Sunday, April 30, 2006

No Brey, man.

Brey's statement:

While I am not one to react to internet rumors, I want to make it clear that I did not interview for the North Carolina State job and I am not a candidate for the North Carolina State job. I am the coach at Notre Dame and honored to be it.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Three First Rounders

Wow. I'd like to thank Marv Levy's corpse for moving the Bills up to take McCargo. Rock on, Marv.

So this is what it feels like to be one of those schools that's good at football.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Everything's Comin' Up Milhouse!

This is one of those days you gotta savor.

-- Mario Williams will be the first pick in tomorrow's NFL Draft.

-- The NC State softball team swept North Carolina in a doubleheader to win the ACC regular season title. The program is only in its third season and plays without a stadium of its own.

Back in 2003, more than twelve months before the softball program would play its first game, head coach Lisa Navas said she expected to make progress quickly:

Where I see this program going is in the top-3 teams in the conference, and it will be hard for me to wait for that to happen because of not being patient sometimes. It is an ongoing battle because of being in such a tough conference. In three or four years we'll be in the top of our league and be a nationally ranked team.

Three years later, here they are--at the top of the ACC.

Congratulations to softball.

-- Most importantly today, the Hurricanes' 3-2 win over Montreal evens the series at 2-2.

Rod Brind'Amour scored 5:54 into the third period to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens and tie the first-round playoff series on Friday night.

The second-seeded Hurricanes, who won despite blowing an early lead, dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven series at home but swept two straight in Montreal. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference matchup will be Sunday night at Carolina.

Brind'Amour, who has four goals in three games, made his third opportunity to score the charm for Carolina as he jumped on a loose puck behind Cristobal Huet and banked a shot in off the Montreal goalie.

[Photo Source: Associated Press]

The First Pick In The 2006 NFL Draft -- Mario Williams

Williams and the Texans come to terms on a contract:

The Houston Texans have signed North Carolina State DE Mario Williams and plan to take him with the first overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Williams becomes the second Texans number one pick in team history.

Williams (6-6, 291) becomes the first North Carolina State player to be taken with the first pick in the NFL draft. QB Roman Gabriel was the top overall pick of the AFL draft and went second overall in the NFL draft in 1962.

Congratulations to Mario. This is pretty darn cool.

From the Houston Chronicle: contract guarantees $22 million.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Media's Headlines Don't Help Matters

Since word broke that neither Lavin nor Beilein were taking the job, the biggest source of frustration for me has been the inevitable way in which the majority of the media has reported the story. Headlines like "Beilein, Lavin spurn Wolfpack" and "Lavin will stay in broadcasting; turns down NC State" have popped up across the country, and if you've been privy to the actual details of the situation, you know the reports that Lavin and Beilein turned down the NC State job (with the implication that neither was seriously interested) are false.

I don't blame the media for their word choice--they can only report what they have, and they of course have formed their stories based on the public statements made by Lavin and Beilein after their respective deals fell apart. In the absense of other information, the media must take those statements at face value.

And don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm suprised by any of this--when discussions between a school and a coaching prospect are as public as they were in this case, prepared statements that deny interest after talks go sour are standard operating procedure. It's just difficult to watch helplessly as NC State takes another big PR hit.

By now, everything has snowballed. Since Barnes and Calipari decided to stay where they are, people have been running with the notion that no one of repute is interested in the Wolfpack job. No one wants to fight Duke and UNC on an annual basis, no one wants to deal with the fans, etc. The reports that have come after the Lavin/Beilein ordeal have only strengthened those sentiments nationally.

I didn't have to spend much time looking around to the blogosphere to find examples of what we're dealing with. For instance:

Lavin and Beilein join a long list of candidates that didn’t want any part of the NC State job, including Memphis’ coach John Calipari, Texas’ Rick Barnes and Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan.

And also:

A few weeks ago, I wrote that NC State fans who were lusting after the demise of then head basketball coach Herb Sendek were overestimating how attractive that job would be when it came open. So far, Texas' Rick Barnes, Memphis' John Calipari, West Virginia's John Beilein, and ESPN's Steve Lavin agree with me.

