0–4 Out of Conference puts Pack in a bind

In the previous four years of Sidney Lowe’s guidance, NC State’s Basketball team has proven an ability to win tough out of conference games whether played in the RBC Center or on the road –  Villanova, Cincinnati, Davidson, Seton Hall, Marquette, others.   Unfortunately…that didn’t happen for the Wolfpack this year and we now find ourselves in a competitive position that some could describe as ‘behind the 8-ball’ or even as bad as ‘up the creek’.

I recognize that the quality of your wins is a major factor in NCAA Tournament invitations and seeding.  But before the season began I carved away some specifics and took a  general look at the Wolfpack’s Basketball Schedule. 

With 30 games on the schedule before the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, the Wolfpack plays 14 out of conference games because of the three tournament games in the Charleston Classic.  “EYEBALLING” the schedule, one would think that 20 regular season wins would be a recipe for an almost guaranteed spot in the NCAA Tournament; with 18 pre-ACC Tournament wins serving to place the Wolfpack on the weaker side of the proverbial NCAA Tournament bubble.  Now that we know that the ACC is weaker than we had originally hoped, I don’t think 18 wins could get the Wolfpack into the big dance unless we performed decently well against our four decent out of conference opponents — Cue Captain Obvious – we didn’t.

As you can see from the table below



Let’s presume for a moment that Wolfpack could (miraculously) achieve an 8-8 record against one of the more difficult ACC schedule’s and use this as a foundation of our an assumption set.  (Obviously, any conference performance that varies from this peg will play a role in impacting NC State’s NCAA Tournament resume.)   This would mean State would needed to generate a minimum of an 11-3 record against non-conference opponents to ‘be  the discussion’ in March.  A 12-2 record against the 7th toughest OOC schedule in America coupled with an 8-8 ACC record would have appeared to create safe haven and probable Top 8 NCAA Tournament regional seed for the Wolfpack.  That isn’t going to happen.

  • As you can see from the table, NC State has ten OOC match-ups that are ‘hold serve games’ and should result in wins.  Any stumbles against these foes, ala East Carolina a couple of years ago, could be deadly for the Wolfpack’s season (and could intellectually be argued to be deadly to Sidney Lowe’s coaching career as you extrapolate the potential impact of such a loss to the Wolfpack’s season).

  • This leaves four ‘swing games’ that will play a defining role in the Wolfpack’s quest for success this season.  We have highlighted those four games in the table above – Georgetown, @ Wisconsin, @ Syracuse, and Arizona.  As we now know…the Wolfpack whiffed on this and now are in a lot of trouble.

  • Just a single victory against that^ subset of opponents was an absolute must and would have gotten the Wolfpack to a minimum of 11-3 to be on squeeking onto the NCAA Tournament bubble with an 8-8 record in the ACC. 

As I see it today, a 9-7 record in the ACC is a necessary to fit ourselves squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

As most everyone sees it today, based on our our uninspired play to this point of the season, that scenario is shaping up to be a pipedream.

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10-11 Basketball Sidney Lowe

108 Responses to 0–4 Out of Conference puts Pack in a bind

  1. packfan03 12/20/2010 at 12:47 PM #

    What also escapes me is that CJ Leslie is obviously a running player and so is Ryan. I don’t think anyone would disagree. The argument may be (I would disagree), that Javi is the better half-court PG – but if this is the case, why do we pair Javi with running players (Leslie/Brown) and then Harrow with the half court players (Howell/CJ Williams/Vandenburg)?

    This is what two years of Javi has told me: We won’t win (especially without Tracy) in the ACC, or against decent competition with him getting the majority of minutes. Does anyone disagree with this? If so, what could possible be your argument? I legitimately am curious.

    Regarding Harrow, the vast majority of us should agree that he is more talented than Javi. Is it known that our team will improve with him playing more minutes? Certainly not – but I’d rather roll with the youngster and hope for the best rather than knowing, WITH CONFIDENCE, that Javi simply cannot get it done. Again, I think Javi’s a great kid and seems to be a fantasitic leader – but he is a lower echelon ACC player. This isn’t an indictment on Lowe, just a fact.

    K couldn’t coach Paulus up to be a great player, so I have no reason to think Javi could be coached up by the Nation’s best either.

