Sunday Sightings

Lots of great basketball all over the country yesterday. I thought that we would just highlight some random thoughts as the sports world turns its focus on NFL Football later today.

===> Pack Pulls Away
BJD did a super job on the live blog yesterday during the Wake game. It was so good that the N&O’s Blog linked it up real time. Thanks a lot!! It is much appreciated. (Man, that’s got to be a thorn in the side of the jack-ass loser posters at other websites who are “StatefansNation Haters”.)

It was very nice to get a win against a Big Four opponent while also scoring in the 90s. Macro-level, I happily agree with the Durham Herald-Sun‘s comments:

What Sendek’s team did on this day was impressive. It played with poise and composure without the lead and when it was all over, people were saying the obvious — this is a pretty good Wolfpack team.

Pack Pride’s Daily Webrun will direct you to anything that you want to read on the game.

===> The National Position of the Pack
The season is shaping up to be as fun as the 2003- 2004 season…and it is so much more fun following standings, rankings, and ratings when the focus is on projected NCAAT seeding and national attention than when we are sitting on the bubble.

Cedric Simmons recent success has served to place the Pack on many national radars, like Mike DeCourcy’s. Hopefully this attention will start to boost the perspective of the Pack in the general fans’ minds –’s fan poll currently has the 14th ranked Wolfpack ranked as #20 in the country.

A variety of media sources currently project NC State as a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But, because of the program’s struggles against highly rated competition (State is 0-2 vs teams in the RPI’s Top 20), few outlets have the guts to project a tournament run far past the Sweet 16.

Herb Sendek’s Wolfpack look fully capable of another run to the Sweet 16. And you might be able to tack on another round to that projection if sophomore post Cedric Simmons (28 points, nine rebounds, seven blocked shots and three steals against the Blue Devils) continues his rapid rate of improvement.

===> The ACC Position of the Pack
NC State currently has an extra ACC game under our belt than most of the conference. After Carolina travels to Florida State tonight, and then State plays Seton Hall next week when most of the conference is going head to head, all teams will generally be on the same “total games” schedule. Seton Hall is currently ranked #85 in the RPI.


===> Congratulations, Georgetown
Just last week I watched a biography on John Thompson, III on HBO’s Real Sports. It was the most intimate look that I had ever seen at JTIII; and, unlike his father, this guy is almost impossible not to like. What a (seemingly) great guy

From the ACC’s perspective, it was a tough pill to swallow to Duke lose to Georgetown. But, watching the HBO piece and feeling closer to JTIII helped cushion the blow a little bit. This was an interesting article today.

This game obviously leaves the sad population of excuse-mongering NC State fans perplexed with how a 2nd year head coach (at Georgetown) beat Coach Coach K…with a PRINCETON OFFENSE?! Wow. He hasn’t even had a decade to ‘develop” and recruit “his players”. It must be G’Town’s great fans who had succeeded in selling out the 20,000 seat MCI Center ONE TIME in history prior to yesterday’s game. Yeah. That must be it.

===> Congratulations, Tennessee
You really gotta give Seth Davis credit for staking the prediction before the game. Are you paying attention to what is happening in Knoxville?

How in the WORLD has Bruce Pearl put Tennessee in the Top 10 of every computer model in the country in his FIRST YEAR of taking over a program that was so bad that they chose to fire their old coach? How is this possible?

Surely the UT fans are regretting the decision to fire such a “good guy” like Buzz right now? (Man, I really wish that I had the time to chronicle of the idiotic comments that folks make over on Pack Pride in past conversations about Bruce Pearl).

Congrats to Tennessee for making such a significant national impact so early in Pearl’s tenure.

General NCS Basketball NCS Football

26 Responses to Sunday Sightings

  1. JSIMON 01/22/2006 at 2:28 PM #

    Hey, I picked that UT game too on my blog, Of course, I also picked Louisville to upset UConn, UCLA to beat W Va and Miami over BC. Good thing I’m not in Vegas. But Pearl’s obviously doing a great job. I was really impressed when we played UW-Milwaukee a couple years back. Then they went on that run in the tournament last year that got him the “thankless” job at UT. A lot of people give Pearl a hard time b/c of “ratting out” the coach from Illinois and his flamboyant nature but he was pretty engaging in the media room of the RBC Center a few years ago. I’m trying to remember too — I think he’s married to Norm Sloan’s daughter or has some tie to NC State like that. I’m not so sure about those orange suspenders though.