Those are popular opinions these days. I'm not interested in arguing about the attractiveness of the NC State job, as that is a debatable topic regardless of what really happened with Lavin/Beilein. What isn't up for debate is the interest for the job shown by Steve Lavin and John Beilein. Lavin had gone so far as to begin contacting assistant coaches for his staff, and Beilein would be in Raleigh but for the last-minute hiccup over his buyout. To indicate that they weren't interested in the job is to veer pretty far from the truth (especially in Beilein's case).

Because it is in neither man's best interests to admit to those facts, we get this. And then we get this. And we can do nothing but grin and bear it.

SMQ: Absurdly Premature Assessment Of NC State

I was so busy obsessing over the coaching search that I missed Sunday Morning Quarterback's early look at the NC State football team:

HONESTLY, WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE SCHEDULE, SMQ'S THINKING: Seven wins, automobile accessory-inspired postseason trip. Five winning years out of six under Amato's fist is good enough to get the benefit of the doubt in SMQ's estimation, but 18 points per game doesn't take you very far in the tougher ACC.

Is 7-5 the best-case scenario this season? I fear that it is.

Today wasn't a total loss...

The Canes are back in it, but they still need to play better.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Yeah, Whatever

This is getting bloody ridiculous.

Lee Fowler is the TA McLendon of athletics directors. He's fumbled more times than I can count.

Just call Dereck Whittenburg and be done with it, Lee. Jesus.

I'm gonna go bang my head against a wall until I'm unconscious. If I'm lucky, I won't wake up until July, and by that point there is at least a chance (however slight) that NC State will have hired a coach.

"When will the hurting stop?"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The ashtray says you were up all night.

I like to picture Lee Fowler working deep into the night on this coaching search deal, although I'm not really sure what he would he would do during the wee hours of the day. Posting on the Pack Pride message boards with his alias, perhaps. Pacing
"Maybe all I need
is a shot in the arm."
around his home office in a constant state of fret, maybe. Is that work?

Anyway, the mental image is not so much intended to be realistic as it is to be comforting. With all the time he's taking, he must be doing something, right? You know what--don't answer that.

We've reached day 24, and... we still got nothin'. I'm sure the N&O is getting tired of writing the same piece of non-news over and over. It's funny how (relatively) irrelevant the News & Observer has been throughout the search. Pack Pride, StateFans Nation, and Dave Glenn have proven to be more well-connected than anyone at the paper, and it is these sources which have become the first-stops for those seeking updates.

The search has dragged on for so long that certain among us have become perilously out of date.

In other news...

-- NC State baseball continues to thrive:

With dramatic increases in season ticket sales, game attendance, and student involvement, not to mention continued success on the field; NC State baseball's future appears brighter than ever.

"I wouldn't have guessed that the support for our program would have grown this fast," head coach Elliott Avent said of the record crowds in Doak Field at Dail Park this season."The efforts of our coaching and support staffs have been incredible."

The guys deserve all of the added interest. An important series with Miami looms this weekend.

-- Wolfpack defensive line may hit it big:

"I don't know how they lost so many games with those three guys," said Sean Jones, who works in the Oakland Raiders' personnel department and reports directly to Al Davis.


McCargo had to address questions about the Wolfpack's apparently underachieving defensive front.

"We had a pretty good defensive front," McCargo said. "At times, we could have played a lot better."

Just send the curious here, John.

-- Sendek stays busy in transition:

Sendek's further priority has been his assistants. He said his North Carolina State staff, including former Washington State and Oregon State assistant Larry Harris, will join him in Tempe. An announcement will come after background checks are completed.


Well, that sucked. Kinda hard to have success when you allow a combined 12 goals in two games.

I did take a few photographs.

Mark Recchi Lines One Up

Monday, April 24, 2006

Chicago Tribune: Don't Pass On Mario

While we wait impatiently for NC State to hire a basketball coach, here is still yet more praise for Mario Williams (BugMeNot):

The Packers haven't been the same since Reggie White left town. For a while, they thought they might have a chance for Williams with their fifth pick on April 29. Then word got out.

