Lax Power

Lacrosse has taken quite a beating the media over the last month or so, but while Duke’s canceled season is making all of the headlines, the rest of country is still playing. The NCAA tournament begins this weekend, and the ACC looks to have a good showing with the #1 and #2 seeds, Virginia and Maryland.
The Cavaliers are undefeated and are the strong favorites to win it all – which would be a third title for coach Dom Starsia. One example of just how good the Cavaliers are – they have played the aforementioned #2 Terrapins twice this season and beat them by a combined 16 goals. Virginia also dispatched perennial powers Johns Hopkins and Syracuse by 6 and 5 goals. Their only close game was a 7-6 win over Princeton.
Go Cavs!

Air Tight Compartment

Herb Sendek had several quirks and one of them was repeating a few phrases over and over (repeatedly and redundantly. Again and again). One of those was his talk about creating an air-tight compartment. Well, what if old Herb had created one of those lock boxes (to quote another dazzling personality) around the local basketball talent?
StateFans Nation does the work I’ve meant to do in looking at all of the local players who have left to play at schools other than NC State. Now obviously, no school gets all of the local (and in-state) talent, but check out these recent names from SFN’s post (and a Caulton Tudor article) – Shavlik Randolph (Duke, NBA), Eric Williams (Wake Forest), Chris Paul (WF, NBA), Anthony Morrow (Georgia Tech), Anthony King (Miami), David Noel (UNC), Reyshawn Terry (UNC), Chris Wilcox (Maryland, NBA), David West (Xavier, NBA), PJ Tucker (Texas, headed to NBA), Craig Dawson (WF), Justin Gray (WF), Josh Howard (WF, NBA).
A few other players they missed – Shawan Robinson (Clemson), Anthony Richardson (McDonald’s All-American, Florida State) and Trent Strickland (WF).
Again, obviously no program can land all of the in-state or even local players, especially when you consider that both two other major programs focus on the area, but there’s no question that NC State has missed out on a TON of local talent. Adding just one or two of those guys per team could have made a huge difference in recent years.

And Doggone It, People Like Us

I love the work of the guys at StateFans Nation. They have a great blog and they dig up some very interesting news and statistics. Always a great read.
But there’s this thing.
State fans have a reputation as being a bit, well, sensitive. Years of being their neighbors’ whipping boy has made them acutely aware of every slight and they are always very quick to jump up and shout that THEY ARE TOO as good as Carolina and Duke.
It’s a simple self-esteem issue. Or is it school-esteem? Whatever it is, it’s amazing to see it in action, because it’s just so widespread. Nearly every Wolfpack fan I know has a touch (at least) of it. Frankly, it’s why they are so fun to needle. They’re like that friend you had as a kid that everyone jokingly picked on, because he’d take it so seriously. It’s like cheap entertainment. Make a small throwaway comment and get a long tirade in response.
Where am I going with this? Here, that’s where. This piece at SFN just screams of self-doubt combined with an extreme desire to succeed. I understand the desire to prove others wrong. We all feel it. But collecting articles so that some day in the future you can SHOW THEM ALL!? I don’t know. That’s the sort of thing that, if you’re going to do it, do it privately. Keep it as motivation if you must (of course, these are fans, not the actual players or coaches), but don’t let everyone know about it.
Hopefully if Sidney Lowe really does take State up to (or near) the level of Carolina and Duke, the Wolfpack fans will have built up enough strength that they won’t feel the need to go back and say I told you so. They’ll just happily and confidently throw those old posts away and enjoy their success.

Unfair

I’ve linked to Gregg Doyel’s rants and I have linked to criticisms of NC State’s hiring of Sidney Lowe, but I can’t support Doyel’s hatchet job on State this time. He brings up a few good points, namely that State was probably the only top-100 program that would have even considered hiring Lowe, but his overall conclusion – that it was an abject disaster – is waaaay premature. How about giving the guy at least some chance before we decide if it was a good hire or not. Based on his past, we just can’t say for certain if he’ll succeed or not. Most coaches at this level ultimately fail, so there’s a good chance Lowe will too, but it’s just not intellectually honest to say that you know he will. Yes, he failed in the NBA, but he had some really bad teams and you have to be impressed that he twice won coaching searches. The man must know something about basketball.
In the past, I’ve written that I like that Doyel has the guts to openly criticise big-name coaches like Bob Huggins and Jim Calhoun, but maybe I gave him too much credit. Maybe he just likes being the turd in the punchbowl.

Duke’s Not Done

North Carolina and Ohio State’s remarkable basketball recruiting classes have gotten a lot of attention this year, and rightly so. But don’t sleep on Duke’s incoming talent. After McDonald’s All-American Lance Thomas picked the Devils last week, Duke now has a power class as well, with three top-twenty players plus #38, 7’2″ Brian Zoubek.
With Roy and K both having supremely talented teams in the coming years, there should be some hellacious battles.
In other recruiting news – this is a very interesting story. Evidently when Herb Sendek left NC State, top recruit Chris Wright withdrew his committment to the Pack. Now it sounds like Wright really likes Virginia and Dave Leitao. Wright is considered likely the top point guard in the class of 2007. Someone give Sidney Lowe Wright’s phone number!

