March 13, 2012
Grab your favorite cup of joe and enjoy your morning Wolfpack update.
NC STATE BASKETBALL
Bill Trocchi (si.com)
Inside NC State’s plan to bump UNC out of the ACC tournament
When North Carolina State beat Virginia 67-74 in the ACC quarterfinals Friday, Mark Gottfried and his staff had less than 21 hours to prepare for No. 4 North Carolina and play itself off the NCAA bubble. Here’s an inside look at the Wolfpack’s preparation:
4:50 p.m. — Forward C.J. Leslie, the star of the Virginia win, is the last one in the NC State locker room after doing some on-court interviews. “We’re going to beat North Carolina, ya’ll!,” the soft-spoken Leslie yelled as his celebrating teammates gathered around him. “We’re going to keep things going and win this thing!”
7:15 p.m. — Gottfried holds a staff meeting in his suite at the Hyatt Regency, a hotel that is housing Florida State and Virginia Tech as well as the Wolfpack. In room 2245, assistants Bobby Lutz, Orlando Early and Rob Moxley, plus director of basketball operations Jeff Dunlap and his assistant Levi Watkins, gather around a coffee table with Gottfried. Duke-Virginia Tech is on the TV, and the sound is muted. Lutz and Moxley lead the discussion on Carolina and what NC State needs to do to compete.
The topics center mostly around Kendall Marshall and Tyler Zeller. Marshall’s increase in scoring is a worry, because NC State wants to double off the point guard to help with Carolina’s big men. The staff debates whether they should stay with Marshall and double the low post with another big man. Lutz throws out the suggestion of using a box-and-one on Marshall to keep the ball out of his hands. The concern with Zeller is his ability to run the floor. Can NC State take a charge on him? Getting Zeller in foul trouble, especially with fellow big man John Henson questionable with a sprained wrist, is paramount for NC State to pull the upset.
“Transition and rebounding are the two musts tomorrow,” says Lutz, who is the primary assistant on every scouting preparation.
Gottfried is taking notes in pencil, making bullet points he will use to address the team after an 8 p.m. dinner. “Mentally, we have to shift gears,” he says. “This is great, but we came here to win this tourney.”
The talk then turns to the bubble for the final 10 minutes of the meeting, with discussions ranging from Washington to Seton Hall to Oral Roberts to South Florida. “Temple lost. That’s not good,” said Lutz.
Gottfried turns up the volume when the NC State highlights appear, then the room gets a good laugh to close the meeting when Gottfried’s shoutout to Lunardi is replayed.
9:45 a.m. — After the players eat with a tape of the previous day’s North Carolina-Maryland game playing in the background, team managers set up chairs for the team to gather in front of the screen. Gottfried again reviews his bullet points for the day: Transition defense. “You can close your eyes and sprint back to the three-point line on the wing, and you’ll meet [Reggie] Bullock and [Harrison] Barnes there. That’s where they are going.” Take charges. Rebound. Gottfried then shows about 10 minutes worth of clips, including one from the second UNC-NC State matchup that showed Bullock get a wide-open three from the wing off a made NC State basket. There are several shots of Zeller sprinting up the floor ahead of the defense for dunks, plus examples of how and how not to guard Marshall (with Duke being used as the ‘how’ example twice). Gottfried shows how NC State exploited Carolina’s desire to get into passing lanes with backdoor cuts twice in the last game as the Wolfpack snuck in for layups.
The final emphasis is for NC State’s big men to turn and attack Zeller, Henson and McAdoo when they get the ball in the low post. “We’re quicker,” he says. “We can attack.”
A shot of Leslie turning to face Zeller appears, and somewhere in the room a ‘See ya’ is heard. Leslie blows by Zeller for a dunk, and the room has a good laugh. That’s Gottfried’s final clip. There will be time for a final pep talk at the arena. “Buses at 11:35,” he says, and the players head back to their rooms.
1:01 p.m. — A partisan UNC crowd at Philips Arena watches as the Tar Heels have trouble shaking the Wolfpack. NC State is executing the game’s themes at the outset — transition and rebounding, surrendering just one fast-break basket in the first half and playing the bigger Tar Heels even on the glass. NC State is attacking when it was there, but bleeding some clock when there was no break. The Pack take two first-half charges. The score is 34-31 NC State at the break, and while it was not successful in getting Marshall or Zeller in foul trouble, McAdoo has three and Henson couldn’t play due to his injured wrist. Lutz wanted the game in the 30’s at halftime. He got his wish.