If the Houston Texans select Williams instead of Bush, no football expert could fault them.

If the New Orleans Saints pass on Williams, it's because they're the New Orleans Saints.

If the Tennessee Titans select a needed quarterback instead of Williams, it's out of desperation.

If the New York Jets take either a quarterback or running back ahead of Williams, they are short-sighted.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Oh boy...

NC State offers Lavin coaching job:

Former UCLA coach Steve Lavin has been offered the opportunity to return to coaching by the N.C. State Wolfpack.

Lavin has been out of the business for three years and working as a broadcast analyst for ESPN since he was let go by the Bruins following the 2002-03 season, his only losing year as a head coach.

Lavin is working on contract details and has not yet decided whether to accept the job.

Friday Notes: Be Careful, Lee

-- Mike DeCourcy discusses NC State's possible interest in John Beilein:

Beilein runs a system that is a hybrid of sorts of the Princeton style that helped rejuvenate the Wolfpack in the early part of this decade but that eventually came to be viewed, correctly or not, as a hindrance to its progress. Beilein has a more engaging personality than previous State coach Herb Sendek, but he is not dynamic -- a salesman on the order of a Calipari or Barnes. Beilein and Sendek are similar enough that a couple of the guys the Pack signed in the fall, Dennis Horner and Dan Werner, also strongly considered WVU.

In his post, DeCourcy asks hypothetically if the reader would spend the money necessary to get Beilein. But the important question is: do circumstances allow you to spend that money? The answer is no. Even if NC State finds a way to avoid paying Beilein's large buyout, the answer is no.

It seems like common sense: you can't follow up an unpopular coach with someone who reminds fans of that unpopular coach. I never had a problem with Herb's system (because it is effective) and I don't have a problem with Beilein's, but most Wolfpack fans are sick of this style of play. You hire John Beilein, you invite the exact same criticism that was heaped onto Herb Sendek.

I think Lee Fowler understands these issues; they aren't easy to miss. He's been dealing firsthand with the atmosphere surrounding the basketball program over the last five years, and he of all people must realize how important a fresh start is for everyone. In-fighting and negativity have done enough damage already.

-- As frustrating as the coaching search has been, at least there are distractions: Major League Baseball, the NBA playoffs, and the Carolina Hurricanes' impending run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Go Canes!

-- Zam Fredrick is transferring from Georgia Tech. Fredrick only logged about 7 minutes/game in 2005 and nearly transferred after that season. His two years in Atlanta:

Zam FredrickO Rtg%Poss%MineFG%FT%3FG%OR%DR%TO%%ShotsPPWS

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Dave Glenn, an hour ago:

The search has taken a dramatic new turn, and I will be writing about it at some point in the next 36 hours.

What am I supposed to do for 36 hours, Dave?

One of many interesting tidbits from Glenn's post on Tuesday:

Among the many coaches who inquired (either themselves or through intermediaries) about the NCSU job but were rebuffed were Larry Eustachy (Southern Miss), Jeff Ruland (Iona) and a bevy of Division I assistants. ...

If you're out there, Larry, give me a call. I think there's a tic in my beer pong shooting motion and I need an expert's opinion.

Positive NFL Draft Press Keeps Comin'

The Dallas Morning News's Rick Gosselin wonders why, when it came to NC State's defense, the whole was less than the sum of the parts (BugMeNot):

The North Carolina State defense ranked sixth in the NCAA in sacks, eighth in defense and 14th overall in 2005. As impressive as those statistics are, I think the Wolfpack may have underachieved.

I didn’t see North Carolina State play a single game last season – but I do know the Wolfpack fielded one of the best defensive lines in college football. Or should have, anyway.

North Carolina State has the two top defensive ends and the third-best defensive tackle on the 2006 NFL draft board.

Strongside end Mario Williams is one of the three best players in this draft at any position. Weakside end Manny Lawson is right behind Williams on the end board and projects as a mid-first-round draft pick. Defensive tackle John McCargo projects as a late first-round pick.

