Caught You at a Good Time

By the time the Wolfpack’s fate was sealed in their Sweet 16 loss to Louisville in the NCAA tournament a week and a half ago, I had seen more NC State basketball in the month of March than I did in the previous five months combined. That’s as much a testament to NC State’s effort to extend their March as it was an indicator of how unsupportive I continue to be as a fan. But I am a fan, and I am so proud of this team. I’m also a little disappointed.

Making it to the Sweet 16 was a great accomplishment for this team, an iteration of an ever evolving program that some have called the most exciting they’ve watched in their lifetime. When I first read that sentiment, it gave me pause. I mean, how could you forget about those Hodge teams or even the grit and grind of the Grundy teams in the late 90s/early Aughts? Or, even more recently, Zo and TJ1? But then I realized those guys were all guards2. While we’ve had semi-athletic or smooth operating bigs in the past, it’s been a while since we’ve had a combination of athleticism and strength in the front court to go along with a cadre of nice guard play in the backcourt. And suddenly I find myself wondering if perhaps this is the most exciting Wolfpack squad we’ve fielded in more than thirty years.

Don’t worry, I’m not making the leap quite yet. It’s just something to consider. I don’t think we’re better than Louisville, and the outcome of the game late last week certainly bears that out – but we were good enough to beat them that night. Louisville stepped up and did what they had to do to put us away. I’m disappointed that we let some solid opportunities slip through our fingers, but I’m excited3 about next year. I don’t necessarily foresee an NCAA title or even an ACC title, but I think next year’s team will be a lot of fun to watch. I may have been late to the party, but it seems I certainly caught them at a good time.

Photo Credit: NC State

  1. Sorry, CJ.  ↩
  2. We’ll call TJ a wingman/really tall scorer.  ↩
  3. Don’t get too giddy, UNC fan. I’m not saying we’re going all the way. I’m not even trying to say we’ll be better than you. Sometimes, it’s not all about you.  ↩

Finding Light in the Darkness

I know it has been a while, but with my beloved University under fire and my own personal misgivings about the situation it just hasn’t felt right. However, a recently published interview with UNC AD Bubba Cunningham has provided me with at least the hope that the athletic department has someone in charge who is up to the challenge. While, I understand there is a cynical view to be take here, you will get no such read from me. I am going to focus on the hope.

Bubba’s comments when asked about the planned renovations to the Tar Heel basketball cathedral should provide all Tar Heel fans with faith in his leadership:

I think we need to upgrade a number of our facilities, but I don’t think the timing is right. So it’s still there, it’s still on the back burner. And as soon as we feel like, as a University, that we’ve healed ourselves and we feel comfortable, then I think we’ll move forward.

I am most appreciative of the inward focus he shows here. The university community and family needs to come to grips with what we allowed to happen whether willingly or unwillingly. We all had a part to play in the compromise of the principals we said were so dear, and only when we as a Tar Heel community come together can we proceed.

But that’s when you have confidence and that’s when you have courage. And right now, we don’t. We’ve lost our own confidence; we’ve lost trust by our alumni, within the community, outside of the community…We have to get comfortable with who we are again and prove to people you can do both.

We have lost trust as a family just as the national academic and athletic community has lost faith in us. The University is too busy pointing fingers and plugging holes rather than focusing on the progress it has made to insure this will not occur again. We must focus on what needs to be done to prepare all who walk onto campus for the future whether they ever play a sport.

Some of it is time. And as Larry (Fedora) indicated when we hired him, I can say all of the right things, but we’ve got to do it. So we need to show that we’re going to admit students that can be successful. We need to provide them a great education while they’re here. They need to graduate. They need to get good jobs and go on and do things.

The University will not recover until it resolves to provide an education and opportunity to every student who sets foot on campus. That may seem like a sacrifice to some, but that is the place I fell in love with 25 years ago and the one to which I thought I belonged. Thank you Bubba, for allowing me to see that place once again.

“…but at some point, we can’t sit in neutral. We’ve got to move forward.”

Photo Credit: Zach Frailey via Flickr

What the Hess?

Being the casual NC state fan/observer that I am, my participation in tonight’s contest unfolded in much the same way it often does – I’m slightly aware that said contest is set to take place but I generally forget until sometime just before or after the contest starts when my Twitter timeline explodes with game time commentary. Tonight’s chatter was particularly loud because of the return of referee Karl Hess from a 3 year hiatus from Wolfpack competition. While I’m sure no one was surprised there would be D-R-A-M-A drama, I don’t know if Aaron Sorkin could have written a more tightly wound script than what unfolded in Reynolds Coliseum tonight. After setting the table brilliantly with an early technical foul against NC State head coach Mark Gottfried, Hess was handed the ultimate Wolfpack troll bait.

Down one after a reportedly brilliant set play from Wofford, State gets the ball back with two seconds left on the clock. Trevor Lacey takes the inbound pass, dribbles down the court and nails the game winning shot! Or does he?

Lacey’s shot dropped through the net after time expired so the burning question immediately following the quick celebration from the Wolfpack bench and Reynolds crowd – did Lacey’s shot leave his hands before time expired? Oh no, State fan, look who has the chance to redeem himself or just continue his lifelong troll of Pack fans everywhere.

