Saturday, December 19, 2009

Roy Williams as "the Fonz"

I was a big Happy Days fan. One thing that for whatever reason I remember most about that show was how Fonzie had trouble saying he was "Wrong". Just always makes me laugh when I see someone who can't say they are sorry, or can't say they were wrong. I just think about Fonzie trying to say it, and he couldn't quite get it out.

I'm sure you've heard/read a million stories now about Roy Williams having a opposing fan thrown out of a Carolina game because during a free throw when it was real quiet, the fan yelled at a carolina player that he was going to miss the free throw.

On the surface it is absurd. The real facts of what happens, we'll never know. I mostly ignored the story but finally saw an interview with Roy where he's trying to finally put this to bed.

Whatever the facts, and while the mistake is understandable, Roy Williams was wrong. He made a mistake, should admit it, and say he was sorry.

That's it. Period!

Unfortunately, men of power these days it seems have too much ego to ever do that. They've invented their own language these days. There must be a playbook, a little insiders guide to the English Language that they all get a copy of once they reach a certain level of success or notoriety. I haven't seen a copy for myself, but I'm slowly learning some of phrases it teaches. When your ego is too large to admit you blew it, what do you say? You say
"I regret it happened".

This is what Roy says about this issue. To really gain respect, all he has to say is "I love these kids, and in the heat of the moment I followed my instinct to protect one of them, and I was wrong". But alas, like the fonz, you wont' hear those words. Roy regrets that it happened, wishes it hadn't happened. He might even say he's "sorry it happened". That isn't the same thing.

Not to pick on just Roy, but I'm getting pretty tired of these non-apology, apologies all the way around.

I can't wait to see what phrases Tiger pulls out of the little handbook.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Clemson Blows...the Challenge

You wouldn't be alone if you assumed some things last night before the games were complete. I assumed the ACC would somehow pull out an 11th straight ACC-Big10 Challenge. I assumed that Duke would beat Wisconsin no matter where the game was played. And I assumed with a 23 point lead, that the Clemson game was over.

I guess that's why they play the games.

I love Clemson Basketball. I love the style of play, I generally love watching the kids Oliver brings in. As I watched the first half of the game last night, I couldn't help but drift out of the game a bit and think about what a great coach Oliver Pernell is, how lucky Clemson is to have him, how he is building a consistently strong team where one hasn't been historically. I couldn't help but think to myself, if only NC State had gotten him. Then my daydream went down the path of realizing that if we had Clemson's basketball team and their level of success at NC State, the fans wouldn't be happy, because Duke and Carolina would still kill us, because we wouldn't be going deep enough in the tourney, etc. But, I still thought how lucky Clemson is to have him, and how the fans probably really appreciate him there.

Then of course, the unthinkable happens. This loss isn't a tragedy. If it has a hangover effect, it might even be a positive one for this team. But wow, what a collapse. And somehow I have a feeling there isn't any Pernell Appreciation Day planned at Clemson anytime soon.
Something about the current instant gratification, 24hr news cycle culture we live in has led me to the habit of drawing conclusions too quickly. A week ago I said that Duke was the best team in the ACC, and Carolina will be good, but has a ways to go. I guess that is easy to do after seeing 'Cuse spank the heels and Duke easy over Uconn. After this week I'm convinced the Heels will take their 3rd title in the decade, and Duke isn't a top 20 team.

Of course neither extreme is true. I guess what I need to remember is, it is barely December, and that is why they play the games.

One other note though after watching Carolina beat MSU. I'm convinced you could take the 2nd 5 off carolina's roster and start a new team, and that team would finish 5th or higher in the ACC. Amazing the talent they have. I also think you could take any 2 of that 2nd 5, and give them to NC State, and State would become a tournament team. Parity in college sports is a myth. But, it always has been.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

State vs. NorthWestern

Guess my mobile uploads need some work, what a bad picture.

State is young. Friend of mine just said, "Yeah, but they've been young for 5 years". Sure seems true. The last veteran player we had it seems was Atsur. Not really true, but sure feels that way.

Carolina friend I went to the game with said, "Where did the NorthWestern coach come from"? It only took as long as the first back door cut layup to remember his Princeton roots. They run it well. State fans know that offense well, and you couldn't help but just a little bit feel the tug of missing those days of beautiful back door cuts with Marcus Melvin or Ilian Evtimov making a sweet bounce pass to Jules for an easy layup. We hated that offense. We loved that offense.

