Pack Escapes in Blackburg

My original title for this entry was going to be, “Taking Care of Business” and was designed to focus on how nice it was to exert complete control and beat the ACC’s last place team like we should.

So much for that idea.

State led by 22 points in the second half only to escape with a 70-64 win after failing to score a basket in the final 6:19 of the game. The Pack was able to hold off the Hokies by sinking 9 of 10 free throws in the final minute, including 8-for-8 by Cam Bennerman. Recap here.

Despite the collapse, the Wolfpack’s record improves to a GREAT 21-5, 10-3!!! Regardless of schedule difficulty, NC State hasn’t compiled this kind of regular season record since the nationally dominant teams of the mid 1970’s.

The Wolfpack is now only 3 conference wins away from the 13-3 record that mean, negative, & unhappy ME projected for the team prior to the ACC regular season began. The lone road game remaining on the Wolfpack’s schedule is at 12th place, Wake Forest. (Interestingly, I was bombarded with criticism by most of Herb Sendek’s biggest fans for expecting/wanting/projecting such a record. Yet…I am the ‘negative’ fan? Figure that one out.)

As much as we all are enjoying this season, we all know that a “very good” season cannot be complete until State beats Carolina in Raleigh on Wednesday night. That is just part of being a Wolfpacker (or any sports fan…just ask John Cooper). If you don’t like it, or agree with the emphasis placed on beating rivals, then adopt a local church league team’s booster club to donate to.

A couple of quick hits:

* Analyzing NC State couldn’t be any more simple. How we shoot the three will tell you if we are going to win or lose any game. It really isn’t much more complicated than that.

* Tony Bethel and Cameron Bennerman have really developed into quite a dangerous tandem this season. Cam had 26 points today, more than a third of the Wolfpack’s total, after Bethel led the Pack to a big lead with great first half play and finished with 19 points.

* As we all know, guard play is key to success in college basketball…so, as long as these two continue their strong play this team can continue to build a great season. I want to stress the need/desire to maximize what we can this season since both of these guys are seniors.

* How is it that NC State has our best offensive team in the Herb Sendek era at the exact same time that we have undoubtedly worst defensive team of the Sendek era? It’s just like the ebbs and flows of our football program in the last six years — as our offense has sucked our defense has been great (and vice versa).

* Cedric Simmons attempted only seven field goal attempts for the game on Saturday. I don’t think he got more than 2 or 3 attempts in the second half when we were struggling to do anything right.

* The relatively unknown officiating crew of Gary Maxwell, Manny Upton, Ray Natili deserve credit for calling a pretty good game.

* I got a little perterbed at the ABC Broadcast near the end of the game when they suddenly started positioning the importance of Ilian Evitmov to the Wolfpack. Evtimov didn’t seem very important when the Pack dominated the first 30 minutes of the game and built a 22 point lead. Somehow, he became amazingly important to Steve Lavin when things weren’t going well.

* I honestly thought that we were witnessing the end of the Herb Sendek era LAST YEAR in Blacksburg when State lost an 11 point lead in an inexcusable loss. Kudos for avoiding the complete collapse this year.

General NCS Basketball

29 Responses to Pack Escapes in Blackburg

  1. RickJ 02/18/2006 at 4:18 PM #

    I thought the defense in the first half was very good, terrible down the stretch. The most important stat of the game to me is 6 blocks by Big Ced in 31 minutes. He altered several more. I have never seen a player block 6 shots in a game and neither commentator make one reference to it.

  2. VaWolf82 02/18/2006 at 4:22 PM #

    The Pack managed to break an “0-fer” streak when I watch the game at the local BWW’s. My son wanted to go and I waited until half-time to make sure that we didn’t jinx the team. Thank goodness State started with a 20 point lead before they forgot how to score.

    Seriously though, there are no style points awarded in the W/L column or in the RPI. This is a good win in that a loss would have been terrible….just like the GT game. It’s too late in the year to be giving games away.

    Come seeding time on Selection Sunday, this game was never going to be a positive and could only have been a negative. State won, so it’s not likely to matter whether it was by one or by 21. On to BC and UNC in Raleigh next week.

  3. wuf91 02/18/2006 at 7:28 PM #

    I’m not certain of the regular season tiebreak rules, but with State’s win coupled with Virginia’s loss to FSU, State may have clinched a first round bye in the ACC tourney. State has 3 losses with 3 games to play, and are 5-0 against all the the 5th place teams which all have 6 losses. The worst we could do is tie for 4th place, and hold a head-to-head tiebreak advantage.

