Is Pressure Off or On?

NC State doesn’t open play in the ACC Tournament until tomorrow. But, that hasn’t deterred many in the local media from on Herb Sendek and the NC State Basketball program. In addition to these interesting comments, a few more items have hit the radar the last couple of days.

John DeLong, one of the writers in North Carolina who is historically more sympathetic to NC State, wrote a neat piece on Wednesday that achieved criticism without directly criticizing:

Will anybody ever get a meaningful rebound again? Will Gavin Grant wear a mask to protect his broken nose? What’s up with these uninspired starts? What would it take to get Andrew Brackman’s hoops production up as high as his ERA, after another shelling on the mound Sunday?

Fortunately for Sendek, the answers aren’t really necessary until Friday afternoon, when State will play either Wake Forest or Florida State in the quarterfinals…

…In that sense (of making the NCAA Tournament), the pressure is off compared to what State teams have faced in recent years. Twice in the past three years, State has come into the ACC Tournament on the NCAA Tournament bubble. But in the sense that a four-game losing streak would cause State’s NCAA seeding to plummet significantly, the pressure is on. In the sense that the Anti-Herb crowd is riled up again, the pressure is on. In the sense that this team’s legacy is on the line, the pressure is on.

This seemed to be a special team at one point, maybe State’s best since the 1980s. But you can’t go down as a special State team if rival North Carolina sweeps you, then you fizzle out down the stretch and lay an egg in the postseason. You can’t go down as a special team if you don’t do something special in either the ACC or the NCAA.

Injuries have never prevented the really special State teams from being really special. David Thompson crashed-landed on his head, bandaged it up and won a national championship a week later in 1974. The 1983 Cardiac Pack lost Dereck Whittenburg for 14 games with a broken foot, but it wasn’t derailed. Bennerman has a tender hamstring. Evtimov has a sore foot.

General NCS Basketball Quotes of Note

25 Responses to Is Pressure Off or On?

  1. Trout 03/09/2006 at 10:19 AM #

    On, bigtime.

  2. choppack 03/09/2006 at 10:24 AM #

    I think it’s on. About Whit’s injury in ’83 – what was our record when he was out?

  3. choppack 03/09/2006 at 10:25 AM #

    I’d also add that I don’t think an at-large bid is a given. I can easily see us being left out if we lose to FSU or Wake Friday. And IMHO, the committee would be totally justified doing so.

  4. Trout 03/09/2006 at 10:32 AM #

    choppack: I believe NC State was 6-4 in the 10 games Whitt missed. He came back for the last 3 games of the regular season (a loss @UVA, a loss @MD and a big win over Wake).

  5. Matt E. 03/09/2006 at 10:35 AM #

    Hopefully Herb can continue his first round ACC magic, he’s 8-1, and some of these questions can be answered.

    I dont think there is any way a 20 win team, inflated or not, with 10 wins in the ACC isnt a lock at this point.

    Damn I really wish I had a tv here at work!!

  6. BJD95 03/09/2006 at 10:50 AM #

    I think the pressure is on, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lack of intensity again on Friday. If the team indeed does fail to play with a real sense of urgency, I’ll be highly pissed.

    Great article.

    I agree that we’re in regardless, but a Friday loss likely means “ejector seat” time. Saturday loss puts us at 6/7.

  7. kevin 03/09/2006 at 10:58 AM #

    One difference in ’83 was Witt was injured mid-season and he came back before the end of the regular season and got back into the regular season flow.
    Our current team has had at least one starter injured going in to the post season. Had Witt been injured with 2-3 games left in the regular season, we would not have won the ACCT or the NCAAs and not even gotten into the tourney.
    Regardless, we do need to get some momentum going into the NCAAs. If we lay an egg in the ACCT, I am not hopeful for the NCAA.

  8. Trout 03/09/2006 at 11:04 AM #


    NC State, I believe, was ranked in the Top 15 when Whitt got injured. We were blowing out a Top 3 Ralph Sampson UVA team at the time.

    I have no doubt that NC State would have made the NCAA Tournament had Whitt been injured with 2-3 games left in the regular season.

    Now, would NC State have won the NCAA? Probably not.

  9. newswolf 03/09/2006 at 11:24 AM #

    What is a must win game?

    Does it mean the sun won’t rise tomorrow?

    I would say the pressure is off.

  10. choppack 03/09/2006 at 11:30 AM #

    Trout – thanks for the info…Wasn’t our record in the ACC that year 8-6? I’ve seen the championship game on Classic sports a couple of times and Vitale or Packer (I forget which) says that he considers a lock for the tourney now – before the game.

    If you ever get a chance to watch those games in that run – watch them. They’re amazing.

  11. Jeff 03/09/2006 at 11:40 AM #

    choppack…I agree with you that the committee would be justified in leaving us out with a loss…but, there is no way that is going to happen. Once certain teams become “generally accepted” by the media & such, you rarely see the committee spend any time looking at the specifics behind the numbers.

    For fun…take a look at the following numbers as a committee member. When I look at this, I see two teams that are very, very similar on most accounts. Team XYZ seems to have done a much better job doing what the committee requires from a scheduling perspective and with quality wins.

