March 22, 2012
Enjoy your daily web run Wolfpackers.
NC STATE BASKETBALL
LUKE DECOCK (N&O)
DeCock: N.C. State brightens tough spring for ACC
Fortunately for the ACC, the Wolfpack, which went into the conference tournament with an NCAA bid in doubt, has made the most of its windfall. With wins over San Diego State and Georgetown, N.C. State has helped salvage the spring for the ACC.
The conference has been waiting for a while for N.C. State to come around, and between this yearâ€™s postseason success and next yearâ€™s recruiting class, that moment may finally have arrived.
â€œThis team is wonderful for our area,â€ said Bucky Waters, the former N.C. State player and Duke coach. â€œIt has really instilled that adrenaline back, that we are the basketball culture. Thereâ€™s no telling where it can end. â€¦ Itâ€™s good for the league, itâ€™s wonderful for the Triangle. I see it as a very healthy sign.â€
No matter how many national championships North Carolina and Duke win, the real strength of the conference has always come from its depth. Programs like N.C. State, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Maryland won ACC titles, national championships and went to Final Fours for decades. Just not lately.
Among the traditional-but-dormant powers, N.C. Stateâ€™s revival is the conferenceâ€™s best hope at the moment. Even the Wolfpackâ€™s biggest rival can appreciate that.
â€œItâ€™s good to see N.C. State doing well,â€ North Carolina forward John Henson said. â€œAs part of the ACC, weâ€™ve got to band together in the postseason, flex our muscles, ACC-wise, and show what weâ€™ve got.â€
Associated Press (accsports.com)
N.C. State Peaking Heading Into NCAA Round Of 16
North Carolina State started the year as the afterthought behind Duke and North Carolina. Not anymore.
Mike Krzyzewskiâ€™s Blue Devils are at home. Roy Williamsâ€™ Tar Heels are limping into the NCAA tournamentâ€™s round of 16 with injuries.
Meanwhile, N.C. State is healthy and surging into the tournamentâ€™s second weekend – and looking like the best team at this moment on Tobacco Road.
â€œWeâ€™re playing well at the end of the year,â€ junior Scott Wood said. â€œI think all it is really is who gets hot near the end of the year and weâ€™re one of the teams that kind of got going.â€
â€œItâ€™s my job to convince my team that we are good enough,â€ Gottfried said. â€œAnd we have to become good enough. Itâ€™s not smoke and mirrors, itâ€™s not something you can just talk about. You have to get better. We did get better.
â€œBut at the same time, I think this particular team â€¦ needed to believe that – that theyâ€™re good enough. And I do think that they believe that, so thatâ€™s exciting.â€
While Howell said the team would love another shot at UNC, senior C.J. Williams is savoring this yearâ€™s run after making it to just one NIT in his first three years.
â€œI learned a lot from those years,â€ Williams said. â€œWe may not have won games, but I wouldnâ€™t have learned how to win if I hadnâ€™t lost before. Knowing how things go when youâ€™re not winning, now, Iâ€™m enjoying this to the fullest.â€
GOTTFRIED BECOMES SECOND ACC COACH TO WIN FIRST TWO GAMES IN FIRST SEASON: Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried became only the second head coach in the history of the ACC to guide his first team to a pair of NCAA Tournament wins. Bill Guthridge did so as well, guiding UNC to the Final Four in 1998.
FIRST-YEAR FEAT: When the 2012 NCAA Tournament started, Gottfried was just one of seven coaches in the 68-team NCAA field to take his squad to the tournament in his first season. Now that there are 16 teams left, Gottfried is the only rookie head coach still in the field.
In the NC State record books, Gottfried becomes only the third coach in school history to lead his first team to the NCAA Tournament. Only Press Maravich (1965) and Les Robinson (1991) accomplished that feat before this season.
In Gottfriedâ€™s two previous coaching stops, he took Murray State to the NCAA Tournament in his second season and Alabama in his fourth year.
VERSUS KANSAS: NC State and Kansas will be meeting for the 12th time in the history of the two programs. The Jayhawks have posted a 10-1 mark in the overall series, including a 3-0 edge in neutral site games.
