Sprouts of Ineptness

I have not added much to this blog for far too long. I have been trying to get into the supporting Sendek mode and so have been avoiding writing anything negative (you know what your mother told you about not being able to say anything nice). And since Vawolf is the master of anything statistical, I have been sitting back and relaxing. But after the embarrassment that was the ACC tournament I feel like I should now speak up. Granted I could be taking a chance on posting this before a magical NCAA run but I am honestly not too concerned about that.

I think everyone remembers the marvelous piece of prose entitled “Seeds of Greatness� that compared Herb to John Wooden. After 4 years, I would like to see what the seeds sprouted into (everything has to grow right?). Using ineptness is too harsh a word for what Sendek has accomplished here, but I think he is as close to being inept as is he to being great. So here are the problems I think Herb has as a coach and it explains why I do not think NCSU basketball will ever be any better than it currently is.

1) Inflexibility – Herb has repeatedly shown that he will not change what he is doing. It either works or it does not. This week on his radio show a caller asked him about using a press when we were down big to Wake and Herb responded that you keep doing what you are doing. This sums it up. If you keep doing what you are doing, you will get the same result.

2) Not seeing the big picture – Herb does not seem to be able to prepare for future events. He does what will provide immediate gratification. For example, he does not play the freshmen. We all know that the freshmen are not going to be the best players and they may do something wrong, but you play them, not because they will help in this game, but you play them because it will help later in the year. It will reduce team fatigue, reduce injuries and enable the team to absorb the injuries that do occur. As a by product, it will make the transition to the next year easier.

3) Game management – Herb’s inability to construct a play to get a shot in high pressure situations is his most glaring weakness. Who does not cringe when you see Herb call a time out? In the BC game alone there were 5 time outs that netted zero good shots. You cannot win a championship if you cannot score in important situations.

4) Lack of emotion – In some ways it is good to keep your emotions in check (except when accosting fans of course), but for college kids it is imperative that a coach is able to instill a fire in the team that will allow them to perform at a higher level than they would normally. This is not the NBA; college players need emotional leadership to enable them to reach peak performance.

5) Marriage to the Princeton offense – This offense, as we run it, will not win a championship. If you want to be the best you imitate the best. This offense is unproven. He is now recruiting players to fit this offense. These slow, smart players are not able to play the type of defense it takes to win championships. Double whammy.

6) Lack of self reflection – Herb does not seem able to see his own faults. If something is not working it is not because his idea is bad; it is because it was executed improperly. Every post game interview after a loss Herb mentions the players not hitting their shots, is that always the problem? Another time on his radio show someone asked him why we are not getting the ball to Ced more. Herb told the caller that we are forcing the ball down low a lot. If he is incapable of seeing the problem, he is incapable of fixing the problem.

To summarize, the things that have propelled Herb to his current level of “greatness” are the very things that will hinder him from accomplishing anything greater. Combine that with his stubborn refusal to change and I do not see an end to this quagmire.

About Rick

1992 and 2002 graduate from NCSU. Born and raised an NCSU fan. I remember the good ol' days and they weren't in the last 20 years.

General NCS Basketball

42 Responses to Sprouts of Ineptness

  1. Mike 03/15/2006 at 10:45 AM #

    Thanks Rick, well said.
    (1) Inflexibility is key. K and Roy change things based on the game. We don’t. “Golly gee, it just is not working tonight for some reason.” Yeah, coaches change what they do against us. Last time I checked Wake had no point guard and teams killed them with the press. Us press? Why? “That’s not what we do”. That’s also why we lost to the last place team in the conference twice, and got blown out both times.

    (2) Big picture, not playing freshmen. Maybe if freshman played they might wnt to come to NCSU. Who wants to come sit for a year or two? Coaches today promise the freshman they will play, some even start. They want to play a year or two and move on. Can’t do that at State, so I’m going elsewhere. Think about Ced, if he had played more last year, maybe the game would be more complete. Looking forward to seeing him develop, if our staff can help him.

    (3) Game managament. Over the last 4 or 5 years, we call a time out, most of the time we dont even get a shot offf. It has actually happened less this year than previous years. When we call TO, I know we are done.

    (4) Lack of emotion is not so bad in most cases. Dick Sheridan was low key, but he also knew when to pump it up for the big games. If Herb could turn it up a notch on occasion, this would be a good trait for him and the team.

    (5) More flexibility here. Use it when you can, but have some other options against teams that defend it.

    (6) Bingo!

