NCAAT Friday Open Thread (Major update @ 11:50am)

Note: The comments in this entry are a consolidation of both BJD and Jeff.

Thursday Comments
* Not very many upsets so far, but those of us who stayed up late last night were rewarded by compelling endings in the VCU/UCLA and Illinois/Western Kentucky games. Clemson also fought back to make things close after 35 minutes of absolute bed shitting – but fell short once again. If there was one thing any ACC fan didn’t want to see, it was a conference member losing to a lower-seeded Big Ten team.

* Side note – I don’t know if it’s possible to get worse last-second shots than Clemson and VCU took last night – despite plenty of time on the clock to initiate a good play. Just ugly, ugly stuff that never stood a chance of working.

* Speaking of VCU/UCLA, those Rams fans were quite a motley looking group, were they not? What was the deal with the females in the band wearing bikini tops? Deadspin was thinking along the same lines.

* Is their any more justice in the world that Tyler Hansbrough breaks the ACC’s all-time scoring record with a friggin free throw? It was nice to see Hansbrough make this list of the five most hated players in the NCAA Tournament:

Hated because the media fawns over him (Jay Bilas going down on him at the end of the Louisville Elite 8 game last year may have been the tipping point), and because he seems to get all of the calls from the refs. Guilt-by-success seems to apply here.

Friday Comments – Here’s today’s slate, which looks pretty compelling:

Early Afternoon:
#14 Stephen F. Austin vs. #3 Syracuse
#9 Tennessee vs. #8 Oklahoma State
#11 Utah State vs. #6 Marquette
#14 North Dakota State vs. #3 Kansas

Analysis: Will Syracuse be flat and/or tired after their epic Big East tournament? Is Marquette as cooked as I think they are sans injured PG Dominic James? Also, don’t sleep on North Dakota State – they play numerous 5th year seniors, and Kansas is a well-documented fraud. If there is going to be a major first round upset, it probably happens here. Very strange for the 8/9 game to be the least compelling matchup, but that is the case here.

Late Afternoon:
#11 Temple vs. #6 Arizona State
#16 East Tennessee State vs. #1 Pittsburgh
#14 Cornell vs. #3 Missouri
#11 Dayton vs. #6 West Virginia

Analysis: Aside from Pitt/ETSU, these should be very competitive (if not aesthetically pleasing) games. Cornell could also pull a big upset, as they are a “repeat” team that returns most starters from last year’s early NCAAT exiting bunch. Those are the kinds of teams that can give a marquee team fits (just ask Jay Wright about Jeff Jones’ similar American squad). Syracuse and Kansas are very vulnearble #3 seeds, and the winner of each 6/11 game could easily make a deep run – particularly if Huggy Bear’s bunch can make it past a physical, tough Dayton squad. West Virginia is a good team with a good coach, and one of my dark horse Final Four possibilities.

Early Evening:
#16 Morehead State vs. #1 Louisville
#12 Arizona vs. #5 Utah
#10 Southern Cal vs. #7 Boston College
#13 Portland State vs. #4 Xavier

Analysis: It’s got the prime time slot, but easily the least compelling slate of games for the day. Louisville is really the only good team of these eight, and even the Cards come with question marks. Portland State could beat Xavier, but I wouldn’t consider that much of an upset because Xavier just isn’t that strong. Hopefully, BC comes through for the ACC, but that’s a coin flip at best.

Late Night:
#9 Siena vs. #8 Ohio State
#13 Cleveland State vs. #4 Wake Forest
#15 Robert Morris vs. #2 Michigan State
#12 Wisconsin vs. #5 Florida State

Analysis: I’d really like Siena to win this one if the game wasn’t being played in Dayton – what a lucky break for Thad Matta. As we’ve discussed many times on SFN, Wake Forest is a much better team against powerhouses than underdog squads. Their awful ACCT performance should get their heads straight, but I’m still not sure Jeff Teague is fixable mentally at this point. Cleveland State has a good shot to win – but if the Deacs squeak by, they could catch fire and go a long way. Florida State and Wisconsin should grind out a tough, defensive game. If the Noles survive, this could easily be a Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight team. An elite scorer, great defense, and excellent size make for a potent NCAAT combination – but their first game is a big obstacle.

Media & Sendek Comments
ACCNow has some blurbs on each of the games as well. (Link) Of course, ‘the Observers’ can’t help but pen an article about Herb Sendek; this one written from Scott Fowler from the Charlotte bureau.