  2. ryebread 12/20/2010 at 12:50 PM #

    I’ve watched, listened to or attended every game this season and I knew that we’d lose last night’s game from about the middle of the first half. One team was running crisp sets for wide open lay ups while playing tight defense. The other was getting it done on offensive rebounding, but wasn’t playing a LICK of defense. That’s just not going to end well.

    Once U of A got up 5, it was over. We weren’t going to generate enough stops to realistically retake the lead. Due to the lack of defense, we were just a couple of bad possessions away from having a 5 point lead turn into a 10 point one. That happened in the middle of the second half and Zona just coasted home.

    It was sad how Sean Miller in year two of his tenure came into our house and handled us so easily. SM didn’t inherit a better situation. He doesn’t have better players. He’s just coaching them better. They’re in a strong position to win the PAC10 title this season and are an absolute lock to be dancing (IMHO).

    We on the other hand are showing in year 5 of SL’s tenure the same problems that we’ve shown for the last 4 — defense, rebounding, a lack of a college level offensive system, questionable substitution patterns and inconsistent effort. This has been the same regardless of the players, so it’s time to just accept that it’s the staff.

    We’re 0-4 against the real games. That’s almost a death nail for our season given the weakness of the ACC. To dance from where we stand now, we’re going to have to:
    1) Win all the remaining cupcakes, go 10-6 in the league and win one or two in the ACC tournament.
    2) Win all the remaining cupcakes, go 9-7 in the league and make the ACC tourney finals.
    3) Win the ACC tournament.

    The chances of any of the above happening appear pretty slim. I hope the return of TS improves things, but I don’t see him as a savior. Even if he does resolve all of our rebounding and inside scoring issues, I don’t expect him to fix our defensive issues. I doubt his return totally resolves the effort and substitution gaps.

    If I were DY, I’d have put a feeler out with SM while he was in town. I’d also be calling up Barnes and putting my list together. I’m pretty sure we’re need it at the end of the year. SL should get the chance to see if he can get this team to the tournament, but if not, it is time for a change.

  3. packfan03 12/20/2010 at 12:50 PM #

    Again, I don’t put a lot of stock in the games we have lost thus far, because sadly, we really shouldn’t have won them – especially without Tracy. Wisconsin was still embarassing, but an L is an L. It’s a game Wisconsin win’s 8 or 9 times out of 10 w/o Tracy.

    I am concerned with the lineup situation – which is probably fairly evident based on my recent posts. Losing sucks, but it sucks even more when you don’t believe the coach has given us the best possible chance to win.

  4. BJD95 12/20/2010 at 1:04 PM #

    I understand why Harrow doesn’t play 40 mpg. He’s tiny. He will probably hit the wall physically by mid-February even playing his current minutes.

    And frankly, he hasn’t really impressed me at all to date. He seems more like a “solid starter as an upperclassman” type, not a “difference maker” like so many people claimed.

    But all microanalysis aside…it really doesn’t matter. It’s Year Five, and Lowe’s complete and total responsibility. And it’s not going to end well. He’s damned lucky to have stayed employed as long as he has.

  5. heavy 12/20/2010 at 1:19 PM #

    At first I wanted an interim coach -screw that. Sid and Co. can wallow around in this crap that they’ve created. He could’ve stepped down by this this time and was too blind to see the writing on the wall. Let him deal with it. Maybe when we are in the cellar of the ACC again he will be too embarassed to even take a buyout.

  6. packof81 12/20/2010 at 1:20 PM #

    The season may be young but I’ve seen enough to know that nothing has changed. It’s going to be a another season gone around the bowl and down the hole. Debbie Yow will soon be tested. I hope she gets good results.

    As for the insufferable commentators at last night’s game, what is it with the revisionist history? Do they really believe that nonsense? Or are they just a couple of trolls trying to rile people up?

  7. blackdom 12/20/2010 at 1:25 PM #

    I have been saying this from the start nothing has changed and by the end of the year this team will be divided as well.

  8. Uncle Everett 12/20/2010 at 1:30 PM #

    As Lee Fowler bungled the coaching search, I said what the hell, give Sid a shot. Well, he’s had his shot, this season is make or break for the Lowe era at NC State for better or for worse.

