Friday, February 9, 2007

Following the Pack to Tech

I made the trip from Raleigh to Atlanta for the NC State vs. GaTech game. Some things never change. Atlanta traffic is still the worst in the world, tickets are cheap because Atlanta doesn't care about college basketball, and Wolfpack coaches always seem to do something dumb in Alexander Memorial.

I got to the game about 40 minutes early and there were tickets everywhere. Ended up getting a 4th row corner seat for $15, but didn't use it. The building was half empty so you could sit pretty much anywhere and I sat with some friends. The first 19:58 looked very much like a continuation of the Carolina Game. Controlled tempo, break-aways when they were there, and remarkable shooting from 3. But, a 3 quarter court 3-ball to end the half was a bad omen, and the State fans in the building knew it.
Horner was hurt in the first half and completely screwed up our already thin rotation. Those extra minutes, extended partying after the UNC game, and Tech's pressure defense finally started taking its toll. Engin at times was really laboring to get up and down the floor, and EVERYONE started making mistakes. Turnovers came much quicker than shots.

Over the year, with Sidney's improved offensive scheme, the one thing that I thought was behind us was the dreaded drought. I guess I jumped the gun on that one. The second half is a bit of a blur, but it seemed like from the 16 minute timeout to the 12 minute timeout, nobody scored. I noted the drought, but wasn't too worried because Tech wasn't scoring either. Then Tech started putting up the points, while the wolfpack field goal drought stretched to something like 11 minutes.

Then the coaching mistake. Every time I go to Alexander, I remember one of my earliest games there. Herb Sendek and his staff were early in their tenure and were all really young. Locked in a close game coming down to the end, tech has the ball coming out of a timeout. State is playing unbelievable defense. Turns out it really was unbelievable, because State had 6 men on the floor, gets a technical, goes on to lose.

Now I love Sidney Lowe. But, from a head coaching standpoint, and from a college standpoint, he's still a newbie. I havne't seen replays on this, don't know what the commentators said, but would love to. It appeared that a State shot hit the rim, but the shotclock didn't reset. As Lowe realizes it and starts trying to get the refs attention, with the clock running down, Atsur throws up a desperation shot. Regardless of whether or not the clock should have reset, once that shot went up, it was no longer a correctable error. But Lowe can't let it go, keeps trying to talk to the ref, and a bit later walks out onto the court during play, forcing the ref to call a T. 2 points we really didn't need to give up at that point. The game was over at that point.