In the end, Hess makes the right call, but I have to admit I got just a bit worried for him once I realized the call he had to make. Would the threat of a rabidly insane fan base be enough to tease him into making the wrong call? No way, he’s too much of a professional for that, isn’t he? What if he makes the wrong call? How would I feel about that, knowing that a redemption call played a part in ruining a well-earned victory for the Wofford players?

And here’s the real rub. Regardless of who was making the call, what call they had to make or why, there’s no way it should have even come down to that call anyway. If State fan wants to be upset at anyone it should be the players, the coach or just the night – a potentially off night that wasn’t going to see us walking away with the win even if we had the most pro-Pack referee giving us all the calls. I didn’t watch the game (all details provided herein courtesy of Twitter, Vine, and YouTube), but it certainly doesn’t seem like we were the better team tonight and that to me is a much harder pill to swallow than coming out on the wrong end of a great catch, run and shoot that was just a hair too late.

Photo Credit: @PackPride on Twitter via SI

UNC vs Duke: Part 1

It has been a while since we have updated this space, but its been a busy winter and the snow, well, that is my excuse anyway. Speaking of using snow as an excuse to bail on a commitment, I give you your 2013/2014 Duke Blue Devils! While canceling the game was the right a call at the time, I question how it got to that point, but that is black ice over 15/501 at this point…I kid, I kid. Anyway, no better way to kick off the first of two (potentially three) brutal nights for me than chronicle it here for thedustin to read (and JohnnyH if he knew about the site).

Before we begin, I thought it would be fun to give you my three most memorable UNC-Duke moments…

1. Jerry Stackhouse Under the Basket Tomahawk!
(Just for fun, remember when he fought now coach of the Suns, Jeff Hornacek?

2. Marvin Williams Put Back to Beat Duke in 2005 on the way to the National Championship!
(Underated was the 9 point comeback with less than three to play. People forget May was unstoppable the last month of that season.)

3. Matt Doherty gets up in Chris Collins’ grill!
(This is great for so many reason, A) I took my father to the game, B) the elbow by Dahntay Jones is a reminder of what a dirty player he was, C) Doherty unhinged because he probably knew he was done at UNC, D) a mediocre UNC team pulled out the win and represented one of only two wins over Duke while I was at UNC)

There are so many more moments to choose from and every UNC fan has their favorites, but it’s time to see if tonight’s game adds to the legend. Given that it’s UNC-Duke, the odds are likely it will.

9:02 – In the opening montage some guy just painted a picture of the rivalry while narrating…gotta love Raycom!

9:03 – Brando and Bonner, I am sure there is a joke in there. I am bummed we don’t get Billas since ESPN is blacked out. (Note – it was not blacked out as I would discover later)

9:05 – Had to put the dog upstairs because he freaks out when I watch UNC games and you can only imagine how it is when Duke is involved.

9:07 – Over/under on “8 miles” mentions? I set the number at 3.5

9:09 – Do yourself a favor and follow @DaggumRoy

9:10 – Seems like a good time to JUMP AROUND!

9:11 – McDonald with a big game sure would be nice.

9:12 – A Duke player on their back…huge surprise. Tokoto may be the worst FT shooter I have ever seen.

9:14 – Meeks really needs to work on that lift, he would be borderline unstoppable if he could get could jump higher than my father.

9:17 – Paige splitting the screen is a thing of beauty.

9:18 – PlumThree sighting!

9:22 – Ugh! 2 on Brice. This could get ugly.

9:25 – Not good if Hood and Cook are going to make their threes.

9:27 – That foul was not on Hood – Parker should have 2

9:29 – HUBERT!

9:31 – Oh, I got it now, the hand checking is illegal if you are wearing white tonight. Much clearer now.

9:39 – Honestly, can we just get rid of the charge/block call.

9:41 – I like how they just showed Hood’s 3 pt % as 5th all time at Duke, he has had such a prestigious career.

9:46 – Free Throws…ugh

10:01 – Well, down 7 isn’t terrible considering Carolina has played like crap. Hopefully we have a patented 2nd Half Paige run in store.

10:08 – I may switch to the ESPN broadcast to shake up the mojo

10:10 – Ahhh! Huge mistake, I switch over and they have Boehiem on.

10:31 – And I’m Back! My son had a night terror, I assume he was dreaming about Tokoto free throws. In other news, not much has changed.

10:33 – Really feel like UNC just needs to play hard and keep it close. The officiating is terrible.

10:38 – What a terrible pass by McDonald.

10:43 – Tokoto has improved so much (we will ignore the pass to Hubert in transition). If he cuts his TO down and works on his FTs he could be an All-ACC caliber player.

10:49 – And Roy’s watch comes off….

10:51 – Really terrible officiating on both ends tonight. Hopefully the last 5 minutes won’t be decided by a zebra…

10:53 – Thank you again ESPN for reminding us this is just the aperitif for the new rivalry.

10:56 – Marcus Paige is good at basketball..very good.

11:02 – I am glad it worked in UNC’s favor, but that was a terrible call on Parker, just terrible.

11:08 – Free Throws and Marcus Paige is a man!

11:10 – thlhfdsjhfjkdksljfdsjkldsja;kjfadkl;jfklsjd

11:13 – Carolina Ball!!!!!!

11:14 – Such a great job by Roy tonight, the little things. Putting Meeks in at the end to be able to throw the inbounds deep. Solid job.

11:16 – You just can’t say enough about this team.

That’s all folks. What a masterclass by Roy. This team fights and fights. It’s always a good day to be a Tar Heel, some days are just a touch more special.