Friday, May 29, 2009

RBC Center Getting A Scoreboard Upgrade

Canes Country:

In the May issue of The Wolfpacker, a publication that covers NC State sports, vice president and general manager of the RBC Center Dave Olsen confirmed that the arena would be installing a new scoreboard. The new board will be four-sided — as compared to the current eight-sided one — and "everything is HD and LED," Olsen told The Wolfpacker. Based on what was said before today's end-of-season press conferences, Bubba is reporting the new board installation will begin on June 1 and will be completed about June 18.

The scoreboard will be close in size to the current one — so it can fit in the current support structure — but the panels will be about six feet wider than the current one.

A Few Items

-- From Northwestern's student newspaper comes this article about former Wolfpack baseball/basketball player Tim Stoddard:

There have been 71 winners of the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament since its inception in 1939 and 69 teams crowned World Series champions during that time span.

Only one player holds the distinction of winning one of each: Northwestern pitching coach Tim Stoddard.

Stoddard was the starting power forward for the 1973-74 North Carolina State team that won it all, and he came out of the bullpen for the Baltimore Orioles in their 1983 title season.

For the past 16 years, he has served alongside manager Paul Stevens in the Wildcats' dugout.

"Anybody who can play top-of-the-line college basketball and make it to the major leagues and pitch as well as Tim pitched at many different stops is a wonderful athlete," said current Chicago White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone, who was Stoddard's teammate for three seasons with the Orioles.

To win the national championship, N.C. State had to knock off UCLA, which had won the last seven NCAA tournaments. The Bruins were led by star center Bill Walton, and Stoddard was responsible for keeping him in check.

"I was big for that type of player," said the 6-foot-7 Stoddard. "I just used my strength to really try to keep him under control as much as I could. I tried to muscle him around."

-- The Fayetteville Observer's Dan Wiederer writes about the immediate pressure that will be facing Lorenzo Brown this winter:

A natural wing, he’ll also likely be asked to man the point guard position for significant chunks of time as the Pack continues its search for a reliable floor general.

“There’s going to be a tremendous pressure for Lorenzo to really emerge early — out of necessity,” said Dave Telep, the national recruiting director for “They need the minutes, they need the points out of him. And they’re probably going to need him to man a position that he’s still transitioning to.

“That’s a lot for a young guy to handle. Does he have the talent to handle that? Absolutely. But you better understand that there’s going to be a learning curve for a kid who’s a) learning the college game but b) learning to be a guy who’s asked to shoulder a whole lot for his team.”

-- Only one of NC State's three major sports finished above .500 this past year, no match for South Carolina's 3-for-3 effort, but I'm laughing at this anyway. If the N&O did something similar during the Fowler era, it would be construed as another move in the ongoing conspiracy to keep NC State's mediocre leadership in place. Those fears would be confirmed when an additional lifetime extension was promptly added to Lee Fowler's current deal, ensuring his role as Athletics Director well into the 22nd century, a tenure that would eventually be made possible thanks to advancements in robotics by NC State scientists.

"This here's a little ditty about Paul Derr Geodome locker room improvements."

Matt Hill Is NC State's Third Individual National Champ This Year


When Hill finished his round at approximately 5 p.m. Thursday, there were three golfers early in their final rounds at even-par for the tournament. All three of those golfers would have to shoot a 65 or better to catch Hill.

If Hill's lead holds on for the victory, he would be NC State's third individual NCAA championship this spring and the 29th in school history. In March, wrestler Darrion Caldwell and platform diver Kristin Davies each won individual titles in their respective sports. It would be the first time with more than two individual titles in the same academic year since 1993 and only the third time in school history.

Done and done. Congrats, Matt. James has some more links.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

That's not even a dance.

Andre Brown participated in this rookie touchdown dance challenge thing (first prize: signed Michael Jordan jersey. Gross.); via FanHouse, here's the video:

I think the judges docked points from Andre because pretending the football has gone into cardiac arrest only makes conceptual sense in the CFL where they play with John Goodman-sized balls. Or at the end of a so-rare-as-to-be-understandably-shock-inducing Marcus Stone-led TD drive. Whoa, whoa, whoa, we just hit double digits. My heavens, I've got to sit down.

Indy Weekly: Keep Hillsborough Street Funky

Hillsborough Street's facelift finally got underway earlier this month (schematics courtesy the Raleigh Planning Dept. via the Indy here, here, here), and the Independent Weekly has been running features on the street all week, including this outstanding examination of the thoroughfare's past and future:

It's not all tinsel and triumph on Hillsborough Street. It's also neglect, disjunction and the history of Raleigh, good, bad and whatever you'd like to make of the "Pink Panty," a strip club that operated not so long ago on Hillsborough Street across from the Christian Science Church.

