Monday, August 13, 2007

Steve Blake and what could have been

The memory of a wolfpack fan is just too long. We just never let go of any painful memory at all. Memories of great wins slowly fade. I've got vague memories of dozens of wins over Carolina, but most of the losses are burned in my brain forever.

Saw this article about Steve Blake today
Blake carves a niche in the NBA with competitiveness, character

Reminded me of the all too painful knowledge that Steve Blake wanted to play for NC State:

He's a classic overachiever, the NBA equivalent of the kid who gets picked last in a pickup game only to grudgingly earn respect. Fans relate to him as a spindly Everyman - the likable boy next door all grown up.

But Blake, 6 feet 3, 172 pounds, has an inner scowl, a super-competitive streak that helps explain his success. Terrapins fans remember his rivalry with North Carolina State's 6-7 Julius Hodge that led to Hodge receiving a one-game suspension for a forearm to the back of Blake's head.
Blake was rated among the top 50 to 75 players in the nation after a high school career split between Florida and Virginia's Oak Hill Academy. He was being groomed by former N.C. State guard Chris Corchiani, a family friend, to play for the Wolfpack. Corchiani even took him to meet then-coach Herb Sendek, but the N.C. State coaching staff showed only lukewarm interest, and Blake enrolled at Maryland.
BOYDS - "Later, the coaching staff said, 'We blew it. We never thought he was going to be that good,'" Corchiani said. "Sometimes you really don't see the inside of a guy."

Corchiani, who owns a mortgage company in Raleigh, N.C., had more than a clue about Blake. Gabe Corchiani, Chris' father, had coached Blake at Miami Killian, and Blake visited the Corchianis in North Carolina the summer before his college career began.

"We played one-on-one numerous occasions," said Corchiani, 12 years Blake's senior and by then an ex-NBA player. "I was a little stronger and more mature. But if I beat him, he always wanted to play again." Full Story...

Who knows how different Herb Sendek's tenure at NC State might have been if he had taken Blake. But Herb fell into a trap, probably the same path I would have taken. Coming from Miami-Ohio, where he was able to recruit lower level talent and had to only dream about the great athletes in the power conferences, Herb found himself with the recruiting clout of the ACC, and able to really go after the kind of team he dreamed of. Unfortunately, that early dream was for the best athlete rather than the best player, and the pack chose Cliff Crawford.

Don't get me wrong, I loved Crawford, his speed, his ability to outrun everyone on the break, and the day Coach K dared Crawford to beat Duke with his shaky outside jumper, and he did. But, had Sendek chosen a path early to take Blake, I strongly believe wolfpack history would have taken a positive path. Not that I'm complaining about where we are now, but it was a mistake, and wolfpack fans never forget those.


Jarrett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jarrett said...

Although Juan Dixon will be the most closely linked part of that championship team, Blake really made it all go with outstanding D and clutch play throughout that tournament.

Love the blog. Added you to the Scott Van Pelt Style blogroll. Stop by sometime.

Ken White said...

Hadn't seen svpstyle, thanks for the link. I'll add it to our links.

Anonymous said...

This also points to another problem that cost Herb during his stay in Raleigh… a lack of respect for the history and former players of the program. I agree that coming out of High School, Crawford was the better athlete, but if your all-time assist leader says “Coach, you need to look at this point guard”, something tells me you need to take a look.

Seems that I recall Dave Odom listening to former player Chris King when he suggested that Wake recruit a swimmer turned basketball player from the Virgin Islands… How brief would Odom’s stay in Winston-Salem have been if he hadn’t signed Tim Duncan?

Ken White said...

Yep. Return to history has been a very good thing for us, although I guess Les Robinson was a return to history of sorts, but just reached back an era too far.