CHIP ALEXANDER (N&O)
NCAA opponent praises Wolfpack
Eamonn Brennan (espn.com)
The Morning After: Post-bracket edition
This is how you react to selection. It was the last open slot in the field. NC State fans, fatalistic and still seething after a questionably officiated ACC semifinal loss to hated rival UNC, had sat and watched as 67 other teams heard their names called and their seeds placed on CBS’ selection show. Hope had run out. The Wolfpack had made a valiant effort. They tried their best. But they were going to miss the NCAA tournament yet again.
And then, like a half-court buzzer-beater that clanged off the rim and dropped in the hoop, glory: NC State’s name went up on the board, the last team to be selected on the show, the resignation and defeat morphing into sheer joy. I wasn’t sitting next to any NC State fans. I can’t vouch for their reaction. But I’m guessing it looked a little something like this.
At that link you will find a video of the Wolfpack players and coaches themselves — complete with a split-screen camera focused on Mark Gottfried — reacting as they hear the news. Soak it in, because that video right there? That’s what March looks like.
One reason for the Aztecs’ success this season has been their stellar defense. San Diego State ranks among the nation’s elite in defense as demonstrated by its national rankings in field-goal percentage defense (31st, 40.0 pct.) and fewest personal fouls (29th, 15.9). Despite starting four guards, the Aztecs are 39th nationally in rebound margin at +4.8.
San Diego State’s remarkable season caught many of the prognosticators off guard. The Aztecs lost four starters and the top four scorers off last season’s 34-3, NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 team. No national preseason publication predicted that SDSU would make the NCAA Tournament and the Aztecs were not picked to finish higher than third in the conference.
SDSU Game Notes
Nick Canepa (utsandiego.com)
SDSU menâ€™s seeding sows plenty of fodder for discussion
Thought: Nationally, the Aztecs are this yearâ€™s team to be picked on by the national pundits, who see State the underdog here. Thereâ€™s motivation.
â€œIâ€™ve seen N.C. State play twice this year,â€ Carlson says. â€œC.J. Leslie is a real good player and theyâ€™ll be battle tested, being from the ACC. Mark Gottfried is a good coach and he doesnâ€™t go anywhere without good players.
â€œBut I think the Aztecs match up pretty well. People talk about their lack of size, but I like this matchup because they have real good guard play and that matters now. The best players over 6-8 donâ€™t stay at the college level very long.
â€œHow many national people have seen the Aztecs play? Theyâ€™ve worked in almost total obscurity, so I think itâ€™s a good spot for them to be in. People arenâ€™t talking about the dirty little secret that is San Diego State. They have good players and the bulk of them are in the backcourt, including Jamaal Franklin, the (conference) Player of the Year.â€
Final thought: There are but two Aztecs â€” Thames and forward Garrett Green â€” who havenâ€™t been to the NCAAs. No N.C. State player has gone dancing. SDSU is tournament and travel tested. Columbus is not going to bother them.
They should be playing in Albuquerque, but with the extra dayâ€™s rest I can see them as candy, in the Sweet 16.
Scott Bair (nctimes.com)
SAN DIEGO STATE MEN’S BASKETBALL: Sixth-seeded Aztecs to play N.C. State in NCAA tournament
The celebration was short-lived. The process of researching the Wolfpack started soon after the bracket went public.
“I know very little about them,” Fisher said. “By midnight, that won’t be the case.”
Fisher watched part of N.C. State’s 69-67 loss to rival North Carolina in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament on Saturday, but most of his analysis will come from game film â€” “I expect at least two tapes on my desk when I go (back to the office), he said â€” and colleagues around the country who have played the Wolfpack.
By not playing until Friday, the Aztecs will have an extra day to prepare for a team that is 22-12 and finished fifth in the ACC. NC State lost only three games to teams that didn’t qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Andrew Skwara (accsports.com)
ACC Hoops Power Rankings, March 12
1. North Carolina (29-5, 14-2 ACC)
Despite dropping each of its two meetings to Florida State, Roy Williamsâ€™ team is still the class of the ACC. Without one of the nationâ€™s top defensive players, the Tar Heels still managed to beat an NCAA tournament-bound N.C. State team for a third time this season and took FSU down to the final seconds. This is still the same team that won the ACC regular-season title, beat Michigan State (a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed) and lost by just one point at Kentucky (the overall No. 1 seed). Put a healthy Henson back in the lineup and the â€˜Heels are one of the favorites to win the national title.