Yes, Hillsborough Street had its decadent days, and a time before that when it was vintage, and a time since when it became the congested traffic mess it is today. Maybe it has a bright future.

Strike maybe. As we contemplate the construction destruction that has suddenly ripped into Hillsborough Street this month, consider that with the right mix of new and old, town and gown, sufficient density to support transit but not so much that it jams the neighborhoods and clears out the funk, Hillsborough Street can again be the place where Raleigh's disparate parts are joined in an authentic urban whole.

Lots of stuff in there that I never knew. There used to be a strip club on Hillsborough? And a group of bars with an illegal rooftop swimming pool? Not to mention a basketball team that actually won things. Man, they had all the fun back in the day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Follow Matt Hill's Title Run

After a slow start to today's second round dropped Matt Hill into a tie for sixth place, Hill rallied to shoot three-under over the last eight holes. He's back in a tie for first at -4 overall, and while he may not enter Thursday's final round in that position, he'll certainly be right in the thick of it. You can track his progress here.

Elsewhere, Clemson's Terrence Oglesby has decided that he wants to get paid:

Then came the news that blindsided Clemson coach Oliver Purnell on Tuesday morning when sophomore Terrence Oglesby informed him that he was leaving to play pro ball in either Italy or Spain.


Oglesby, according to sources, is hoping to command somewhere in the vicinity of $500,000 per season. While money was a factor in Calathes' decision, Oglesby said the financial end was of no concern in his ultimate decision.

While he may have better served the Tigers by being more selective with his shots, he was nonetheless an efficient high-usage player in 2009, and those don't exactly grow on trees. How far can Trevor Booker carry the offense? Is Ray Dungeon ready to fulfill his destiny? Stay tuned.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Items

-- Here's a story about NC State's Logan Scarborough, who will be competing for a collegiate timbersports national championship:

As this year's wildcard selection, Scarborough will join the five conclave winners in Georgia to determine a national champion, who will earn a spot on the 2010 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Professional Series.

I'm going to move on before I succumb to the temptation of a bad chopping wood joke.

-- Senior tennis player Jay Weinacker put together a nice run--one that earned him All-American honors--in the NCAAs before eventually falling in the round of 16.

-- Bradley Pierson has landed in Winnipeg. Bring back the Jets!

-- After a disastrous sports Thursday, I needed this. (ht: Gleeman)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sack And TFL Rates

Gobbler Country takes a look at sack and tackle for loss rates in conference play.

NC State defense:

1 sack per 21 opponent pass attempts (10th in ACC; league average: 1 sack/14.4 pass att)
1 TFL per 6.9 opponent rush attempts (4th in ACC; league average: 1 TFL/8.1 rush att)

NC State offense:

1 sack allowed per 11.3 pass attempts (9th in ACC; league average: 1/14.4)
1 TFL allowed per 12.6 rush attempts (2nd in ACC; league average: 1/8.1)

Correctly categorizing plays on which a sack occurred as pass plays rather than run plays, which GC does, removes some of the noise. But there's still the matter, especially in the Wolfpack's case, of QB rush attempts. Russell Wilson had 90+ carries in league play, and once you remove sacks from that figure, you've still got a bunch of carries that were a mix of pass plays and designed runs (20% designed runs, maybe?). Unfortunately, even with play-by-play data on hand, there's no way to tell which is which, though I think we can say generally that most of the time, Wilson's carries were making something out of a failed pass play.

(I'm not criticizing GC here, just lamenting the problem created by the lack of a simple notation next to each quarterback carry in the play-by-play.)

Considering that a dual threat QB uses his feet more frequently than a more traditional pocket passer does, it seems like the dual threat QB would create more inflation/deflation in the sack and TFL rates. In State's case, for example, the team had 265 carries (excluding sacks) in ACC play--more than a quarter of which were Wilson's. That's a fairly large amount of uncertainty.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday Items

-- ESPN profiled Wolfpack baseball signee Tarran Senay, who is going to have to make a difficult decision in the next few weeks:

Senay is riding high these days. Rated the No. 86 prospect in the Class of 2009 by Baseball America, he is one of the fastest-rising MLB prospects in the nation. He has accepted a full scholarship to play at North Carolina State but is also projected as a first-day MLB Draft pick. The question is, what will Senay choose -- college or pro ball?

"I'm not leaning one way," says Senay, who projects as a power-hitting outfielder at the next level, no matter what that may be. "I'm leaning both ways. I would love to get drafted and play pro baseball. But at the same time I would like to go to N.C. State."

