BJD’s Revised and Extended 1/4/09 Basketball Program Thoughts

After yesterday’s predictable, yet still somehow heartbreaking loss to Florida, all that remains is ACC play (barring a shocking loss to NC Central, which is currently 0-16 and 347th out of 347 teams in the Sagarin ratings). Here is a run down of what we do and don’t know:

1) NC State will compete with, but rarely beat, midrange opponents. We have “comps” to evaluate here – Davidson, Marquette, and Florida (currently 20, 31, and 33 in Sagarin, respectively). These are the teams that will compete for NCAA berths, but probably not with anything higher than a 6 or 7 seed. Who is in this category? I would say Miami (27), Maryland (32), Virginia Tech (74), and Florida State (45). The Hokies’ Sagarin is well below the other three, but VT has a clear pattern of poor December play followed up by significantly improved ACC performance. Wolfpack nation’s collective heart thanks the Almighty that we only play 5 games against the ACC’s second tier (home and away vs. Miami, home only vs. Florida State and Maryland, away only vs. Virginia Tech). BJD’s Predicted Wins: 1 or 2

2) We have no idea how badly the elite teams will beat NC State. Simply put, we haven’t played anybody in the class of the ACC’s first tier: UNC (1), Clemson (4), Duke (3), or Wake Forest (8). Did you know that the ACC boasts three of the top four teams in the Sagarin ratings? You do now. We are extremely lucky to play Duke and Clemson only once, and each time on the road – a home game would be a wasted opportunity, since we would lose 99 times out of 100 to these teams regardless of location. The real mystery here is how badly the Pack loses – could be by 10, 20, or 40. Our only prayer against UNC is mercy, which Roy Williams (who endearingly treats us like a hated rival) is not likely to dish out. Your one ray of hope is the 2/11 home date against Wake Forest – I’m still not convinced that the Deacons are that good. BJD’s Predicted Wins: 0 or 1

3) Thank God for scheduling within the lower tier. Misery loves company, and the 80th-rated Wolfpack has some this year: Boston College (60), Virginia (102), and Georgia Tech (114). Much like I expect VT’s to play above its current rating in ACC play, I expect BC to perform worse – there’s no reason to expect the Eagles to be any better than they were last year (and their schedule has been almost as weak as ours). These loveable losers constitute NC State’s peer group. Thanks to wretched scheduling, NC State hasn’t played anyone in this range (the closest being #145 East Carolina). Extrapolating what we’ve seen so far, and considering the fact that the Pack plays all Tier Three foes at home (plus road games at BC and GT), we can cautiously project winning most of these games. BJD’s Predicted Wins: 3 or 4

4) Overall, the NIT is (as it has always been) NC State’s ceiling. Applying my model, you could get anything from 4 to 7 ACC wins, although I don’t expect the full best or worst case scenario to happen. Thus, you get a 5-11 (NIT/CBI bubble) or 6-10 (solid NIT) ACC record. The Pack has no shot at the post-season with a 4-12 or worse ACC record, and Sidney Lowe would not be positioned well for the crucial 2009-10 season.

5) Timing is everything. This would be a good year to play UNC early again, and get that embarrassment over with. But we don’t “get” to play the Holes until January 31. Why, you ask? Because NC State’s only playable off guard is Trevor Ferguson, projected to miss 3-6 weeks after the 12/22 game against Marquette. That puts his return somewhere between January 12 and February 2. Between those 2 dates, NC State plays six ACC games, including winnable games against Florida State (home), Georgia Tech (home), Boston College (away), and Miami (home). Needless to say, there is a big difference in starting ACC play 3-4 rather than 1-6 or 0-7.

6) Go back and re-read my “baby steps” post for my suggestions on how to evaluate this basketball season. For the more pessimistic folks out there, I will acknowledge that a collapse is more likely than a “great leap forward” beyond the baby steps of progress that I currently see and expect.

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.

08-09 Basketball NCS Basketball Sidney Lowe

108 Responses to BJD’s Revised and Extended 1/4/09 Basketball Program Thoughts

  1. VaWolf82 01/04/2009 at 12:13 PM #

    For the more pessimistic folks out there

    I love the cliche that goes something like:

    What’s the difference between an optimist and a pessimist?


    This season (and last) depended on how well (or poorly) the backcourt played. Going into last year, we didn’t know what to expect from the guards…which for some strange reason gives some people hope. Some people clung to the “unknown label” for this year hoping that either Degand returning from injury or Mays could provide improved play in the backcourt. That hope doesn’t appear to have much basis in reality.

