A Cold, Snowy Day in April (Updated 11:50AM)

For those of you in the newer generation that don’t remember a time when State was one of the premier programs of both the ACC and nation, and may be content with our rightful place in the shadow of our Triangle neighbors (because that’s the way it’s always been), here’s a look back to a time when State basketball took a backseat to no one (thanks to SFN member NCStatePride for finding this).

“Trees will tapdance, elephants will drive in the Indianapolis 500, and Orson Wells will skip lunch before North Carolina State finds a way to beat Houston.”

In April 1983, State had won its ninth ACC title and then its second national title inside a decade, which was on pace with Carolina and well ahead of Duke. Keep that in mind the next time anyone tries to tell you State basketball can’t return to what it once was.


The following is a posting from NCStatePride that was written simultaneously with the above post to give an editorial for our younger fans. Enjoy.

Trees will tap dance, elephants will drive the Indianapolis 500, and Orsen Wells will skip lunch before North Carolina State finds a way to beat Houston. –Washington Post, April 4, 1983

Jimmy Valvano gave a speech to the North Carolina General Assembly after their 54-52 victory over Houston on April 4, 1983.  At the time, Jimmy Valvano regaled the General Assembly with stories and jokes about his 1983 squad’s unlikely appearance in the Championship game.

Jimmy Valvano would develop a reputation as being charming and charismatic.  David Letterman is remembered as stating that Jimmy Valvano was the only man he felt could walk onto his stage and take control of an interview. At one point he interrupts Letterman, who wants to move on with his show and hit a commercial break, and Valvano talks him down, dismisses the show to a commercial break, and convinces the audience that rather than letting him off stage, they really want to hear to end of his story.

This History…

In January of 1983, NC State was 9-7 and Valvano recalls having a vision in the locker room that the Wolfpack would go the rest of the season, win the ACC Title, and the National Championship, and finally get to meet the President of the United States.  A sports reporter was overheard saying:

It’s going to be a snowy day in April when that happens.

The average temperature in April in North Carolina was 71 degrees during the day.

As we all know, Valvano went on a 7-3 run to finish out the regular season a solid 17-10, finishing on two losses to UVA and Maryland, but finally marking the season with a stunning 130-89 victory over Wake Forest.

Before the beginning of post-season play, Derek Whittenburg warned the press:

“Watch Out.  We ain’t dead yet.  Dead teams don’t score 130 points and shoot 60 percent for the game.”

It’s worth noting that with a 17-10 season, NC State won the ACC and NCAA titles (9 games) beating six teams by barely two baskets.  NC State never won pretty, but they survived and advanced.  It’s easy to get worn down by what NC State has had to suffer for the past several years.  When NC State was put under probation and Jimmy Valvano forced to leave, much to the dismay of the fan base, our rivals on Tobacco Road didn’t wait around for us to get our house in order.  They did what any good program is supposed to do.  They did what you would expect them to do: they continued to win.  What NC State failed to do is rebuild.  There are volumes upon volumes of articles, forum posts, and blogs discussing what NC State’s problems are and why we had them, but the fact is that NC State has had nothing to keep its fan base energized.

The Experience…

Personally, I, NCStatePride, grew up in the last 80’s and 90’s, attending NC State in fall of 2004.  I grew up listening to people talk about how amazing Carolina is and how unstoppable Duke is.  Hey, you can’t blame them for speaking the truth.  They are good programs.  What has been heart wrenching is hearing the whole world tell you that the team you feel loyal to is a has-been.  In a recent discussion on StateFansNation’s forums, I recent joked that if NC State were a car, it would be a Buick Grand National… a fine machine that in its day was a powerhouse, but is barely even recognizable today and really only admired by those who are interested in relics.  That is where NC State is.  We admire NC State for its history and for the machine we see underneath the facts, but in the end we are just admiring a relic of what power use to be.

So do we just give up on it?  The facts are the facts and the numbers are what they are.  As many people are convinced these days, if it’s not in the numbers, it’s not there.  When NC State has found itself “relevant” in the last 20 years, it was either due to making the Sweet Sixteen or upsetting a highly ranked rival, that use to be an equal, and reading the commentary in the paper the following morning stating that NC State really pulled off the impossible.  I wish I could remember when the “impossible” being achieved was a National Championship.

Hope and Dreams…

But despite what the “facts” are, NC State has what other Universities don’t have: the spirit of the greats that came before us.  We have the hope that Jimmy Valvano brought to the hardwood each and every single night.  We have the fighting chance of knowing that on any given night, if the players and coaches just believe hard enough, they have already won the game.

