ACC M5: 10.21.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 21st, 2013

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  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Hindsight is always 20/20, but Joe Giglio does a good job looking at why NC State failed to live up to expectations last season. While I thought the media overrated the Wolfpack, I didn’t expect them to collapse so entirely. But I don’t think enough can be said for losing the leaders from the 2012 NCAA Tournament run. CJ Williams and Alex Johnson in particular were missed for their leadership. Instead, CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown had to set the tone, and when Brown went down with injury, Leslie was the player the team emulated. That turned out to be a problem. It will be interesting to see how the less talented lineup plays together this season.
  2. CBSSports.com: I hope you’re ready to get on the Boston College bandwagon because Jon Rothstein is already there. Sometimes he overhypes teams, but I think Rothstein is dead on with this now-veteran Eagles team. But Olivier Hanlan will not be the next Shane Larkin. It’s true Larkin was a fun-to-watch, explosive point guard who ended up as conference player of the year, but Hanlan is more of a pure scorer than Larkin. He doesn’t have Larkin’s vision, but he’s got more of the stone-cold assassin gene. Hanlan’s performance in the first round of the ACC Tournament in March was truly astounding. Now we get to see if he can back it up with his sophomore season.
  3. Washington Post: Mark Turgeon claims switching to the Big Ten next season won’t affect his recruiting footprint. He may be right, and he certainly has anecdotal data from Dave Telep on his side, but I also think it’s oversimplifying to say that “kids don’t even know which leagues most teams are in anymore.” Because it’s not most teams that matter. What Turgeon has to overcome is losing the spirited home-and-home with Duke that drew national attention for the last decade or more. That’s a game recruits know. Will a rivalry with Ohio State have the same ring? Maybe eventually, but rivalries aren’t born overnight. It will be interesting to see if his non-local signings start to shift to the Midwest.
  4. Hampton Roads Daily Press: When you picture the prototypical Virginia player under Tony Bennett or his father, you don’t picture Justin Anderson. Anderson is a high-flying dunk machine whose uber-athleticism makes him an asset on the defensive end. He also ended last season on an incredibly promising note, with a postseason flourish in scoring to finish the year as the Cavaliers’ third leading scorer. This year, the two scorers above him are both back, but Anderson’s improvement may be the key to helping the Cavaliers crack the Top-25.
  5. Baltimore Sun: Here’s an interesting solution to Maryland’s historical tension between the Lefty Driesell era and the Gary Williams era: Name the Cole Field House floor after Driesell. There’s a chance he would refuse — especially after making such a big stink about the Comcast Center floor last season. But it would be fitting in many ways, although the department would have to pull it off without coming across as patronizing.
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ACC M5: 04.02.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on April 2nd, 2013