After initial lapses, NC State 2009 actually defended it pretty well. I won't write a book on this game, but some things did jump out at me.

  • Javier Gonzalez is the heart and fire of this team. He isn't there yet, but he's getting better, and he won't back down from any challenge, and he's got the Heart. And man was he tired at the end of the game.
  • If Tracy Smith was 2 inches taller, he would be amazing. He's got amazing moves, just needs and inch or two to help him finish. BUT, he gives fantastic effort.
  • Scott Wood is a shooter. He looks like a shooter, he moves like a shooter, he spots up and pulls the trigger like a shooter. Everyone says he's a shooter. The only problem is I haven't actually seen him hit a shot. He will, he's going to be great, but I'd sure like for some of them to start falling soon. I think one thing Lowe needs to do is get him more shooting time in the RBC center. I couldn't help but wonder last night whether statistically overall state shoots worse at home from 3 now than when they practiced and played in Reynolds. No way to do a comparison like that because the talent is different, but you'd have to think more practice time in the RBC Center would help our home 3-pt shooting %.
  • Julius Mays is driving me crazy. He is quick with the ball. The problem is, he only showed that quickness once all night. The rest of the time, against that 1-3-1 trap, he looked very tentative, like he is afraid to make a turnover. Get over it, start moving, start making quicker passes, even if a few of them are to the other team.
  • All of the freshmen we've seen to date have talent. But they aren't yet ready to make plays. They make a great move, or have a great opportunity, and they just spazz out a little. It will come, but they are young. It is different with the Carolina and Duke freshment, who have been playing in all star games for years now. Our guys just aren't ready to play with the cameras on yet.
  • UNC and Duke are going to kill us this year.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lowe and Towe

Great Andy Katz article on the State situation for Lowe and Towe. I think all intelligent state fans to some extent know the Sendek was a great coach for NC State. They also can admit that they played some role, small or large in running him off. And know we all know that from a success standpoint, we were in a great place a few years ago.

But, as I've talked about before, he didn't bleed red. He didn't speak to our feelings as State fans. He didn't understand, or at least didn't let us know he understood, what we go through living among heels and devils. He hadn't tasted what we tasted in the 70s and 80s. He wasn't one of us.

I'm the first to admit I constantly question the style of play and some decisions Lowe makes. What seemed like magic his 1st year run late in the year, is just outright irritating sometimes now. Maybe when he has the players he seems like he is on the verge of getting, it will all be wonderful. But at the moment it feels like he's trying to play a pro game with high school kids against college powers.

This article helps remind me again, these guys are family. I don't know yet if he can be a great college coach, but whatever time and support we'd be willing to give anyone else, we need to be willing to give Lowe twice that. Twice the patience, twice the attendance, twice the cheering, and twice the time we'd give anyone else. If we do that, we've got a great shot at having the kind of long lasting success year after year that we have craved forever. OR, it will turn out he couldn't get the job done, but we'll at least know as a fan base, we didn't screw it up this time like we did with the last guy.

The Rich keep getting Richer

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We know with a team on the rise like Kentucky, they will eventually implode. But is there anything imaginable that is going to stop UNC? I can't think of anything at this point that is going to stop them from being a top 5 team every year for the next 10. That isn't good news for those of us who have to live with and around already abnoxious heel fans.

That time again?

Maybe it is because I'm aging, maybe because having kids around 10 keeps you too busy, maybe because the wolfpack sucks, but it seems basketball season rolls around too soon every year now.

It wasn't that long ago that by mid-summer I was sick of baseball, maybe looking forward to a little college football, but really couldn't wait for hoops practice to start. Back in those days, the NFL was just something that got in the way of Sunday ACC games on TV.

I guess the world has changed since then, and so have I. I don't live and die with my team anymore. Who knows, when they are competitive again, maybe I will, but I guess Herb was right, there is no such thing as a Must Win Game.

Once upon a time, I couldn't wait to get to the newstand to grab the ACC Handbook, and maybe Street and Smith's national mag. I looked the other day, and neither seem to exist, at least where I was looking. There were others out there, but it no longer means anything to be on the cover, because on the cover of the same magazine, in Chapel Hill, UNC is on the cover. In Durham, Duke is on the cover. In Raleigh, ugh, yeah, UNC is on the cover.