Next Game: Friday vs Lamar/Vermont winner in Greensboro, N.C., 4:10 pm, NCAA first round
Previous Rank: No. 1
2. Florida State (24-9, 12-4)
Beating Duke and North Carolina twice (how many teams can ever say they did that in the same season?) and winning their first ACC tournament title certainly gives the Seminoles a strong case for being the best in the ACC. But you have to wonder if that all would have happened if Duke and UNC werenâ€™t each missing a key player in Atlanta (Dukeâ€™s Ryan Kelly was also out with a foot injury). Regardless, the â€˜Noles enter the NCAA tournament playing as well as anyone in the nation with clutch outside shooting, a solid bench, strong point guard play (Luke Loucks had 13 assists in the ACC title game) and, as usual, a great defense.
Next Game: Friday vs St. Bonaventure in Nashville, Tenn., 2:45 pm, NCAA first round
Previous Rank: No. 3
3. Duke (27-6, 13-2 ACC)
The NCAA tournament selection committee sure was kind to the Blue Devils. Despite closing the regular season with a lopsided loss to North Carolina and getting ousted in the ACC tournament semifinals, Mike Krzyzewskiâ€™s team was sent to nearby Greensboro (one-hour drive from Durham) for the first weekend. But with their recent struggles and Kellyâ€™s shaky status you wonder if the Blue Devils can get to the second weekend.
Next Game: Friday vs Lehigh in Greensboro, N.C., 7:15 pm, NCAA first round
Previous Rank: No. 2
4. N.C. State (22-12, 9-7)
Hiring Mark Gottfried sure looks smart now. The Wolfpack and their first-year coach are headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since the Herb Sendek Era, thanks to winning two must-win games in the ACC tournament. With wins in four of its last five games, Gottfried has the â€˜Pack peaking at the best possible time and looking like a real threat to pull off a first-round upset.
Next Game: Friday vs San Diego State, 12:40 pm in Columbus, Ohio, NCAA first round
Previous Rank: No. 5
5. Virginia (22-9, 9-7)
The Cavaliers are making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007, but no team in the field has less momentum. The Cavs have lost six of their last 10 games and are down to seven scholarship players due to a slew of transfers and injuries. Itâ€™s going to take a monster game from Mike Scott to keep his team from making an early exit.
Next Game: Friday vs Florida in Omaha, Neb., 2:10 pm, NCAA first round
Previous Rank: No. 4
Barry Jacobs (accsports.com)
Improving The ACC Tournament
That the ACC tournament has lost some of its luster is hardly news. Once the most distinctive event of its kind, and a much-envied attraction, the conferenceâ€™s signature event has been copied so widely itâ€™s almost lost in a welter of league championship weekends.
But the ACC menâ€™s tournament retains many of its charms â€” when not suffering self-inflicted wounds.
Some prefer the day of the semifinals, when with luck four good teams take the floor to pursue two outcomes very much in doubt. And of course thereâ€™s the championship game, the seasonâ€™s crowning moment birthed by 106 previous conference contests across more than two months.
Despite all that, lingering problems undermine the popularity and relevance of the ACC tournament. Coming expansion could exacerbate those weaknesses.
Attendance is declining; the days of perpetual sellouts are a receding memory.
This is particularly evident during early rounds that lack the electricity of a house packed with engaged spectators. Hearing every word yelled by coaches during a game â€“ instructive, exhortatory, frustrated, profane â€“ is entertaining but indicative of a dearth of noisy excitement in the arena. Seeing empty seats on TV isnâ€™t flattering, either.
Not every school has a committed cadre of supporters or media members willing to attend, further limiting options for improving the tournament atmosphere. Being a league member doesnâ€™t mean your supporters automatically care about a still-unfamiliar event.
Moreover, the championship is quickly overshadowed by announcement of the NCAA field, not to mention reduced to just another item on a busy list of results.
Itâ€™s time to consider bold changes that might improve the experience of coming to the games, enhance the profile and satisfaction of the ultimate winner, and fill the stands.