The title of the piece is very misleading – “Sendek’s style same as it was with Pack” would lead the reader to infer that Sendek is doing a lot of things similar to how he did things in Raleigh when in fact he has made some great adjustments to his ‘style’. Sendek has ditched his limiting “Princeton offense” that put a ceiling on both the performance and the talent-level of players attracted to the system. He has even shed his stubborn devotion to man-to-man defense and installed a pesky zone that has become one of ASU’s unique trademarks.

When you really read the article with a true depth of knowledge that most of our readers have you will realize that Scott Fowler was doing everything he could to paint and paint and paint a picture that he hoped would stir the pot as opposed to actually share some real information. Take for instance this item near the end:

The coach also pulled off a coup by successfully recruiting Harden, the 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year who averages 20.8 points per game. Harden, a lefty, is often described as the most well-known southpaw at Arizona State since golfer Phil Mickelson.

Bringing up James Harden is one of the only things that supports the title of Fowler’s article – ‘Sendek’s style remaining the same’. Unfortunately, Fowler would rather ignore facts to support the premise of his piece at the peril of producing a disjointed article of praise instead of something that actually lived true to its purpose. As Fowler’s more-informed and more-balanced colleague, Joe Giglio, stated this morning:

Plus, there’s a reason Sendek hired James Harden’s AAU coach at ASU. Harden’s a lottery pick.

There is something that is JUST LIKE his style at NC State – Sendek hired Damon Thornton and Kenny Inge’s coach (Mark Phelps) as soon as he got the NC State job to secure Thornton’s waivering commitment at the time just like he hired James Harden’s high school coach to garner Harden’s commitment. There is nothing wrong with it; and it is one of Sendek’s few ‘styles’ that has been the same at ASU as at NC State. Why would Fowler choose to ignore this when it actually supports the supposed premise of the article?

Another component of Sendek’s style that has been consistent at both schools came into clear focus on Saturday when the Sun Devils were playing USC for the Pac-10 Championship. ASU led by 15 points at halftime and completely controlled the first thirty minutes of the…then, disaster slowly struck.

The Sun Devils and All-American guard James Harden only scored six points in the last eight minutes and ten seconds of the game en route to mustering only 63 points for the day. They scored only four points in the last 7:37, which included only one field goal in the last 7:37. They ultimately lost the lead with 30 seconds to go and lost the title to the Trojans.

Wow? Ever seen that script before? If ANYTHING represents the ‘same style Sendek’ as his time at NC State it would be the nationally televised performance just five days ago that took Sendek’s record in major conference championship games to 0-4. Where the hell was Fowler’s article on Sunday morning about Sendek?

But Sendek still wins, too. He took N.C. State to the NCAA Tournament in his final five seasons, and now he’s made it here. While Sendek has coached a dozen NCAA Tournament games, going 6-6, none of his current players have ever been in one.


In three years Sendek has a losing record in the Pac-10 that is just slightly better than his ACC record that was sixteen games under .500 (72-88).

Has more ever been made of someone who in SIXTEEN YEARS of coaching has managed to win a grand total of six NCAA Tournament games while never finishing better than second place in a major conference or ever winning a major conference championship? If that is winning, I want my kid playing in the same youth sports leagues as Scott Fowler’s so that all of the kids will get their trophy for signing up.

As with anyone that is a former part of the Wolfpack family we are pulling for Herb to have success and take the Sun Devils to the promised land; but, in the process, we are pulling for the media to finally be able to report some balance, fact and truth as opposed to shoveling us the kind of bullshit that Scott Fowler shoveled today.

Once again, WRAL and Time Warner Cable have you covered with comprehensive HD coverage.

Duke against Rick Barnes’ Texas in Greensboro on Saturday? Hell yes! Speaking of Barnes (and Tubby Smith), we had some great stuff in our open entry from yesterday including a little video of how to deal with players who don’t want to bust their ass 100% of the time.

In closing, we’ve got a hat tip to March to Madness for linking to the greatest dunk of all-time this week…but that didn’t come from the NCAA Tournament.

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

120 Responses to NCAAT Friday Open Thread (Major update @ 11:50am)

  1. LKNpackfan 03/20/2009 at 9:00 AM #

    I also couldn’t believe the last shot of the VCU game. They could’ve at least set a screen for him.

    Good stuff. I look forward to another long day full of college basketball.

  2. choppack1 03/20/2009 at 9:07 AM #

    I’ll be shocked if Marquette gets by Utah State.

    I’ve got Missouri going to the Sweet 16.

    I’ve got Temple beating ASU – I’m not impressed w/ the Sun Devils or any of the Pac 10.