So how did Wake Forest beat North Carolina State? How did floundering North Carolina slap 31 points on the Wolfpack? How did Clemson rush for 243 yards against the Wolfpack?

Two years of great defense, and a 12-11 record to show for it. Makes you feel wonderful, doesn't it?

Okay, that's not exactly positive, but the rest is, I promise...

Gosselin is also doing a position-by-position preview for the upcoming draft. He covered the defensive line today and featured Manny Lawson:

Manny Lawson has been compared to Taylor on this draft board. He's 6-5, 241 with 4.43-second speed over 40 yards. He posted 10 sacks at North Carolina State in 2005 and 20 in his career. He started a handful of games at linebacker in 2003 but moved to end in 2004. He put on 25 pounds for the 2005 season.

"Baked potatoes," Lawson said. "Then I went to the gym. Eating and working out, instead of eating, running and working out."

Gosselin ranks the top 15 defensive linemen in the draft--Williams, Lawson, and McCargo rank first, fourth, and sixth, respectively.

He previewed the tight ends on Tuesday and placed TJ Williams eighth.

Elsewhere, a writer for Patriots Football Weekly had some nice things to say about Oliver Hoyte:

When we watched Hoyte on tape, we were shocked. I thought I was looking at a first round draft pick. This guy made play after play and not only when we were watching him, but also when we watched other North Carolina State players like Mario Williams and Manny Lawson. Every time we watched tape of a Wolfpack player, Hoyte stood out.

At 250 pounds, Hoyte has the size the Patriots like in their linebackers and he hits like a ton of bricks. He’s not only a big hitter, however, he’s a great tackler. A lot of players can hit (Darnell Bing) but they don’t wrap up and tackle. When Hoyte tackles someone he pops them, wraps up and drives the player back. He’s the best tackler I saw at the linebacker position and that includes Hawk. Hoyte is a very physical player with a mean streak to him. He’s kind of like Rodney Harrison playing linebacker.

Hoyte showed over and over again on tape that he has the ability to shed blocks and make plays. He makes a lot of tackles in the backfield and seems to always be around the ball. Like I said, if you watched the footage of Hoyte that we saw and didn’t know where he was supposed to be drafted, you would think he was projected to go in the first or second round.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Jeff Ruland, Lon Kruger, and LA City College

Andy Katz says Jeff Ruland sent his application to NC State in the hopes of getting an interview. There is nothing to suggest that Ruland is a candidate for the job, and Lee Fowler should know better than to give the man a serious look.

Recall the LACC/D1 Scheduling story which alleged that schools were paying for the commitments of LA City College players through a scheduling service. Jeff Ruland's Iona teams were among those implicated:

This season, Iowa State played host to a four-team Thanksgiving tournament. Records show Iowa State paid D1 Scheduling $125,000 to provide Iona, Howard and Portland State. Howard received $13,000, Portland State $15,000. Iona, a private school, declined to divulge its guarantee. If Iona's guarantee was anything like those received by Howard and Portland State, D1 Scheduling would have kept more than $80,000 of Iowa State's $125,000 check. While Iona has no LACC players on roster this season, Gaels coach Jeff Ruland received a commitment from at least five players from LACC since 1999 (Kenya Carruthers, Leland Matthews, Jermaine Small, Norman Simmons and Julian Sensley). Howard also recruited Simmons, who never got eligible there, while Portland State has recruited LACC players in recent years but never landed one. Ruland ignored multiple interview requests by Howard and Portland State have changed coaches since those games were arranged. Current Howard coach Gil Jackson said he inherited that $13,000 game at Iowa State for No. 25, 2005, and couldn't believe it.

"Guarantees at that level start at $40,000 and upward," Jackson said. "Now that I'm here, we won't be playing any more games like that."

In response, Ruland said the following:

"The guy [who wrote the story] is a moron," Ruland said.