  2. Jeff 01/22/2006 at 2:44 PM #

    Thanks for sharing your blog. We’re going to link it from here. Good stuff.

  3. JSIMON 01/22/2006 at 3:08 PM #

    Thanks for the link. I’m just getting started but hoping that I’ll have some insight and a bit of perspective. I did look up the Pearl connection — he’s married to Norm Sloan’s niece. So I guess that makes him a nephew-in-law, right?

  4. PACDADDY 01/23/2006 at 12:42 AM #

    Bruce Pearl has done a great job with the Vols. I will add, that Buzz left him a good core of players and he fortunately is coaching in a terrible SEC conference this season. As bad as Buzz is/was, he beat Fla last season, but couldn’t beat anyone else it seemed.

    Pearl does deserve his props for taking this veteran squad and winning a few(very few) big games. He caught Texas and Barnes at the right time and with the way the Vol fans support their programs, I’m sure he’ll have them around top of SEC for years to come….all it took was a SOLID COACH, and he is!

  5. Rick Jernigan 01/23/2006 at 8:24 AM #

    Jeff – great stuff. I found the following from an AP write-up for the BC win over Miami very interesting:

    The result disappointed a crowd of 6,706, including an unusually large turnout in the student section. “The atmosphere was as loud as it has ever been since I’ve been here,” said Haith, who is in his second year at Miami. “Hopefully the loss won’t deter them from coming back.”

    I think it will be interesting to follow BC, Miami & VPI’s progress in the new ACC in terms of their overall sports programs. The money is going to great for all three but if I had to pick one that may regret the move, it would be Miami. Two straight Peach Bowls represents a big come down in football and their basketball road is going to be very tough. If Haith were to bring them a high level of success, could they possibly keep him?

  6. choppack 01/23/2006 at 8:32 AM #

    Pearl was a great hire. Of course, Buzz was a terrible hire.

    I remember some posters on PackPride gave UT some props for firing Jerry Green after making the tourney 4 years in a row. My uncle’s a huge UT fan, and I told him that they probably shouldn’t have fired Green to replace him w/ Buzz. Well, 4 years later, they are now pretty much in the same spot that Green had them in earlier.

    I’ll be watching Pearl a good bit – he’s definitely done great things in year 1.

  7. Mr. O 01/23/2006 at 8:41 AM #

    Sendek beat Duke in his 1st season in the ACC tournament. However, beating Duke long-term on an annual basis is a little more of a challenge especially not in front of 20,000 of your fans.

    Pacdaddy: UT has 6 seniors and 2 juniors. 3 of the seniors don’t really play. Their lineup consists of the following players:

    Asumnu – 9 pts, SR
    Patterson – 9.7 pts SR
    Watson – 15.9 pts SR

    Major Wingate – 11.5 pts jr.
    Bradshaw – 7.5 pts jr

    Lofton – 16.5 pts, so
    Smith – 8.5 pts, so

    It appears that UT made a good move at the right time kind of like Wake Forest when they brought in Prosser. The roster is stocked pretty well obviously, so Pearl could come in and win this year and next relying on players he hasn’t recruited. A new coach, a new system, more fan excitement…the firing of Buzz really made sense. That should allow him to build the momentum and sign some quality players. There isn’t any reason UT can’t be a top 25 program consistently and I certainly think Pearl is a guy who can do it there. But at this point, it is way too early to make any kind of judgements about his program long term.

    I think very highly of Pearl as a coach, so if does it long term then it won’t surprise me.

  8. Jeff 01/23/2006 at 8:42 AM #

    I can’t remember….wasn’t there some (supposed) behind the scenes things going on with Green?

  9. Mr. O 01/23/2006 at 8:53 AM #

    Didn’t have a drinking problem or something?

  10. choppack 01/23/2006 at 9:35 AM #

    I had always suspected that there was something going on that one or both parties didn’t want aired in public. Of course, UMd stuck w/ Gary, Cincy stuck w/ Huggins for his first incident. I’m not putting Green in the same category, but the turnaround Green was pretty amazing – and he certainly wasn’t Bob Staak.

    If it was due to Green’s behavior, we have to give UT credit for not airing his dirty laundry as another school saw necessary to do when they were forcing out a less successful coach.

