Monday, January 31, 2005

Welcome to Durham.

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Foul Play

Last night, the Virginia Tech Hokies played their first game in Cameron Indoor Stadium as a member of the ACC. You'll have to forgive them if they forgot to bring their vaseline--they didn't know any better. Thirty-four fouls and 49 Duke FTAs later, they know just what to expect on their next trip to Derm.

Duke FTA/FGA: .778 (Duke season avg = .406)

Yeah, it was like that. The Hokies were called for 22 fouls in the first half, and Duke attempted 35 free throws. Get this--Duke's FTA/FGA ratio in the first half was an astounding 1.129. That's right, Duke attempted more free throws (35) than field goals (31) in the first half.

Of course, that wasn't the only story:

VPI adjFG%: 39.8
Duke adjFG%: 55.6

VPI OFF EFF: 87.4 (season avg = 100.5)
Duke OFF EFF: 134.4 (season avg = 114)

All in all, a night the Hokies would rather forget.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Weekend action.

NC State shoots the lights out in Clemson.

I almost feel sorry for Pete Gillen.

Wake and Miami play the most exciting first half you'll ever see, but the Canes couldn't match the pace in the second half.

Hokies prepare for trip to Durham tonight.

Sunday's big game features Georgia Tech and Maryland, both of whom are coming off huge conference wins. This one should be fabulous, as both teams are pretty similar statistically. Both teams like to play at a quick tempo.

GT adjFG%: 52.5
MD adjFG%: 50.3

GT OFF EFF: 105.5
MD OFF EFF: 104.2

GT DEF EFF: 83.9
MD DEF EFF: 91.4

The two teams have very similar turnover rates as well as FTA/FGA numbers.

The winner goes above .500 in conference and assures at least 4-4 through the first half of the conference season. I'm not entirely sure why, but I like Georgia Tech in this one (although I thought Duke would beat Maryland, too, and we see how that turned out...).

Saturday, January 29, 2005

How odd.

NC State's offensive efficiency, last three games:

at Maryland: 125
vs. Florida St: 111
at Clemson: 127

Today's win at Clemson makes two straight impressive performances on the road. It's just a shame the Wolfpack dropped the home game to FSU...beating the Tigers doesn't come anywhere close to offsetting the loss to the Seminoles.

The Pack was amazingly efficient against Clemson, shooting an adjusted FG% of 78% (62.8% FG%). Clemson shot right around their average after getting off to a pretty hot start.

Desite a rather unimpressive shooting night, the Tigers managed an efficiency of 111--they killed State on the offensive glass and they kept their turnover rate down (Clemson is the most turnover prone team in the ACC, but had just 11 against NC State).

Wolfpack OREB Rate: .130 (3/23)
Tigers OREB Rate: .389 (14/36)

Of course, the Tigers missed a lot more shots than did NC State.

And speaking of efficiency, you might could say Miami and Wake Forest are shooting pretty well through the first half. Shooting numbers thus far...

Miami adjFG%: 75%
Wake adjFG%: 61%

Not bad, eh? Miami was an impressive 10-12 from 3-point range in the first half, so once they cool off, the Deacs should assert control. The Canes are the third worst shooting team in the ACC (their average adjFG% on the year is 49.4%), so they've played just a skosh over their heads against Wake

Friday, January 28, 2005

FSU @ NCSU -- A handful of photos.

The cheerleaders were undoubtedly psyched about another 20 minutes of inspiring Wolfpack basketball.

Almost ready for the tip...

Like my seats?

Hey, look, it's Marcus Melvin. Too bad we couldn't get him to shoot our free throws.

Say hi to Marc Trestman

Marc Trestman named NC State's new offensive coordinator

I love this hire. Trestman has experience as an NFL offensive coordinator, and that's huge. He worked with a pretty damn impressive offense out in Oakland (though Jon Gruden also had a little something to do with the Raiders' success). Trestman's resume is much more impressive than that of his predecessor, Noel Mazzone (who has taken the OC job at Mississippi). While I wasn't one of the harsher critics of Mazzone, I wasn't always keen on what he was trying to accomplish.