"He can't get his facts straight. It's not illegal to have a scheduling company. It's tough for us to get games when you're a good mid-major; no one wants to play you. And, we've had no players [involved in D1] since 2000 and we're not using them next year because the schedule is almost done."

Gregg Doyel pointed out that Iona signed LACC's Norman Simmons recently but couldn't get him eligible. Why not Jeff Ruland? This is why not.

On a side note, when I was looking at some things related to LACC, I found that the college sent three players to UNLV right before Lon Kruger took over there. Kruger, of course, is one of the latest guys to pop up in the NCSU coaching search.

Kruger does not have a relationship with LA City College. In fact, Kruger could not get an LACC player even if he wanted one:

As long as Lon Kruger is coaching UNLV, do not expect the Rebels to score a Los Angeles City College recruiting coup like it has over the past 18 months with Jerel Blassingame, Romel Beck and Wilbur Williams.

LACC coach Mike Miller said he won't allow it, that he officially shut off the pipeline from his program to Southern Nevada when Kruger did not retain Dave Rice, a Miller confidant, on his staff last spring.

In retrospect (this story was written in 2004), Miller's pettiness did Lon Kruger's program a favor. UNLV became disassociated with LACC shortly after D1 Scheduling was founded--and long before Gregg Doyel's investigation.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

No, no! The PTA has not disbanded.

On Saturday, the Winston-Salem Journal's John DeLong told all of us to relax. Today, Caulton Tudor says we shouldn't panic:

And an opportunity is exactly what this is for State. A new coach in his early or mid-40s could well be on the job through Mike Krzyzewski's retirement at Duke and perhaps through Roy Williams' final seasons at North Carolina.

Krzyzewski, 59, and Williams, 55, are youthful and energetic by either age comparison. Hopefully, both will be around for many years to come.

But clearly, time could be on State's side with this hire.

It's certainly something that Fowler has to take into account. He has to find the best person for the 2006-07 season while keeping a casual eye on what the ACC might look like in 2016-17.

Wait 'Til Ten Years From Now is the new Wait 'Til Next Year.

All this advice is unnecessary, if you ask me. Since everyone is in the dark about the current status of the search, there isn't anything to get worked up over.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

LSU AD: $2 million for John Brady? That's crazy!

I got a kick out of this:

If North Carolina State offers LSU basketball coach John Brady $2 million, LSU athletic director Skip Bertman says go for it.

"If North Carolina State offers him $2 million, I think John should interview there because he's not going to get $2 million here," Bertman said Wednesday afternoon. "That would be outrageous. Nobody in the SEC makes $2 million."

Bertman's candid comments remind us why tact is for losers. What Bertman says isn't a revelation--of course he's not going to more than double Brady's current salary--but I am surprised he would be so explicit about it. That can't be good for coach-AD relations.

Later in the article (emphasis below is mine):

Until LSU's Final Four run, which included a stunning upset of Duke, Brady was unpopular among fans, particularly on the Internet, and struggled to fill the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. He does not always display a warm media personality either.

So on the plus side, if we hire Brady, he'll feel right at home.

"Damn those internets!"

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Anyone need a job? We have two million dollars here.

The last few days have been exhausting. It's kind of strange to say that about a coaching search of all things, but the ridiculous number of pendulum swings we've endured have me mentally drained. Needless to say, I'm not looking forward to the continued search for a head coach. The good news is we aren't likely to be jerked around as violently as we were by the Calipari saga.

How has this become so agonizing? Here's a great example:

Confirmation is blurry on a report that a verbal agreement was reached with Calipari during Sunday’s meeting. The plan was for Calipari to visit Raleigh on Monday night (as he did) and at that point he would be presented a formal offer which he indicated that he would accept. Obviously, Calipari had engaged in such detailed negotiations that the offer was able to be drawn.

And the reports from just last night were extremely encouraging. Things were so positive that I thought it was safe enough to send my dad an email letting him know that it appeared Calipari was about to be hired (I think my dad is the only person in the triangle who hasn't been reading the message boards over the last week). I'm sorry for getting his hopes up.