    Thanks Rick for your post and efforts. Go PACK!

  2. choppack 03/15/2006 at 10:52 AM #

    I agree w/ some of your points. However, I’ve seen us try to work it into Ced – he just hasn’t been producing. Much of this is related to the fact that we aren’t hitting our 3s and that the passes into him have often been lousy. Howevever, he’s been on a slide ever since the Duke game.

    And yes, I hate it when we move him to the elbow of the foul-line. I just don’t think we are ignoring working the ball into Ced.

    Personally, I think the biggest glaring defiency is the lack of TO’s our defense is generating. TO’s should lead to transition points and easy baskets – especially when your team stinks on the boards. We ain’t getting the TOs, we ain’t getting the rebounds – pretty much an equation for disaster.

  3. NCSU'79 03/15/2006 at 11:07 AM #

    Analyze all you want….it’s time for a change, simple as that!

  4. class of '74 03/15/2006 at 11:17 AM #

    Agree with each point of this piece. Well said!

  5. Wolfpack Willie 03/15/2006 at 11:39 AM #

    I agree with NCSU’79 – enough is enough! How many excellent recruits go elsewhere because they don’t want any part of Herb or his Quaalude Offense?

  6. Graywolf 03/15/2006 at 11:41 AM #

    Excellent, well written, and truthful. Change is needed.

  7. RedFred 03/15/2006 at 12:04 PM #


    Once again, you have totally missed the point. Simmons doesn’t have to receive a pass to be effective. He can set solid picks down low, that could free up the other players if Herb’s offense would allow another player to venture inside the 3 point arch on occasion. Then he would be in position to “rebound,” that unfamiliar word again, and create his own plays. Right there around the basket is his strength, and the only place he would be major factor. But it’s not part of Herb’s “programmed”.

  8. cfpack03 03/15/2006 at 12:13 PM #

    (without going into Herb’s persona) I think we try to control the game too much also. How many times (especially in Jules’ early years) have you seen us running with a 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 break, only to pull it back and set up the offense. We don’t rack up transition points b/c rarely exploit the transition, instead slowin’ it down to set up our princeton-hybrid.
    Don’t get me wrong, a structured offensive strategy is vital, but sometimes in the sport of basketball you have to run ’em when you have numbers.

  9. RedFred 03/15/2006 at 1:23 PM #


    “Princeton style.” I will be glad when there’s no longer a need to waste time typing those 14 letters and those two words are just a distant memory. What is the fascination and all the hype about this overated and under achieving style of play. It may be a hard system to learn and comprehend, but it doesn’t win, why can’t the “too smart for the job” coach figure that one out.

    National Championship Banners hanging in the rafters


  10. VaWolf82 03/15/2006 at 1:44 PM #

    Who does not cringe when you see Herb call a time out?

    Ouch….that cuts to the heart of the matter.

  11. wrNCSU 03/15/2006 at 1:50 PM #

    Preach on RedFred…when is everyone going to realize that college basketball is king in NC and the ACC because of NCSU, Reynolds Coliseum, and Everett Case? Not to mention the glorious 1970s. We deserve and should demand a basketball coach and athletic director with the ambition and courage (balls) to reclaim the status of greatness which has been long forgotten by many Wolfpack fans. We are the Big Boys of college basketball, it’s time to start behaving like it again! Starting from the top.

  12. ThePack 03/15/2006 at 1:50 PM #

    the “flex” offense that I always hear about on tv regarding UNC or Duke. What do they mean by “flex”?

  13. Matt E. 03/15/2006 at 2:08 PM #

    ^ the flex is what Maryland and BC run.

    It’s basically down and side screens in the lane. I cant stand watching BC run it as they really clog up the lane with it.

  14. Jim 03/15/2006 at 2:11 PM #

    We run the offense formerly known as Princeton.

  15. RedFred 03/15/2006 at 2:27 PM #

    wrNCSU…you nailed it.

    I am getting really tired of hearing from people who say that those of us who think that NCSU is supposed to be in it’s rightful place, among the very best basketball programs in the nation, are just being unrealistic. We’ve earned it and we have history behind us to back up what we are saying. Those people need to start believing it. I will not settle for less. Anyone who does, has no idea what the history of Wolfpack basketball is all about.

  16. JeremyHyatt 03/15/2006 at 2:29 PM #

    wow, the wolves really come to feast when things are down!

    not to say their is no truth to what is being said, it just seems relentless, … and very, very convincing. even I’m ready for change! (switches from coke to pepsi)

  17. 4NCST8 03/15/2006 at 2:35 PM #

    Does all Bob Kennel visit this site?