The last time the two teams met was during the 1996-97 season, when No. 1 Kansas won in Lawrence, 84-56.
VERSUS KANSAS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT: Fridayâ€™s game is the second time NC State will face Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. In the 1986 Elite Eight, the top-seeded Jayhawks downed the Wolfpack, 75-67, Kansas City.
In that game, current Jayhawks assistant coach Danny Manning scored a game-high 22 points, and Kansas shot 57.7 percent (30-52) from the field. Charles Shackleford (20) and Chris Washburn (17) led the way for NC State.
PACK VERSUS BIG 12: NC State is currently 12-19 against teams that are currently in the Big 12. The Pack posts at least a .500 record against six of the leagueâ€™s 10 schools.
ATHLETIC EXCELLENCE: NC State is one of six schools nationally, and the only ACC school, to have its menâ€™s basketball team reach the Sweet 16 and for its football team to win its 2011 bowl game. Baylor, Cincinnati, Florida, Michigan State and Ohio are the other schools.
A total of 10 schools sent a team to a bowl and the Sweet 16 this season.
Entering the 2012 NCAA Tournament, NC State was one of 27 schools nationally (one of four in the ACC) that sent its football team to a bowl game and its menâ€™s basketball team to the NCAA Tournament.
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
Alex Johnson pushes the Pack to new heights
When fifth-year senior point guard Alex Johnson walked off the basketball court following practice on Tuesday, he stood on the wall to conduct interviews with the media and untucked his red jersey. The shirt ended almost at his knee, where a white ‘PACK’ was written on his shorts and that wasn’t the only odd thing about his practice attire.
Johnson was wearing sophomore C.J. Leslie’s No. 5 practice jersey and the shirt made to go on the forward’s 6-foot-8 frame was a a little big on Johnson, who checks in at 5-10. However, the two have been wearing each other’s practice jersey for some time, although the point guard couldn’t exactly pinpoint when it started, and they have continued the tradition every practice since it began.
“I think it started when he was out with a little shoulder injury,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to let him know that even though you are sitting out on the sidelines, I’m out here representing for you. It pretty much took off from there.”
Johnson, a graduate student transfer from Cal State-Bakersfield, had heard all of the negative comments that surrounded Leslie when he first got to NC State, but he kept an open mind and found out very quickly that the rumors weren’t accurate.
“When I first came down here, I heard all the talk about how he had a bad attitude and didn’t really get along with his teammates,” Johnson remembered. “I genuinely wanted to be his friend first, not just his teammate. When we first met, we just clicked and it has been like that ever since.
“I wear his number [in practice] to show him that I’m representing him and he’s wearing my number to show that he’s representing me. It’s just a brotherly love that we have for each other.”
The diminutive guard has actually found out that Leslie is almost the opposite of the unappealing rumors. Leslie is just an individual that keeps his guard up.
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
N.C. State AD Debbie Yow, star C.J. Leslie, bask in success together
Leslie has faced plenty of adversity at N.C. State, from dealing with various suspensions to handling the constant questioning of his maturity and effort. Yow earned his trust by continuing to support him through times good and bad.
“I think he has an innate sense of how much I care about him as a person,” Yow said.
N.C. State hired Yow in June of 2010, and she met Leslie for lunch the day he arrived for summer school as a freshman. Yow discussed something she deemed “not a huge issue, a small question mark” with Leslie, and she wanted him to start college on the right foot.
She ordered food from Subway, bringing in turkey subs, chips and cookies. There was one problem.
“Turkey, I thought that sounded like a guy’s sandwich,” Yow said. “He said, ‘I don’t eat Subway.’ It was hilarious.”
Apparently, the greener the food, the less it appeals to Leslie. Yow joked that he had no choice but to eat the chips and his cookie.
“I’m not going to say I’m not down with Subway,” Leslie said Tuesday, laughing at the memory. “This is the problem: I don’t like vegetables, as far as tomatoes, lettuce and all of that. I’ll take the meat. The meat and the bread, I’ll take that, but I’m not down with the vegetables. When you put all that mayonnaise on there, I can’t eat all that.”