(Emphasis mine.) If Senay ends up in Raleigh, his raw power could be a huge boost to a team that slugged a meager .367 in conference play this year.

-- Speaking of baseball, there's one thing I've been wondering all year: where'd Dallas Poulk's power go? After hitting .286/.370/.446 with 8 homers and 20 total extra base hits in 2008, Poulk hit .262/.364/.316 with 0 homers and just 8 total extra base hits in 2009 (in a comparable number of plate appearances). He improved on his walk rate, which suggests he was able to maintain a disciplined approach and is reason enough not to panic, but he also posted the highest strikeout rate of his career.

-- John Wall finally decided on a school (Kentucky) today. You think he has this much trouble selecting a pair of pants in the morning?

Mrs. Wall: You heard about these Raleigh Denim jeans? I'd get with that trend before it blows up and becomes unbearable.

Brian Clifton: No, no, go with the sweat pants. Practical if not very sexy.

Dwon Clifton: Parachute pants, man. They're just crazy enough to work!

John Wall: The jorts with the 200 grand in the pockets it is!

-- Here's a recap of the latest Wolfpack caravan.

-- Football season tickets are now on sale to the general public.

-- I've collected the substitution data from most of last season's basketball games, so I think I'm going to give the +/- project another shot. I hope to have that done within the next month.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Matt Hill Wins NCAA Regional

Hill, who even before this weekend had put together the best season by an NC State golfer in school history, keeps rolling:

Sophomore Matt Hill continued his winning ways, as he earned medalist honors at the 2009 NCAA Regional Championships, and has advanced to the 2009 NCAA Championships. Hill won his ACC record seventh tournament of the school year, and the sixth in the last seven tournaments overall.

Hill becomes the first golfer since Tim Clark did so in both 1996 and 1997 to win individual medallist honors at the NCAA Regionals. They are the only two Pack golfers to claim such honors as well.

The team, which entered the regional as the #3 seed, finished a disappointing sixth, so they will not play in the NCAA Championship. But Hill has a legitimate shot at becoming the fourth third NC State athlete to win a national title this year.

Update: The Hurricanes are the gift that keeps on giving:

Mainstream websites and newspapers don't spend much time on college golf, a niche within a niche sport, but every once in a while, something warrants attention, which is certainly the case with N.C. State's rising Matt Hill. Last week, he won the NCAA Central Regional and advanced to the nationals next week at Inverness Club in Ohio, where he will seek to win his seventh individual title in his past eight starts, an amazing run at any level. Hill, you might recall, was mentioned here a few weeks ago when he noted that he picked the N.C. State program because Raleigh had an NHL team and he's a native Canadian.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Play On!

A gallon of victory beer and a late night trip to the airport makes for a long next day, but it was worth it. I got to RDU right as the players were beginning to file out, which led to the comedy that was me driving my hoopty by all the Canes fans, who waved at me as though I were one of the players.

I was looking around earlier, trying to figure out if there's ever been an instance where a team has won two game 7s on the road in one playoff run, and while I couldn't find an answer to that question, I did find this note about the improbability of the win in New Jersey:

In the history of best-of-7 NHL playoff series from 1939 through the 2008 Finals, road teams trailing by one goal with 1:21 left in regulation had an 18-471 (.037) game record.

The Hurricanes didn't have to beat those kinds of odds last night, but it sure felt like they did.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Orlando Sentinel's Spring Prospectus: NC State

Good assessment of the Wolfpack by the Orlando Sentinel's Andrew Carter, with an optimistic prediction:

Way too early 2009 prediction:
9-3 (5-3)
There’s a possibility the Pack could lose to either South Carolina or Pitt out of conference, but both of those games are at Carter-Finley Stadium, where State will be favored. Provided Russell Wilson stays healthy, the offense will be just fine and the defense returns every one of its most important players from a season ago. The 2009 season could – and probably should – be this program’s coming out party under O’Brien.

And for your amusement, see comment number two at the link.

Elsewhere, briefly: The Dagger's Eamonn Brennan evaluates the ACC's basketball coaches. He's way off on Al Skinner.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Deshawn Painter Commits

Painter's Scout profile.

I'm feeling a lot better about the front court situation now:

"I just committed to NC State," said Painter. "I had a good feel for them. Sidney Lowe was big for me and I had a great vibe with the players. I just feel it was a great fit all the way around. It felt like home."

After taking visits to NC State, Virginia Tech, and Maryland, Painter narrowed it down to the Wolfpack and Terps before picking NC State.

