Survive & Advance Tonight

Only something this amazing could take our attention away from NC State’s second consecutive NCAA Tournament bid.

ESPN at 9pm tonight.

The Los Angeles Times reviewed Survive & Advance here.

“Survive and Advance,” which premieres Sunday on ESPN as part of its excellent “30 for 30” series of sports documentaries, is a sweet and moving depiction of the sweet and moving story of the 1983 North Carolina State men’s basketball team, the Wolfpack, and its colorful coach, Jim Valvano. You will need a handkerchief or two to get through it, unless you are some sort of soulless, inhuman monster.

Directed by Jonathan Hock (“Unguarded”), it is a tale of great deeds, inspiring speeches, comical sound bites and big, long hugs in what was a legendary time for college basketball — the days when Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing were still in school and players tended to stick around for three or even four years of play rather than taking off early for the pros: “The games were better,” says University of North Carolina Coach Roy Williams. “The players were better.”


Though not expected to get anywhere near the Final Four, that year’s team made defying expectations a habit, with a knack for coming from behind in the last minutes, even seconds of a game, which earned them nicknames the Team of Destiny and the Cardiac Pack. As pictured here, they were fueled by good spirits, affectionate teamwork and a coach who was not afraid of a risky move or the word “love.”

Valvano, who died in 1993, less than a year after being diagnosed with bone cancer, was a voluble Italian out of the Northeast, whose cheery brashness did not at first sit well with his Southern rivals. He could seem as much comic as coach: “For the first time in 16 years we had a bed check,” he said on the eve of the Final Four adventure that would pit his team against the dunking machine that was the University of Houston Cougars, “and I want everyone to know, all the beds were there.” And later: “My mother … she took Houston and gave eight points. I’m telling you, very disappointing.”

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12-13 Basketball

18 Responses to Survive & Advance Tonight

  1. Texpack 03/17/2013 at 9:24 AM #

    From the Friday survival against Wake in the 4-5 game to the Monday night victory over Houston, I experienced the most incredible four weekend stretch of my life. There were controlled riots after very win starting with the ACC Final over UVa. The season story really started to take shape when Whit landed on a UVa player’s foot after dropping 27 on them in the first half. There were struggles to adjust to Ernie Myers in the line while playing a very tough OOC schedule, there was the win in Reynolds over UNCCH, Whit’s unexpected return and then the unbelievable run to the National Championship.

    The SI that V autographed for me in his office is one of my most prized possessions. It hangs in the game room next to my piece of the floor from Reynolds. Based on my reactions to all of the promo pieces I’ve seen this weekend, this one will require some Kleenex to get through.

  2. old13 03/17/2013 at 10:03 AM #

    Good companion article – “Fowler: Pam Valvano Strasser embraces March Madness, past and present:”

    Read more here:

  3. Semper_WolfPack 03/17/2013 at 10:19 AM #

    Texpack: “this one will require some Kleenex to get through.” Ditto. I was getting spine shivers and misty-eyed just during the trailer. One of my buddies invited me to his house to watch it. I may have to have a disclaimer: “You cannot laugh when you see me cry.” GO PACK!!

  4. BJD95 03/17/2013 at 12:07 PM #

    I was only 9, but remember it all vividly. No drought can take that away.

  5. MrPlywood 03/17/2013 at 3:13 PM #

    ’83 grad, and I will never forget it, or ever get tired of watching it 🙂

  6. ADVENTUROO 03/17/2013 at 5:02 PM #

    I’m a 68 grad and lived in Sanford in 1983. Took my young teenagers to RDU and Reynolds when the team returned. VHS’ed every game and every special show.

    Let my kids play hooky and took them to Reynolds on April 5. My BIL at NCSU met his wife at one of the pep rallies….my other BIL and his wife are also NCSU grads as are their two sons and their only DIL. I have a NCSU grad…..the others in the family chose Meredith. If I expanded to include my wife’s cousins, we would double our NCSU grads.

    I am the same age as Pam and Jim. His death impacted me more than anyone other than my parents and inlaws.

    We had a 25 year celebration on our block and had three TV’s showing the tapes and had a big crowd.

    I went to the pre-screening. I had the same emotions that Whitt did. Standing in Reynolds after the screening, I just balled….sort of drained me.

    DVR it….turn up the audio as there are some great ad libs.

    I tried to explain to my grandson what “brand recognition” is…..He finally got it when I told him that the MOST watched NCAA “trailer” is the end of the NCSU-Houston game. Nothing that any other school (including the light blues) has or will probably ever do will match that.

    Jimmy V and teh 1093 team will live in history….as well they should.

    This story gives some details that I did not know and I have read several books, talked to folks (authors and State historians) and read a LOT of articles.

    GREAT WORK….I will cry tonight….

  7. xansbro 03/17/2013 at 10:00 PM #

    I was 15 years old at the time all of this happened. I had become a fan of the pack when the ’74 team won the championship and had become a stat head and big fan of basketball when Hawkeye Whitney arrived on the scene. I can still remember my brother and I watching the championship game in ’83 on opposite ends of the house (he, like my father, always struggled to enjoy the games because of the intensity of it all) and meeting halfway when Lo slammed it in. It was the first time I would cry with joy over an event.

    I admit I’m crying a lot tonight as I watch this. The last two years have been incredibly difficult for me and I’ve lost a lot. This simple 2 hour trip down memory lane has been incredibly sweet to my soul. I am remembering not just the moment but the journey. Incredibly well done. Incredibly well done.

  8. choppack1 03/17/2013 at 10:18 PM #

    Wow. Look at the tough guys on that team. Whitt was a badass.

  9. grifpack 03/17/2013 at 10:20 PM #

    I was 16 in 83 and went to every home game that year….awesome to sit and watch this with my 15 yr old son and be able to relive this with him

  10. Texpack 03/17/2013 at 11:01 PM #


  11. Wufpacker 03/17/2013 at 11:03 PM #

    Very well done.

  12. wufpup76 03/17/2013 at 11:06 PM #

    That was pretty special. I hope everyone gets a chance to view this.

    Special group.

  13. NCSU84 03/17/2013 at 11:07 PM #

    Sports Illustrated stated that this was the greatest college basketball moment of the 20th century. Having lived through it as a student at the time, I must agree. But what makes it even sweeter, the greatest college basketball moment of the 20th century did NOT involve a blue team.

  14. rdjennin 03/17/2013 at 11:24 PM #

    It was beautiful. It was F—–g! beautiful. I’m not dying until I see us win another National Championship in either basketball or football.

  15. wolfpkwx 03/17/2013 at 11:42 PM #

    Like how they ended with the speech at Reynolds. I was sitting at the scorers table, three seats from the visitors bench. Remember it like it was yesterday. Not a dry eye on the place, including mine.

  16. rky 03/18/2013 at 12:11 AM #

    That was indeed awesome. Good times.

  17. GoState91 03/18/2013 at 10:12 AM #

    Probably the BEST 30 for 30 I’ve EVER seen and there have been some good ones. Whitt, Lowe, Mcqueen, Bailey, Charles, Gannon, Myers, Valvano……. what an incredible team and what an unbelievable run against incredible competition. I forgot just how amazing ACC/NCAA basketball was back then. Thank you ’83 Pack for the joy you brought to me and the country during March/April 1983. You will never be surpassed!!

  18. Packster 03/19/2013 at 10:40 PM #

    This was a GREAT GREAT show about our team and coach. I was in the arena for V’s last speech. I don’t think I fully appreciated the gravity of that speech that day but I do now. It was as loud as I had ever heard the arena.

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