VPI Win: Everyone Contributes (Updated 2/1; 10:30am)

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 Wolfpack’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 league’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.

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.

06-07 Basketball General

44 Responses to VPI Win: Everyone Contributes (Updated 2/1; 10:30am)

  1. jamieinkorea 02/01/2007 at 8:23 AM #

    We have 5 real quality players, and they all have to play at 110% every night in order to win. Let’s not forget that.

    If one player has a bad night, it’s probably going to spell a loss.

  2. foz 02/01/2007 at 8:24 AM #

    “We were out-coached, we were out-played, we were out-competed, we were out-focused, we were out-toughed,” Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said.

  3. tractor57 02/01/2007 at 8:31 AM #

    I think Lowe is beginning to develop a little bench (not much and having Atsur back is also a major reason). Costner got some quality “resting time” in the second half which helped him be stronger at the end.
    As for the key moment I thought the response by the Pack after VT took the lead was telling. They didn’t get rattled came down the court and scored.
    For the first time in a while I wasn’t on pins and needles or hopelessly in a funk over a big losing point spread.
    No doubt the best full game performance of the year. Something to build on.
    Even Horner, who was having an off night, was a positive influence as was Nieman. Great effort!

  4. Rick 02/01/2007 at 8:44 AM #

    I think this proves the difference Atsur makes. The team just has more composure. They do not get rattled.

  5. legacyman 02/01/2007 at 8:46 AM #

    Not only does it prove Atsur’s value but it validates the claim that we sorely need a PG. This experience should really help Atsur when he plays in Europe next year.

  6. choppack1 02/01/2007 at 8:52 AM #

    That was a fun game to watch. The offense looked great. I also have to give a tip of the hat to Sidney for working the officials (again). These are the kind of things he’ll need to do to get some calls (and we got some towards the end.)

    Even Ferguson came in and played solid. A great team effort – but this just shows how valuable Engin is.

  7. Pack Laddie 02/01/2007 at 8:52 AM #

    IMO, the best team defensive effort of the year last night. Did not give up near the number of wide open looks that had been given up in some previous games.

    Obviously, a healthy (or healthier) Engo makes a huge difference.

  8. vtpackfan 02/01/2007 at 8:56 AM #

    Atsurs passing looked great a times, and it seemed to carry over. I really noticed the crispness of our passes and how guys really went to the ball with two hands and concentrated getting their palms on it. it sounds peety, but I think our players were pressing the last two games and trying to make the next play happen before they’d finisshed executing the initial one. The fumbles and mis haps that came out of this were just as nerve wracking as players trying to force a play when it was just not there are hadn’t had time to develop. It just looks like Sid got these guys to buy into running the offense and be patient and if nothing else make sure you have a handle on the ball. most To’s were of the dead ball variety, giving our defense a chance to form (a must againt the Holes).

    Loved the high low two man game with McCauley. He is explosive and if ever got a consistent touch on fifteen footers would be impossible to touch. Costner did everything you could possibly ask of a red shirt frosh. It proves that he has the knack for grabbing or tipping loose balls. Fells may have the athletic frame, McCauley the motor and riping attitude, but Costner is the most polished player with the biggest up side. There is literally nothing he can’t do out there, he just needs time to get a better understanding for the game. besides recruiting, the single biggest thing Coach Lowe could do is convince Brandon Costner that sticking it out through his senior year is in his best interest. He would be scary good in two to three years IMO.

    The thing I like about GG is that he doesn’t need a pass to set him up, or even some great screens. He is just a scorer, and not a very pretty one at times. His skill requires so much one on one ability that he sets himself up always for being someone who works agaist he team, or looks foolish otherwise. Sometimes the offense is hiting on all cylinders and then it just stalls, or gets stymied by a defensive adjustment. Used right GG, can offset any minor set back an offense will run into during a game. The trick for the staff will be knowing when it’s the best time to let him loose. Granted, it helps when a guy like Vassollo is guarding him and not Nelson or some other solid defender. But GG is unconventional and awkward looking at times and he makes advantages out of situations that otherwise would’nt be there. You can only go to well so often with him before the risk/reward factor starts haunting your team effort, but used in spurts he can be a great change up to an offensive system, as last night shows. Great game, and congrats to the Pack and Coach Lowe and his staff.

  9. BoKnowsNCS71 02/01/2007 at 9:08 AM #

    Appreciate the fact that we out-rebounded them.

    I think our team is maturing and that we are in good hands for the future.

  10. RickJ 02/01/2007 at 9:14 AM #

    In addition to Nieman’s tip away from the rebounding Hokie, he made another extremely heady play in the second half when he fouled Dowdell (might have been Gordon) to stop a transition fast break.

  11. choppack1 02/01/2007 at 9:46 AM #

    actually vtpackman – Costner has one area that will totally revolutionize his game – WORK ON SHOOTING W/ HIS RIGHT HAND. VaTech was giving him the right but he kept forcing to the left. If he can make his shooting w/ his right hand serviceable – he’ll be unstoppable.

  12. legacyman 02/01/2007 at 9:49 AM #


    Have you noticed that Ben uses either hand and he is so much more effective with that capability.