    Team – RPI – SOS – OOC SOS – Record – Last 10 – vsRPI#50
    ABC – 53 – 45 – 147 – 18-12 – 5-5 – 2-8
    XYZ – 52 – 10 – 36 – 17-15 – 5-5 – 5-11

    But, in this situation…Team ABC was admitted to the Tourney (on the bubble with room to spare) and team XYZ wasn’t that close.

    Hopefully Herb can continue his first round ACC magic, he’s 8-1, and some of these questions can be answered.

    I think that we need some clarification of fact on this^ bullshit stat. Herb is 8-1 in FIRST GAMES of the ACC Tournament. But, the traditional “FIRST ROUND” is considered to be the Quarterfinal round played on Friday.

    Herb is NOT 8-1 in the “FIRST ROUND” played on Friday. He has had the “benefit” of playing so poorly in the regular season that we have at least 3 wins on Thursday game. Yippeee!!!

  12. VaWolf82 03/09/2006 at 11:44 AM #

    Hopefully Herb can continue his first round ACC magic, he’s 8-1, and some of these questions can be answered.

    Do you really think that a win over FSU or WF followed by a loss on Sat. will answer any questions?

  13. BJD95 03/09/2006 at 11:55 AM #

    ^ That would be an inconclusive result, as I noted in my “Regression to the Mean” article. I expect the NCAA result to “balance out” the ACCT result, in either a good way or a bad way. But, since we can never get over the hump, no ACCT title or Elite Eight run.

  14. Matt E. 03/09/2006 at 12:03 PM #

    Jeff – Then what is his record in “first round” games then? I cant find old tournament brackets not that I looked that hard though.

    VaWolf82 – All I was meaning was hopefully we can win our first game and then move on from there. Anyway, it will answer one question if we win; can we win another game this year? 😉

  15. Matt E. 03/09/2006 at 12:21 PM #

    Jeff – OK, here we go. Herb is 7-2 in ACC tournament games played on Friday, the first round.

    1997 – W – (8) N.C. State 66, (1) Duke 60
    1998 – L – (2) N. Carolina 73, (8) N.C. State 46
    1999 – W – (5) N.C. State 66, (4) Wake Forest 52
    2000 – W – (6) N.C. State 76, (3) Virginia 65
    2001 – L – (2) Duke 76, (7) N.C. State 61
    2002 – W – (4) N.C. State 92, (5) Virginia 72
    2003 – W – (4) N.C. State 71, (5) Georgia Tech 55
    2004 – W – (2) N.C. State 78, (7) Florida St 71
    2005 – W – (7) N.C. State 81, (2) Wake Forest 65

  16. VaWolf82 03/09/2006 at 12:27 PM #

    And then the weekend comes…..

    3-4 on Saturday and 0-3 on Sunday.

  17. Jim 03/09/2006 at 12:50 PM #

    Herb’s teams have always seemed to play well at unexpected times and (more often) crappy at unexpected times. I find them impossible to read.

  18. class of '74 03/09/2006 at 1:03 PM #

    The pressure is definitely on and with each loss it only increases. Two quick exits (ACCT and NCAA) and I think youl’ll see Herb looking around. And I for one, hope he finds someplace else to elevate to mediocrity!

  19. Trout 03/09/2006 at 1:25 PM #

    For comparison, V’s ACCT record:

    1st round: 4-6
    Semis: 2-2
    Title: 2-0

  20. WolfInVolCountry 03/09/2006 at 1:28 PM #

    I tend to agree with ’74. An early exit in the ACCT and then an early NCAA exit puts Herb on very thin ice. One win this weekend coupled with a first round win next week and we are skating with Herb “Johnny Weir” Sendek for the forseeable future. (Sorry for the obtuse parallel between our coach and a mediocre figure skater. Best I could do… and a Tanya Harding comparison did not seem appropriate.)

  21. Jeff 03/09/2006 at 1:30 PM #

    Herb’s first round record is really good. No doubt about it. But, I just like to be as clear as possible on things like this.

  22. Trout 03/09/2006 at 1:40 PM #

    So, by my calculations, Herb has 3 non-traditional (Thursday games) ACCT wins?

    97: (8)NC State 60, (9)GT 46
    98: (8)NC State 75, (9)FSU 73
    04: (6)NC State 70, (11)FSU 54

  23. Rick 03/09/2006 at 1:48 PM #

    “For comparison, V’s ACCT record:

    1st round: 4-6
    Semis: 2-2
    Title: 2-0”

    Herb has done well when he has time to prepare. He does less well when he has to make moves on the fly. This was Valvano’s strong suit. This is also why I doubt Herb ever wins a title.

  24. Greg 03/09/2006 at 11:01 PM #

    FYI, writer John DeLong is an NCSU graduate. He was in school during the Thompson era and witnessed the first title. Maybe that explains your comment he is historically sympathetic to NC State. Make no mistake however, he is a fair and excellent journalist. We need more like him.

  25. Jeff 03/10/2006 at 7:28 AM #

    ^ I couldn’t agree more with you Greg. I have always appreciated/respected his work. Thanks for the info on that!

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