Last year was a complete bust for me as far as basketball goes. I was bitter going into the season based on how NC State closed out the previous year. Just in case you don't remember, State went out in the first round of the ACC Tournament in a game where my favorite player, Sr. Gavin Grant was benched, and Sidney proceeded to put on a display of JJ Hickson's potential NBA skills to help him in his quest for the NBA. It is of course quite possible I don't know what I'm talking about, but that is sure what it looked like. And who knows, in the long run, maybe it helps NC State. I can remember a story of another NC State coach doing something similar. In this case, it was V benching Andy Kennedy for a game, because NC State prospect Rodney Monroe was at the game. That pissed me off then, but, in the long run, maybe it was better for NC State. If Andy had played and hit like 7 3's, would Fire and Ice ever happened?

OK, so I started last year irritated, then life in general got me completely distracted and I never really got into the season. I think I saw state play twice in person. I couldn't ever keep up with who was playing when. I of course saw plenty of Duke and UNC, and just enough Clemson to remind me why I love that team. But in general the season was a bust for me. To top it off, I missed my first ACC Tournament in maybe 20 years.

So, here we are. It all starts again, but this year I'm here and trying to be ready. I took my son to the Pack's opener on thursday. We have great seats this year for about half the games. Turns out a lot of people aren't too excited for NC State Basketball this year, so good seats will be pretty easy to come by for most games.

I knew very little coming in about what to expect. I know we are young. I know we don't have a center. I've heard that freshman Scott Wood can shoot the ball. I had heard that Sidney wants to play up-tempo this year. I had to laugh at that one. Every NC State coach since Sloan has started the year saying he wants to play more up-tempo, only to grind to a halt in the 1st close game.

As far as the actual game on thursday, no shame in having a close game with Geogia. Wait, what? That was Georgia State? OK, I'm kidding. State is very young and small. The good thing, and something we often forget, these kids do get better year over year. Javier can be a good ACC point guard I think. The freshmen look like they have potential. Scott Wood appears to be someone we will love to love. He knows how to play the game, and looks like he believes every shot is going in. But man is he skinny.

Time will tell. I don't believe State will finish last in the ACC. Expectations are that the NIT is a reasonable goal, but that State will start getting very good next year and beyond. For now, I'm just going to try to embrace ACC basketball again, and hope the ride can be fun again, even if it isn't quite the obsession it used to be.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Battle for Tobacco Road

I'm completely pumped now for Carolina at Duke. Thanks to some wonderful friends I was able to go yesterday to the world premiere of HBO's "Battle for Tobacco Road", HBO's new documentary on the Duke-Carolina basketball rivalry.

I was familiar with most of the older stories thanks to Art Chansky's book, and of course lived through and watched the last 25 years in the history, but this film brings it all to life in a way a book or typical public media can't. Even those non-hoop fans who have to live with those of us who have it in our blood will love this film and maybe get at least a little understanding of what the ACC, local rivalries, and this rivalry in particular mean to those of us who have grown up with it.

It premiere's Monday, Feb 23 at 9pm on HBO, so be sure to set the DVR or plan a watching party.

More details at

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gavin Grant Arrested

This breaks my heart. Full story at WRAL.

A former N.C. State basketball player has been charged with a felony count of obtaining property by false pretenses.

Gavin Grant, 23, surrendered to authorities Tuesday on the charge, which stems from credit card fraud at Saks on Oct. 14, 2008, authorities said.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Anyone want to blog?

As you can tell, we haven't had many posts lately. Many reasons for it, between work, kids, life time gets short. As I sit here watching NC State at Clemson the real reason is revealing itself to me. I just haven't been into basketball much since early last season. And, whatever enthusiasm I did have last year was completely sapped watching NC State in the ACC Tournament last year as Gavin Grant was benched and low put on JJ's NBA audition.

Maybe the feeling will turn around if there is a little success, but right now as a State fan I feel completely hopeless about this team. With no hope of making the NCAA's, the state games become somewhat meaningless. I can get excited about Davidson, I can even be excited for Clemson to maybe have a good year. I'll be up for Duke/UNC, but overall, so much of the season doesn't matter. I know State won't make the tournament, I know Duke/UNC/Clemson/Davidson will. So maybe I'll just start saving my money and effort for March.

Anyone want to blog for a while?