have the long list of suitors that the top prospects normally have.”

    Oh, I agree. However, my point was that these gems rarely come along period. For example, for the sake of argument let’s put Brack in Googs category at this stage in his career: How many players like that have come through the ACC in the last 10 years? In the same vein, how many players have Ced’s wingspan, coordination and intelligence – very few. My point is that guys w/ this skillset are rare – period.

  21. choppack 01/03/2006 at 5:15 PM #

    ” I still contend that as the level of competition improves, Evtimov becomes less of an asset and more of a liability”

    I think there were times when this happened last year, but I attribute that more to his lack of conditioning due to his knee problems earlier in the summer. This year, he’s a little lighter, but probably stronger. Hopefully, we won’t see him make some of those same mistakes he made in crucial moments last year.

    A couple thoughts on Ilian – he’s a clutch player. He hit a very tough 3 vs. UConn his frosh year, 2 foul shots to give us back the lead vs. Vandy and another clutch play that escapes me at this time. He is a shooter than the opposition must defend out to 22 feet and an incredible passer. I do agree that sometimes he makes crucial mistakes, but hopefully, he’ll reduce those this year.

  22. Jeff 01/03/2006 at 5:16 PM #

    MrO, Chris Corchiani found Atsur and turned the Pack onto him. Had our staff followed Corch’s original lead, we would have had Steve Blake years ago, who knows….ok. All of that, of course, is water under the bridge by now.

    I disagree about Cedric Simmons’ status of “flying under the radar”. He was a consensus Top 35 national recruit. He was a highly ranked recruit who was very unique because he actually grew up in that state of NC as an NC State fan. I don’t care how. I don’t care why. I don’t care. Thank God that was the case!!!

    But, I’m not sure how we can provide praise for finding “hidden gems” who were ranked in some recruiting experts Top 25.

    Let’s just hope that our staff has learned the value of solid post players and emphasizes their recruitment a little more in the future.

  23. Class of '74 01/03/2006 at 5:43 PM #

    ^ And don’t forget point guards like Chris Wright either. Point guards and big men have been seldom seen in Herb’s past teams.

  24. Trout 01/03/2006 at 6:32 PM #

    The biggest “under the radar” recruit in Herb’s history has to be Evtimov. He has the LOWEST ranked recruit in the entire ACC when he came in.

    I’ll be interested to see where Trevor Ferguson is “ranked” by the experts, if he will be ranked. Since he technically is a “transfer” I dont know if he will be ranked.

    Speaking of Chris Wright, we really need this kid. He would probably start as a freshman, considering he would be following after Atsur has left.

  25. BJD95 01/03/2006 at 8:19 PM #

    Trout – re “coach on the floor” – I agree that when Atsur is resting, Evtimov needs to be in for that very reason. That’s why I don’t like them both sitting out at the same time.

    But in general, I thinking Atsur fills that role well without the related negatives. And maybe it’s just me, but I would rather see Atsur take the clutch 3 at the end than Evtimov (or Brack if he’s open). Maybe partly b/c opponents would expect to see us go to Evtimov.

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