    My analysis of the Lowe era:

    Teams don’t improve over a season.
    Doesn’t put the best team on the floor.
    Teams play inconsistent and undisciplined.
    Doesn’t have control over his players.
    Players don’t improve over their careers.

    When I see teams like Baylor, Kansas St, Missouri, etc. winning and succeeding on a national stage, there is no reason why NC State can’t be at that level or better. These are not schools steeped in history. In the case of two of those schools, they have been in far worse shape than NC State has been in the past 10 years and built themselves into annual contenders.

  9. codebrown 12/20/2010 at 2:01 PM #

    We suck again! Is Archie Miller available?

  10. bradleyb123 12/20/2010 at 2:03 PM #

    The season is young. This is a premature discussion to have right now. We’re a different team with Tracy Smith playing. We’ve seen the difference he makes. But he goes out and everyone blames Sidney. Never mind our two great freshmen went 2-for-23 last night. Sidney wasn’t the one laying those bricks.

  11. HPWolf 12/20/2010 at 2:07 PM #

    Its coaching. It always has been and always will be. This is why TOB always beats BMFD. It is not the RBC center, Javi, the lack of TS or the fans. Recruting does not matter when you cannot teach. Sid could be given the top five recruits in the nation and the results would be the same. This staff appears to be incompetant and lazy. Forget the name of who once coached the wolfpack. I simply remember going to the NCAA tournament and being somewhat respected as a program and I think that is what the announcers were trying to say in a round about way. We are now the team that others chalk up as a win when the schedules are released. That my friends is really sad. We will not make the dance and we have to be willing to start all over even if it means losing players or recruits. We are at the bottom and nowhere to go but up.

  12. tractor57 12/20/2010 at 2:08 PM #

    To be the best you must beat the best.
    Before the season and in the “little sisters of the poor” section I thought maybe we had a chance to move forward but going 0-4 with the major out of conference foes on the schedule flies in the face of that. Going from an also ran to the best is quite tricky for sure however we once again seem to be stuck in a groove.

    Sendek moved us forward a bit then reached a plateau and now maybe the same for Lowe.

    I’m not ready to call for a coaching change but this year is “put up or shut” for me. So far mostly I see “shut up”.

    If at the end of the season we haven’t gone at least to the Sweet 16 I would wholeheartedly support a coaching change.

  13. section2chuck 12/20/2010 at 2:21 PM #

    ^Class of 89: It’s Tobacco Road, not tobacco row…

  14. packalum44 12/20/2010 at 2:29 PM #


    Assuming Smith’s return dramatically changes the season (it won’t)….what about next year when he’s gone? What about every other year that Lowe has an excuse. There will always be an excuse. Always.

  15. Pack Mentality 12/20/2010 at 2:32 PM #

    Bradleyb… The season is NOT young. I don’t care WHY we lose, I care THAT we lose. No reasons justify it. Lowe has given us 4.5 seasons to prove that he can’t do anything better than bottom of the barrel. It’s over man…it’s over…accept it

  16. yankeewolf 12/20/2010 at 2:46 PM #

    “I think its ridiculous and simplistic to blame any individual player for a team losing…

    Placing blame on the guy whose only job is to direct and manage the team…now thats a different story…”

    I agree completely. One thing I wanted to bring up that no one has mentioned is Lowe’s calling out his two seniors last nite. First in the pregame, he essentially called out Javi and said he needed to step up. Okay…I get it, but this isn’t the first time he’s mentioned Javi by name when discussing problems. Second was during the post game press conf. when he said that Tracy has to learn to deal with a little pain when he plays and essentially said he needs to get back out there.

    Now, I’m sorry, but while I’ve had several issues with Lowe during his tenure, he lost me last night. Aside from watching PUTRID play (Javi gets hit in the back by a pass and then doesn’t even TRY for the ball, which is still in play) and watching us run down the shot clock when we’re 12 points behind, I will not support a coach that blames his players. I’m done!

  17. bradleyb123 12/20/2010 at 3:16 PM #

    Assuming Smith’s return dramatically changes the season (it won’t)…what about next year when he’s gone? What about every other year that Lowe has an excuse. There will always be an excuse. Always.

    Next year is next year. We’ll have rising juniors looking to fill his shoes then. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. It will be a different team next year. I’m talking about this year.