    I assume you meant Costner using the right hand on layups or short shots.

  13. 98st8 02/01/2007 at 9:50 AM #

    Serious Question: When in the last ten years have we outrebounded and outscored the opposition in the paint against a solid ACC opponent?

  14. redfred2 02/01/2007 at 9:55 AM #

    Not without brief lapses at times, but a great game all the way around with the most consistent effort over 40 minutes I’ve seen all year. The defense really took major step forward last night and Dowdell was pretty much a non-factor second half.

    That was a very solid ballgame and I wish there were few more games in between so that type of effort could really sink in and take hold before facing the powder blue.

    Looking ahead to Saturday, I know McCauley will probably want to try to take right at and challenge Hansbro, but we know who will get the benefit of 99 percent of those calls. I hope Ben and Brandon have some acting experience and don’t mind looking victimized. As we witnessed in the earlier game last night, they will definitely be mauled and mugged on both ends.

  15. choppack1 02/01/2007 at 9:58 AM #

    legacyman – You’re exactly right. I think alot of this is a result of Costner coming in as a 3 man – but using both hands will make him very difficult to defend. He has a great spin – and he’s probably our 2nd best dribbler.

    Ben does a good job w/ both hands, but he doesn’t have Costner’s natural abilities. And we have to give it up for Costner’s work on the board’s…he has great hands – and a nose for the ball.

  16. xphoenix87 02/01/2007 at 10:33 AM #

    Costner still needs to develop decent court vision. He forces shots up through double and triple teams a lot, and he rarely ever passes out of the post. McCauley is a far more polished post player right now, but Costner has incredible upside. The guy I keep finding myself comparing him to is Rasheed Wallace, he’s that kind of talent. If he improves his decision-making, he could end up being an All-American.

  17. KChill 02/01/2007 at 10:33 AM #

    Again, a whole bunching of whining about Grant in the game thread from less than knowledgeable fans. Grants turnover total for last night was 2 TO’s….not 20 not 200, but 2….to read some of the comments you would think otherwise. Final line 16pt, 10 rebs, 3 blks, 4 rebs, 3 assists, 2 TO’s….which any coach on any team would take any day. Cut the whining.

  18. Pack Laddie 02/01/2007 at 10:42 AM #

    Grant was solid last night. The only glaring poor decision I recall was at the end of the first half. Made his move to the basket too soon, and turned it over, leaving enough time for the Hokies to convert a 4 point play.

    Makes a world of difference for him to have Atsur back in the lineup.

  19. noah 02/01/2007 at 10:47 AM #

    Rasheed Wallace?

    Please explain the comparison.

  20. choppack1 02/01/2007 at 10:50 AM #

    PL – It really lets our guys play their natural position – improves our team speed, rebounding and cuts down on our TO’s. It’s a shame we didn’t have him earlier, we might be playing for something more than NIT bid right now.

    Man – it’s fun to watch us though when we’re playing well – great spacing. I hope that continues when we get the new guys.

  21. Dr. BadgerPack 02/01/2007 at 10:54 AM #

    One thing that stood out to me was the handling of the press. We didn’t panic for the most part, and passes seemed to be made with a purpose. It certainly looks like Sidney has spent some time addressing this, and with pretty good results. Without a doubt Atsur helps with this immensely, but everyone on the court looked like they knew what they were doing and had a plan for breaking pressure. Even a couple of the turnovers against the press were on passes that were inches away from being breakaway baskets. I hope that sense of purpose carries over to Saturday’s matchup.

  22. xphoenix87 02/01/2007 at 11:05 AM #

    they’re both tall (6’10ish), lefty post men who shoot the ball well from the perimeter and rebound well. Costner isn’t as good a defensive player yet, but I can see the potential for him to average 2-2.5 blocks a game once he learns how to move his feet. He also tends to get complacent some times and spend stretches sitting out on the perimeter, something Wallace has been knocked for throughout his career. Costner has done that less and less as the year has gone on though. If you look at Brandon’s season against Wallace’s second year at UNC, their stats are quite similar. (16.3-8 vs. 16.6-8.2), though Wallace was a better defender (2.7 bpg) and shot a higher percentage, Costner does have the slight upper hand in both FT and 3PT shooting. Similar statistics, body type, and play style.

  23. SWEETS 02/01/2007 at 11:16 AM #

    Good to see Fergie on the bench with his shooters shirt on.

    Nieman is a hustler and his work does not show up in the box score!

  24. gopack968 02/01/2007 at 11:27 AM #

    Could Horner have gotten a bigger flaming basketball tattoo?

  25. RickJ 02/01/2007 at 11:28 AM #

    “State vaulted to #125 in the RPI with the win.”

    This was a 22 place vault from #147. As good a win as it was for us, it was just as bad a loss for VPI that went from #23 to #33. The Hokies play at BC this weekend and then play UVA at home. It can change so fast for teams. They can go from a great year to a bubble team in no time. This is what happened to us last year but the 10 – 6 league record kept us afloat. At 6 – 2 in the league, the same thing could happen to VPI but you know mentally, Greenberg had them at 7 – 1 going to BC.

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