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  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Mark Gottfried’s roster at NC State took two more hits Monday, as CJ Leslie (unsurprisingly) announced he was headed for the NBA Draft and Rodney Purvis (more surprisingly) announced he is transferring. While there were some rumblings about Purvis, his loss is a big blow to NC State’s next season. Instead of bringing back two of the more accomplished sophomores in the ACC, NC State will bring back TJ Warren (and Tyler Lewis, who should improve markedly with more college conditioning). That means that all five starters from this year’s team are now gone, but there should be some addition by subtraction here (although there’s probably a lot more subtraction).
  2. Yahoo! Sports: As you almost certainly know, Duke took a beating from Louisville in Indianapolis Sunday night. The game was neck-and-neck until Duke appeared to run out of gas midway through the second half. Who knows how much was Duke’s lack of lateral quickness on the perimeter, how much was just injuries piling up, and how much was just the better team taking control. Watching from home it appeared to be some combination of all three. Duke just couldn’t get stops, as Peyton Siva and Russ Smith came to life. It’s a shame this wasn’t a Final Four game, though. Duke’s resume deserved that much, and the game would’ve likely stayed competitive for longer with more rest for the Blue Devils. But Louisville was the sharpest buzzsaw Duke has seen since the beatdown it took at Coral Gables back in February.
  3. Chapelboro: For two coaches in the rivalry on Tobacco Road, you don’t see many direct comparisons of Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski. That’s largely because they’re two very different coaches with completely different styles both on and off the court. Both fan bases to some extent complain about their quirks (i.e., why won’t Coach K develop his bench more? Why won’t he play zone against athletically superior teams? Why won’t Williams change his system to fit his roster? Why won’t Williams start PJ Hairston?), but direct comparisons largely come out looking dumb. Coach K has the better overall resume, hands down; but Roy Williams has the more successful decade. This article comes across as someone who felt personally offended by the praise heaped on Krzyzewski. It’s true he hasn’t continued the unseemly Final Four pace of the late 1980s and early 1990s, but he’s also had two seasons hurt dramatically by injury (this season and 2010-11). Both years, Duke looked like the prohibitive favorite before long-term injuries hit. Likewise, North Carolina lost 2009-10 to the NBA Draft and 2011-12 to untimely injuries (I still contend the Tar Heels were the only team with a chance against Kentucky). They’re both great coaches. They both deserve praise.
  4. Hampton Roads Daily Press: David Teel ruminated a bit on Syracuse possibly winning the ACC in its first season next year. Right now — before the NBA Draft declarations, which could hurt the Orange a lot — I’d put Syracuse right behind Duke. The teams in the ACC with the most to gain or lose from early entries are the Orange and North Carolina. If both teams keep nearly all of their talent, they’ll be in very good places. If not, they both could struggle. But if nothing else, this article should remind you that the future ACC has two Final Four teams still standing.
  5. Washington Post: Maryland is the last ACC team remaining in the NIT. The Terrapins take on Iowa in the semifinals in a match-up of two “snubbed” power conference teams. Ironically that means Maryland’s season is coming full circle and back to New York City, which is where it began on November 9 against Kentucky. Mark Turgeon is looking at a different team now: They’ve got different expectations but are playing with the same fire the country saw back then.

EXTRA: The side story from Duke’s Elite Eight game was gruesome but also one of the rawest emotional moments you could ever see on live TV. After Kevin Ware broke his leg, the shock through the stadium spread like wildfire. CBS’ cameras caught Tyler Thornton catching a glimpse of Ware’s leg, causing the Duke guard to look physically pained. The reaction from the Louisville bench was even more visceral with several players ending up on the floor and others reportedly vomiting. I personally thought CBS did a masterful — and lucky — job with the injury. They captured some of the most poignant moments from the NCAA Tournament while also maintaining a respectful distance.

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ACC M5: 03.27.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 27th, 2013

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  1. Sports Illustrated: The absolute must-read of the day comes courtesy of Luke Winn, who got pretty awesome access to follow Miami around before its games against Pacific and Illinois. My personal takeaways were that Jim Larranaga seems like a really fun guy to play for and that this team fits his coaching personality very well. It’s also not surprising at all that Julian Gamble led the team’s postgame celebratory freestyle.
  2. CBSSports.com: Gary Parrish absolutely kills it in this response to Ron Wellman‘s backing of Jeff Bzdelik yesterday. Kills it. Bzdelik is losing the Wake Forest fan base at an accelerating rate. Wellman is out pretty far out on this limb and while I understand not wanting to go back on his word (even if he won’t tell anyone exactly what that was), he has to balance that pride with Wake Forest’s present situation. I think Bzdelik is better than his record, maybe even a lot better. He’s also got a great group of players on his team. But that can’t excuse his sorry performances — both in the loss column or the public relations department. And his lack of (tangible) success at Colorado doesn’t help calm the critics. Unfortunately, Bzdelik is a coach who leaves a program better than he found it and is trending upwards but hasn’t shown the ability to achieve at the highest level. It’s a tough place to be.
  3. CBSSports.com: According to most of the national media, Chris Collins is the “heavy favorite” to land the Northwestern job after interviewing with the school on Monday. The announcement may come before or around the time this article gets posted. Duke alumni are doing well in the job market right now, as Bobby Hurley was just hired to coach Buffalo and Jeff Capel reportedly has received interest from at least two schools. Assuming at least one leaves, expect Nate James to resume his old position as a Duke assistant coach.
  4. Miami Herald: Unfortunately not all of today’s Miami news could be freestyles and celebratory dances. Reggie Johnson – apparently requiring knee surgery — won’t make the trip with the team to the Sweet Sixteen. While Johnson has played a much smaller role this year, the Hurricanes have struggled with foul trouble at times throughout the season. He was an extra body, good for a ton of rebounds and a couple of points every game. Now Julian Gamble, Kenny Kadji and Tonye Jekiri will have to find a way to replace Johnson’s productivity. Gamble sounded hopeful to get Johnson back in time for the Final Four.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: While neither have officially announced, reports came out yesterday that CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown are planning to head for the NBA (though Brown’s mother denied the rumors and Leslie vaguely denied them on his Twitter account). Their departures wouldn’t be surprising, but another name is starting to show up on numerous draft radars: TJ Warren. Warren’s loss would be a huge blow to NC State next season, but his great freshman campaign makes him a likely first round pick. IF this report is true, I’d expect all three to turn pro in a heartbeat.
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Rushed Reactions: #9 Temple 76, #8 North Carolina State 72