I can only guess where Lee Fowler will turn from here, and I'm beginning to think it will be easier on everyone if he simply skips any remaining "name" coaches on his list and moves to the lesser-known candidates. Not that I want Fowler to be hasty.

I can't tell which coaches are realistic candidates at this point, and it's a struggle to scrape together some enthusiasm for those who appear to compose the top of the list. I like Billy Gillispie the most. I wouldn't mind Jay Wright, though I am less impressed with him than most Wolfpack fans seem to be.

Of the other names mentioned lately, most are groan-worthy. I shake my head every time Steve Lavin is suggested because it is unfathomable to me that anyone could seriously believe he's the guy who will take the program forward. We need to avoid coaches with shaky track records at major-conference schools. Their mediocrity is a known quantity. Why should we bother? Hiring someone who fits this profile (like Lavin, like John Brady) would be the biggest mistake we could make, in my opinion.

Since we're fishing again: what about Larry Harris? He wants a head coaching job badly. He's a good recruiter and he's obviously familiar with NC State, which would give us the smoothest transition between regimes that is possible. Is Larry any less ready for this job than our other C-level prospects?

Monday, April 10, 2006

I am done with the internets.

Calipari visiting Raleigh today.

Calipari not visiting Raleigh today.

I'm losing my mind. Someone wake me up when we have a new coach.

In other news...

There were a lot of things to be happy about this weekend, none of them related to basketball.

-- In its last home match of the season, the Wolfpack men's tennis team defeated 18th-ranked Clemson today. Head coach Jon Choboy deserves recognition for bringing the tennis program back from utter suckitude. Three years ago, the team went 5-17 (1-8). This season, NC State is 20-7 (3-6), not to mention...

The Pack has now defeated a school record six ranked opponents on the season; No. 71 Old Dominion, No. 19 Kentucky, No. 31 South Carolina, No. 66 Brown, No. 70 Maryland and No. 18 Clemson.

With a little more luck (NC State has lost three ACC matches by a 4-3 margin), the Pack would be near the top of the conference standings. The important thing, especially considering where we were a few years ago, is that State has reached a point where it can play with the conference's best (one of State's narrow 4-3 losses came against a Duke team that was ranked 4th in the nation at the time). Tennis finished last season ranked 46th and has spent the majority of this season in the top 40. State is a good bet to make the NCAAs for the first time since the late 90s.

-- Baseball beat Wake Forest 17-2 this afternoon and won the weekend series, 2-1. NC State is hitting .353/.447/.507 this year, which is up from 2005's .311/.405/.441 line. It's a good thing the guys are hitting, too, because the pitching staff is mediocre (again). Brackman has struggled, and the team really needs him. His K/9IP remains good, but his H/9IP has doubled. He is also walking nearly 6 batters per 9IP.

Eryk McConnell has been the bright spot of the starting rotation. He leads the starters in IP and ERA by wide margins and sports an excellent 4:1 K:BB ratio. Sunday's win was Eryk's handiwork.

Despite slugging .306 this year, shortstop Jonathan Diaz has managed 22 walks in 36 games. Seeing as how there's no reason to pitch around someone with so little power, that doesn't speak too well for NC State's opponents. Diaz's OBP (.404) is nearly 100 points higher than his SLG, which just looks weird.

-- NC State softball moved into second place in the ACC after splitting a double header with Georgia Tech on Sunday. This team doesn't even have a softball field of its own yet.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

At Least Another Day

The weekend has come and gone without a hire, though we are seemingly close to having a new head coach. Thank goodness that Pack Pride and StateFans Nation have been on the ball with numerous updates and solid insider info, as I have no inside sources whatsoever. Those sites have made the suspense a little more bearable.

Hopefully John Calipari has some good news for us tomorrow. I can't take another week of this.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Barnes still mulling?

Caulton Tudor says Rick Barnes remains a possibility, if only a slight one...

While there is no strong reason to predict Barnes will leave Texas to coach basketball at N.C. State, he has not completely closed the door on the Wolfpack advances.

That's how the situation stood as of Friday afternoon - hours after it was widely reported that Barnes had told State to buzz off.