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
N.C. State’s Richard Howell has ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Pine’ persona thanks to foul trouble
After playing an important role in two NCAA tournament victories, now preparing to face Kansas on Friday in a St. Louis Regional semifinal, the fun-loving Howell was willing to joke about the circumstances that turn him from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Pine.
“It seems like I’m in foul trouble every half,” Howell said. “I think my whole junior year I’ve been in foul trouble.”
Perception isn’t far off from reality.
He was enjoying one until his foul numbers began to balloon against ACC competition. The biggest reason: too much reliance on his hands and feet. Instead of playing sound defense, he’d reach for a steal and draw a whistle. Helping the Wolfpack’s guards on screens far from the basket, he’d go for more steals and bump into the opposition.
All too often, silly fouls sent him to a seat on the bench.
“It started at Miami,” Howell said. “From then on, it’s been, ‘Foul on Richard Howell,’ every time.”
The arrival of the NCAA tournament has provided Howell with a fresh start. He’s playing against new teams, with different sets of referees, in unfamiliar venues. N.C. State’s coaches have encouraged him to take fewer defensive risks early in games, something they’ve been stressing since November, and he’s doing a better job of following that advice.
Akula Wolf (BackingThePack.com)
Big But Small At The Same Time — The Perspective From The KU Side
Bill Self and some Kansas players met with the media on Tuesday to talk about the win over Purdue and their upcoming matchup with the Wolfpack. Here is what Elijah Johnson said about State:
“They’re pretty big, but small at the same time. They have big guards, but their bigs aren’t that big. (They’re starting lineup is) 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6, 6-foot-6, 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-8.”
I feel your pain there, Elijah. In one journalism assignment at NC State, I wrote that two things (I forget what the hell I was comparing) were “the same and yet different.” To top things off, the professor liked to read the biggest gaffes from each assignment out loud to the entire class. Anonymously, but still. And at any rate, your statement works better in context than mine did, that is for sure.
Top 16 college basketball teams of all time
#9 1974 North Carolina State
By Jeff Goodman | CBSSports.com College Basketball Insider
Best player: David Thompson — The ultra-athletic 6-foot-4 junior scored 49 points in the two wins at the Final Four, including 21 points with seven boards to knock off Marquette in the final. Thompson averaged 26 points and 7.9 rebounds and wound up being selected first overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1975 NBA Draft. Thompson, who had freakish athletic ability and a reported vertical of 48 inches, was the guy who basically invented the alley-oop — he was on the receiving end of many from point guard Monte Towe.
Another worth noting: Tom Burleson — Listed at 7-4, the North Carolina native was truly 7-2. But he was still a monster — and provided a tough matchup for UCLA star big man Bill Walton in the national semifinal. Walton still finished with 29 points and 18 boards, but Burleson was nearly as effective with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Burleson was also the MVP of the ACC tournament — and went on to be drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics with the third pick in 1974.
This team is one of the best of all-time because … It didn’t just snap UCLA’s streak of seven consecutive national titles, but it had a significant impact on college basketball. After N.C. State beat Maryland in the ACC title game, the rule was changed and more than one team from a league was allowed to get into the tournament. It expanded from 32 to 48 teams in 1975.
Did you know … Tim Stoddard, the starting forward on the team, is the only person to have played in a World Series and a national title game. Stoddard was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1975 and went onto pitch in 485 major league games — all in relief. He was the closer for the Baltimore Orioles in 1980, racking up 26 saves.
David Glenn Chats With Debbie Yow, March 22
David Glenn recently caught up with N.C. State athletics director Debbie Yow on Glennâ€™s afternoon radio show.
Among the topics they discussed: How Yow celebrated when N.C. State advanced to the Sweet 16; what being in the Sweet 16 does for the school and the ACC financially; the most important things that Mark Gottfried has done as the Wolfpackâ€™s head coach; and what Yow thinks about the possibility of facing North Carolina in the tournament.
Mark Gottfried Post Practice Interview
Head basketball coach Mark Gottfried talks about taking the Wolfpack back to the Sweet 16.