Posted by IRenko on March 22nd, 2013

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I. Renko is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Dayton after Friday’s Second Round game between #8 North Carolina State and #9 Temple. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

Three Key Takeaways:

NC State Finishes Off a Disappointing Season

NC State Finishes Off a Disappointing Season

  1. A Microcosm of N.C. State’s Season – There was some reasonable talk that an 8 seed was a bit low for N.C. State, but this game proved to be a microcosm of N.C. State’s inconsistent and, ultimately, underachieving season. The Wolfpack came out flat, with the offense looked tentative and sluggish, and the defense indifferent, en route to a 38-22 halftime deficit. They coughed up the ball 10 times in the first half against a Temple defense that ranks outside the top 300 in the nation in causing turnovers. And despite their size and athleticism advantage, their frontcourt trio of C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell, and T.J. Warren began the game settling for missed jumpers. They woke up in the second half, outscoring Temple 50-38, but it proved to be too little, too late.
  2. Temple Slowed the Wolfpack’s Transition Game Just Enough – Before the game, N.C. State’s players talked about the importance of getting out in transition. In the first half, Temple largely shut down this part of the Wolfpack’s offense, holding them to just five fast break points. It helps that the Owls take very good care of the ball (just five turnovers the entire game), minimizing transition opportunities. The Wolfpack pressed the issue in the second half, scoring 19 points on the break, allowing them to make this a competitive game. But the hole they dug themselves over the first 20 minutes with a stagnant offense was too deep to escape.
  3. The Charity Stripe Saved Temple From Collapse — With the Owls’ halfcourt offense out of rhythm in the second half, and their once formidable 17-point lead dwindling, they needed to scratch out any points that they could. After shooting just two free throws in the first half, the Owls managed 31 trips to the charity stripe in in the second half. They didn’t make it easy on themselves, shooting just 63.6 percent from the line, but they scraped together enough freebies to hold off N.C. State’s charge. Indeed, 20 out of the Owls’ 38 second-half points came from the free throw line.

Star of the Game: For much of the year, Temple has relied heavily — at times, too heavily — on point guard Khalif Wyatt, who takes almost 30 percent of the team’s shots. But graduate transfer Jake O’Brien‘s role as a complementary offensive piece increased over the season. He’s been getting more minutes, scoring more points, and given Temple a big man who can stretch the defense with his shooting. Today, he showed how valuable he is by scoring 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting (4-of-6 from three-point range). Though Wyatt finished with a team-high 31 points, that total came on 22 shots and was inflated by some late free throws. O’Brien’s efficient scoring is what fueled Temple’s first-half offensive surge.

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Rushed Reactions: NC State 80, Virginia Tech 63

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013

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Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from the NC State vs. Virginia Tech game this afternoon at the ACC Tournament. 