The odds of Barnes saying "yes" to State are no better than one in five, but he'll remain at the top of the target list until he says there is no chance.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Now it gets fun...

But this is not a good fun. It's more of a the-math-teacher-just-called-this-problem-fun-which-means-it's-gonna-suck kind of thing.

Barnes ain't comin', and while it would have been great to nab him, I can live his decision. What does worry me is where that decision may eventually lead us.

Jim Larranaga? John Brady? I shudder. Gregg Doyel has indicated that Karl Hobbs has been contacted. Does Lee Fowler have an "Expensive Mistakes" section in his rolodex? Or maybe it's the "Overrated And/Or Shady" section. Although it would be kind of funny (you could allow yourself the slightest of smiles as you hurl yourself out of a window) to end up hiring a guy who is the most diametrical to Herb Sendek both ethically and in terms of coaching acumen.

This hire is supposed to not only help the basketball program step forward, it's also supposed to repair NC State's fractured fanbase. The latter will probably be accomplished regardless of who gets the job. Either everyone's going to be happy, or everyone's going to be disgusted. If you thought it was damaging to the program when half of the fanbase was disgusted, imagine the destruction that will be wrought by the universal anger that's going to come with a disappointing hire.

I'm overreacting right now, but it's hard to avoid a few tinges of panic considering the plethora of disastrous possibilities out there.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Big Ten Wonk: State of the stats

A great read from the Wonk today:

But I think the most common misconception related to this particular fad is a belief that these stats must surely represent something irreducibly complex and esoteric. I think the truth is pretty much the exact opposite. The value of tempo-free stats is precisely that, like a batting average, they enable us to perform the most mundane and least esoteric of descriptive housekeeping, to wit: "That team has a good defense." "This player is a better rebounder than that player." "That team turns the ball over a lot."

This type of mundane statement comes in really handy. It'd be nice if the announcers on the game we're watching on a given night could be trusted to make this type of statement dependably. And I'm not asking for the fully loaded tempo-free utopia all at once. But someday soon, games on ESPN could take a baby step or two:

--Replace FG percentage with effective FG pct.
--Never again confuse mere slowness for "defense," "allowing just 55 points a game," etc.
--Maybe even an occasional PPWS, especially in discussing tomorrow's Redicks and Morrisons.

I'll see your "meh" and raise you a shrug.

Greg Hansen is unimpressed by Arizona State's hire:

She had more than a month to search for a basketball coach. She had enough bank — probably more than $1 million per season in guaranteed money — to handpick someone charismatic and recognizable. And she chose Herb Sendek, a low-keyed version of Cal's barely breathing Ben Braun.

There is nothing in this column that could be mistaken for concern on Hansen's part, not that I blame him--or any other UofA fan, for that matter. Wildcats fans are probably disappointed to see ASU make the best hire for its circumstances, but those fans still have no reason to feel threatened. There are a lot of problems inherent to the ASU program, and Sendek will have to contend with all of them. Some issues, like like a fickle and apathetic fan base, will be new to him.

This guy's a little underwhelmed, too:

You want to believe that new Arizona State men’s basketball coach Herb Sendek is the guy who will finally render this program annually relevant.

You want to believe his extensive head coaching and recruiting experience will give ASU a more prominent national profile — that his ability to resurrect North Carolina State will translate in Tempe.

You want to believe his yearly battles with Duke and North Carolina have
steeled him for UCLA, Washington and the in-state behemoth to the south.

You want to believe that what athletic director Lisa Love called his “intelligence and tactical approach to the job” will overcome his lack of West Coast ties.

You want to believe his softspoken, unassuming personality will play well in the living rooms of recruits — that runand-gun California kids will sign on for his slow-down approach.

And then you think back to 1998, when Rob Evans was hired, and the parallels are overwhelming.

Arizona State's student newspaper, on the other hand, is looking on the bright side:

The future for basketball in Tempe looks as bright as it ever has. Yes, ASU is not looked at as a basketball school, but with a winning program, butts will be put in the seats and traditions will be formed before our eyes.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Monday, April 03, 2006

He's gone to plaid!