We have the distinct advantage over everyone else, Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, and anyone else we face… that we are NC State and if we have a dream, we have a hope.  And if we have a hope, we have a chance.

Jimmy Valvano left us so much more than titles and records.  Jimmy Valvano left us the sheer will to go on.  He left us the motivation to keep pushing on and never accept where we are currently standing.  Even when the media and our rivals are keeping us down, Valvano taught us that we should never give up… don’t ever give up.  Because of what Jimmy Valvano left, we can look at our Wolfpack and despite what the numbers are, we can know that there is still a chance and if we give up on that chance, we are giving up on what makes us powerful, what makes our opponents fear us, and what has brought victory in countless games in the past… our hopes and our dreams.

By the way…

On Monday, April 18th, 1983, snow began to fall on the hallowed grounds of NC State…

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41 Responses to A Cold, Snowy Day in April (Updated 11:50AM)

  1. primacyone 01/25/2011 at 11:30 AM #

    “State had won its ninth ACC title and then its second national title inside a decade . . ”

    Needs repeating in case someone missed the “inside a decade” part.

  2. bradleyb123 01/25/2011 at 11:38 AM #

    That’s a great video. Thanks for posting this!

    What a classy guy, too. He gave credit to Carolina, and even talked about how classy they were (“were” being the operative word!)

    What a great motivator he was. I love listening to him speak.

  3. jwrenn29 01/25/2011 at 12:19 PM #

    Indeed, I remember when ACC basketball was State and Carolina and the rest. And it irks me to no end when the national media tell us we should be content to be middling and should have kept Herb. Really? What if Duke had been satisfied with middling and not hired Coach K? ARRRRRGGGGGG!!!

  4. baxter 01/25/2011 at 12:22 PM #

    Just to clarify that statement because it reads a bit misleading:

    Duke 18 1960, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1978, 1980, 1986, 1988, 1992, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010

    North Carolina 17 1957, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2008

    NC State 10 1954, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1965, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1983, 1987

  5. Lock 01/25/2011 at 12:22 PM #

    Not everybody under the age of 30 who reads this blog fails to know the history of their Alma Mater. Just sayin’.

  6. baxter 01/25/2011 at 12:23 PM #

    The 99 – 2010 run by Duke is just unbelievable to look at sometimes.

  7. NCStatePride 01/25/2011 at 12:35 PM #

    FYI: I made updates to the above posting.

    I was working on an article simultaneously as StateFans, but I wanted to get a perspective of this video out for the younger fans, as well.

  8. Lock 01/25/2011 at 12:38 PM #

    One of my childhood memories is watching this man explain his triangle-and-2 defense on his weekly coach’s show on TV. I was too young to understand why he was so unceremoniously tossed away (though even now I don’t understand how those who did turn their back on him could have done so). His whole life story is an inspiration, from the card he carried around with him with his life goals listed (including winning a national championship), to single-handedly starting up one of the most famous cancer foundations. The brightest flames burn the fastest, and his burned out far too fast.

    But oh, the things he accomplished.

    I remember walking up to the piece of Reynolds Coliseum floor that they had in the RBC Center and touching it just to touch something that he was associated with. I’m fairly convinced our teams our cursed, and the only way to lift that curse is to give the man’s memory what it deserves…ideally, having the court named after him.

    This man represents all that is good about NC State. God rest his soul.

  9. baxter 01/25/2011 at 12:42 PM #

    Seriously, has anyone emailed Yow and asked why we haven’t honored him yet? Sheesh.

  10. old13 01/25/2011 at 12:56 PM #

    While the ’83 NC is probably more known because of the Cinderella nature of it and its being more recent, the 1974 semi-final against UCLA was just as dramatic, especially in the OT, considering what UCLA was at the time AND the fact that the Bruins had handed the Pack its only defeat of the season in December. I probably identify more with it because while I was a student at State, Case retired, the Press/Pete Maravich situation played out, and Norm Sloan became the HC.

    If anyone has a tape they could post of that UCLA OT, it would be a great companion piece for the above. And it would also give the youngsters more of the history of NCSU as a national BB power.

    And I most strongly agree that NCSU has ignored what V accomplished at and for State much too long and way out of proportion to events which led to the hatchet job done by the N&O!

  11. NCStatePride 01/25/2011 at 1:07 PM #

    When a new HC comes in after Sidney Lowe, it would be a great instant show of support for NC State and her traditions if the new head coach announced that with the support of Debbie Yow, the court would be named “Valvano Court”.

