Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thursday Items

-- From Tim Peeler:

No. 3: Is the crowned playing surface ever going to be removed from Carter-Finley, the only stadium remaining in the ACC that still has a playing surface that slopes off towards the sidelines?

Answer, from Ray Brincefield, Assistant Athletics Director for Outdoor Facilities: “The crown was installed for two reasons: so the running backs could go down hill on the pitch sweeps and options that were popular in the 1960s and ’70s and so water could run off the field to the sides, like off a turtle’s back.

“The crown was an advantage when NC State was running the veer and had great running backs like Charlie Burden, Stan Fritts, Ted Brown, Joe McIntosh and Tremayne Stephens. But football has changed so that the slope is not an advantage anymore.

“Turfgrass technology has changed dramatically since then, and everything is gravity based, with sand underneath the turf, like on a golf green. We are all on the same page with Coach O’Brien on this, that it would be better for the program to be playing a surface that is consistent with the laser-leveled Dail Practice Facility fields that the team practices on every day and what it plays on when it goes on the road.

“For now, however, there are no immediate plans to change the crowned playing surface of Wayne Day Field.”

That's a little disappointing to hear; I hope we can get it done within the next year or two.

-- More questions: Heather Dinich has a few. So does Ken Tysiac.

-- Pack Pride has some additional Tom O'Brien comments (I think. It seems like some of these quotes are from the ACC football media dealie.):

With Anthony Hill out last year, you had to go to Marcus Stone who had little experience. With Anthony back, how will that change your tight end sets and your offense?
I think the key to that is Anthony Hill. A year ago we felt he was going to be the best tight end in the conference, and we certainly feel that way again now. After having played against him, he was a tremendous blocker, he could run and get up the field, he could catch the football and run with it after he got the football. He’s the key to any type of tight end formation you want to be in. We always play with two tight ends, so it doesn’t change that as much.

-- Things gettin' worse at the N&O?

-- Ken Griffey Jr., hunh. Ooookay.

-- I never thought I'd see a major league player delve into sabermetrics like this...

Brian Bannister feels nervous over breakfast. And when Bannister feels nervous, he goes to the numbers. In rough times, he has always found comfort in numbers.

“Look at my xFIP,” he is saying as he pulls out a few pages he printed off the Internet site, “The Hardball Times.” He points out his xFIP — an advanced pitching statistic that stands for “Expected Fielding Independent Pitching.” The statistic calculates something that looks like ERA, only instead of measuring earned runs per nine innings, it measures three things that pitchers can control — strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed.


“Look,” he says, and here is his row of xFIP numbers:

2006: 6.29.

2007: 5.14.

2008: 4.59.

“Look at that,” he says again. “I’m actually pitching better than I was last year. My xFIP is down. It’s just that I got lucky last year.”

Then he stares at the numbers for another few seconds, and he offers a frustrated smile because he knows that, in the end, nobody else really cares about his xFIP.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Recruiters Have Fun With The Internet

Barry Jacobs checks in from the AAU tournament in Orlando:

The talk in Orlando this summer was of a package deal in which a prominent prospect from the ACC region was being offered around with the stipulation a school must hire his handler’s younger brother.

That would be John Wall and Dwon Clifton.

Jacobs continues:

Then there was the almost-ACC recruit who skittered from school to school to school, ending up with a Big East program that allegedly hired his trainer.

New wrinkles to bend or circumvent the rules are of course as omnipresent as the avarice that drives practitioners.

One coach told of a competitor’s creative use of the Internet to steer NCAA-banned payments to the father of a signee. According to this scenario, the parent was advised to create a website, post analysis of his offspring’s AAU team and teammates, and then charge a subscription fee equivalent to the cost of round-trip airfare to his son’s school. The benefiting college coach promised to subscribe at the appropriate level.

I'd like to see the analysis on that website. "Peter Prospect Jr.: plays like Jordan, leads like Jesus."

Monday, July 28, 2008

House Of Pain: Now With More Pain!

Oh dear.