    Wisconsin will be a tough match-up for FSU as they like to spread the floor. FSU is much more athletic than them, but FSU was more athletic than Duke too and that didn’t help them. Still, I think FSU’s quickness advantage here should pay dividends.

    Lots of eyes will be on the Utah-Zona match-up. Zona needs to prove that they deserved a bid as the 10 seeds did yesterday (w/ 2 out of 3 10 seeds winning their game.)

  3. Noah 03/20/2009 at 9:30 AM #

    If it makes you feel better, I heard the columnist that shall not be named yesterday on Greg Zaban’s show. He was talking about how he had Arizona State going deep into the tournament because Sendek was such a great coach.

    It truly confirmed that five minutes spent listening to Asshat Doyle is five minutes you could have been…I dunno, counting blades of grass, picking the lint out of your bellybutton, cutting off your ears and mailing them to Gaugain.

  4. packbackr04 03/20/2009 at 9:38 AM #

    Hey Noah.

    any word on whether or not Sid can get his job in the NBA back? i would like to help him pack.

    has anyone heard if Costner is coming back?

    what is the deal with this 7 foot aussie who is about to commit?

  5. SMD 03/20/2009 at 9:41 AM #

    Did anyone see the little blurb on Wall today? He has come out and said that he is leaning Memphis. This is no surprise – and I never really thought we’d land him anyway.

    But it does show the cost of letting Calipari slip through our fingers. I’ve always been up in the air about how much to blame Fowler for that one. On the one hand – if you get the coach here, ya gotta sign him. On the other hand – looking at Calipari’s comments on the matter – he truly seems to have experienced a change of heart.

    BJD is right, whatever date he posts for when Calipari said no – THAT is the day our program died. It ain’t coming back anytime soon.

  6. BJD95 03/20/2009 at 9:47 AM #

    April 11, 2006. A day that will live in infamy.

    Last week, I actually spent several hours re-reading the SFN archives from April 8 through April 11. And part of me just kept hoping for it to turn out differently.

    I am truly a masochist.

  7. choppack1 03/20/2009 at 9:49 AM #

    Noah – That’s interesting isn’t it? The man has a sterling tourney record of 5-5. He’s certainly not awful – and he certainly knows how to get into the tourney, but we never advanced too far, and I really expect them to lose to Temple. (Of course, I haven’t seen Temple play either, but at State, Sendek had a very tough time w/ the Owls.)

  8. TomPack 03/20/2009 at 9:49 AM #

    Ignore Doyal for a while, he is just an apologist for Sendek. Notice how even in htis morning’s N&O they have yet another HS article talking about the great job he has done at ASU. However, they forget to mention that even though he has the PAC-10 POY and two others who are potential NBA players during a very down year once again he cannot win a game that matters. Yet another 15 point lead lost (coached away) in a tourney title game and other losses to far inferior teams in conference play. I guess they didn’t have another full page UNX player love poster ready so they had to do yet another HS story…by the way if the N&O says Pack fans should move on then quit writing stories about him in an attempt to stir things up.
    Also we get the picture…John Wall is likely headed to Memphis. GOOD! Let his one and gone self go to sleaze university. There is a projected top 25 class coming in and I think it is better to have guys coming here that are looking for more than a one year NBA audition. By the way SFN do you have a Hopsbrough stat line for the past few weeks? The reason I ask is that it seems lately his shooting has been awful. I think yesterday was 5-12 and he had similar numbers in the AACT. It seems like as the competion became more physical his crash and flail offense is in trouble without a ref bailout. When he gets to the NBA he is going to get killed…shouls be fun!

  9. TomPack 03/20/2009 at 9:51 AM #

    Sory I meant “should be fun.” Hard to type with my 23 month old daughter attacking me with her stuffed animals!

  10. BJD95 03/20/2009 at 9:52 AM #

    Don’t kid yourselves – we desperately need John Wall. But we’re not going to get him.

  11. Ed89 03/20/2009 at 9:55 AM #

    I agree about VCU’s last shot. Remember, who that VCU Coach is…that guy everyone is mentioning as the next up-and-comer.

  12. Noah 03/20/2009 at 9:59 AM #

    any word on whether or not Sid can get his job in the NBA back? i would like to help him pack.

    No clue. Like I said, that was just the rumour going around the last two years.

    Regarding Doyal, he’s an idiot and the only reason to listen to him is the attraction of watching a strawman play with matches and gasoline.

  13. Cosmo96 03/20/2009 at 10:05 AM #

    I admire the enthusiasm you guys have for this, and wish I could muster the same. To me, this is like seeing a girl you like going out with some other dude. I just can’t get excited watching other people have all the fun, all the while wanting so bad to be a part of it and knowing we can’t be.