  12. OldWuf 01/25/2011 at 1:11 PM #

    I was a freshman at NCSU in 1983. I watched the Houston game in my buddies’ room in Tucker. He had a color TV and it was bigger than 13″!! Much to the chagrin of my family I remember many games from the season, I went to all of the home games. I got to go to the UNX game at the last minute when a guy came in our suite with extra tickets. I sat under one of the tv camera decks in the rafters of Reynolds and watched us smack the Tarholes. Sid or Whit passed a ball between perkins’ legs. Dean was so pissed with the calls he had a T called on him. You can’t imagine the noise. I didn’t have the means to go to any of the tourney games. Definitely a glorious time. I’ll shut up for now, buy me a beer or two and I can go on for hours. My son is a soph at State now, I wish for his sake we could become relevant again.

  13. jbpackfan 01/25/2011 at 1:17 PM #

    Nice work NCStatePride. Here is a stat I found a couple months ago that I find almost impossible to believe considering the past 20 years:

    NC State is in the Top 20 in total weeks ranked in the Top 5, Top 10 and Top 25

    Just another example showing NC State basketball belongs among the elite.

  14. PackInsider 01/25/2011 at 1:20 PM #

    I enjoy looking back on old Valvano interviews and speaking engagements. I grew up watching Valvano’s later teams and was just 10 years old when he was dismissed, but it’s amazing to see just how dynamic and charismatic he was on how he could take over an interview or just own a crowd. It’s no wonder he was able to recruit to the level he did. The world really missed out when we lost Jimmy V.

    I mean how many college basketball coaches today (other than maybe Coach K.) would you see go on Conan, Leno or Dave today, just to go on there? Not many, if any at all.

  15. tobaccordshow 01/25/2011 at 1:29 PM #

    I never tire of watching Jimmy V videos… He even offered a slap to the current Carolina team if you didn’t notice (he’s a prophet).

    “I wish the team could’ve been there, must be some old NCAA rule that the kids can’t meet presidents.”

    Except for Carolina of course. They can play pick up ball with Obama. David Thompson though, he better not come close to a pickup game.

  16. 61Packer 01/25/2011 at 1:58 PM #

    Since our last ACC title in 1987, Duke and UNC have won 17 ACC titles collectively, and add 2 more for Wake Forest.

    Where are we now? Almost 6 years removed from the NCAAs, a bottom-dweller in a 12-team weakened-down ACC, and at Clemson tonight as an 8-point dog. Clemson, a team we used to beat like a drum, but have lost 5 of our last 6 to, plus the RBC Center game last season.

    If NC State could be compared to a car, it’s gotta be one that’s been outta production for decades. Give my vote to an Edsel, on blocks.

  17. ncsukyle 01/25/2011 at 2:09 PM #

    Why was UNC even there? Wasn’t it to honor us? Can we never have our own moment without those idiots trying to squeeze in the picture?

  18. Wolfy__79 01/25/2011 at 2:15 PM #

    thank you sfn. that was great! i’m beating my chest and ready to light the world on fire!

  19. Wolfy__79 01/25/2011 at 2:20 PM #

    for all the credit duke deserves for winning the acc in the 2000’s, they would not have been able to come close if we were taking care of business. same to be said of unc-ch in the 90’s!

    i would love for nc state to dedicate the court to jimmy v! that would be a great addition this year celebrating 100 years! why wait!

  20. Wolfy__79 01/25/2011 at 2:25 PM #

    61packer!, i absolutely despise the ACC having 12 teams, especially considering who they are! i don’t agree with the conference selling out for revenues but i guess that’s the game we must play. excluding fsu, since the additions the acc is noticeably weaker and we now find ourselves the worst we’ve ever been! i would trade basketball for football anyday! and 8 for 12 teams too!

  21. Wolfy__79 01/25/2011 at 2:27 PM #

    ^yikes, i meant trade football for basketball and 12 to 8 🙂

  22. EdMar 01/25/2011 at 2:27 PM #


    THe reason UNC was there was that they had won the NCAA’s in 1982 but had not been “honored” by the NC General Assembly. Because State made that inspirational run to the Championship they were invited and like all politians they decided to also invie the Heels so they would not feel left out.

  23. LRM 01/25/2011 at 2:27 PM #

    In the Leterman video, he starts talking about pig pickin’ at the 4:45 mark…good stuff.

  24. jbpackfan 01/25/2011 at 2:30 PM #

    While Valvano is my favorite coach of all time, I’d like for there to be a way to honor Case, Sloan and V somehow, not just single out V. Since we can’t name the arena, the court should be named for one or all of those coaches.

  25. PackInsider 01/25/2011 at 2:36 PM #

    UNC was there b/c it was a ceremony to honor back to back local teams winning the National Title (although it was really to honor the miracle we had just pulled off).

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