I felt Mazzone deserved a reprieve simply because he had to work with Jay Davis at quarterback, and that wasn't exactly an ideal situation. Davis was one of the worst QBs in the ACC in 2004, and considering his competition at the position (Reggie Ball, Joel Statham/Jordan Steffy, Chris Rix/Wyatt Sexton, etc), that's saying something. NC State had one of the best offenses in the ACC in 2003; in 2004, it had one of the worst. That's all on Mazzone? No way.

Trestman has been dealt a pretty strong hand (lots of experienced receivers, good group of TEs and RBs), so it will be interesting to see how much better he can make the offense under Jay Davis. If he banishes the running back draw out of the shotgun, he'll be my personal hero.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Oy vey.

FSU 70, NCSU 64

Only NC State could follow up a fantastic performance with a complete dud (at any rate, sometimes it feels that way). I'm just glad this one wasn't on television--it was hard enough to watch first hand. You probably wouldn't have wanted to watch this slow-paced affair, anyway. The game featured just 58 possessions for each team, which of course means (after noting the score) that FSU had one of their most efficient nights at the offensive end (their OFF EFF was 121; their average on the season is 101). NC State was right around its average, but thanks to a bunch of missed free throws in the second half, average wasn't good enough.

FSU came into the game doing a pretty good job getting to the line (their FTA/FGA ranks fourth in the ACC) and they did a nice job again on Wednesday night:

Seminoles FTA/FGA: .489
Wolfpack FTA/FGA: .460

Not a big difference, right? Well...

Seminoles FTM/FGA: .400
Wolfpack FTM/FGA: .260

Gotta give the Noles credit. Not only did they shoot well (48.9% from the field; adjFG% of 58%), they only had ten turnovers. FSU's turnover rate for the game was just 17%, which was well below their season average of 24%.

I knew NC State's tournament hopes weren't strong, but I honestly cannot believe they ended in this fashion. Never would I have imagined that we could lose to FSU at home.

Pictures coming later...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Matchup: Maryland/Duke

There's nothing on the ACC schedule today (I guess we'll have to reluctantly settle for watching Illinois/Wisconsin), but there is one game of interest on Wednesday.

Maryland @ Duke

The Terps are coming fresh off an unimpressive showing at home against NC State, while the Blue Devils recently dispatched Florida State by like a million. Some season stats comparisons:

UMD AdjFG%: 50.3% (7th ACC)
Duke AdjFG%: 55.9% (2nd ACC)

UMD Offensive Efficiency: 105.1 (6th ACC)
Duke Offensive Efficiency: 114.2 (3rd ACC)

UMD Defensive Efficiency: 89.6 (5th ACC)
Duke Defensive Efficiency: 86.4 (2nd ACC)

UMD 3PA/FGA: .262 (11th ACC)
Duke 3PA/FGA: .372 (2nd ACC)

[Efficiency numbers from Ken Pomeroy's site]

The Terps--thanks mostly to the second half--salvaged a nightmare performance against NC State and made it at least respectable. Their offensive efficiency in Sunday's game was a bit below their average (it was around 102), but not significantly so. In general, Maryland simply isn't all that efficient on the offensive end, partly because they like to play up-tempo (although this wasn't a factor against NC State) and partly because they don't shoot the ball very well.

They'll need to shoot the ball better (obviously), but they'll also need to hang onto the ball. The Terps had 19 turnovers in 68 possessions against NC State, and for a team that's pretty good at avoiding turnovers (particularly for their tempo), that was unacceptable. Because they derive a small percentage of their offense from three-pointers and make shots at a mediocre rate, they need extra attempts. They didn't get them against NC State--not even close.

Duke will beat Maryland, but I think the margin is more likely to be around 6-8 points as opposed to, say, 15+.