From today's press conference:

"I'd like to begin by thanking so many wonderful people at North Carolina State. I was very blessed to have a remarkable chancellor, Dr. Jim Oblinger, a terrific athletics director, Lee Fowler, our chairman of the board, Wendell Murphy, as well as a great faculty and staff to work together with and a wonderful fan base who put us year in and year out among the leaders in the country in attendance.

"Perhaps most significantly though, the opportunities that I continue to be blessed with are because of the wonderful young men who came to NC state to play for us. It is with a real sense of gratitude that I sit here today because of so many of those people and their efforts to help us along the way."
So strange.

It had to be difficult for Herb to say this. I'm sure that his sentiments with regards to the administration are sincere, but he must harbor bitter thoughts for a portion of the fan base. Were I in his shoes, I probably wouldn't have been able to avoid a few parting shots. Fortunately, Herb has an endless amount of tact and self-restraint.

Seth Greenberg said Arizona State got a 'complete steal'. And he is absolutely right about that. Without the unusual circumstances in Raleigh, ASU probably doesn't find a coach with solid experience and major-conference credentials. Credit to the Sun Devils for being opportunistic. I bet they even threw in that tie.

In other coaching news, LSU's John Brady wants more money (HT: Silflay Hraka). I thought this comment was funny:

"If another school made a serious run and offered me something that I thought was fair for me, I'd take a look at it," Brady said. "But what I'm not going to do is manufacture something to make somebody listen to me. I will never play one school against another."

If you're not trying to play one school against another, it's probably a bad idea to publically announce your willingness to listen to offers.

"Hey [wink, wink], it's just, you know, [nudge, nudge] common courtesy to listen to offers. I don't want to be rude [is this thing on?] or anything."

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Toss Up

Twenty four hours later and I can't shake this weird feeling I have.

For one thing, Herb Sendek has been the only basketball coach that NC State has had since I became a fan of the school. Seeing someone else on the sideline will be strange at first. Not to mention seeing Herb on the ASU sideline.

For another, I lived in Tucson for a few years during high school, and while I was there I grew to loathe the nonstop worship of Arizona's basketball program, so much so that I started to root for the Sun Devils out of spite. Now Sendek is off to take his shot at Lute Olson and the U of A, and with a little luck, he can do what Rob Evans never could--put a dent in Olson's empire. I'll be rooting for you to do just that, Herb.

I think most agree that Sendek's departure makes sense both for him and for NC State. The only drawback for Herb: he now has to watch Pac-10 basketball. Rather than bothering to scout Washington State, I'd suggest he just burn those tapes.

NC State faces considerable hurdles as it begins making coaching inquiries. If the school cannot find a guy who is an obvious improvement over Herb Sendek, it defeats the purpose of this change. But is it realistic to expect obvious improvement with the new hire?

A lot of the names I've heard just aren't very exciting. That includes Rick Barnes. It's particularly disturbing that Dave Odom (of all people) has been brought up. Making a bigger mistake than hiring Dave Odom would be difficult.

NC State (and the new coach) also must consolidate the foundation that Sendek has built over the last five years so that the basketball program is in a position to take another step forward once life returns to normal. That will require a lot of damage control. Those who clamored for change were never interested in a rebuilding project. They want the new guy to move the program ahead without too many speed bumps in the short term.

Chris Wright (2007) has already decommitted. Larry Davis and the rest of the 2006 class are being more patient, but Davis has made it clear that if he doesn't like the new hire, he'll be heading elsewhere. The first thing the new head coach should do--five minutes after shaking hands with Lee Fowler--is call Chris Wright.

Uncertainty sucks. I want to believe that this is all going to work out, but I'm finding it hard to be optimistic. I don't trust NCSU officials to make the right hire. And there is a ton of bad karma associated with this mess.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Holy crap. We need a new basketball coach.

Sendek Headed To Arizona State

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I guess I'll know after we find out who the new guy is.

Best of luck to Herb in Tempe.