â€¢ First, the ACC should embrace, not try to evade, its identity.
Try as it might the ACC cannot avoid two basic truths â€“ it is first and foremost a basketball conference, and the heart of interest in basketball is found in North Carolina.
Deal with it. Just as the U.S. military ultimately rejected donâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tell, allowing service personnel to be all they can be in every sense, so the ACC should accept its identity and move on.
â€¢ Consider rescheduling games so the championship contest stands alone like the jewel it once was.
â€¢ Enhance the on-site fan experience.
â€¢ Get rid of game officials.
We know ACC referees are prejudiced against our team, whomever our team happens to be. Theyâ€™re out to get us and our favorites. Goodness knows, officials arenâ€™t perfect or impartial like we are.
JIM O’Connell (AP)
Predictions for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament
(1) NORTH CAROLINA vs. (16) Vermont – Come on, the game is in Greensboro.
(8) CREIGHTON vs. (9) Alabama – Doug McDermott gets a chance to show the country how he averaged 23.2 points while shooting 61 percent from the field and 49 percent on 3s.
(5) TEMPLE vs. (12) South Florida – The Owls are loaded with quality guards, and they should give freshman Anthony Collins all he can handle.
(4) MICHIGAN vs. (13) Ohio – The missing word “state” keeps this from being an early tournament upset.
(11) N.C. STATE vs. (6) San Diego State – The Wolfpack are still steaming over the end of their ACC semifinal loss to North Carolina, and C.J. Leslie and Co. should take it out on the Aztecs.
(3) GEORGETOWN vs. (14) Belmont –The Bears are always a chic upset pick, but the Hoyas’ size keep that from being a good idea.
(10) PURDUE vs. (7) Saint Mary’s – The Boilermakers and Robbie Hummel are a sentimental pick, but they will try to muscle the Gaels all over the court.
(2) KANSAS vs. (15) Detroit – Usually, facing the Horizon League champion scares the daylights out of teams, but the Titans just don’t match up to the Butler teams that reached the national championship game the last two years.
NORTH CAROLINA vs. Creighton – The Tar Heels have a bunch of players who can match Doug McDermott’s scoring prowess.
TEMPLE vs. Michigan – There will be a ton of good guards in this one, but Temple’s depth might be the difference.
GEORGETOWN vs. N.C. State – The Hoyas are one of the best passing teams in the country, and one of the best passers is center Henry Sims. That makes them too tough of a matchup for the Wolfpack.
KANSAS vs. Purdue – The Jayhawks’ inside-outside combination of Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor are way too much for the Boilermakers to handle.
NORTH CAROLINA vs. Temple – The Tar Heels will simply outscore the Owls.
GEORGETOWN vs. Kansas – The Hoyas are an underrated defensive team. They will relish stopping a player like Thomas Robinson inside and will use a ton of fouls doing it.
NORTH CAROLINA vs. Georgetown – These schools met in this round in 2007. The Tar Heels win this time.
Stewart Mandel (si.com)
Midwest Region: UNC to face stiff challenge from talented mid-majors
Suspect Team: San Diego State
This is not nearly the star-laden Aztecs team that gave UConn a fight in the Sweet 16 last year. Steve Fisher’s squad overachieved in going 24-7 and finishing second in the Mountain West, but a three-game slide in mid-February and an 68-59 loss to New Mexico in the Mountain West final give reason for pause.
Jason King (espn.com)
Midwest Region breakdown
6. I wonder what seed the committee would’ve given North Carolina State if the Wolfpack hadn’t been hosed by the officials at the end of Saturday’s loss to North Carolina. If NC State would’ve won that game, would it have been a No. 9 or 10? Hey, at least the Wolfpack didn’t have to open the tournament in Dayton. Or not open it at all.
Yahoo! Sports Radio
Mark Gottfried â€“ Playing Through Adversity (AUDIO)
Riddick and Reynolds
R&R Podcast: Episode 42
Itâ€™s a dance party!
After five long years of missing out on the NCAA tournament, NC State is once again going dancing. Cliff Crawford and Ernie Myers join us to discuss Selection Sunday, the ACC Tournament and what to expect in the NCAA tournament.
We also answer questions from the audience in segment two.
Williams: “I just kept praying”
Wood: “It’s a great feeling”
Yow: ” I will remember this forever”
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