Close, But No Repeat Upset

Sean Singletary had a good look, and almost stuck the dagger in NC State’s collective heart for a second straight year. The Wolfpack’s transition defense was awful, but fortunately UVA’s half-court offense was even worse. Still, there’s a lot of work to do if this year’s team wants to scare anyone in March.

Big Ced came up big on the defensive end, and Atsur, Bethel, Evtimov, and especially Bennerman had key shots down the stretch. But the rebounding and defensive effort left much to be desired. And what in the world has happened to Andrew Brackman? He looks lost out there, and we need him in order to succeed.

We saw a good illustration tonight on why I don’t like TOO MANY 3s (we shot an appropriate number overall tonight, before anybody jumps down my throat again). With 8 minutes left, Evtimov pulls up for a ridiculous 30-foot shot. UVA gets the long rebound off the brick, pushes transition, and scores an easy two to take the lead. Especially with our poor transition D, we simply can’t afford to ignite other teams’ fast breaks.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

General NCS Basketball

26 Responses to Close, But No Repeat Upset

  1. Fish 02/01/2006 at 9:37 PM #

    Any team with two athletic guards and can rebound as a team will or can beat NCSU. This NCSU is getting progressively worse. It just so happens teams like UVA and Clemson are just not there yet.

    Our guard play is horrible. No one wants to step up a be defensive stopper and leader. And this team still cannot get to a lose ball or play a low turnover game.

    Tonight again is why no one should get excited about NCSU basketball. This team lacks excitement and resembles its coach. Rather than getting jacked up like Duke or UNC does when it gets out to a quick start the team plays lifeless, stupid and right into the hands of its opponent. No killer instinct.

  2. DznrWlf 02/01/2006 at 9:57 PM #

    I disagree with some of what Fish here says. Regarding our guards: I think Atsur had an off night and has been struggling as of late, but Bennerman & Bethel bothed played well tonight. Also, I think Grant played well. Usually, I cringe when he comes in the game, but he seemed more under control tonight and had an awesome block on transition defense. I think our lack of rebounding was a combination of bad box outs and also some no calls on some very obvious contact.

    Also, I think we have an exciting team when they are playing well. At the beginning of the game we were pushing the tempo and extended the lead to 12-14. It wasn’t until Atsur entered the game that we lost our flow and let Virginia in the game. This is not a bad Virginia team and they have been giving plenty of other ACC teams trouble.

    I think our team will be fine, but it won’t help if we as fans get down on a team that is 6-2 half way throuh the season which is a tremendous start that ranks with some of the best NC State teams.

  3. goWoofPack 02/01/2006 at 10:12 PM #

    6-2 halfway, I mean come on! go Herby!

  4. Jeff 02/01/2006 at 10:23 PM #

    How about some “Go State” and not always so “Herb-centric” (both when things are bad and good)?

    I can’t see much complaining about being 6-2 at the half-way mark of the conference. As I’ve said all year, I fully expect this team to comprise a 13-3 or better conference record this year. With Wake’s demise, no Duke on the remaining schedule, no trip to Maryland, and Carolina, BC, and Maryland coming to Raleigh….how can we NOT finally achieve a “break-through” conference performance this year?

    I also understand any fan’s trepidation (like Fish) regarding proclamations that this team is a national contender until we improve on our record against good competition. We’re only 1-3 vs the RPI’s Top 40 and 2-3 against the Top 50. That is not a complaint; just a fact and an explanation of why every fan is not booking tickets to the Final Four.

    In light of our historic performance against Top 25 teams, this year’s record against these teams cannot make anyone confident that we are competing for a National Title yet (which is where Fish would like to see us).

    Let’s run the table the rest of the year and give everyone a reason to believe in the ACC & NCAA Tournament!

  5. J.R. 02/01/2006 at 10:30 PM #

    I see it’s going to take a hell of a lot to impress Fish. If you really knew the Pack, you’d be happy for the Ws. It is very clear to everyone that State is not playing real well in the last 3 games, yet we still won 2 of them. We want to be peaking in March, not now. Don’t act as if State hasn’t looked good at all this season. We were pummelling teams earlier in the season, such as Top 10 George Washington. The skill is there, and that team will resurface again this seaon. I will agree that sometimes I wish the players seemed more fired up, but look how good that mentality works for our football team. We can’t have it both ways guys.

  6. VaWolf82 02/01/2006 at 10:52 PM #

    We want to be peaking in March, not now.

    I disagree with this logic. This sounds like State has a limited number of good games in them and we need to save them. If a team with as much experience as this one struggles to beat Clemson and UVa, then there is reason for concern. I understand all about survive and advance…I’m just afraid of more duds like the game against SH.

    State needs to play as well as it can night in and night out. The fact that State has struggled ever since two minutes left in the Duke game bothers me. I’m extremely happy with the wins…but there is plenty of room for imrprovement…and improvement will be needed soon.