Duke 83, Maryland 76

ACC Weekday What Have You

Roy Williams still thinks the Heels can play better defense. The Heels have shown pretty significant improvement from last season to this season, and considering that UNC is one of the better defensive clubs in the ACC, he may be demanding a little too much. Or maybe Roy's attitude was what helped Carolina improve so much this season ... whatever Williams is doing, it's workin'.

Also in that article, Coach K discusses how his team is dealing with a thin bench that has forced Daniel Ewing, JJ Redick, and Shelden Williams to log a ton of minutes.

And Skip Prosser has apparently already begun lobbying for a #1 seed.

Unfortunately for Georgia Tech, it appears as though BJ Elder won't be ready for Thursday's game against Wake Forest. The Jackets have seen their NCAA prospects begin to slide, although I'd be surprised if they aren't in the field come March.

Shav Randolph--still recovering from mono--is takin' it slow. Which I guess means he's going to lay off the honeys for a coupla weeks.

The Charlotte Observer wonders: What's ol' Joey Forte doing these days? And apparently the answer is: playing as a reserve guard for Asheville's NBDL team. Rock on, Joe. Rock on.

ACC Stats Through 1-23-05

For anyone new to the numbers: What the hell is he talkin' about?

Here's a statistical rundown through Sunday's (1/23) games...

Adjusted FG%

1) UNC (.574)
2) Duke (.559)
3) Wake (.554)
4) FSU (.531)
5) NC State (.528)
6) Georgia Tech (.525)
7) Maryland (.503)
8) Clemson (.496)
9) Miami (.494)
10) Virginia (.486)
11) Va Tech (.485)

Turnovers per Possession

1) NC State (.190)
2) Va Tech (.192)
3) Miami (.1949)
4) Duke (.1953)
5) Virginia (.197)
6) Maryland (.205)
7) Georgia Tech (.212)
8) Wake (.215)
9) UNC (.233)
10) FSU (.243)
11) Clemson (.256)

Offensive Rebound Rate

1) Miami (.404)
2) Duke (.394)
3) UNC (.392)
4) Clemson (.388)
5) Wake (.386)
6) Maryland (.366)
7) NC State (.358)
8) Virginia (.354)
9) Georgia Tech (.336)
10) FSU (.329)
11) Va Tech (.327)


1) UNC (.467)
2) Wake (.465)
3) Duke (.406)
4) FSU (.401)
5) Georgia Tech (.397)
6) Maryland (.385)
7) NC State (.377)
8) Clemson (.372)
9) Virginia (.359)
10) Va Tech (.306)
11) Miami (.293)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Holy crap, dudes. NCSU 85, Maryland 69.

Box Score

According to my week-old ACC statistics, we could expect a few things coming into the NC State/Maryland game. Namely:

-- NC State would probably shoot a better adjusted field goal percentage than Maryland. NC State's season adjFG% is .525, while Maryland's is .506. Despite the gap, the teams rank sixth and seventh in the ACC, respectively.

-- Maryland would probably out-work NC State on the offensive glass. Maryland's OREB Rate is .374; NC State's is .353.

-- NC State would rely much more heavily on the 3-point shot (not that you need any statistics to know this). State's 3PA/FGA is .401 (1st ACC), while Maryland's is .257 (11th ACC)

So what happened?

-- NC State had a sparkling .586 adjFG%. On the flip side, Maryland shot an atrocious .456 (which was clearly the difference in the game). Not only did NC State shoot a higher percentage, they also had more attempts. The Pack scored 85 points in about 68 possessions, for an offensive efficiency rating of 125 (their season average is 112). Maryland scored 69 points on 68 possessions, giving them an efficiency rating of 102, which is right near their average.

-- Maryland beat NC State 11-9 on the offensive glass. Maryland's OREB Rate was .324; NC State's was .290. Both teams were below their averages, but the difference between the two schools in this game was hardly significant.

