Saturday, November 14, 2009

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.