  7. BJD95 02/01/2006 at 11:09 PM #

    I wouldn’t be too worried about 1 off game, but we can’t seem to shake this lull, now 4 games and running. We are still winning (which is good), but we’re not winning against NCAA-caliber opposition. It is very fortunate that we’ve hit the lull during the softer part of our schedule. We need to find that spark again, or March is going to end in a way that satisfies nobody. Well, almost nobody.

    And Jeff is spot-on. This is about NC State, not Herb Sendek. THAT is where the loyalty needs to lie, unless you’re Melanie, or one of the Sendek daughters.

  8. TVP 02/01/2006 at 11:47 PM #

    On a positive note, that’s two straight games where we’ve managed to come back after being down in the final minutes.

    Obviously though this team isn’t the same one that mauled GW and BC a few weeks ago. The crowd (myself included) kept getting more and more frustrated at the inability to rebound.

  9. packbackers 02/01/2006 at 11:50 PM #

    Come on, let’s celebrate a little. We are 17-4 and 6-2 in the ACC. If we win Sunday, we will have matched last year’s reg. season win totals with SEVEN games still left…and that’s after all the talk of “Herb can’t win without Hodge and Hunter”. Instead of projecting our finish, or our seeding, or talking about one horrendous performance against SH, let’s just allow ourselves to get a little excited about where we are RIGHT NOW! After all, how long has it been since we had a record like this at this point in the season?

  10. Astral Rain 02/02/2006 at 12:12 AM #

    Well. Not televised here, but if NCSU goes 6-2 down the stretch, which would include two duds, that’s 23-6 in the ACC (which may be down, but not THAT down)…

    Whatever State’s flaws are, 23-6 is a good record no matter how you slice it. It would also probably grant NCSU a shot at a top-4 seed, at worst a 5. The ACC tourney would likely pit State up against BC and Duke in the last two games (assuming they finish 1st and 3rd), which would give them two more shots to up their profile before the tourney. If NCSU wins the ACC tourney- I see a 3 seed in their future.

    Honestly, at the beginning of the year- what were you guys considering a good year? I had Sweet 16 and 10 ACC wins pegged as a good year.
    I’m just hoping this year becomes the trend…

  11. TVP 02/02/2006 at 12:21 AM #

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m very excited that this team has sacked up and shown some mental toughness to win tight games. There is a huge difference between 4-4 and 6-2 in the league right now.

    I’m also going to start the Tony Bethel fan club if anyone wants to join. Hodge was right when he said TB was one of the best point guards in the league last year – he was just a year off.

  12. JeremyHyatt 02/02/2006 at 1:22 AM #

    Ok, so first we are concerned the team cannot finish (maybe they don’t have a go-to guy), dropping to Duke and Carolina not making much noise in the final minutes. Now, we are concerned the team cannot start: coming out flat against Seton Hall, Clemson, and Virginia. Obviously we have scraped by recently against lower-mid tier ACC teams. Or are we not giving these teams enough credit, and can also attribute this to a “typical” ACC game.

    If nothing else, at least it is nice to be going 2-1 when we aren’t playing that well, rather than easily dropping each game if it was the personnel from a few years ago. Finding a way to win, even if you don’t have all your stuff is a good characteristic for a team to have.

    However, it is concerning and I don’t know we can get away with these performances against Maryland, UNC, BC, and in Coral Gables….

    I’m not sure what is going on, (honestly I didn’t see the Seton Hall or Virginia games, but saw Clemson) but if it is a matter of motivation or focus…that should be fixable. If Atsur really is struggling of late, then it makes more sense, he is the “Engin” of this team. Nevertheless, ….. guys, watch the tape, learn from your mistakes, and for god sakes box out and go after those rebounds.

    Like I said this is fixable, not like Wake, or Louisville, or Kentucky which has major problems.. They got “up” for the Duke game then fell asleep at the wheel. They have to get “up” for each and every game. I’m worried but I’m not worried.

  13. JeremyHyatt 02/02/2006 at 2:17 AM #

    FYI, ESPN SportCenter shows Evtimov to Atsur lay-in to make 66-62 is the 6th play of the Top 10 tonite. Nice to get the air time.

  14. class of '74 02/02/2006 at 6:16 AM #

    Again there are no bad wins! But it again shows we are susceptible to quick guards. UVa, Clemson and Seton Hall what do they have in common? Quick guards that can take us off the dribble and play havoc with our pass it around offense.
    Realistically our season and remaining schedule sets us up to finish 2nd alone or tied for 2nd if we just take care of business at home. Easily Herb’s best season and hopefully some luck in the post season and then who knows?

  15. Jeff 02/02/2006 at 7:24 AM #

    Good conversation, guys. All valid points and good perspectives. It is SO NICE to be able to “discuss” in such an environment.

    On one hand, just looking at Astral Rain’s suggestion of a 23-6 record gets me psycho fired up. The stat guy in me wonders where that would put or RPI against this schedule? I’m thinking between 13 & 20.

  16. BJD95 02/02/2006 at 7:40 AM #

    It’s very true that the problems are fixable, and that it’s better to win while struggling than lose while struggling. I hope everyone gets the notion of “constructive criticism” because this team (IMHO) has the potential to be very special, and I want to see that happen – not an ACCT semifinals or finals loss followed by a first weekend NCAA exit, whatever the ACC regular season conference record/placement. Because the play from the last 4 games would likely produce such a result.