-- NC State's 3PA/FGA was .448; Maryland's was .333. More importantly for the Wolfpack, they hit 12-of-26 3-point attempts, while the Terps hit just 5-of-15.

-- NC State--the least turnover-prone team in the ACC--committed just 9 turnovers in 68 possessions, for an impressive turnover rate of 13.2%. Maryland (19 turnovers) had a horrid turnover rate--28%. This differential helped NC State attempt 13 more shots than Maryland. You gotta shoot to score, right?

-- Maryland did have a huge edge at the free throw line, racking up 41 attempts to NC State's 23.

Maryland FTA/FGA: .911
NC State FTA/FGA: .397

In the ideal NC State basketball game, this is exactly what happens: the Pack minimizes turnovers and hits a solid percentage from 2- and 3-point range. When they do that, they are extremely efficient, and as you can see, they're pretty damn good. When they don't, well, ...

Friday, January 21, 2005

Roger Clemens -- 1 year, $18 mil

After requesting a ridiculous $22 million, Roger Clemens signed a 1-year, $18 million deal with the Astros.

Clemens's move to the National League helped the Rocket improve his numbers significantly. Clemens's ERA in the five years previous to 2004 averaged 4.01--in 2004, it was 2.98. Now he's cashing in big time ... and unfortunately for the 'Stros, he won't be worth it.

Don't get me wrong--even at 42 years old Clemens is one of the best power pitchers in the league, but let's be honest: is he really going to be able to match 2004? Probably not. Even if he did manage a repeat, it's difficult to justify making Clemens the highest-paid pitcher in the majors.

With the departure of several key components of last season's team, Houston was in a bit of a predicament--they really needed Clemens back in order to have serious hopes for another playoff berth. So they could either overpay him or watch him walk. They chose to pony up the dough, and I don't really blame them.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Hi, I'm NC State Basketball

I am NC State Basketball, and I am trying to break your heart.

I offer flashes of brilliance, flickers of hope, and an endless and effortless string of should-have-beens.

I live only to raise your spirits and to dash them in torturous fashion.

I reward good faith and patience with frustration.

I offer you no tangible results--merely consolation and close calls.

I am trying to break your heart. And I'm doing a pretty good job, too.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Offensive and Defensive Efficiency

Offensive Efficiency and Defensive Efficiency (also called Offensive and Defensive Rating) are pretty straightforward. You divide points scored or points allowed by possessions, multiply by 100 (for ease of comprehension) and what you have left is a team's OE or DE for a given game.

This allows you to compare teams on even ground. When you compare teams using points-per-game, you don't take into account the differing paces at which they play. Teams that play at a slower tempo aren't going to score as many raw points as teams that love to run, but that doesn't necessarily mean the slower teams are less effective at the offensive end.

Dean Oliver is the creator of this metric, and you can find more discussion on the topic here.

Dean Oliver calculates possessions this way:

Possessions = FGA - OReb + Turnovers + (0.4 x FTA)

When you're deriving possessions from a box score, you'll want to calculate possessions for both teams and average them, then use that average to calculate the efficiencies for both teams. Let's go through an example. We're going to use 0.475 as the multiplier for free throws, as Ken Pomeroy has found that that number better fits the college game.

Here's the box score from NC State's 75-63 win over Charlotte in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. In the link, we've got all the numbers we need.

NCSU Poss = 59 FGA - 11 ORebs + 16 TOV + (0.475 x 22 FTA)
NCSU Poss = 64 + (10.5)
NCSU Poss = 74.5

UNCC Poss = 58 FGA - 12 ORebs + 20 TOV + (0.475 x 14 FTA)
UNCC Poss = 66 + (6.7)
UNCC Poss = 72.7

Average = (74.5 + 72.7) / 2
Average = 73.6 (round to 74.0)

Thus, each team had approximately 74 possessions in the game. Now, to calculate efficiencies, we simply take points scored/allowed and divide by 74. That number is points scored/allowed per possession, but we'll multiply it by 100 just to make it easier to absorb and compare.