  11. Rick Jernigan 01/23/2006 at 9:42 AM #

    I think Green may have shown up to a couple of official functions in an altered state. He also had some titantic losses in the postseason – 25 point losses to mid-majors.

    The Chris Lofton kid is tearing it up this year (29 against Florida). He is the Kentucky kid Tubby passed on. Smallish, not that great an athlete two-guard that is an incredible shooter. I’m pretty sure NC State almost pulled the trigger but didn’t. Buzz signed him and he is doing really well.

  12. Rick 01/23/2006 at 10:05 AM #

    I watched the Duke/Gtown game.
    I have never been a fan of the Princeton O but it was awfully impressive in that game.

  13. PACDADDY 01/23/2006 at 10:02 PM #

    I agree MrO…many of those veteran players were Mc D’s canididates and finalist. Lofton was Kentucky MR BB. Patterson was a UCLA transfer.

    I don’t know much about the freshmen, but Pearl is playing a lot of players and the freshmen aren’t getting much PT.

    He’ll struggle next season, and probably the year after next, unless he brings in some BT players with this class or the SEC continues to suck. UK better get it together, or the Vols may find another sport UK can’t beat them in.

  14. Jeff 01/24/2006 at 8:08 AM #

    ” will add, that Buzz left him a good core of players “

    That is so interesting…because, under the Pacdaddy/Lee Fowler/Herb Sendek school of management, Peterson would have been allowed to keep his job solely on having good players and UT would have therefore never hired Pearl. The inconsistency is amazing.

  15. choppack 01/24/2006 at 8:37 AM #

    Jeff – It’s really difficult to compare the UT situation to ours. Buzz came into a situation where the team had made 4 straight NCAA appearances. For whatever reason – the firing of Green was a proactive one – and Buzz came into a situation where good successes were had. He came in and couldn’t return it to the level that Green had attained – even for just one year. But as bad as this UT program got, Buzz hadn’t yet dragged it down to the depths that Les Robinson did NC State’s.

    Lee would have been perfectly justified letting Sendek go after year 5. IMHO, the reason he kept him was because of what he had coming and some of the other changes he made. He figured – rightly or wrongly – that if Sendek left, Hodge and possibly others in the class would leave as well – and our program would suffer yet another setback. While Sendek hasn’t exactly blown the roof off in the last 4 years, we certainly could have done a lot worse – and I think we would all be at least marginally satisfied if our new coach had gone to 4 straight tourneys and was off to this kind of start.

  16. Mr. O 01/24/2006 at 8:56 AM #

    Pacdaddy: I don’t know if he will struggle. He has a good team coming back next year it looks like.

    Jeff: Here is a link to a story on Buzz’s firing:

    In the four years, prior to Buzz’s arrival UT made the NCAA tournament. In Buzz’s 4 years at UT, they had no NCAA tournaments, 2 losing seasons, and a best year of 17-12.

    Our situation and UT’s situation were pretty different, so I don’t know that you can always apply the same standards.

    However by keeping Herb Sendek because he had a strong recruiting class, it has worked out pretty well and we now have what looks like our best team since Valvano. Maybe it was a good decision to keep a young coach like Herb Sendek on the basis of his recruiting class? Julius would have gone to L’ville if Herb would have been let go. Considering Julius was an essential part to bringing our program back from the dead, then maybe Lee made the right call afterall.

    You could also look at it a different way. Just pretend that we hired a new coach who was 37 years old that came in and installed a new offense to match our talent. Let’s assume that the new coach would have the following results in his first 5 years:

    -4 top four ACC finishes
    -56% winning percentage in ACC games
    – 1 round of 64
    – 2 rounds of 32
    – 1 sweet 16
    – current team top 15 in the nation with a great chance to move up from here

    Would the new coach be receiving any criticism from our fanbase?

  17. Mr. O 01/24/2006 at 9:45 AM #

    That should be 3 top four finishes, not 4.

  18. Jeff 01/24/2006 at 10:28 AM #

    Guys…you are missing my point. I wasn’t making a case about Buzz or UT. Just pointing out the inconsistent application of standards and thoughts by others.

    I don’t know what Buzz actually walked into…because I don’t know how many RETURNERS that Green left him. Just because Green had been successful in the previous years didn’t mean that Green was leaving the cupboard full.