    To paraphrase Dennis Green…..”We are who we thought we were”

  2. BJD95 01/04/2009 at 12:40 PM #

    I like George Will’s take – when you’re a pessimist, you are constantly either pleasantly surprised or proven right.

  3. Noah 01/04/2009 at 1:20 PM #

    Forget optimism and pessimism. I’d like some honesty. The first year, I was told, didn’t count because Lowe didn’t have time to recruit. Then, last year didn’t count because of the chemistry problems. Sendek’s guys were cancerous to the team. Now, this year doesn’t count because we don’t have a point guard.

    Somebody tell me when we’re done with the “exhibition phase” and when we’re playing for real. Maybe I’ll give two ****s about basketball again.

  4. 61Packer 01/04/2009 at 1:23 PM #

    “Overall, the NIT is (and has always been) N.C. State’s ceiling”

    Based on the above statement, it appears to me that the dumbing down of our basketball program by the public university eggheads at N.C. State University has now been accepted by those who run this website.

    I know from personal experience that the NIT was never a consideration or goal of Wolfpack basketball fans during the Case, Maravich, Sloan or Valvano years.

    State (we didn’t need the N.C. on the jerseys back then to qualify ourselves) basketball was once something to be proud of.

    Not now. How Lowe can we go?

  5. Noah 01/04/2009 at 1:39 PM #

    I’m actually okay with de-emphasizing basketball. The NBA has killed the sport. The schedule has been larded up with to the point that the regular season no longer matters. No one cares about the sport until March.

    Fine. Basketball can go away and die.

    Let’s just stop wasting money on it and put our full efforts behind a real sport like football.

  6. BJD95 01/04/2009 at 1:45 PM #

    ^ This year, this year, THIS YEAR!

    I will repeat – Sidney Lowe did not know what he was doing his first two years, which is NC State’s fault. That led to the inadequate and unbalanced personnel situation which makes the NIT our ceiling THIS SEASON.

    Sid seems to have learned at least a bit about motivation and player development this season. He has shown significant improvement in recruiting. Seeing what he can do with the “second bite of the apple” is what our reality is right now.

    That doesn’t mean that I like it, or that Sid is completely blameless. But what is our alternative? Firing Lowe, leaving an Indiana-like bare cupboard for a new coach, which Lee Fowler would hire. The alternative is not going back in time and making a different hire, or better yet, firing Lee Fowler a year before Sendek’s departure and replacing him with an AD who would have a solid “B list” on hand when Barnes and Calipari said no.

  7. BJD95 01/04/2009 at 1:59 PM #

    In a perfect world, we fire Fowler and bring in a legitimate athletic director (I have no expectation that this will happen under the status quo administration). He takes a fresh look at the program during the offseason and the 2009-10 season, then makes a decision regarding Lowe’s future.

  8. Wulfpack 01/04/2009 at 1:59 PM #

    “Sendek’s guys were cancerous to the team.”

    Yea, yet, three years later, those same guys are the only ones that a worth a damn basketball-wise on the team. Just listening to the announcers yesterday basically saying time and time again “NC State’s only chance is to go through Ben and Brandon”. And you know what, three years later, they’re right.

    I’ve about had it with this discussion/debate. Doesn’t matter, has no bearing on the future of the program, all water under the bridge. But I’m with Noah on this one, maybe if and when we decide these games count, maybe then we will begin to become a program with some legitimate promise. Otherwise, we’re just another team.

    Boy those boys in Winston, Durham and Chapel Hill are really sweating bullets over the Wolfpack. We’re just the tiny little guy of the so called Big Four.

    But again, let’s just blame it all on the past.

  9. McPete 01/04/2009 at 2:02 PM #

    Well, since Tom O’Brien was given a pass by most of us for the 1st two years because of personnel issues, Lowe should be given a pass as well for personnel issues just as bad if not worse (Brackman says no to basketball, Simmons goes pro, Atsur misses half the year, Werner, Davis, and Chris Wright go elsewhere, etc. – things he can’t control) as well as the fact that he never ran a college program before. It’s not his fault he didn’t know what he was doing the 1st couple of years. I think we can start with this year as well in evaluating his program.

    how many bad years did Sendek have before turning it around? It’s an honest question; i moved to the area in 2000 and don’t know about the 1st few years.