What anthem makes you want to stand up and sing for the Wolfpack? The World Series-champion Boston Red Sox have Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and other teams have adopted songs to ignite a little excitement in their stadiums as well. Here’s your chance to help start a new game-day tradition at Carter-Finley Stadium. Whether it is a country hit, classic rock or a beach music song, NC State is looking for something that will stir the passions of fans aged 2 to 92 between the third and fourth quarters of home football games. Now through Aug. 11, we’ll be taking nominations for what that song should be. Nominate as many songs as you like. We’ll pare the list down to the top five songs for a fan poll on The song will debut at the Sept. 6 home opener against William & Mary.

When they asked folks to suggest an intro song last season, all we ended up with was a remixed version of "Boom." So the point of that exercise was... what, exactly?

The 3rd Quarter Rock Out, which gained initial traction thanks to the efforts of enterprising air guitar enthusiasts across the country, is a tradition that's been popularized by the Wisconsin Badgers:

"Jump Around" is played at various sporting events in North America, from football to hockey. A notable example is the playing of "Jump Around" between the third and fourth quarter at every Wisconsin Badgers and Fresno State Bulldogs home football game. Another notable example is the use of "Jump Around" as the background music to appearances of the Rally Monkey, the mascot of Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Angels. "Jump Around" is also featured at Miami University Hockey games, towards the end of the third period. The North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball program also plays "Jump Around" just before the tip-off. The song is also featured on Jock Jams volume 4, and is considered by many to be a "sports anthem" or a "pump-up song."

The Camp Randall Stadium tradition almost died before we could steal it; apparently some people did not come to get down, to get out their seats and jump around. A two-year hiatus began in 2003:

Students will not hear “Jump Around” at Badger football games for at least the next two years, according to University of Wisconsin officials.

Fans who sit on the west side of the stadium have “expressed uneasiness” about students jumping after third quarter every year

Seems the senior citizens get cranky when their interquarter naps are interrupted.

I'll go ahead and assume we will not use "Jump Around" since that puts us in blatant theft territory. And that leaves the door open for... a "Boom" salsa mix. (¡Dios mio!)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lorenzo Brown!

Brown commits to NC State:

Brown is 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds and will be able to play both point guard and shooting guard in college, according to his coach, Allen Whitehart of Centennial High.

As a junior last season, Brown averaged 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game. He is rated the 29th-best prospect in his class by

“He works at all aspects of the game,” Whitehart said. “He does a lot well, and his shooting is coming along. . . .When the ball is in his hands, nine times out of 10 good things happen.” story (subscription required).

In other news...

-- The State looks at some USC storylines heading into camp.

-- DeMario Pressley will miss the 2008 NFL season.

-- The Daily Press details former Wolfpack linebacker Morocco Brown's impressive rise through the NFL front office ranks.

Brown, a Hampton native and Kecoughtan High grad, is considered a rising star in NFL personnel circles. He spent seven years with the Chicago Bears under the respected Bobby DePaul, who helped build the organization into a championship contender and Super Bowl team.

Before that, Brown spent one extremely fruitful year with the Redskins, learning the basics of NFL scouting and player evaluation.

When the Redskins juggled the front office in the wake of head coach Joe Gibbs' retirement last winter, Brown was on their short list. He is the No. 3 man on the player side, behind vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato and director of player personnel Scott Campbell.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JJ Hickson Would Just Like To Win A Basketball Game Again

-- JJ Hickson's college and NBA summer league numbers:

             ORtg   %Poss   %Shots   eFG%     OR%     DR%   FTRate    TO%
NCSU 107.3 26.8 25.2 59.1 11.7 21.9 70.7 20.9
SummerLg 97.5 29.7 27.1 53.4 13.7 14.6 52.1 19.7

Hickson started all five games for the Cavs, averaging better than 19 and 7 per game. And he did so without much help (sounds familiar)--this summer league squad was awful (also rings bells).