Checking in at 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, Painter has a chance to impact as a true freshman. He is currently rated the No. 20 power forward in the country and the No. 69 player overall in the 2009 class by

I also feel good about the fact that if you rearrange the letters in his name, it spells Pwned This Arena.

Here's a scouting report from Testudo Times:

Strengths: Painter is extremely athletic and has great leaping ability. Combined with his great length and wingspan, it makes him a great defensive threat and dunker. I've seen some insane dunks on his highlight reels. It also gives him a slight advantage in rebounding; he can leap above others to grab high rebounds. His midrange jumper is surprisingly good, going out to about 15 feet. He runs very well and is quick enough to guard the perimeter when pulled out on a pick and roll or run the floor. That he can run well is a nice bonus - that's a plus with Williams and Padgett as well, so hopefully we try to push the pace in the future.

Weaknesses: Painter is thin as a rail. That really hurts him down low and when rebounding. He's been able to get by in high school, but when he gets into the ACC, he'll see bigger, stronger defenders and will get pushed around down low. His post game isn't good enough to make up for a huge strength disadvantage, and neither is his rebounding ability. His frame has room for weight, though, so all is not lost. He just needs to have a lot of cheeseburgers and protein shakes, and get on a lifting program. Unfortunately, there are major concerns about his effort. During games, he's mostly consistent on defense contesting shots, but his effort tends to fluctuate in practice especially. He never really progressed the way he was supposed to, which is generally a sign of poor work ethic.

With luck, his length and athleticism will be enough to offset his thin frame and allow him to be a competent defensive rebounder.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday Items

-- Giving some consolation to what is in all likelihood a lost season, the baseball team took two of three from UNC over the weekend, which kept their slim ACC tournament hopes alive. They'll need to sweep Clemson, have Carolina sweep Boston College, and have Virginia take a game from Virginia Tech.

In this piece by Tim Peeler, Elliott Avent offers a bit of coachspeak brilliance, and also points out all of the blown leads that have put the team in this difficult position:

“Momentum that isn’t used immediately seems to lose a little steam,” Avent said.


“We had a 10-2 lead at Boston College and lost. We were ahead 7-0 at Duke on Sunday, and up 7-5 with two outs and two strikes on the hitter in the 10th inning, and lost. We had a 7-0 lead in our Sunday game against Miami, and lost."

The Sunday pitching has been a real bummer, but not so against the Heels, at least.

-- You should also check out this item from Peeler about saving all of the history that's being stored in Reynolds Coliseum.

This summer, with the help of Wolfpack football player Donald Bowens and athletics marketing intern Blake Scher, we’ll be uncovering, cleaning and, mostly importantly, saving all that we can. They’ve already gotten an education about the many hidden secrets of Reynolds Coliseum.

I hope one day to have many of those secrets included it in an NC State athletics museum.

We have talked with the folks at the Special Collections Division of the NC State Library about helping us preserve the most important stuff we find – after we save our own copies. The library already houses much of the historic files and film from years gone by. We are looking to convert the film from 16mm to a high-definition digital format that we can eventually use on or in video displays, if we can find the appropriate funding to make those costly conversions.

Very cool. And it'd be great if they could use some of it to beef up the various history sections on, which are terribly inadequate.

The university has tons of great stuff that people should be able to see. During my sophomore year, I wrote a paper about NC State basketball for one of my history classes and had the opportunity to look at the library's special collections--lots of old newspaper clippings, programs, photos, etc. Needless to say, that was the most fun I ever had writing a term paper.

-- DeShawn Painter is down to Maryland and NC State and could come to a decision in the next week.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Let the discomfort borne of expectations begin.

ACC Now: Your Atlantic Division favorite:

Yeah, it's N.C. State.

The Wolfpack has the best quarterback in the conference, two NFL-level game-changers on defense and a smart coach.

Technically, State finished last in the division in '08 but it was only one game behind the winner (Boston College). All six teams finished either 5-3 or 4-4.

Expect the same competitiveness this season. Which means you pick the team with the best QB (his right knee willing)? And eight home games.

We aren't there yet from an overall talent standpoint, but I'm still having a hard time disagreeing with JP. Everybody's got flaws, but nobody else has the Russell Wilson trump card.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Pack's Spring Game Attendance 24th Highest Among BCS Schools

Good summary from the Birmingham News:

The SEC accounted for 34 percent of the spring crowds among the BCS-affiliated conferences, up from 30 percent a year ago. The SEC averaged 37,936 fans per school, a 21 percent increase from last spring and more than 55 Division I-A schools averaged in 2008 regular-season attendance.