    I doubt it.

    Article is spot on.

    Especially the parts about lack of self-reflection and lack of emotion.

    The lack of self-reflection just drives me crazy. Herb’s a very stubborn guy when it comes to his coaching decisions and coaching program. He’s not very open to change. The non-league schedule, his crazy, slow offense, playing gimmick defenses to slow down great players, questions about his recruiting philosophy. The man is set in his ways and oftentimes, I think he looks at State fans who criticize him as a bunch of peons. I have no doubt that’s what he thinks in private. His intellectual superiority. A 3.95 at C-M does not make a great basketball coach!

    The emotion . . . Herb is emotional sometimes. But he has always needed to show much more emotion on the sideline. Against UNC . . . He should have been into the game non-stop, yelling, screaming, exhorting his players, motivating, communicating.

    Fowler said that wasn’t his style the other day on the radio, but his players need that, especially in the big games vs. Duke, UNC, NCAA opponents.

    The article is exactly right in what it says: the offense, the lack of fire, the refusal to self-reflect.

    A true critique of the program under Herb Sendek.

    If only Sendek would realize it and make changes.

    He won’t.

    “We are who we are.”

  18. RedFred 03/15/2006 at 2:38 PM #

    Explain your timeframe for “when things are down”

  19. JeremyHyatt 03/15/2006 at 2:49 PM #

    When things are down: this chatter did not exist until perhaps the lost to Wake in the ACCT tournment, which capped off a end-of-season 5 game losing streak. i.e. we were all very cheerful at mid-season winning double-OT games left and right. just pointing it out. Back in the 70s when UNC lost to Wake the student body made an effigy of Dean Smith and hung it on campus, now in 2006 we fill up blog boards. Not comparing the coaches, just pointing out “when things go bad..”.

    Separately, chew on this, Sendek does not leave, Uni does not replace him, and we, NC State Fans/Alums continue to make noise for his exit long into next season, contibuting to another year where recruiting is hurt tremendously because the coach is “on the chopping block”. food for thought, we are heading in that direction.

  20. TimP 03/15/2006 at 2:54 PM #

    Most of you probably saw this already but for those looking for NCSU related


  21. class of '74 03/15/2006 at 2:55 PM #

    ^The sooner he’s gone the sooner we turn this thing around! How many more years of 3rd to 6th place finishes does it take to convince you he is not the guy? 5 more, 10 more, 15 more how many?

  22. RedFred 03/15/2006 at 2:59 PM #

    Please watch the games like the prospective recruits are doing. Nothing said on this site could be any where close to as damaging as watching 40 minutes of total lethargy.

  23. Clarksa 03/15/2006 at 3:21 PM #

    I don’t cringe when we call a timeout at the end of the game, I verbally abuse the TV and anyone around me…

  24. Rick 03/15/2006 at 3:36 PM #

    “When things are down: this chatter did not exist until perhaps the lost to Wake in the ACCT tournment, which capped off a end-of-season 5 game losing streak. i.e. we were all very cheerful at mid-season winning double-OT games left and right”

    I felt we might be turning a corner with the offense up until the Duke game. After that we seemed to stop looking down low and go back to the Globetrotter weave.
    During the “close losses” stage I had a feeling we were looking of the beginning of the end.

    As I said in my main post, I think there are systemic and personal limitations that have capped our “improvement” so the only hope I felt was that maybe we were changing the system thus proving my “lack of self reflection” observation wrong.

    Thanks everyone for the feedback.

  25. Jeff 03/15/2006 at 3:37 PM #

    I think that this piece is excellent and plays a very integral role in the conversation.

    As you guys know, I usuall like to keep a majority of the conversations focused on the “WHAT” part of the equaltion — the results and performance and measurable items to avoid the hassles with different people’s subjectivety.

    But the analysis of the WHY & HOW — the strategic and specific coaching inadequacies — is very relevant and very important. This level of conversation is very well done and tasteful. Great.

    I can’t help but remember the Georgia Tech game that we lost 7 or 8 years ago when we sent 6 guys out of the huddle to get a technical foul when I think of some of this.

    Wilmington article today:

    “State fell at home to Boston College in double overtime. Sendek called six timeouts with less than a minute left in regulation and both overtimes with State in possession of the ball, yet the Wolfpack failed to score each time, missing the rim entirely on three possessions.”

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