-- Roll Bama Roll takes a look at South Carolina:

Whoever winds up under center will have at least one good target to throw to in Kenny McKinley, the SEC's leader in receptions (77) last year. Finding someone to step up and provide a few more receiving threats is a must, though, and SC has a couple of candidates in Moe Brown and Dion Lecorn. Lecorn, a sophomore, saw six starts last year as a true freshman, grabbing 27 for 315 yards and 3 TDS, while Brown, who saw five starts two years ago, had 13 catches for 168 yards. WR Depth is there, though it's wholly inexperienced, so the TEs could be counted on as receiving threats to help spread the ball around. Jared Cook (the second leading receiver last year with 30 for 421 and 3 TDs) and Weslye Saunders are both good pass catching TEs and can pose some interesting threats from two tight sets for opposing defense.

-- Joe Ovies on the Victoria's Secret college apparel:

North Carolina does have a line of Victoria’s Secret gear, and adding some pink actually makes the school colors a bit tougher looking. NC State doesn’t have a “Pink Collection,” which is probably a smart move. Wolfpack fans would simply build up immense expectations on what the panties were capable of doing for their wives and girlfriends, only to realize the panties didn’t get them as far as they would like to go at the end of the night. At that point, Pack fans would want to fire their wife or girlfriend and blame the News & Observer for the lack of action.

Well played, sir.

-- Some TOB video.

Would you like to redshirt Mike Glennon?
I think it would be advantageous to us if we could redshirt him, but I think with the situation we're in we have to play the best players we have. If he comes out of preseason camp as the best quarterback than we have a decision to make.

I think I'd prefer we redshirt Glennon this season even if he is clearly the best QB in camp. We're still rebuilding, so why not save his eligibility for when we're in a better position to contend for bowl games and/or the ACC title? Admittedly, my opinion on this is shaped entirely by the way Philip Rivers's career played out (horrible, season-destroying defense his true senior year; great defense in his woulda-been RS-SR year). There's no reason to think we'd miss our window down the road if we did go with Glennon this season, and I couldn't exactly fault the staff for playing the best player at the position. That is sort of the point.

Monday, July 21, 2008


To no one's surprise...


1. Clemson (59 first-place votes) 383 points; 2. Wake Forest (5) 304; 3. Florida State (1) 265; 4. Boston College 154; 5. Maryland 147; 6. N.C. State 112.

In the Coastal Division, both Georgia Tech and Virginia received a first place vote. Ballsy picks, those. Stupid, but ballsy.

Also, as Andrew Carter points out, this is the first time FSU has not been picked to win the conference/Atlantic Division:

The previous fewest number of votes FSU received to finish in first place came in 2003, when the 'Noles earned 35 first-place votes. They topped that media poll, too, by the way. Before today, FSU had been voted to either win the league outright or win its division every year since the school joined the conference before the 1992 season.

But no longer.


More debate fuel! ESPN has concocted an arbitrary points system and ranked the college basketball programs in the "modern era" (since the NCAAT expanded to 64 teams in 1984-85). The Wolfpack landed at #52, placing us 6th in the ACC behind UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, Maryland, and Georgia Tech.

Some of the most well-known schools that failed to crack our Top 50 include NC State (52), Marquette (T-61), Boston College (T-70), Tennessee (99) and USC (T-132). These schools are mostly in these spots because they play in ultracompetitive conferences where they have failed to rack up tons of conference titles.

Considering how the '90s went for us, I'd have expected worse. Some schools ranked between 41-50: College of Charleston, Chattanooga, Butler, Western Kentucky.

Friday, July 18, 2008

TOB Suggests New Intro Song

From Tim Peeler:

Later, O’Brien owned up to his ABBA addiction: “‘Dancing Queen’ is just hard to sit down to.”

Honestly, I'd take anything that's not "Boom."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thursday Items

-- Heather Dinich caught up with Russell Wilson:

His desire to be NC State's quarterback kept him busy -- Wilson literally went from one field to the next.


"I was a little bit," he said, "but I would never tell anybody. Mainly I would never tell myself that. You get tired waking up at 4:20 in the morning, every morning, anyway. There are so many people in the world who wish they could do the things I could and other players in the ACC could, like step on that field, and I realize that."

-- spoke with JJ Hickson after his impressive summer league debut.

-- From a Technician piece on summer camps:

Petercuskie, who coached at Boston College under O'Brien from 1997-2006, said the camps are growing both in numbers and in the number of players offered from the camp, though he would like to see even more players in the system come through camp first.