Behind the SEC in conference average were the Big Ten (30,117), Big 12 (20,449), ACC (14,715), Big East (10,130) and Pac-10 (7,842), which again finished last among BCS conferences and dropped slightly from last year.

Weather Is Latest Confirmed Member Of Anti-NCSU Conspiracy

Lightning struck the bell tower on Tuesday night:

Lightning is believed to have damaged North Carolina State University's bell tower, which was surrounded with yellow police tape on Wednesday.

Pieces of granite littered the ground as one large piece of stone atop the tall tower teetered on the edge.

"And this here, sir, is the lightning button..."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

David, Goliath, And The Full-Court Press

Malcolm Gladwell's piece on the full-court press and other unconventional strategies is an interesting read, even if I don't agree with all of his conclusions. The portion about Rick Pitino is worth addressing:

Pitino became the head coach at Boston University in 1978, when he was twenty-five years old, and used the press to take the school to its first N.C.A.A. tournament appearance in twenty-four years. At his next head-coaching stop, Providence College, Pitino took over a team that had gone 11–20 the year before. The players were short and almost entirely devoid of talent—a carbon copy of the Fordham Rams. They pressed, and ended up one game away from playing for the national championship. At the University of Kentucky, in the mid-nineteen-nineties, Pitino took his team to the Final Four three times—and won a national championship—with full-court pressure, and then rode the full-court press back to the Final Four in 2005, as the coach at the University of Louisville. This year, his Louisville team entered the N.C.A.A. tournament ranked No. 1 in the land. College coaches of Pitino’s calibre typically have had numerous players who have gone on to be bona-fide all-stars at the professional level. In his many years of coaching, Pitino has had one, Antoine Walker. It doesn’t matter. Every year, he racks up more and more victories.

The bit about Antoine Walker is disingenuous, since Gladwell seems to be suggesting that Pitino has been overachieving with modest talent thanks to the press. But I don't think it's arguable that Pitino has wanted for great college basketball players.

The press is a risky strategy, one that leads to higher variance from game to game; i.e., greater inconsistency. As Dean Oliver notes in Basketball on Paper, inconsistency is both good and bad:

What this means for good teams is that, if they are inconsistent, they win less than they should. What this means for bad teams is that, if they are inconsistent, they win more than they should. In other words, being inconsistent brings a team toward .500, toward mediocrity.

You need that variability if you're the underdog, but not so much if you're the favorite and risks aren't necessary because the you've got the edge in talent.

That gets us back to Pitino's Kentucky teams, which were very good but inconsistent because of risky strategy. Oliver again:

The University of Kentucky under Rick Pitino played a lot of high-risk strategies, pressing and shooting threes. They offset that tendency somewhat with a faster pace to take advantage of their tremendous talent. Their "riskiest" year was 1995, when their overall point spread standard deviation was about eighteen. Despite outscoring opponents by a mammoth eighteen points per game, the team lost five games overall and didn't make it to the Final Four despite a roster that included Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Rodrick Rhodes, and a young Antoine Walker. In other seasons in Pitino's era, Kentucky played it a bit safer, with point spread standard deviations around fourteen. If Pitino's 1995 club, which was a general "favorite" and not an "underdog," hadn't been such a high variance one, they could have added another 6 percent to their winning percentage. Rather than 28-5, they might have been 30-3 and still alive in the Final Four.

It's possible that Pitino's success at UK came in spite of the press.

As far as optimal use of the press goes, I think Gary Williams has it right. They practice it to the point where they can use it effectively, but they are not defined by it, nor do they only pull it out only in desperate late-game situations. Middle-of-the-road programs like Maryland find themselves as both clear underdogs and clear favorites in a given season, so it makes sense to make part-time use of a risky strategy like the press.

(As a side note, it's worth pointing out that shooting a lot of threes and slowing the pace are also strategies that Oliver calls risky. And that's why Herb Sendek's Princeton hybrid was simultaneously both a stroke of genius and an exercise in self-limitation. I think it was despised more because it was an open admission of inferiority--he had to play in an unconventional way to have a chance against the league's elite--than because it wasn't fun to watch. That's an ugly truth, made more difficult to stomach by a decade of futility, and the offense served only to reinforce it game after game.

The problem was, that system was an ingrained identity, much moreso than something like a press that you can pull or put back in your pocket as need be, so it wasn't very situationally flexible. In the cases where it would have made sense to play conventionally, we didn't have that option. Sendek's teams often won fewer games than their pythagorean winning percentage suggested they should have, and the high-risk strategy was a big reason why.)