  4. JSIMON 02/18/2006 at 9:30 PM #

    What makes you say our defense sucks? Entering the weekend we were among the nation’s top 30 in field-goal percentage defense (39.9 percent) and ranked first in the ACC in field-goal percentage defense for all games (2nd for conference games). Our rebounding has also gotten much better in recent games (the margins aren’t nearly as bad as they were early in the ACC season). The one place we have slipped is in our turnover margin — both in the number that we’ve forced recently and in the number that we’ve been giving away. I thought our defense was actually pretty good today.

  5. JeremyHyatt 02/18/2006 at 9:47 PM #

    JSimon – Is there a stat for number of second chance shots per posession given up? If so i bet we are close to the top. Its better to look at it more wholistically.

  6. JeremyHyatt 02/18/2006 at 10:03 PM #

    Courtesy of

    ‘ The Pack played without forward Ilian Evtimov, out with a sprained ligament in his left foot. Evtimov, who has been wearing a protective walking boot, said he hopes to be healthy enough to play Wednesday against North Carolina at the RBC Center.

    “Hopefully, I can,” he said. ‘

    Just this comment….sounds positive. Even if he doesn’t make the Carolina game, it sounds like he is not that far away. In fact, I’d just be happy with him being back in time for the ACCT. I’m not picky and I know this type of injury can be tricky. For myself it has been a week since my ankle sprain, and although I can put some weight on it without the walking boot, I know from the feeling on it I will not be playing for another month or more, even though I can start rehab in another week. Maybe I am over-reaching, but Ilian’s words sound promising.

  7. packbackers 02/18/2006 at 11:44 PM #

    Congratulations to the Pack on another hard fought victory today. Any road win in the ACC is tough, I don’t care how “down” the league is. Most importantly, Herb Sendek and his team deserve credit for a spectacular season so far. We haven’t witnessed a record like this in 32 years, and I am more excited about State basketball now than I’ve been since ’83. Herb Sendek has endured so much criticism, yet he has delivered a season that no one was predicting after Hodge’s graduation. If someone had told me 21 regular season wins and 10 conference wins before the season began, I’d have taken it in a second, as I’m sure anyone would have. Now, like Jeff said, let’s hope we can really make this season special with a win Wednesday night!

  8. Fred McCulloch 02/19/2006 at 7:40 AM #

    GoWoofPack took my first comment. (it’s either regardless or irrespective). This team is like Dracula, you have to drive the stake through their heart to kill them. They don’t quit. My ten year old is becoming a huge Tony Bethel fan. That’s an accomplishment when you live in Texas.

  9. charlottefan 02/19/2006 at 8:26 AM #

    IE is out till the Tourney

  10. VaWolf82 02/19/2006 at 8:40 AM #

    Fact or speculation?

  11. RickJ 02/19/2006 at 8:47 AM #

    Two other notes that are interesting to me – Grant played 30 minutes with 1 turnover & 8 rebounds. On the last important VPI possession when Engin forced a jump ball – I swear it looked like NC State was in a ZONE defense!

  12. choppack 02/19/2006 at 9:45 AM #

    I think we were in a 1-3-1 according to the post game comments.

    A couple of other thoughts. I thought our half court D was good – if you exclude the lack of rebounding which led to the VaTech resurgence in the second half. If I recall correctly on 3 or straight possessions, VaTech scored on second chance points. Simply put, if we rebound properly today (the way we did in the first 20 minutes)- we win going away.

    Ced dominated the boards in the first half and Grant did good job as well. I don’t know what happened in the second half.

    Fells – who I’d like to see more of – showed why he doesn’t get much playing w/ the defensive lapse which allowed for a wide open lay-up.

  13. Jeff 02/19/2006 at 10:52 AM #

    (1) Thanks for the correction on Regardless. I will fix that. It’s funny…I had originally written Regardless and then when I proofed it I just thought it sounded funny and made the change. Thanks.

    (2) JSIMON — please show me where I said that our defense “sucks”? That wasn’t what I said.

    I said that our defense is the worst that it has been in the last decade. I guess that you disagree with that? We’ve traditionally been a FANTASTIC defensive team under Herb, and I don’t think this team is as dedicated to defense as our past teams have been.

    My personal opinion is that our perimeter defense is the weakest that it has been and those players have gotten a little “spoiled” having big Ced back there to block shots. There is part of your explanation of how we can have solid defensive FG% but not play great defense.

    Then there is the fact that we have padded our stats with a disproportionate amount of games against weaker competition.