"In the 10 years at BC, about 40% came through camp," Petercuskie said. "Now it's growing, but we have not gotten to that point yet. All of our staff, and coach O'Brien in particular, love to see guys work up close and personal-and that's the bottom line."

"We've been doing this a long time, and we've been fooled many times on tape, but rarely do we miss out on a guy we get to see in person."

-- This is greatness. (ht: mgoblog)

-- Every now and then, I stumble onto something strange via Google news. Did you know there was another NC State?

A great time with a new twist.

That's the word on Rock N.C. State, which has replaced Rock-n-Ribs as North Central State College Foundation's summer festival.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Tough Day For The Lowes

Coach takes the stand:

N.C. State Basketball coach Sydney Lowe took the stand for his son this morning, telling the judge what his son did is not who he is.

Sidney Lowe II faces serious time for the charges he pleaded guilty to yesterday in court. The judge still hasn't sentenced the 23-year-old. He continues to hear testimony about Lowe's character.

Sidney Lowe Sr. took the stand in support of his son. Often wiping away tears as he testified and as he asked the court to have mercy on his son. "I mean obviously I love my son. First off I want to say sorry to the victims. No one should have to go through what you went through. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. That wasn't my son."

News 14 has some video.

Update: Lowe II gets 15 months.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Home-And-Home With Marquette Still Pending

A brief update:

Also, MU continues to work on a home-and-home series with NC State beginning this season, and I was told getting that done remains the Golden Eagles' top scheduling priority at this moment. It's dependent on the Wolfpack being able to move a game it already has scheduled.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Yards Allowed Per Play

Following up on some comments about the 2007 defense I made the other day, here's an expanded look at our performance. The number in the first column is the opponent's average yards gained per play over the course of the season, excluding the opponent's game against NC State. The second column is their performance against the Wolfpack. Green numbers: we held the opponent below their average.

              Season     vs. NCSU
Yds/Play Yds/Play
UCF 5.76 4.46
BC 5.53 5.11
Clemson 5.30 6.83
Louisville 6.48 6.07
FSU 5.20 6.05

ECU 5.92 3.75
UVA 4.72 4.24
Miami 4.80 4.24
UNC 5.09 4.81
Wake 4.71 4.58
UMd 4.93 6.30 (man, where were we on this day? still baffling.)

1st Half (0-5) 5.65 5.77
2nd Half (4-2) 5.02 4.79

(Wofford's excluded since it's I-AA.)

Aaah! Turnovers!

Here's some interesting data from Rock M Nation's The Boy. First, though:

What happens if we count both values (the value of the offense's field position at the time of the turnover and the value of the resulting starting field position for the opposition) fully, combining the two to gauge the 'points' involved in a given turnover. Where does that take us?

For one thing, it means we're looking at quite a few different numbers here. For every time your offense turns the ball over, you've got a "Points Lost" number (your own field position at the time of the t/o) and a "Points Given" number (opponent's resulting field position). For every time your defense benefits from a takeaway, you have a "Points Prevented" number (your opponents' field position at the time of the t/o) and a "points Taken" number (your resulting field position). Obviously Points Lost and Points Prevented are the same number (depending on whether you're on offense or defense), as are Points Given and Points Taken.

(Field position point values were determined by going through the play-by-play from the 2007 season and determining the expected point value of a given spot on the field.)

Night terrors, ma'am:

Worst Turnover Points Margins

120. NC State (-8.87 points per game) (tied for #116)
119. Florida International (-8.67) (#119)
118. Idaho (-8.43) (#113)
117. Baylor (-8.16) (tied for #116)
116. Nebraska (-6.58) (tied for #116)

Nine points per game! (The number in parentheses is each team's national ranking in turnover margin, so this points-based method squares pretty well with the more conventional statistic.)

NC State ranked 117th in both points prevented (just a few) and points given (lots; often immediately).