NCSU Off Eff: 75/74 x 100
NCSU Def Eff: 63/74 x 100

NCSU Off Eff: 101.4 (101.4 pts scored per 100 possessions)
NCSU Def Eff: 85.1 (85.1 pts allowed per 100 possessions)

UNCC Off Eff: 63/74 x 100
UNCC Def Eff: 75/74 x 100

UNCC Off Eff: 85.1
UNCC Def Eff: 101.4

If you take a quick visit to Ken Pomeroy's stats page, you can get a feel for what's good and what's bad when it comes to OE and DE. In our example, neither team was very impressive at the offensive end. NC State's offensive efficiency was mediocre at best (you can see from the Pomeroy link that Hawaii ranked 110th in the country with an OE of 101.4 for the season). Charlotte was simply awful (not many teams score fewer than even 95 pts/100 poss).

As always, you should compare these numbers to others in the box score, and you should see things that make sense. For instance, Charlotte shot 39.7% for the game and committed 20 turnovers, so you'd expect that they weren't very efficient with their possessions.

Now that I am more comfortable with these numbers, I much prefer them to PPG and Pts Allowed Per Game. Consider:

Over the course of a season, Team A averages 85 points (85 PPG) on 79 possessions (OE = 107.6).
Over the course of a season, Team B averages 75 points (75 PPG) on 65 possessions (OE = 115.4).

Which has done a better job at the offensive end?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Four Factors

Ever since I stumbled across Dean Oliver's Journal of Basketball Studies a few months ago, I've been tracking some of his statistics during the college basketball season. A few of those statistics include the Four Factors. If you want more in-depth discussion of these numbers, Oliver's site offers plenty. I'm going to summarize them as best I can here.

In the most basic sense, the Four Factors are the ingredients for success on the court. The factors are: shooting, turnovers, rebounding, and reaching the foul line. They are basic aspects of the game that have an obvious correlation to winning and losing. By looking at them in a certain way, Oliver hopes to gain greater insight into what teams do well and what they don't--and what it all means.

Some factors are more important than others. Specifically, shooting is the most important factor. In order of importance:

1) Effective (or adjusted) FG%
2) Turnover Rate
3) Offensive Rebounding Rate

About each factor:

Effective Field Goal Percentage (shooting) is defined as:

eFG = [FGM + (0.5 x 3PM)] / FGA

This is a simple adjustment that compensates for three-pointers. Because of the adjustment, you will see higher numbers on average than you will with regular FG%.


Turnovers per Possession (or Turnover Rate), as you might imagine, is:

Turnovers / Possessions

Possessions aren't tracked in any basketball box score, so they have to be estimated. Oliver estimates them this way:

Possessions = FGA - OReb + Turnovers + (0.475 x FTA)

[Actually, Oliver uses 0.4 as the multiplier for FTs. Ken Pomeroy has discovered that 0.475 works better for the college game. Oliver works with NBA data.]

The 0.475 is used to adjust for free throws--it's an attempt to estimate how many possessions an average free throw attempt (FTAs occur in varying situations, so it makes this estimation difficult) is worth.


Offensive Rebounding Percentage (or Offensive Rebounding Rate) is:

OR% = Off Rebs / (Off Rebs + Opponent's Def Rebs)

This measures how well a team converts opportunities for offensive rebounds. Teams that play at a faster pace will have more possessions and take more shots, thus creating more opportunities for rebounds. For this reason, comparing raw rebounding numbers can sometimes be misleading.


For measuring how well a team reaches the free throw line, there a couple of different ratios to look at:

FTA/FGA as well as FTM/FGA

Both offer insight into how effectively a team uses the free throw line.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Addendum to post regarding fumbles...