Talent Vs. Wins

Eagle in Atlanta posted a very interesting table the other day showing a list of the number of players drafted by the NFL and the winning percentage for each ACC football team over the past four years.
Obviously, the team he’s paying the most attention to is Boston College, and according to his numbers, Tom O’Brien seems to be getting the most out of his talent (assuming that “talent” can be measured by NFL draft picks, which of course is overly simplistic). In fact, BC has had exactly the same number of players drafted, eight, as Georgia Tech and UNC, but won much more – more than twice as much as UNC.
Another row that stands out is Florida State’s 28 draft picks to produce a .692 win percentage. Virginia Tech and Boston College both won more with fewer picks combined.
I also found it interesting to compare UVA, Maryland and NC State, three schools with upgraded talent and recently-exciting-but-now-cooling-off programs. They have very similar winning percentages and numbers of draft picks, but Maryland comes out looking a bit better than the other two.
Check it out.

A Lowe Down Beat Down

I think it’s fair to say that the ACC BasketBlog isn’t enamored of the Sidney Lowe hire.
Ed makes some great points that I agree with on the issue of Lowe’s bogus attempt to get a degree now – 20-some years after his senior year at State (I’m not signing off on some of the later stuff in Ed’s rant though). Jim Valvano didn’t care that his players go to class and graduate and clearly Lowe didn’t learn any additional love for school after he left Raleigh.
It’s a joke that Lowe is sending off for some correspondance school degree. I’d rather State have hired him with the stipulation that he finish his degree – at NC State – within the next 12 months. All this degree sham did was further the lesson that education really doesn’t matter – all that matters is the illusion of education.
How can he look players in the eye and convince them that getting an education and a degree is important when he didn’t do it until it became a job requirement for a specific job? And even then, Lowe skirted the system to fulfill the requirement in the shadiest way possible. Somehow, I don’t think his players are going to buy any you-must-go-to-class speeches. Of course, I doubt Lowe will be delivering any of those anyway.

State Swings Lowe

The NC State coaching search is (apparently) over! The NC State coaching search is (apparently) over! Send the white (or is it black?) smoke up the big smokestack!
After a long and painful search, State has finally found their man – former Wolfpack point guard and current Detroit Pistons assistant Sidney Lowe.
Lowe seems to be good choice at this point for beleaguered AD Lee Fowler. Lowe, as the starting point guard on State’s 1983 championship team, already has the love of the Wolfpack faithful. I think it’s fair to say that Lowe is already more popular than Herb Sendek ever was. And that’s a critical factor for the Pack. They are a fanbase that’s just dying for some success. You saw the way they latched onto Chuck Amato from the second he stepped on campus and said that they were going to win. If Lowe can get off to a good start next year, two decades of repressed optimism will explode all over the Triangle.

Continue reading “State Swings Lowe”

Sibling Rivalry

Carolina’s football program landed a critical recruit this weekend when highly touted QB Mike Paulus announced his attention to go to UNC. Yes, Mike Paulus – younger brother of Duke’s freshman point guard Greg Paulus.
You might recall that the elder Paulus was considered to be the best high school quarterback in the nation, but picked Duke basketball over Notre Dame (and others) football.
This sort of story has happened before, where brothers choose to attend rival schools. Jason Capel played basketball at Carolina a few years after his brother Jeff finished up at Duke. There were two key differences to that situation though. First, Jeff had already left Duke before Jason showed up in Chapel Hill. There would be no concurrent rivalry. More importantly, Jeff had a rough go of it at Duke. He was on the disastrous ’95 team and he was once famously booed by the Cameron Crazies. There was a feeling that Jason’s choice of the Tar Heels was a bit of an F-U to Duke on behalf of his brother.
But this Paulus thing is different. Very different.
I understand that it’s tough to be a younger brother of a star. His whole life, Mike has had to answer the question, “oh, so you must be Greg’s little brother?” He probably feels like he’s never had a real chance to forge his own identity – to build his own legacy. How can you when your older brother is one of the more heralded high school athletes ever?
So, I understand why Mike would choose a different school and different sport from Greg. He wants to blaze his own trail. But why UNC? It’s not like it’s a regional thing. The Paulus’ are from Syracuse, NY. Mike could have gone to a number of fine programs, including Southern Cal. Of all the far-away schools to choose from, why pick the one eight miles away from his brother? Why his brother’s arch-rival?
The only reasonable answer is that he doesn’t just want to make his own name, but he wants to do it in his brother’s face. Greg will likely be a starter at Duke for four years and given his skin color and position, he’ll probably take over from J.J. Redick the role as most-hated-athlete in the ACC. Mike, meanwhile will be taking over (he hopes) the most critical position on the Tar Heel football team. He can be the perfect compliment to his brother – the quarterback of Carolina’s football team versus the quarterback of Duke’s basketball team.
I’m guessing Mike put up with a few too many beatdowns from his brother in the backyard, driveway and basement. I bet he’s answered “yes, he’s my brother” a few too many times, only to then have to listen to a story of his Greg’s past greatness. Little Mike wants revenge and he wants to get it smack in the middle of college sports’ biggest rivalry.