Inside: $10 donation to IPTAY.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thursday Items

-- Clayton Shunick, well on his way towards having the opportunity to let Dusty Baker destroy his arm:




-- In other baseball news, it sounds like there is at least an outside chance that Marcus Jones returns to NC State for his senior season:

Although he did not specify the amounts discussed, Jones, selected by the Nationals in the 11th round, did say this: ‘‘As much as they say they want me in their organization, we’re still talking about a few numbers on a piece of paper. It is frustrating but it’s one of those things that has to work itself out. We’re still talking.”

Jones, a native of Washington, D.C., is not standing idle during the negotiating process as he recently committed to play for the Hyannis Mets of the Cape Cod Baseball League. He joined the squad last week.

‘‘I’m just trying to stay fresh and play somewhere,” Jones said. ‘‘The deadline [to sign] is Aug. 15 so I’ll have to make a move by then. We’ll see what happens. If I don’t end up signing I can go up to school and get my diploma [and finish his final year of college eligibility].”

-- Philip Rivers gets a street named after him in Athens, Alabama. Philip Rivers Drive, naturally.

-- JJ Hickson contract details:

Hickson, a 19-year-old power forward from North Carolina State, will sign a two-year contract worth $2,742,060 ($1,329,480 in 2008-09 and $1,412,580 in 2009-10). The Cavs will hold an option on the 2010-11 contract worth $1,495,680, and the qualifying offer on the 2011-12 contract will be worth $2,303,347.

-- The Charleston Post and Courier's Travis Haney breaks down the South Carolina/NC State matchup:

We'll see what the run D's got right away. Jamelle Eugene, Andre Brown and Toney Baker will all get carries for the 'Pack. Corralling them will be a challenge, but the Gamecocks have the horses up front to make it happen.

Watch for Jasper Brinkley and Eric Norwood to be immediately visible at linebacker. And maybe end Jarriel King will get some face time, if he can get his academic situation in order.

N.C. State has no clue who its quarterback will be this fall. (Sound familiar, Gamecocks faithful?) But with those runners, it won't really matter. A trained monkey could probably hand the ball off.

I'm willing to give anything a shot at this point, even a trained monkey--preferably one that was shot into space and came back super-intelligent. Or failing that, perhaps Harrison Beck's seeing-eye dog, Pumpkin. "What's that, girl? Andre's trapped in the backfield?"

Haney predicts a thrilling 18-10 Gamecock win, which seems entirely too plausible.

Just need to create bigger passing lanes, is all.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sporting News Pegs Wolfpack At #45

A brief rundown from SN:

And last year's record wasn't as impressive as the manner in which it was accomplished. The Wolfpack went 1-5 with only a victory over Wofford in the first half of the season before reeling off four straight victories over East Carolina, Virginia, Miami and North Carolina.

Subsequent losses to Wake Forest and Maryland reminded everyone of how much work is left to be done. By the spring game, though, O'Brien proclaimed progress.

"I think everything in our program is way ahead of where we were a year ago," O'Brien says.


Burning question: Was that four-game winning streak last year a sign of progress in Tom O'Brien's first season, or was it simply a mirage? Maryland's 37-0 slap-around of N.C. State -- in Raleigh, no less -- to close the season sure made it seem more like the latter.

          Yds/Play    Yds/PassAtt    Yds/RuAtt    YdsAllowed/Play
at ECU 5.3 7.6 1.8 3.7
vs UVA 5.7 7.5 2.8 4.2
at Miami 4.2 5.2 3.1 5.4
vs UNC 4.7 5.5 3.9 4.8
SEASON 4.7 5.9 3.0 5.2

On the strength of Daniel Evans's two best passing performances, NC State had, not coincidentally, its two best offensive performances (in terms of yards/play) of the season during the winning streak. The offense returned to same-ol'-same-'ol territory against Miami and UNC, with the difference being that we were able to maintain our streak of even-or-better turnover margins. So, from an offensive standpoint, was the winning streak a mirage? Yeah. But I think from a defense/turnover standpoint, we saw some real progress.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Tony Costner Is The New Gerald Wilkins's Andrew Skwara checked in with the Costners...

Costner's father, Tony, who played professionally overseas, doesn't believe his son got worse. He says the dramatic drop in production was due to the team building around big man J.J. Hickson, a five-star prospect and the prize of the Wolfpack's 2008 class.

