To my thinking, that might be the most special part of our 11 point win in Blacksburg. Here’s my breakdown:
– Engin Atsur – Obvious, with clutch 3s, hustle plays, and steady leadership.
– Ben McCauley – Pretty much carried the offense in the early going, made some tough rebounds, and put the dagger in the Hokies with a nice slashing move and dunk.
– Brandon Costner – Rebounding machine, hit the shot of the night with his late 3 to silence the frenzied crowd and put State back up by 5.
– Courtney Fells – Great defense all night, active on the glass. Gave Pack fans the best “SportsCenter” moment of the night with a vicious, press-breaking dunk that left Cliff Ellis howling. Commenters – find and post the YouTube video!
– Gavin Grant – Recovered from a terrible last minute of the first half to carry the offense in the 2nd. Nailed 2 key 1-and-1s.
– Bryan Nieman – After a Pack miss and up only 4 in the 2nd half, Nieman alertly tips the ball away from the rebounding Hokie, off his face and into the waiting arms of Gavin Grant.
– Dennis Horner – Mostly invisible all night, made a great hustle play on a loose ball, scrambling to the baseline and bouncing the ball of a frustrated Hokie.
Post your key moments in the comments. And check out the fun we had last night overcoming my pessimism.
Updated: Jeff Comments (10:15am)
I haven’t had a chance to watch the game yet. I had a dinner last night and drove home during the second half. So, I got to listen to the VPI announcers on XM Satellite radio. It was a nice experience to get to listen to their perspectives of the game. Some comments and links that I have pieced together:
* I emailed a friend yesterday telling him that I had a good feeling about last night’s game. I was dying to get it on the blog before my day got away from me and I had to get to my dinner. There was just something about the evening that seemed to be a good set up for the Pack: (a) a week to rest and prepare, (b) Engin Atsur’s improving help and ability to practice with the team, (c) Coach Lowe’s recent decision to go deeper on the bench and stress hustle and defense with his substitution pattern, (d) VPI getting too big for their britches and taking ‘last place’ NC State too lightly. Instead, I now look like the ultimate Monday Morning Quarterback for missing my opportunity!
* It is extremely encouraging that Sidney Lowe was able to instill such an improvement in overall effort, defense and rebounding with the Pack’s week long break. Hopefully, the message is sinking in with certain players that this is how you WIN basketball games.
* Talk about exemplifying the impact of Engin Atsur! Atsur’s mere presence on the court for State brings with it so many things that the rest of the squad lacks – senior experience, improved defense, good ballhandling, and good 3 point shooting. Don’t get sucked into playing What If? scenarios!
* To ^this point – State was still only 5 of 18 from the three point arc. Exclude Atsur, and the Pack was only 1 of 8 from behind the arc. What are we going to do next year?
* The VPI announcers were very complimentary of NC State and Coach Sidney Lowe. They also made some complimentary comments about the Pack’s play without directly referencing Sidney that still served to compliment the Pack’s coach(ing). They highlighted State’s offense that consistently found ways to take advantage of key match-ups on the court. They also stressed how hungry the Pack played and that it was obvious that State wanted the game more. It was enjoyable to hear such nice comments.
* Speaking of the Virginia Tech announcers – this entry from March of 2005 came to mind.
* State vaulted to #125 in the RPI with the win. Due to the strong and balanced nature of the Wolfpack’s remaining schedule, the Pack could crack the Top 100 this year with only 2 to 4 more wins. That would be quite an accomplishment for a team picked last in the conference before the season started and who played with Engin Atsur for half the season.
* I have just found the “Above the Rim” blog at the Charlotte Observer. Their entry on the game focuses on Seth Greenberg’s compliments of State. I’ll take it. Greenberg has been one of my favorites through the years. I pegged him for stardom when he was at South Florida and was actually surprised that he accepted the VPI job as I thought that he would hold out for a more attractive opportunity (that he would have surely gotten in coming years).
* As likable as Greenburg is, his propensity to publicly comment on NC State’s coaching situation (Herb Sendek) last year really rubbed me the wrong way. He talked A LOT on Fox Sports radio, etc about the situation in Raleigh and was too critical of Wolfpackers for my liking. IMHO, he would have been better served to have kept his mouth shut. In 2005, Greenberg defeated a deep and experienced Wolfpack coached Herb Sendek in their first battle in Cassell Coliseum. In 2007, Greenberg lost a thin and inexperienced Wolfpack team coached by Sidney Lowe. I guess I don’t blame him for loving Sendek so much.
* The N&O’s game article can be accessed by clicking here.
* Poor GoPack.com. They are at it again. I am not going to go through the hassle of capturing their screen again – but they have included pictures of State’s November home game against Michigan as the accompaniment to he story for last night’s win at Virginia Tech. It’s just pitiful. Here is a link to the last conversation that we had when they pulled the identical stunt after State’s win at Wake Forest.
* The following are some good summary comments on the evening from GoPack’s article:
Not only did the Pack shoot 53.1 percent for the game, including 56.5 percent in the second half, it put together one of its best defensive efforts of the season, holding Tech to a season-low 35 percent from the floor. Lowe mixed in a 2-3 zone and even a triangle-and-two during stretches of the game, but the Wolfpackâ€™s most effective defense was its man-to-man.
Spearheading the NC State defense was guard Courtney Fells, who spent most of the night chasing Virginia Tech star Zabian Dowdell. Dowdell, the reigning ACC Player of the Week, came in as the leagueâ€™s third leading scorer, averaging 19 points per game. But on Wednesday, with Fells in his hip pocket, the senior struggled to get 16 points, going 0-5 from the floor in the second half.