Three Key Takeaways:

Erick Green's career ended with a dud, as Lorenzo Brown locked him down. (Icon SMI)

Erick Green’s career ended with a dud, as Lorenzo Brown locked him down. (Icon SMI)

  1. NC State can’t D up, but Lorenzo Brown can: Brown locked down ACC Player of the Year Erick Green. He fought through every screen and didn’t give Green an inch once he crossed half-court. The aggressive defense clearly got to Green, who finished with 15 points on 19 shots (and just watching the game, it was surprising he even got to that many). The individual effort was exactly what NC State needed more of this season, though it may prove to be a double-edged sword. Brown looked exhausted down the stretch, and it’s likely Mark Gottfried will call on him again tomorrow to guard Joe Harris. Two first-team All-ACC players in as many days is a tough assignment. I expect Gottfried to spell Brown at least a little with Rodney Purvis or Scott Wood, but Purvis gives up at least two inches and Wood can’t stay in front of anyone. 
  2. Erick Green gassed: Green only had one conference performance where he finished with a below average offensive efficiency. Now he’s got two. The only other time he shot so poorly, he made up for it with an 11-of-13 performance at the charity stripe. But possibly the most impressive part of Brown’s harassing defense was that he didn’t send Green to the line at all (Tyler Lewis fouled Green for his only two free throw attempts). Green looked a step slow, which is reasonable considering the 1,128 minutes he’s put in for the Hokies this season. But don’t fall for the trap that this means that Green didn’t deserve ACC Player of the Year. There’s a good argument to be made for other players, but one bad performance doesn’t discount Green’s truly outstanding season (see: Mason Plumlee’s four points against Maryland or Shane Larkin’s seven points against Clemson).
  3. NC State has a lot to prove: A win against the league’s cellar-dweller is going to do little to quite NC State’s critics, but the team looked better — especially the way it closed the game — than it has since beating Boston College last month. The real tests for the Wolfpack lie ahead with Virginia looming tomorrow. Also before going overboard on the Wolfpack’s team defense against Virginia Tech, they only held the Hokies to 0.04 points per possession (around 2.5 points) worse than their conference average (hat tip to John Gasaway). That’s not dominant team defense. Also a win against the ACC’s worst team isn’t going to help your seed very much.

Star of the Game: Richard Howell did what he pleased against Virginia Tech, going 11-of-13 from the field for 22 points and 12 rebounds. He doesn’t have the most talent on the floor, but he’s got the perfect combination of strength, toughness and an elite motor to be dominant. The other big stat is that Howell played 38 minutes. That could have never happened in past years just because of his tendency to get in foul trouble. His improvement (and ability to scale up his rebounding with minutes) over the past four years is remarkable.

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What Happened to C.J. Leslie?

Posted by KCarpenter on February 27th, 2013

Before the season started, North Carolina State’s C.J. Leslie was picked as the probable conference Player of the Year while leading his team to a predicted first place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Wolfpack currently sits at fifth in the conference standings and Leslie seems like he is now well outside of the all-ACC First Team, much less anywhere near the Player of the Year Award. He’s likely not even a serious contender for the best player on his team, let alone the conference. What happened to the Wolfpack star and how did he manage to fall so short of expectations this season?

Has C.J. Leslie underachieved this season? Or is he just a product of optimistic expectations? (USA Today)

Has C.J. Leslie underachieved this season? Or is he just a product of inflated expectations? (USA Today)

The answer, like the question, is two part. First, nothing happened to Leslie: He is fairly close to the same player he has always been. This season, the ultra-athletic forward is averaging 15.4 PPG and 7.6 RPG, marginal improvements over last year’s marks of 14.7 PPG and 7.3 RPG. In terms of tempo-free measures, Leslie has been a bit better at shooting, slightly worse at offensive rebounding, and a good bit worse in terms of turnovers while using about the same number of possessions as last year. The net result? An offensive efficiency of 100.1 this year as opposed to a mark of 102.1 last year. Outside of a little variation, Leslie has been what he was last year — a nearly average offensive player using the eighth largest proportion of possessions in the conference. Why then, was Leslie picked as potentially the best player in the conference?