  10. BJD95 01/04/2009 at 2:05 PM #

    We’ve been irrelevant to Duke and UNC ever since V left. Nothing new there.

  11. OwenDorm83 01/04/2009 at 2:24 PM #

    Our guard play is just plain AWFUL. College bball is a guard game. Ours have never met a turnover that they didn’t like.

    At the end, Sid had Fells guarding 33. Took 33 about 1.5 seconds to run through the pick and have Ben guarding him. Why did we even spend the time going thru the motions if we’re going to get tooled that quickly?

  12. Noah 01/04/2009 at 2:26 PM #

    1) No one gave Tom O’Brien a pass. He has rightly been judged by the product he put on the field both years that he’s been here.

    2) O’Brien also had a long track record of success. Lowe…doesn’t.

  13. crackdog 01/04/2009 at 2:32 PM #

    State made the NIT during Sendek’s first year, and didn’t make it back to the NCAAs until year #6. Somewhere around year 3 or 4, the team imploded mid-season and followed that up with a year 4 13-16 record.

  14. SaccoV 01/04/2009 at 2:41 PM #

    1) Noah, you obviously are already in a position to not give a crap about NC State basketball, as your post states clearly. If you don’t care, then why are you posting to this thread?

    2) Lee Fowler is an embarrassment to the University, especially to those of us who hold great pride in our degrees from that school. He is collecting a paycheck while doing very little. He has single-handedly removed any hope from the fanbase of him ever making a wise, conscious decision to do good by the alumni, other than the ones who line his pockets. Since it is obvious his position is secure, I feel that he need no further mention, and he shall remain an elephant in the room.

    3) 61Packer, those who run this website, IMO, are as upset as you are that our goals are less than they were during the 70s and 80s. However, if you READ the post BJD95 submitted, you’ll see that he REALISTICALLY projects NC State’s chances for THIS season in basketball. I find his work pretty accurate and in no way indicative of his hopes, or that of any other State fan, as acceptable or wanted. We all want the consistent success of Duke and UNC. We don’t have that NOW, though we had it BEFORE. Our expectations have never waned. The reality of our current situation is that we are undermanned at key positions, just like in football, and our aspirations need to be tempered with realism for THIS SEASON to help bear the burdens of frustration that all of us have so keenly felt (and more than likely will feel again). This is not about next year, or the year after. I think it’s absurd that you would bring up the administrators of the website as accepting of mediocrity from our athletics department. If anything, they (SFN) have been as loud and as accurate a critic of NC State athletics since inception. Perhaps you should go back and read the many years worth of posts to find out how the admins feel about our continuing situation.

  15. wufpup76 01/04/2009 at 2:45 PM #

    Any objective view of this year’s team will either be taken as idiotic optimism by some or as extreme negativity by others …

    Ergo, this is pretty useless – (though the efforts by the authors at SFN are certainly appreciated)

    This will just turn into another thread of “we need to give Sid time” vs. “Sid is an idiot” vs. “This group is retarded for having so much blind faith” vs. “Why do we even care about basketball” vs. “Lee Fowler needs to go” vs. “Lee Fowler has no authroity so we shouldn’t blame him” … etcetera, etcetera … so on, so forth

    Have fun … carry on

    Rinse and repeat next weekend after the Clemson game

  16. BJD95 01/04/2009 at 2:53 PM #

    I wish I had the strength not to watch the Clemson game. That one has the potential to get real ugly real quick. Unlike Florida, Clemson will press on D for 40 minutes. Also unlike Florida, Clemson is a very good defensive team.

  17. highstick 01/04/2009 at 3:25 PM #

    I have the strength “not to watch”. Wouldn’t have seen any of yesterday’s game but was curious how it would look on my new TV. Didn’t watch any until the last 3 minutes and it reminded me why I don’t like to watch anymore. I will not watch anything when they play the Tarholes, the Clemholes, and the Dukeholes!

    I’d prefer to refer to the “eggheads” as some other type of “head” that starts with an “S”!

    I liked the question, “how many years did it take for Sendek to turn it around”? Did I miss something during his tenure? Did he ever “turn it around”?

  18. ryebread 01/04/2009 at 3:38 PM #

    Regarding the original analysis, this is very similar to what I’ve said this year. We were a NCAA bubble team at best and realistically a NIT team. That was before all the injuries.

    On another site, I recently grouped NC State, Virginia Tech and BC in the “most likely to be NIT bound” category to finish 7th – 10th in the conference. I think only UVA and GT are lower.