    I see the sorry state that this program is mired in, and the Tournament just reminds me where we could and, by all rights, should be, and this causes me great anguish. Again, kudos to you guys who are able to rise above it and just enjoy the games.

  14. Greywolf 03/20/2009 at 10:29 AM #

    March 20th, 2009 at 9:47 am
    April 11, 2006. A day that will live in infamy.

    “Last week, I actually spent several hours re-reading the SFN archives from April 8 through April 11. And part of me just kept hoping for it to turn out differently.”
    I have done the same watching State reruns. It’s always the same result, but I keep finding myself hoping it will turn out differently.

  15. choppack1 03/20/2009 at 10:32 AM #

    Cosmo – I don’t know whether it’s because of the changed priorities in my life or what – but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this tournament and the ACC tournament last week thus far. This could all change if UNC starts marching through their bracket like General Sherman.

    For me, I’ve accepted where we are – I feel like we’re closer to acceptable basketball than when Les was here – and for some reason, I don’t think we’ll see a repeat of what we went through w/ HWSBN in years 4 and 5 of his tenure.

  16. Bubba 03/20/2009 at 10:33 AM #

    Sid needs to pull out all stops for John Wall, his clock is ticking

  17. chris92heel 03/20/2009 at 10:36 AM #

    Is Greg Czaban related to Steve? Please God, there can’t be another one.

    Working the first thurs and friday of the NCAAT for the first time ever – not particularly happy about it.

  18. TJEVERETTE1984 03/20/2009 at 10:37 AM #

    John Wall to Memphis
    CJ Leslie to Memphis
    Brandon Costner is not coming back
    Trevor Ferguson to Transfer

  19. RickJ 03/20/2009 at 10:37 AM #

    Clemson has had a colossal collapse to end the year. They lost 6 of their last 7 with the only win coming against Virginia at home. It is amazing that a coach with as good a reputation as Oliver Purnell has never won a game in the NCAA tournament.

  20. CStanley 03/20/2009 at 10:45 AM #

    TJEVERETTE, not exactly going out on a limb there are you? Haven’t heard that about Ferguson though, is this new?

    And BJD95, if you really want to punish yourself, go onto YouTube and find some of the old State games from the 80’s (Carolina, Duke, Georgetown, etc.) to see how really good and relevant we once were. Spud, Corch, Monroe, Googs, Del Negro, etc. It’s entertaining in a very depressing sort of way.

  21. Dr. BadgerPack 03/20/2009 at 10:47 AM #

    The Wisconsin/Florida St. matchup will come down to one player. Trevon Hughes. If you think Courtney Fells vanishes in big games, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. Hughes will get abused by Douglas. FSU romps.

  22. BJD95 03/20/2009 at 10:58 AM #

    I remember the 1980s well. Good times, good times.

  23. Wolf Dog 03/20/2009 at 11:00 AM #

    Jeff Jones UVA/American has seven NCAA trips, one more than Herb and in less years. Where’s the feature article on Him? Instead Herb and his bald head splashed on the front page of the Charlotte Observer Sprots Section. We get more coverage of ASU basketball than a NCSU player being a first round NBA pick last year. Sorry Paper. Guess the old News and Observer feud that started with Bruce Poulton has carried over to the sister Charlotte Paper.

    Oliver Purnell has zero NCAA tournament wins. His teams start well and finidh poorly.

    Gonz. looked good last nigh, they could give UNC some trouble.

  24. Bubba 03/20/2009 at 11:02 AM #

    Sorry Gig’s
    Herb didnt hire Harden’s AAU coach

  25. choppack1 03/20/2009 at 11:05 AM #

    “Clemson has had a colossal collapse to end the year. They lost 6 of their last 7 with the only win coming against Virginia at home. It is amazing that a coach with as good a reputation as Oliver Purnell has never won a game in the NCAA tournament.”

    True. I think Purnell is a good coach -but, right now anyway, he’s not a great one. (Really, his limitations remind me of another coach.)

    I saw lots of mental errors last night by his Tigers. They do some things well, but they don’t play smart. The play that really sticks out is the soft foul that gave WV a 4 point lead instead of a 3 point lead w/ about 30 seconds left. They then waited too long to foul after cutting the lead to 2 points.

    Regarding Gonzaga – they have the height, shooting and offensive ability to hang w/ the Heels. They aren’t particularly fast, but neither is UNC – a UNC-Gonzaga match up would be a fun game to watch.

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