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ACC M5: 02.22.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 22nd, 2013

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  1. RDU Blog: The Raleigh-Durham International Airport is in the process of “modernizing” Terminal 1. What is the first new restaurant listed? ACC American Cafe. The ACC is partnering with HMS Host to bring you “a range of farm-to-market dishes along with entrees inspired by the home cities of ACC teams.” So take that Big Ten! You may have a network, but the ACC has an overpriced restaurant in an airport! Really though, it’s hard to frame this story. What exactly is the ACC going for? Alternate revenue streams, visibility, a spark of creativity? There are some questions without an answer.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Despite his college success, Sean May never really fit into the NBA, but now he and fellow Tar Heel teammate Jawad Williams are getting the cure for their professional basketball itch in France. The two are making good money (the best in their league) and get to be centerpieces — like in college — rather than afterthoughts in the NBA. They seem to be enjoying each other’s company and the team regardless of replacing chartered flights with cramped bus rides. I’m really not doing the article enough credit.
  3. Syracuse Post-Gazette: Syracuse may not be in the ACC just yet, but Tyler Cavanaugh did some serious trolling on the Orange’s indirect behalf after his trip to Boston College. Needless to say, he wasn’t impressed. Describing the student section, he said, “I’d say maybe 20 [students]. It was kinda dead. There was really no energy in the arena. As far as the atmosphere, this was the worst place we’d seen.” Call it the bitterness of a close game lost or some childhood biases resurfacing, but Cavanaugh gets feisty for his post card.
  4. BC Interruption: Speaking of Boston College, the Eagles actually are starting to look like they’re in decent shape for the future, after Steve Donahue found a diamond in the rough in Olivier Hanlan (to go with fellow DITR Dennis Clifford). Hanlan is one of the most exciting players to watch in the conference. There still aren’t enough pieces surrounding him, but he seems to improve with each game instead of running into the wall. If the training staff in Chestnut Hill can find a way to manage Clifford’s injury, Boston College could find itself middle of the pack.
  5. Richmond Daily Progress: I’m not sure why Jerry Ratliffe thinks CJ Leslie will be in the conversation for first-team All-ACC so far, much less conference Player of the Year. Leslie has been his normal, mercurial self all season. He’s balanced his excellence with a decent dose of mediocrity (or disappearance) like many worried he would. Erick Green, Mason Plumlee and Shane Larkin are virtual locks for the first team with Kenny Kadji and Michael Snaer (on clutchness alone) nipping at their heels. There’s still plenty of basketball to be played though, so don’t count anyone out just yet.
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Believe Your Eyes: The ACC is a Bad Free Throw Shooting Conference

Posted by KCarpenter on February 15th, 2013

Last night, the Clemson Tigers defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 56-53. In the win, the Tigers shot 9-of-17 from the free throw line, good for a not-exactly-world-beating 52.9%. It was a below-average performance for Clemson, but not a massive outlier. On the season, the Tigers are shooting 66.5% from the line, which is the 254th best mark in Division I. Of course, ACC fans know, that for whatever reason, Clemson has been a bad free-throw shooting team for the better part of the past decade. The Tigers’ woes are old news. It’s not just Clemson that’s struggling with free throws this year, though: It’s the whole conference.

Take Note, ACC Players...

Take Note, ACC Players…

It’s strange to hear an entire conference of fans lament that their team is “terrible” at the charity stripe, yet that’s what I’ve heard this year. Of course, people’s observations are prone to all sorts of psychological biases, so maybe it just seems like everyone is bad at shooting free throws? Not really. Considering only conference games, the ACC teams are shooting 66.8% from the charity stripe — good for 30th best among 32 D-I conferences. In recent history, the ACC has been in the better half of free-throw shooting conferences every year since 2003. It’s not just one team dragging the average down, either: 10 of the 12 conference teams are having worse shooting years than they did last year. Only Duke and Florida State are shooting better than last season, due almost entirely to Mason Plumlee‘s significant improvement in the case of Duke and the graduation of Bernard James from Florida State.

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ACC M5: 02.04.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 4th, 2013

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  1. Duke Basketball Report: This is a phenomenal article from Al Featherston, looking back at Duke winning number 1,000 nearly four decades ago. The article also includes two of the biggest ACC “What ifs?” ever:
    1. What if Lefty Driesell was given the Duke job?
    2. What if Adolph Rupp had taken over for Duke in the mid-1970′s?

