Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pining for 2005 with Pack, ACC reeling

BOSTON – Make no mistake, this is a great week to be covering college basketball for the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer with Duke and North Carolina playing highly anticipated NCAA regional semifinal games on consecutive nights.

But as I wait (and wait, and wait) for Duke’s 9:57 p.m. tipoff tonight against Villanova, I can’t help but be nostalgic about 2005. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I graduated from Notre Dame and don’t care who wins or loses.

But at this stage in 2005, the Triangle was abuzz about college basketball in a way that I haven’t seen before or since. Because N.C. State was in the Sweet 16 along with Duke and North Carolina.

Wolfpack fans are a passionate bunch, and it’s great to see them excited about something. But the 2005 NCAA Tournament captured in a nutshell the quandary of former coach Herb Sendek.

He got them to the Sweet 16 with a well-executed upset of Connecticut, then got ahead of Wisconsin in Syracuse. But then the Badgers, who might have been the only team in the tournament with an offense more boring than Sendek’s, bounced back and won 65-56.

Instead of playing North Carolina in the regional final, Sendek was going home. In many ways, it had been a great season for the Wolfpack, but it wasn’t nearly enough for the fans, especially when the Tar Heels went on to win the NCAA title.

For me, that Final Four was fun to cover because the most outstanding player, Sean May, was one of my favorite athletes to work with as a reporter. Because of his injury problems, May hasn’t had a good NBA career with the Bobcats, but he was a fantastic college low-block scorer, a class act with a great sense of humor.

For N.C. State fans, that Final Four must have been agonizing. Sendek is done torturing them now and followed a pattern familiar to them with a second-round NCAA exit at Arizona State this season.

Now they face a new kind of torture. Sidney Lowe, a coach whose legacy they love as the point guard of the 1983 NCAA championship team, hasn’t even come close to the kind of production Sendek provided. And with the roster N.C. State has returning, next season doesn’t appear especially promising.

As for Duke and North Carolina, there is a lot of pressure on both this week to make a big statement on behalf of the ACC. Boston College may be the top basketball draw in town, but this still is Big East country in many ways with its proximity to Connecticut and New York.

The consensus here is that five ACC teams failed to make it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament because the ACC just isn’t tough enough. The ACC is carrying on the legacy of beautiful basketball that’s been established through the years with high-flying players such as David Thompson and Michael Jordan.

Roy Williams runs a gorgeous fast break at North Carolina that relies on speed rather than bulk. Duke rains 3-pointers on opponents but doesn’t have much power in the post.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski offered a plausible explanation for the ACC’s troubles this week when he said recent newcomers to the NCAA Tournament from the league (think Clemson and Wake Forest) may just need a year or two to get accustomed to the tournament in order to advance.

But it seems to me that the toughness theory rings true. And that’s a shame. If I want to watch forearm shivers, I can watch football. I’m not really into gymnastics, so I watch basketball to see style and grace, which is disappearing from the game.

If only it were 2005 again. – Ken Tysiac

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seriously, this is getting old. Herb Sendek is gone, get over it. We don't miss him. We don't want him back. He was no better than Lowe at the same point in his career at State. But it's nice to know that you are psychic and already know how next season turns out for the wolfpack...
Please have a little respect for Coach Lowe and let him run his own program with his recruits before you talk about how terrible a team that does not yet exist is.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with the above...gotta give Lowe a little more time. Hope he can turn it around.

An aside: stay tuned for tomorrow's blog by J.P. Giglio where he writes that UNC is doomed to lose tomorrow. I'm sure he'll have a good reason.

Anonymous said...

AMEN!!! to the 9:53am comment. Nobody misses Herb. Wished him well and said good bye 3 years ago!

Anonymous said...

Herb Sendek is gone reporters & writers! We wish him the best, he took NC State as far as he could go and he felt it time to move on as well... Let it go and talk more about what Matt Dougherty is up to these days after being run out of town or who Coach K's replacement will be.

Anonymous said...

And yet they cannot even make it into the NIT tourney....LOL

State-is-a -joke said...

Sid Lowe could not hold Sendek's jock. State is a first class joke in the ACC as far as basketball goes. Their fan base has crazy expectations that they can compete with Dook and UNC. It will never happen. I have been a fan of the ACC for all of my 42 years, and in those State was a factor in 4 of those years. That is once a decade. State fans, get real. And why you are at it, try to man up on that sissy finger making a yapping puppy cheer you do. How effeminate can you get.

State-is-a -joke said...

Sid Lowe could not hold Sendek's jock. State is a first class joke in the ACC as far as basketball goes. Their fan base has crazy expectations that they can compete with Dook and UNC. It will never happen. I have been a fan of the ACC for all of my 42 years, and in those State was a factor in 4 of those years. That is once a decade. State fans, get real. And why you are at it, try to man up on that sissy finger making a yapping puppy cheer you do. How effeminate can you get.

Wolfpacker '49 said...

Just give Sidney Lowe a chance to develop the guys that will be capable of playing his style of basketball. Even when Herb Sendek won we were all bored out of our minds. At least we were in almost every game this year. The future is going to keep getting better, next year included!

Anonymous said...

I don't think State fans are unrealistic in their expectations at all. We have never taken the Duke or Carolina road and proclaimed to be the be all end all of basketball. We love our team and want to see them do well. And there is nothing wrong with that. I'm sorry your precious rams don't have a corresponding hand signal to your mascot. Tough life you lead.
GO PACK!

Anonymous said...

The Pack did make the NIT, Not in Tournament. But they get to look at a nice red coat.