    And to strike preemptively – no, I wouldn’t be calling for Sendek’s head. But I would view it as a missed opportunity for the PROGRAM.

  17. Mr. O 02/02/2006 at 8:15 AM #

    13-3 or better as an expectation?

    I think we will win 11 or 12 ACC games. I was quite impressed with UVa. We didn’t play particularly well, but we won and we came back to win a close game. 6-2 and moving forward….

    BJD95: That was a bad shot by Evtimov. Early in the shot clock, way behind the line, it simply made no sense. IMO, we still get ourselves in trouble sometimes when we don’t run our offense and take quick looks that we can get at anytime in the shot clock.

  18. Mr. O 02/02/2006 at 8:22 AM #

    As far as the season, IMO it is ultimately going to be measured by our NCAA performance. Anything less than a Sweet 16 will be a disappointment to our fanbase. A Sweet 16 would give us back-to-back appearances giving us more consistency at a pretty high level. We can then stop talking about consecutive NCAA tournament bids and start focusing on consecutive successful years in NCAA tournament play. If get to where you are in the Sweet 16 in most years, then eventually you are going to make deeper runs in the tournament which is what we all want for the program.

    Winning an ACC tournament would be big obviously, but personally I think NCAA tournament success is more important.

  19. WTNY 02/02/2006 at 9:03 AM #

    Obviously NCAA success is the ultimate goal. But winning an ACC championship would be awesome.

    Check out pages 80-87 of

    It’s sure been awhile since the block S reigned over the ACC. If we don’t win this year then 2007 will make it 20 years since the good guys claimed the title.

  20. WTNY 02/02/2006 at 9:05 AM #

    The link above came from

    Full of ACC stats & history!

  21. JSIMON 02/02/2006 at 9:14 AM #

    To take the conversation back to the UVa game for a second … I had a few observations (also made on my blog … sorry for the shameless self promotion Jeff). Ilian Evtimov made three really clutch plays down the stretch (all after getting a cortizone shot after he suffered that hip pointer in the game’s first 45 seconds). He drained a huge three-pointer to tie the game, then called the timeout when Atsur dove on the floor for a loose ball (by the way possession arrow was in UVa’s favor) and then he found Atsur for that wide-open lay-in under the basket to give the Pack a four-point lead. Think it helps to have a 5th-year senior?

    And, Evtimov also had six rebounds (all defensive) in an otherwise poor rebounding performance. How can Tony Bethel be the team’s leading rebounder for a game? Speaking of rebounding, anyone notice that Andrew Brackman’s only getting 2.6 per game in ACC play. What are the benefits to all that weight he’s put on and the “strength” he’s added. Seems like he isn’t as aggressive on the glass and isn’t really that strong when he gets the ball in the post.

    Lastly, have have you ever taken a look at a shot chart from a Wolfpack game? They’re pretty fascinating. Against UVa, NC State attempted 54 FG’s for the game. Of those, 22 were 3-pointers. That leaves 32 other shots. Of those, only five of were outside the lane (and the Pack made 3-of-5). The rest were all in the paint (really right under the basket) or layups. I guess it makes sense. After all, if you can’t get a shot right under the basket or up close you may as well take a three and get an extra point for it.

    Despite the close win I’ll take 6-2 at the turn any year.

  22. BJD95 02/02/2006 at 9:26 AM #

    Evtimov really came through down the stretch, after I thought his 30-foot clunker would be the turning point of the game. Good for him – he’s fought through a great deal physically, and it’s nice to see him have success.

    One thought why long 3s (especially from the top of the key) are dangerous for Evtimov – when the long rebound comes off, the player(s) farthest from the basket have to be the ones who get in position to stop the opponent’s fast break. Unfortunately, Evtimov’s knees don’t allow him to do such with any degree of success.

    UVA did fight like scalded dogs tonight – says alot for their coach. They just can’t shoot at all. And Jason Cain might be as improved as any player in the conference. If he garners any more of my respect, I might not be able to use his “Prison Bitch” nickname in good conscience.

    Brackman seems to have lost his confidence. He needs to get it back, and quickly. On the plus side, Grant is giving us a great deal of energy, but channelled in a more consistantly positive fashion now.

  23. class of '74 02/02/2006 at 1:05 PM #

    What Brackman has lost is quickness. He’s just off a beat or so, and in this league that’s all it takes. Strength is great but give me speed and quickness unless your talking the NBA.

  24. Kirk 02/02/2006 at 4:55 PM #

    “What are the benefits to all that weight he’s put on and the “strengthâ€? he’s added. Seems like he isn’t as aggressive on the glass and isn’t really that strong when he gets the ball in the post.”

    His strength has allowed him to finish plays that last year would have been trips to the free throw line shooting two. This year, they have become 3 point plays.

  25. jennifer 02/15/2006 at 6:25 PM #

    you sound more like a ncsu hater than a ncsu fan. maybe you should re-evaluate who you’re pulling for!!

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