    The first question is fascinating. Driesell built Maryland, but Duke already had a history of success (only five teams beat the Blue Devils to the 1,000 win mark). Could he have taken the Blue Devils to similar heights (and lows)? Just how different would Duke’s program be today if the (aptly described) “mercurial” Driesell ushered in the modern era instead of Coach K. Also, what would have happened to Mike Krzyzewski? Similar butterfly effects happen if Rupp takes over. The article also has historical anecdotes about the dominance of the Durham YMCA in the 1920′s. Seriously, give it a read.

  2. ESPN: Well, the inevitable has arrived. Despite not receiving bids from Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center in New York City, “because of the league’s changing membership,” those two arenas will still be in the running for the 2016-2021 ACC Tournaments. The move makes sense, but it has the potential to be a major flop too. The atmosphere at the ACC Tournament the past few years hasn’t been the same. The declining excitement is largely thanks to an increase in noncompetitive teams, the addition of Thursday and an expanding geographic footprint. Moving the tournament to New York could exacerbate the issues if the league continues to aim for a balanced allotment of tickets.
  3. ACC Sports Journal: The ACC is slowly rebuilding. Almost all programs appear to be moving in the right direction, though there are still plenty of questions surrounding almost all of the new coaches: Can Jim Larranaga and Steve Donahue recruit at the ACC level consistently? Can Brian Gregory and Brad Brownell break through to the next level? And can Jeff Bzdelik and Donahue pull their teams out of the cellar? The next couple of seasons are critical to the success of the ACC going forward because coaching stability is a huge factor in sustained success.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: NC State took a gut-punch against Miami without junior guard Lorenzo Brown. The Wolfpack controlled for most of the game, but a late Miami run and some costly errors from CJ Leslie (missed foul shots, turnovers, and dumb fouls) gave the Hurricanes the chance to win. But two stories more important than Reggie Johnson‘s buzzer-beating tip are starting to show through the game. For one, Miami is a solid two games ahead of Duke in the loss column (everyone else has three or more losses). That’s a very, very good place to be going into the second half of conference play. Second, Tyler Lewis finally started showing why he was a McDonald’s All-American. Lewis ran NC State’s offense very well against the best defense in the ACC, and he didn’t look nearly as lost on defense. He still needs some work, but developing Lewis is crucial in the long run.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech was a different team Sunday than the one that got smacked in Charlottesville (to be fair the home-road splits are looking fairly dramatic for Virginia too). The Yellow Jackets looked like they might be due for a repeat of their last game with the Cavaliers as they went into the half down by nine. Brian Gregory said after the loss that his team needed to learn how to finish. Well, the second time around they did just that. Georgia Tech held Virginia to six points in the final 9:40 of the game. The Yellow Jackets were the first ACC team to drop 60 on Virginia. Good luck ranking the middle and bottom of the ACC this season. It’s a train-wreck, though it’s a train-wreck played at a higher level than last year.
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Top Recruit Julius Randle Praises Wolfpack

Posted by mpatton on February 1st, 2013

Julius Randle is currently being pursued by NC State. He’s a 6’9″ power forward ranked second by Rivals, fourth by ESPN.com and fifth by Scout. With Richard Howell departing after this season (and CJ Leslie potentially joining him), Randle would be a huge get for head coach Mark Gottfried. Randle took his official visit to Raleigh to watch NC State knock off rival North Carolina for ESPN Gameday last weekend, and by his account it was a huge success.

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Julius Randle loved his trip to Raleigh. (photo credit: Kye R. Lee / Dallas Morning News)

Right off the bat, Randle went and saw a nearly life-sized wall mural a Wolfpack fan had painted for him. He got a chance to hang with students Friday night and then absorbed the PNC Arena atmosphere for the big game. He used the word “loud” (or “loudest”) five times describing the fans. But then comes the part Wolfpack fans will love:

I think the biggest thing I learned over the weekend was that if I came there they wouldn’t have to change anything about their system for me. It just fits me. Other coaches talk about what they’ll change for me, but with State they don’t have to do that. That’s big. All in all, I’d have to say that this was my best visit so far. I had a ball at Kentucky, and yeah they had Drake and everything, but this visit just had a lot more going on.