After looking around, I found this delightful link: Binomial Test

There's no need to take my word for it--enter .50 as the Expected Proportion, 7 as the Number Observed, and 23 as the Sample Size. The application will run the numbers and show you what we already know--there was just a 4.65% chance that NCSU would recover 7 or fewer fumbles in 2004.

Here's to better fortunes in '05.

Some GT game photos...

Here are three shots I took from the GT/NCSU game.

Players crash the boards as a shot hits the rim.

Will Bynum and Isma'il Muhammad get ready for the tip.

It's almost time...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

ACC Sunday: NC State, Duke win at home.

NC State came through with a desperately needed 76-68 win over Georgia Tech, while Duke took care of UVA 80-66.

Despite shooting under 40% for the game, NC State pretty much controlled play the entire night. Freshman Andrew Brackman helped the Pack get off to a quick start, and the Wolfpack led 37-27 at halftime. The Jackets made a late second half run to cut the NCSU lead to 64-61, but Ilian Evtimov nailed a crucial three-pointer and the rest of the team helped to salt it away by hitting their free throws. Julius Hodge, who had been struggling at the line this season, hit 12-14 FTs for the game, including twelve straight. It looked to me like he had modified his stroke, and it looked much smoother (similar to what it looked like in years past).

I continue to be impressed by Andrew Brackman, who displays a lot of intelligence for a freshman. He hit some three pointers, he made some tough shots in the paint, and he blocked several shots at the defensive end. I also have to give credit to Gavin Grant, who came off the bench for perhaps his best performance of the season (he's a freshman as well).

With Tony Bethel and Levi Watkins sidelined by illness, the Wolfpack went just seven deep. The lost depth didn't seem to be a detriment to the team, though. I am really liking NCSU's current starting lineup:

Cameron Bennerman
Engin Atsur
Julius Hodge
Ilian Evitmov
Andrew Brackman

Unfortunately for Jordan Collins, it seems as though Brackman and Evtimov are taking his minutes. Collins, who has started a lot of games this season, played just 10 minutes off the bench against Georgia Tech and did not score. With the way Evtimov and Brackman are playing, they're going to continue to start.

Next up for NC State: @ Virginia Tech


Virginia's struggles continue--they're 0-4 in the ACC after losing to the Dukies. They hung tough with the Devils for the first half or so and then started to fade. I was mighty skeptical of Virginia's good start to the season, and it is looking more and more like the Cavs aren't going to contend for an NCAA bid. I hope Pete Gillen enjoyed that stay in the top-25 while it lasted.

Duke got Shav Randolph back and improved to 13-0, but Daniel Ewing had to be carried off the court at one point thanks to injury. He later returned. I'm still anxious to find out how good the Devils actually are--I have a sneaking suspicion that they aren't going to be able to keep up with North Carolina or Wake Forest.

Next up for Duke: @ Miami (FL)


On another note--how impressive is Boston College? With a win at UConn already in their pockets, the Eagles kicked the crap out of West Virginia in Morgantown. That makes three losses for the Mountaineers in the four games since they beat NC State (ugh). It's impossible not to be impressed with what Al Skinner has done at BC. These guys--if they aren't in the midst of peaking early--look like a good bet for a deep NCAA tournament run.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Fewer fumbles lost in 2005?

In a recent message board discussion about touches-per-fumble, it was noted that NC State lost 16 of 23 fumbles in 2004, which is an irregularly high percentage. In fact, there is only a 4.6% chance that a team fumbling 23 times recovers 7 or fewer of those fumbles (this number is found through a binomial probability distribution--I'm not familiar with the method, so don't ask; thanks to jwehr for the calculations; link to discussion on Pack Pride Premium board).

On the assumption that a team has an even chance of recovering its own fumbles, the fact that NC State recovered just 7/23 (30%) indicates that the Wolfpack was rather unlucky. NC State should hold onto the ball better in 2005 for a couple of reasons:

1) TA McLendon's absense should (well, we THINK) mean a decrease in total fumbles in 2005 (meaning less than 23).

