NCSU is a Giant Killer Today!

As a Tarheel fan, sometimes it is hard to know what is better- a UNC win or a dook loss, but when they happen on the same day all has to be right in the world!  Today, I think,  the dook loss is the bigger story. I had a conference presentation in Chapel Hill today and was listening to the tail end of the game and the excellent post game reflection on NCSU radio.  I know my grin stretched from ear to ear as I listened to the recap of this loss.

NCSU started the season at #6, but now are at a more comfortable and realistic #20.  What will they be next week?  PJ says #18, but I am going to say #15.  Going into this game, they had to have a lot on their minds.  The Pack is predicated to take the ACC title.  This prediction has not occurred  for them since 1976.  Dook is a big obstacle in their way to that title (Maryland is too, but let’s focus on today).  Dook also showed up at PNC arena 15-0.  Everyone’s first loss has to come at some point, but the momentum of being 15-0 works in their favor.  The Devils were also missing Ryan Kelly (boo-hoo).  State was ready to go.  The Pack took some time to warm up, but those players were attempting to set that court on fire.

The stat that caught my attention was that State was 20 for 23 from the free throw line- 87%.  That is a great FT showing.  They won this game 84-76, but so many times good games like this one are lost by sloppy days at the charity line.  I am glad that State had their free throws in order, it makes the rest of the game so much fun to watch.

The man of the hour has to be Richard Howell.  He always plays with intensity, as shown my the amount of sweat filtered by his beard, but he found another level today.  He definitely took it to 11!  His double double was highlighted by the 14 rebounds in the second half.  He was a beast going for that ball and did not let anyone else get in his way.  In the post game interview Coach Gottfried said he was playing a grown man’s game.  He is not a flashy player, but wants to duke it out (ha ha pun intended) under the basket, playing low and hard.  Another commentator called him the kind of junkyard dog any title contender needs.  He plays with a style that would be recognized in college basketball of the past as well as any neighborhood court where the only reward is trash talking to your friends. Most importantly, it’s the grind it out style that I like to watch and talk about!

Calvin Leslie (Coach does not call him CJ) led the Pack with 25 points and 6 rebounds. Brown contributed 12 points and got all 13 of NCSU assists.  The two first year players assigned to Curry, Purvis and Warren, made it hard for the Devil’s #1 shooter to completely dominate today.  Those players pushed Curry hard and made him take his share of off balance twos.

There was a technical foul when Wood and Thornton exchanged words after a play, but it seemed to be a spark that the Pack needed to up their intensity, so Coach can’t be too mad about that!  What I am mad about is Bruce Pearl’s post game comment that this was not an upset.  What does that even mean?  He tried to say that State was a good enough team to beat the Devils, so we should not be too surprised, but Mr. Pearl I do disagree.  First, a #20 just beat a #1…that is an upset.  Second, Duke just lost…we should all be rejoicing. Third, with the history of NCSU play (read the Sidney years) and the rebuilding they have done in the past two years…this is an upset.  Fourth, this was an unbeaten team…this is an upset.  Fifth, they just knocked down the national #1…this is an upset.  I think the best response to this was Rodney Purvis on twitter,!!! “@statefansnation: Bruce Pearl: “This is not an upset, gentlemen”.  Come one Bruce you can commentate better than that, and those that were at the desk with you- shame on you for not holding his feet to the fire.  This team worked hard for this win.

Of course, UNC was on the court in Tallahassee today.  They got a much needed win against the ACC defending champs FSU 77-72.  PJ Hairston had a career high 23 points with McAdoo contributing 14 points and 8 rebounds.  Bullock also had 8 rebounds to go with his 12 points.  The Heels were an ok 11-16 (68%) from the FT line, but that is a place for UNC improvement   They need all the help they can get and a little more time in free throw practice is never wasted time.  This win helped keep the Heels from the second ever 0-3 ACC start in school history (it happened in 1996-97) and kept FSU from getting its first ever 3-0 start in ACC conference play.

The feel good story of the game, however, is Jackson Simmons.  He celebrated is 20th birthday (remember fans these are young adults playing this game) with a career high eight points and four rebounds.  He had a solid 15 minutes of play on the court.  He did score, but he also set good screens, delivered good passes, and executed solid defense.  What else can a kid from Webster, NC ask for?


One Comment on “NCSU is a Giant Killer Today!”

  1. Marie Colonna says:

    Great blog!!!!