"There is no way you can convince me that he digressed to that level," Tony Costner said. "The circumstances kept him from playing how he would normally play. The team went in a different direction. They wanted to establish a halfcourt game and establish a low post. I think (N.C. State) coach Sidney Lowe is a good coach, but that kept Brandon and other players from playing how they are capable of playing. It was just a case of them doing what the coaches wanted."


"I never really felt that I got into that good of a rhythm," said [Brandon] Costner, who signed with previous N.C. State coach Herb Sendek. "Because I was taking a significantly less number of shots, I really needed to be almost perfect to match what I did two years ago. That's nearly impossible."

He looked like a guy who was thinking "I have to be perfect" every time he touched the ball last season.

Later in the article:

"They have a great nucleus with three guys returning," Tony Costner said. "Brandon, Courtney and Ben all know how to play the game. You shouldn't restrict them. In my opinion they need to let those guys play. I hope that is what happens."

Costner is hopeful that without Hickson patrolling the paint, Lowe will turn to a more versatile attack.

"I feel that we are going to get up and down more and do more intricate things with the offense," [Brandon] Costner said. "It should be similar to what we did two years ago, rather than just dump the ball inside. We are also a much closer and much older team."

Too many excuses, not nearly enough introspection. You can tell from the disdainful "rather than just dump the ball inside" comment that Costner never bought into what Lowe was trying to do last season, and that was as much a reason for his poor performance as any of the other things cited by him and his father. The coaches owe neither an explanation nor an apology for making changes that allowed them to more appropriately utilize the best player on the team. Maybe they didn't make the transition as easy on Costner as they could have, but Costner didn't make it as easy on himself as could've, either.

Congrats, Cullen!

From the Newark Star-Ledger:

When Cullen Jones touched the wall, the Qwest Center, which, for him, had become the Dream Quest Center, erupted. Last night, thunderous cheers shook the place almost as roughly as the frightful storm that ripped huge chunks of siding off the arena last Friday night.

And, in Lane 6, the guy who swam with the weight of the world on his shoulders for two laps in these U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, broke into a wide grin. Jones, who finished third in the 100-meter freestyle final with a time of 48.35, is an Olympian and a member of the 4x100 relay team.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Yet perhaps no development had broader ramifications than the emergence of Cullen Jones on the 100 relay team after finishing third in the 100 free.

Jones is just the second African-American male to make the U.S. Swim team, and he has chosen to embrace that role in ways that predecessor Anthony Ervin did not in 2000. Among the reasons Jones has sought the spotlight is the chance to encourage minorities to learn to swim.

"I'm not trying to get the next Michael Phelps. I'm not trying to get someone to fill my shoes," said Jones, 24, who noted that minorities are three times more susceptible to drowning and added, "At the age of 5, I was almost a statistic by drowning myself. So I think it's very important just to get the word out."

It took getting the lead out first. Four years ago, Jones felt emotionally overwhelmed and swam as if he had "an anvil" attached to his leg. This time, he swam his three best times ever.

"I don't think I had an anvil on my leg," said Jones, smiling and noting his best event, the 50 free, still is ahead.

Jones set a new American record in the 50m prelims earlier today.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


From The Smoking Gun (via Deadspin):

What can a baseball fan learn from a series of e-mails exchanged by Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee, the trainer who has accused the baseball star of using performance-enhancing drugs? Well, Clemens can't spell the words "douchebag" or "lawsuits," uses the word "rocket" in his e-mail address, and signed electronic missives with his uniform number, 22.

"Then I will be going after someone with many law suites." Awesome.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Few Items

-- This is cool: All your NC State sports news in one handy location.

-- Rotoworld is nothing if not thorough:

North Carolina State's Daniel Evans is our 89th rated fantasy quarterback for the 2008 season.

If your draft strategy involves selecting 12 quarterbacks, this may be useful.

-- An anonymous football coach is complimentary of the Wolfpack.

-- Good luck in Edmonton, Erik. Thanks for signing our beer pong table. Also, 'preciate you helping out with this thing.