    And, as our fans are the first to point out, since Green was obviously winning the “wrong way” (since he had such bad character as to get fired), his success doesn’t really matter, does it?

    These aren’t MY FEELINGS, just applying the deep thinking of others to the situation in a consistent manner.

    As O points out, there is no doubt that the last four years of Sendek’s performance is nice. There is also no doubt that he has failed to deliver anything remotely close to what an NC State PEAK SEASON should be after a decade of trying. I hope/expect this to be the season. Is that really so bad?

  19. Sammy Kent 01/24/2006 at 11:32 AM #

    Yep, we missed out on a real gem of a coach. Pearl is the real deal, and I still wish we had gotten him.

    Mr. O, your analogy is interesting, but still a little off base. The point that Herb has done as well in his LAST four years as we might expect any new coach to do in his FIRST four years is hardly a ringing endorsement for Herb’s ability.

    Frankly, I would have been just as torqued at ANY coach that lost games the way Herb’s teams lost them over the last four years, that blew leads the way Herb’s teams blew them, that was so convincingly out of his element against K and Roy and Gary, that played a Princeton offense designed for five point forwards and recruited accordingly, that took a second place team and bowed out in the round of 32 after being seeded third, then followed that up with a losing season, losses to Miami and VaTech, and home losses to FSU and UVa.

    I’m relatively pleased with how this year’s team looks right now, especially when compared to Herb’s other nine, but by no means does that excuse the UNNECESSARILY long, winding, route taken to get to this point. Neither does it give Herb a pass for the future in my balance scale. The goal is to be CONSISTENTLY in the running for first place and the ACC Championship. Next year and the year after and the year after will determine whether Herb really has this bus on goal.

  20. Gunsmoke 01/24/2006 at 2:00 PM #

    Some people can never let the past go… how can we ever move forward if we constantly look back?

  21. VaWolf82 01/24/2006 at 2:08 PM #

    How can you tell if you are progressing if you don’t use benchmarks from the past?

  22. Mr. O 01/24/2006 at 3:56 PM #

    Clearly it was a mistake to hire Herb Sendek at the age of 32 to try and turn around our program quickly. There aren’t many head coaches in major conferences that get opportunities at age 32. But it wasn’t Herb’s fault that we hired a coach that simply wasn’t experienced enough to handle our job. It was our choice to hire him and hence our mistake.

    If Herb had continued to not be successful, then nobody would forgive Herb for years 1-5 and we would all support his firing like I did until he made the Sweet 16 last year. But he now has some solid achievements the last four years and some consistency in those achievements. This isn’t the peak of what I expect, but I think our program getting there with him as our coach is possible. I know he isn’t going anywhere, so unless I think he should be fired then having a daily referendum of our basketball program and especially after 3 single losses when we are sitting in the top 15 seems counterproductive at best.

    In both Jeff’s and Sammy Kent’s response you guys refer to a “decade” and “Herb’s other 9” respectively, so the difference between the factions of NC State fans see things so differently basically comes down to those fans that have moved past the first 5 years and those that haven’t.

    Note, I am not saying either faction of our fanbase is correct in their thinking. Just pointing out the differences.

  23. class of '74 01/24/2006 at 4:23 PM #

    ^ I can not argue with much of what you say above but it has become banner time for Herb. Five years of on the job and four years building is longer than any other high profile Div I school would give a coach to hang a meaningful banner.

  24. Sammy Kent 01/24/2006 at 10:00 PM #

    Mr. O, the things I itemized as being unacceptable to me were things that happened in the past four years, not the first five…most of them in the last TWO years. I don’t think Herb’s last four years have been so significantly better than the first five. Better? Yes. SIGNIFICANTLY better? No. If you look at achievements of record (1st place regular season, ACC Title, Sweet 16 or better in the NCAAs, NIT Title), Herb still has only one, and that is last year’s Sweet 16. And THAT came after a losing season. Like I hinted at earlier, even if we win a title this season, the goal is to be consistent contenders next year and the year after and the year after that, not occasional lightning-in-a-bottle catchers. I make no apologies for saying it will take Herb a few years to completely win me back. It took years for him to lose me.

  25. Gunsmoke 01/24/2006 at 11:45 PM #

    SFN Note: Attack people that don’t agree with you on other sites. Not here. Please attempt to add value by sharing and proving your points or don’t bother wasting your keystrokes. Thanks.

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