  19. wufpup76 01/04/2009 at 3:41 PM #

    Please delete if necessary, but how about discussing the ACC at large instead of running into the same, um, tired arguments over and over again about the state of our beleaugered program?

    Dana O’Neil at espn dot com offers up an interesting rundown of all the ACC programs here:

    I would say we have 4 “locks” at the moment and everybody else still stands a shot at making it in save for Virginia and Georgia Tech (which of course could change)

    Always interesting … I love it 🙂

  20. Rochester 01/04/2009 at 4:19 PM #

    As bad as this all feels today, put a healthy Trevor Ferguson on the floor yesterday and we probably beat Florida. We were literally one possession away from winning. One three ball from the corner. Get well soon, kid.

  21. graywolf 01/04/2009 at 4:21 PM #

    Since we are in prediction mode, I predict a very long season with many L’s and very few W’s and many calling for Lowe’s head at the end of the season. Let’s all hope for Lowe’s sake and that of the university that he can recruit superior talent and MOTIVATE them to win.

  22. MA Wolfpack 01/04/2009 at 4:48 PM #

    Firing Lowe at the end of this season (or even talking about it) would set NC State back another 3 years. If you want to fire Lowe now, then you can forget being competitive until 2012. If NCSU hangs in there for another year and things break right with John Wall, then NCSU has a top 25 team next season. Without Wall, then NCSU should return to the top 25 the following season if Lowe can add a few nice pieces to go with Leslie and Harrow.

    Why are we not looking at a JuCo big guy if Favors and Cousins do not work out?

  23. BSIE80 01/04/2009 at 5:47 PM #

    I am quite happy with how the season has gone, given our talent and injuries and plan on watching/supporting the wolfpack through the entire season.

    We have won the games we should have won and lost the games we should have lost. We are who I thought we were!

    The good is that we were very competitive in the 3 games we lost. We actually should and could have won these games, which would have made us 12-0 vs. 9-3.
    The difference in all of these games, IMO, is the other team had a talented guard to take over the game. Although Costner has had great games, he can not handle the ball adequately to create his own offense. Our guards are not talented enough to set Costner up as evidenced by Farnold’s end of game play against Florida. Experience will help.

    We are a lower tier ACC team and would have a great year to finish in the middle of the conference. This will not change until we improve the talent level of the team.
    With us losing Mac, Fells, and more than likely BC next year, we will not be able to compete with the top teams once again, because of lack of post play/depth.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see us ever competing with Duke or Carolina again. We just don’t get the talent that these 2 programs do. Therefore, we can only hope for an upset or 2 occasionally. This keeps me watching.
    The only way we can get to the upper tier would be for the players that we do get to turn out better than expected (Gugliano for example). Coaching helps but the players themselves have to work at improving. We have already seen that 1 good player (JJ) also must have good players around him/chemistry/etc. Our 2 championship teams had a lot of talent (Thompson/Towe/Burleson)(Lowe/Bailey/Whittenburg) in addition to good role players!
    Therefore, keep the faith, watch for an upset or two. Accept lower tier status until we get lucky with current player improvement and/or get top tier talent.

    Remember, any of us could coach UNC this year and win the championship. Heck, there bench could probably finish in the middle of the ACC.

  24. PAJ 01/04/2009 at 6:06 PM #

    We are where Wake Forest was two or three years ago. They hit a spot where their recruiting had left them with unbalanced and in some positions inferior talent. They even had their coach die unexpectedly. Now after two really good recruiting classes like we’re building for 2009 and 2010, they are a top 10 team. Wake is young, but they might be the only team out there with the athletic talent to go toe to toe with UNC.

    It’s an unfortunate and frustrating cycle we’re in due to the lack of fit between Sid’s style of ball, the players he inherited and the players he lost. I wish this year’s freshman class were stronger. That would have been a major help and gone a long way to calming folks down. But it didn’t work out that way, and we learned last season that the existing Sendek stars don’t take kindly to competition from underclassmen.

    Take a poor fit between players and new playing style and magnify it by losing 6 scholarship players in year one and what else could we expect?

  25. wufpup76 01/04/2009 at 6:30 PM #

    BC absolutely outplyed the Holes in that half … It should at least make the second half interesting for the first 5 minutes, but Roy was absolutely letting the refs have it at the end of the half for the refs serious transgressions of letting BC compete … heresy

    Expect the Holes to go to the line 40+ times in half 2

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