Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hickson's exit just the start for Wolfpack

Now that J.J. Hickson has decided to put his name in for the NBA draft, N.C. State can start rebuilding the mess he’s leaving behind.

It won’t be easy.

Coach Sidney Lowe constructed his offense around Hickson from the moment this season started. It didn’t matter that Hickson was a freshman stepping into a frontcourt with experienced, proven ACC players Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley.

Hickson was the focal point, an impressively talented center with big-time NBA potential. He can rebound, catch the ball, score in the post and hit a 12-foot jumper on the baseline.

But when he was added to the roster, N.C. State’s production became less than the sum of its parts. The Wolfpack ended the season with a school record-tying nine losses in a row, a No. 12 seed for the ACC tournament, and a spectacular flameout.

The team’s chemistry was so far gone that it will take a lot of offseason team building to regain it. Lowe benched senior Gavin Grant in the second half of his last game, saying sophomore Dennis Horner played because he was part of the Wolfpack’s future and Grant wasn’t ready to play.

With that, one of N.C. State’s most disappointing seasons ever ended for a team the media picked third in the ACC in the preseason.

None of this is Hickson’s fault. He led ACC freshmen in scoring (14.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.5 rpg). He played hard and tried to learn how to find open teammates when opponents double teamed him.

He apparently won’t sign with an agent, which will allow him to explore his draft options without compromising his college eligibility. But unless he bombs in pre-draft workouts, it’s difficult to imagine him wanting to come back to a team that lost its last nine games.

So it’s time for Lowe to begin repairing the egos that have been hurting since November.

– Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

As a Tar Heel fan, I have two things to say:

1. I hope Sidney's tenure at NC State continues for a long, long time.

2. State fans have the program they deserve. Karma's a bitch.

Anonymous said...

Typical weak-kneed Tarheel fan.

For some reason the rest of the college basketball nation thinks State should settle for less than what other aspiring or actual top-20 programs want.

Sendek is once again a victim at ASU. He's an outstanding individual, an excellent teacher, and a man who brought with him a "run the shot clock down to three seconds then throw up a wild three pointer" offense."

We are looking for the next Sloan or Valvano. I was at State when Coach K was beginning his tenure at Duke and many forget he didn't exactly set the world on fire initially.

Sidney has a lot to learn but he's an intense competitor with a lot of integrity that believes in actually playing aggressively once he has the players to do so.

It's been rough this year but I love how Tarheels are going out of their way to have fun with it now. It'll make the future that much sweeter. Unless of course Coach Roy actually learns how to teach defense.

Finally, it's amazing to me that with your school in serious contention for a national championship you actually go out of your way to blast State. You're not a sports fan. You're a hater that prefers to observe pain in others rather than victory for your side.

Cowards always tear things down since it's so much easier than building something up. That is precisely what you are. If the Tarheels had individuals like you playing for them, we wouldn't have finished last this year or ever.

Anonymous said...

I hope you do find the next Sloan or Valvano - maybe you'll catch lightning in a bottle and get at David Thompson/like talent one year or luck your way into a national championship with double digit losses. Then you can live off of that one year for the next ten until you end up on probation and the fire the coach. History does have a way of repeating itself.

Anonymous said...

First I'll get this out of the way - I'm a Carolina fan. I'm not, however, a State hater (I'm a Duke hater). My two cents - I think State already settled by hiring Lowe. Don't get me wrong - Sid is an outstanding person and loves NC State, which is very important. He's also a smart basketball man - I liked him at State and later when he had a couple of cups of coffee with the Hornets. The thing is, for a program whose fan base wants a big time program, State hired an alumn who has never been a big time coach. He wasn't very successful as a head man in the NBA, and he had zero college coaching experience. I can't predict the future, and he may well do well in the coming years, but on the same note you have no way of knowing that he won't fall on his face. I would love for the State UNC rivalry to be back to where it once was, but I just have this feeling that Sid is the Matt Doherty of NC State.

As for Sendek, he definitely didn't run a glamorous system, but if you prefer 15-16 (with more talent) to a second round NCAA exit then I don't really know what to say. It's not always about flash...

Anonymous said...

It's this irrational sense of entitlement on the part of State fans that is so puzzling.

Why do you think you deserve a good program? You don't work for it. You don't cheer for your team when they aren't good. You blame the refs for everything unless you are trying to get your coach fired. You send death threats to the coach and harass his kids when your AD refuses to fire him. You attack other fans in your stadium, pee in the stands, throw batteries at opposing players, shoot each other in your parking lot, vandalize rival campuses, embrace racism and hate-speech on your message boards, and somehow, you feel like you are good fans who deserve better.

When was NC State ever good, when it wasn't cheating? 1974 - NCAA violations, 1983 - NCAA violations.