2) We should recover a more normal percentage because that's ... normal. Even if we fumble the ball 23 times again, we should still give fewer of them away (doesn't mean we will, of course).

Fewer fumbles + recovery percentage closer to 50% = fewer giveaways on the ground

Now, if we can just get that Jay Davis fellow to stop heavin' the ball to the wrong jerseys...

And while I'm thinking positive, here's one more thing:

The Pack scored 264 points and allowed 218 points in 2004, which gives an expected W/L record of 7-4 ( I used the Pythagorean Formula for football found here. Technically it's for the NFL, but I figured it wouldn't be too far off for college football.). The Wolfpack finished the year 5-6, two games under expectation. That is mostly due to NC State's performance in close games, which can mostly be tied to turnovers. This is another indicator for a bounce back winning season in 2005.

Update 7-10-06: The link is dead. Try here for info on the pythagorean formula as it relates to football.

The hole, she is deep.

The season doesn't usually end in January, especially if you're 10-5.

But as previously mentioned, NC State is not even in the RPI top-100. The Pack sits behind schools like Coppin State (whom you may remember from such seasons as "2002-2003"), Tennessee State (4-9), and Southwest Missouri State (7-6). Dees eees--how do you say?--embarrassing.

NC State needs to turn it around immediately (like, say, Sunday) if it wants any chance at an NCAA bid (assuming it still has a chance), as it appears the RPI is not going to be on the Pack's side this season. Even if the Pack had beaten Miami FL coming into the Duke game, the Pack still would have been somewhere around #100 in the RPI, so even at 11-4 (1-1) NCSU would have a lot of work to do; at 10-5 (0-2), the requirements are that much more difficult. Looming winnable games against Virginia Tech and FSU don't do the team any good because both of those schools have terrible RPIs...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I wish I could sit behind Gary Williams for a game.

So ESPN is showing highlights of this evening's Maryland/Wake Forest game (and by that I mean they are showing Wake score a lot), and they cut to a close shot of an enraged (per usual) Gary Williams.

He proffers forth his index finger in utter condemnation at a Maryland player who will remain unnamed and clearly says, "Look, motherf***er..." and proceeds to go on a rant which is undoubtedly tuned out by the player the second the aforementioned expletive crosses Williams's lips.

That was even funnier than the game.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Lamentations from the Outside Looking In

After a difficult and frustrating loss to Miami FL, the Wolfpack is 10-4 (0-1), and has played a schedule so unimpressive as to land the team at #119 in the latest RPI ratings. But hey, it's just early January--no reason to worry, right? Eh ... well, considering that the Wolfpack ranked 41 in the RPI on this date in 2004, I'd say there's plenty of reason to worry.

NC State has just a single win over teams in the RPI top-100 (UL-Lafayette) and must deal with losses to St. John's (#156) and Miami (#86). The ACC's depth is both a blessing and a curse at this point--the Pack needs quality win oppportunities and the conference offers plenty, but with so many good teams in the ACC the Pack will be hard pressed to win nine games. The Wolfpack needs to collect enough quality wins to make its RPI respectable (say, in the 45-55 range) if it thinks 8-8 in the ACC is going to be enough to reach the NCAAs.

Quite frankly, I don't like NC State's chances.

The signs indicate that the team just isn't all that good. Last season, for instance, we took care of lesser teams whenever we shot a good percentage from the field, and usually did so rather comfortably. Against Miami, we shot 47% and still lost to one of the 2-3 worst teams in the league. Not the best of omens.

Fatigued, sick, injured, whatever--NC State has been afflicted with problems at a critical time, and the team may never recover. If you're no match for West Freakin' Virginia on your home floor, that doesn't particularly bode well, either.

Last season NC State confidently defeated the likes of Duke, Wake, Maryland and GT, but I can see already that those wins aren't going to come nearly so easily in 2005. If they come at all.