When you go toe-to-toe with John Calipari in recruiting and come out with an advantage, you’ve done something right. NC State’s visit reduced Randle’s Kentucky visit to “yeah they had Drake and everything.” It definitely helped that there was a real game to attend and a rivalry one at that, but that’s still impressive. Now you definitely have to take blogs like these with a grain of salt: What high school kid wouldn’t love an official visit with the VIP treatment? That said, it sounds like Randle really bought into Gottfried’s system and the environment in Raleigh.

We won’t know anything for sure until Randle makes a final decision, but his blog certainly gives some first-hand insight into how Gottfried has succeeded so quickly on the recruiting trail.

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Night Line: Schizophrenic Wolfpack Fail to Keep Momentum… Again

Posted by BHayes on January 30th, 2013

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Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

For NC State fans that thought the rollercoaster may have finally been headed for level ground, Tuesday’s nights’ 58-55 loss to Virginia was yet another reminder that the seat belts should never come off when riding with this Wolfpack team. Consistency has eluded Mark Gottfried’s club all season but especially of late, as the Pack have now alternated wins and losses over their past six contests. Included in the trio of wins were seismic victories over Tobacco Road rivals Duke and UNC; but like many a college student after a momentous Saturday night, the Pack watched as each high subsided into a full-blown hangover. Little seems to have been learned by either coach or team along the way, and State fans have to be wondering whether the inconsistency might ultimately derail a season that has quite frequently felt immensely promising.

Much Like His Team All Season, CJ Leslie's Performance Tuesday Night Included Both Good And Bad: 20 Points and 14 Rebounds For The Pack Star, But He Also Turned The Ball Over Seven Times

Much Like His Team All Season, CJ Leslie’s Performance Tuesday Night Included Both Good And Bad: 20 Points and 14 Rebounds For The Pack Star, But Also Seven Turnovers

Nobody can deny that the talent and capability to be not just good but great are there for this team. We knew about the collection of talent all the way back in the preseason, when the paper version of the Wolfpack was impressive enough to net the team a top-five preseason national ranking and the grandiose title of ACC favorite. Unfortunately, we have seen that talent mesh and deliver on all its potential far too infrequently for the Pack to maintain those lofty preseason standards, but is there time yet to bounce back? Are we silly for believing that it isn’t too late, for thinking that Mark Gottfried can find a way to get his team to sustain that energy and emotion ALL the time, and not just when they take the floor with college hoops titans like Duke, UNC, and Michigan?

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Bad Loss Leads to Twitter Regret for NC State

Posted by mpatton on January 23rd, 2013

NC State took a really tough loss at Wake Forest last night. Fans are frustrated, players are frustrated and coaches are frustrated. Former third-string center Thomas DeThaey took to Twitter to vent his frustration: “That’s what happens when you’re a great recruiter but a terrible coach!” Now comes the juicy part. Current freshman TJ Warren retweeted DeThaey. Was it a slip of the thumb? Was he just passively retweeting the comment?

TJ Warren may want this retweet back.

TJ Warren may want this retweet back.

Regardless, this doesn’t look good. Just to add insult to injury, Rick Lewis – NC State frosh Tyler Lewis‘ father — favorited the tweet. My guess is there’s going to be a penalty — whether “internal” (i.e., suicide sprints), or even a one-game suspension. The latter would really hurt the Wolfpack and Mark Gottfried, as their rotation isn’t deep especially if CJ Leslie or Richard Howell get into foul trouble.

What remains to be seen is how the team will react to a bad loss. NC State flirted with disaster against Boston College and Clemson, tasting a little at Maryland and against Oklahoma State. But this is the team’s first bad loss. This is the first time it’s totally collapsed, losing a 16-point lead to a truly inferior opponent. It’s the rare team that can turn a bad loss into a wake-up call (see: Duke’s loss to Georgetown in 2010, or Florida State’s beatdown at Clemson last season) instead of reason to panic. Usually teams that live and learn from bad losses are well-coached and experienced. This NC State team has experience, but it also has a lot of youth.

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