    In the last month and a half, we haven’t held a single team below the 39% that you cite as our FG% Defense for the year. The ONLY way that our overall FG D is still under 40% is because of how many games that we have played against significantly bad competition. Recently –

    Carolina shot 53% against us.
    Duke 45% against us.
    GT 52% against us (in our win)
    Seton Hall 47% against us
    GT 54% against us (in our win)

    OF COURSE our overall defensive FG% should be impressive when we play such a disproportionate number of games against bad competition. It is not a slam. It is an explanation of how we can have such a “great” defensive FG% and not be as good as I have grown accustomed to on defense (especially on the perimeter).

  14. WhitCanCoach 02/19/2006 at 10:55 AM #

    Herb Sendek has endured so much criticism, yet he has delivered a season that no one was predicting

    Isn’t there something deeply wrong when “no one” has yet to predict or expect such a successful season in a decade of opportunity?

  15. scott 02/19/2006 at 1:18 PM #

    Couldn’t help but aggravated at ABC’s history lessons during the game. Called this the best start since Valvano’s national championship team..of course, it was the ’74 team & not ’83. Actually, the ’75 team reached 22-5 before its last loss. Second, we got a list of coaching wins at NCSU putting Herb only one game behind Case. Of course, they only counted Case’s wins since NCSU joined the ACC & not the 7 years before. Case win total-377, Herb’s-190. I hope the crack staff in the Wolfpack athletic dept. wasn’t responsible for that. Sorta like viewing things in “daytight compartments.”

  16. Cardiac95 02/19/2006 at 1:42 PM #

    I continue to remain apprehensive about how “good” we really are when we have struggled so often to put away games against the ACC’s bottom tier.

  17. blpack 02/19/2006 at 5:04 PM #

    Thank goodness for FTs and Cam knocking them down. The scoring droughts, lack of rebounding, soft defense vs. guards, etc. make me wonder how we built such a big lead. Then I remembered we shoot the 3 with the best of them and Coach Seth is on the opposing sideline. We have to turn it up the rest of way, but I think the guys know that. No excuses for this team to not finish strong position itself for a run in the ACCT and NCAAs.

  18. Bob stark 02/19/2006 at 7:54 PM #

    I like this team-We just didn’t take as many threes in second half-Seemed like we kind of froze alittle or the guys did get a little tired going down the middle of 2nd half. Ced had a shot blocked again from the back.
    I hope Ced starts to get alittle more forceful against ch weds.

  19. JeremyHyatt 02/19/2006 at 8:25 PM #

    ” IE is out till the Tourney ”

    sounds like an unspecific opinion to me VA.

  20. Beez'65 02/19/2006 at 10:34 PM #

    Thanks to Scott for the correction – I was surprised by the position of Case on that list of Coaches, but didn’t realize they’d gotten it wrong. I’ll plug my dad’s book – he taught at state for 19 years – “The Wolfpack: Intercollegiate Athletics at North Carolina State University.” The university published it in 1976, and he used it in his class (History of Sports) for a long time. It goes through the ’74 championship. I’ve tried to get him to updated it a couple times, but he’s moved on. He is a Mexican Historian after all. But its a great source for the Pack’s history going back to when we wore pink and brown! If you look hard you might find a copy.

  21. VaWolf82 02/19/2006 at 11:01 PM #

    going back to when we wore pink and brown!

    There’s a visual I didn’t need.

  22. Rick 02/20/2006 at 9:41 AM #

    “I continue to remain apprehensive about how “goodâ€? we really are when we have struggled so often to put away games against the ACC’s bottom tier”


    Some teams are better than their record (GT) and I fear we are worse than ours. I hope I am wrong.

  23. Chief93 02/20/2006 at 10:42 AM #

    “Second, we got a list of coaching wins at NCSU putting Herb only one game behind Case. Of course, they only counted Case’s wins since NCSU joined the ACC & not the 7 years before. Case win total-377, Herb’s-190. I hope the crack staff in the Wolfpack athletic dept. wasn’t responsible for that.”

    That comes directly from the ACC’s weekly release (page 6 today), so it’s not just some fabrication of the evil NC State spin machine:

  24. Rick 02/20/2006 at 11:18 AM #

    The fact that Herb is about to pass Case just testifies to the “we are good not great” philosphy NCSU seems to revel in.

  25. Mr O 02/20/2006 at 11:31 AM #

    Jeff: I don’t think you were criticized for expecting a 13-3 record. I just think people pointed out that they thought you were setting the season up to be a failure if we don’t hit the 13-3 mark.

    Personally, I would take a Sweet 16, Elite 8 appearance, or ACC title over beating UNC.

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