  18. bradleyb123 12/20/2010 at 3:18 PM #

    And all I’m saying is it is too early to start this anti-Sid mess. Now is not the time for that. We’re 6-4 with four creampuffs left, then an entire ACC season. The season IS young, even if you want to say it isn’t. It’s young enough that now is not the time to call for Sidney’s job. At the end of the season, if we’re mired with a bad enough record, THEN will be the time. And I’ll be right there with you. We have four losses, to the four best teams that we’ve played. We have Tracy Smith poised to return soon. I say just relax, people. Don’t be the lunatic fringe everyone already thinks we are. I’m not making excuses for next year (or this year, frankly). I just know we’re better with Tracy, and it will be better once he returns to the lineup. I think we could have and maybe should have won some of those four games even without him. I’m not happy with the losses. But it’s only four losses. We still have 20 more games (regular season). All I’m saying is wait until the end and we actually have a bad final win total before calling for heads to roll.

  19. Pack Mentality 12/20/2010 at 3:24 PM #

    ” Sidney wasn’t the one laying those bricks.”

    Considering that he recruited them, yes he was.

  20. jrummy 12/20/2010 at 3:39 PM #

    Someone asked about Barnes earlier, and I would also like to know what the likelihood of him being willing to listen to a pitch from State would be. Anyone have any info on this, such as where his contract stands, whether he’s displayed any recent interest in moving, etc? I was fairly new to NCSU at the time of the last coaching search and so I didn’t follow the details very closely, but I do remember hearing that he was unhappy and might have been willing to come over if it weren’t for Fowler and the botched search. With Yow in place, do we stand a good chance of getting him this time around, or are there other obstacles that might prevent us from landing him?

    Anyone have any details on other prospects we might be looking at, if this does prove to be Lowe’s last season?

    [EDIT]: With as much as StateFans tries to remind us to read the forums, I should’ve known to look there before posting this 😉


  21. Pack Mentality 12/20/2010 at 3:39 PM #

    “At the end of the season, if we’re mired with a bad enough record, THEN will be the time”

    Specifically, what does our record have to be for him to keep his job in your eyes?

  22. smfrank 12/20/2010 at 3:55 PM #

    The season is young, I agree fully with you. For all we know, with as weak as the ACC is, we could somehow turn it around with a 13-3 record (I think unlikely – but not impossible – I believe in the dream as a lifetime wolfpack fan). I think what people want to see around here is change… and change NOW, not 6 games into a 1-5 ACC record. People want to see some heart & hustle, some offensive fluidity, smart court positioning/awareness, consistency in defensive stops… We want to see something that resembles a college basketball team, not just a bunch of future rec league champions.

  23. wbnation 12/20/2010 at 4:15 PM #

    At least lo Brown looks for real. Unfortunately if he and Woods aren’t hitting this team is total garbage.

  24. PackCracker 12/20/2010 at 4:42 PM #

    61Packer, thanks for helping me figure out what the AZ fans were chanting. I was in the Jr. Wolfpack section with my wife and son (2nd row from being at the top) and couldn’t tell.

    I’m not an X’s and O’s basketball guy, but I thought my wife (who’s last State game was to watch a Les team vs. Odom’s WF team in Reynolds)summed it up well as we walked back to the truck: “they just looked sloppy”.

    Sidney coming back and bringing us back would’ve been a great Hollywood story, but I think it’s time to admit it’s not going to happen. Hopefully, DY is already feeling people out.

  25. ShootingGuard 12/20/2010 at 5:14 PM #

    DY better be working it right now.

    This is Fowler’s fault, but, hopefully, Sid will take one final one for the program and cooperate in a “graceful” exit.

    Barring a miracle turnaround this year (which includes the improbable at this point NCAA appearance), you HAVE to make the change at the end of THIS year—and DY better have it ready to go well before then…

    This team has a lot of young guys who the right person could jump in with and be ready to do something with, especially as next year’s favorable schedule should be favorable, if you keep the young group from splitting up.

    If this year doesn’t pan out and you don’t make the change, then you have prolonged even more years of pain for the program as Lowe won’t be able to recruit anyway and the next guy will be left with the usual “start from scratch” deal.

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