This week the Opposing View takes us down to Tobacco Road, wolfpack style, as we do a little Q&A with Section Six (nc state fan site)…
Interviewee – “I’ve been blogging about the Wolfpack at Section Six since 2004.Â I graduated from NC State in 2005 with a degree in History.” -Steven from Section Six
As always, we asked a few basketball questions and then got into the hard hitting stuff like “Why do the NC schools stink at football so much?”
Q: Can you give us a general overview of the nc state team?Â Strengths/weaknesses, etc.
A: NC State lacks outside shooting and relies on the post for most of its offensive production.Â The team’s biggest strength lies in the free throw department, both in getting to the line and keeping opponents from getting there.Â Â The big drawback to this style, defensively speaking, is that we rarely force turnovers.Â And despite being one of the taller teams in the country, we don’t rebound well at either end of the court, and the defensive end is especially problematic.Â Â
Q: J.J. Hickson is the best freshman in the ACC.Â But adding him to your lineup is like adding Percy Harvin to uva’s 2-tight end formation.Â He doesn’t fit.Â Thoughts?
A:Â If we’re speaking strictly about the offensive end of the court, that may be a fair point.Â The Costner/McCauley tandem has been a bit more effective offensively than either of the Costner/Hickson or McCauley/Hickson pairs.Â But it isn’t that Hickson doesn’t fit into the offense Sidney Lowe is running–he doesn’t fit into the offense that Costner and McCauley run in their “remember when it was just the two of us?” dreamland.Â Furthermore, a major reason why the offense looks rougher this season is because we haven’t found an effective point guard.Â Â Â
The bottom line is that we have been a vastly better team with Hickson on the floor than with him off of it–we have outscored opponents by 75 points with him on the floor and have been outscored by 36 with him off of it.Â No Wolfpack player has a higher net positive value than that +111. (McCauley = -79).Â Even if his implementation into the offense hasn’t gone smoothly, he has still been a vital component to our overall success, largely because his defensive value, relative to the other two, is huge.Â When Costner and McCauley are on the floor together, we play matador defense.Â Their effort stinks, their fundamentals stink, and they just aren’t the same caliber of athlete that Hickson is.Â Whatever offensive cohesion we gain with Costner and McCauley on the floor (and it ain’t much) is outweighed by what we lose at the other end.
Niemo’s Note: Ummm, net positive what? Pretty big words for a history major. Are we talking hockey or basketball? Are you sure you didn’t go to duke? And Cope-acabana thought I was a stat freak…
Q: J.J. Hickson is shooting almost 63% from the field.Â Is he all dunks and layups or does he have a mid-range game?
A: He has a mid-range game, which is one of the things that makes him fun to watch.Â If a defender takes a step back when he catches the ball 12-15 feet from the basket, he’s perfectly comfortable shooting the jumper.Â Doesn’t do it often, but it’s in the repertoire.Â Â Â
Q: Rumor has it that Sidney Lowe makes knuckle children to Hickson.Â Do you think he unfairly favors him over other players?
A: If you asked a few of the players that question, they might say yes, but that’s their sense of entitlement talking.Â JJ Hickson has, from day one, proven himself to be the best player on the team; it’s rather hard to fault Lowe for inserting him into the starting lineup, that being the case.Â Hickson’s not been given anything he hasn’t earned–or that others haven’t relinquished.Â He plays hard and his off-court work ethic is outstanding.Â If anything, he should be getting more playing time.Â Â Â
Q: Billy Packer said Costner doesn’t enjoy basketball anymore.Â The same could be questioned of McCauley.Â Their production has dropped way off this year.Â What are your thoughts?
A: Billy’s right.Â It’s a combination of things: for one, there was/is some sulking going on with regards to JJ Hickson and how he’s altered their roles.Â McCauley got comfortable in the starting lineup and didn’t appreciate being relegated to the bench.Â That was really evident in his play early on, though he’s looked better and earned more time of late.Â He and Costner played together a ton last season and they got into a nice groove; that’s been disrupted, obviously, and they do not appreciate it.Â Â Â
I read something recently about how Coach K handled moving Jon Scheyer from the starting lineup to the bench this year.Â He emphasized that Scheyer hadn’t done anything wrong–the move wasn’t a slight or an indictment–it was just the reality of the situation.Â Scheyer got over his disappointment and he’s been fine.Â So I have to wonder–how did Sidney Lowe handle that same discussion with Ben McCauley?Â Was his message the same?Â Regardless, it didn’t have the same effect.
The other thing: neither McCauley nor Costner look to be in basketball shape.Â Costner especially.Â
Q: What’s a worse fashion statement: Sidney Lowe’s red sportcoat of Oliver Purnell’s orange one?
A: Purnell is the one committing the aesthetic atrocity; I like red too much to think otherwise (a stunning revelation, I am sure).Â Although both were topped by Bob Huggins the other day.Â Mustard blazer, mustard slacks, mustard shoes.Â Â Â
Q: Does Sidney get more leash since he was a part of the national championship team?Â Do you think Sendek was run out unfairly?
A: That second question is going to get me in trouble.Â As for the first, just judging by the way a lot of Wolfpack fans have reacted to this season, I really don’t think so.Â It is true that the athletics department gave him a longer leash when he was hired, but that was due to the status of the basketball program.Â And athletics director Lee Fowler has patience to burn, much to everyone’s chagrin.Â
The Herb question is a loaded one.Â Do I think he got more abuse from the fan base than he deserved?Â Yes.Â For the most part, I think one’s opinion on this matter comes down to expectations.Â The alumni who were around during the ’70s and ’80s remember national titles, conference titles, perennial contention.Â Sendek’s record here does not stack up favorably to our historical performance no matter how you slice it.Â Those folks endured a decade of futility that began with Jim Valvano’s departure, and they didn’t have the patience for Sendek’s slow rebuilding job, which very likely may have plateaued, anyway. And it shouldn’t be forgotten that Herb Sendek got ten years here; he didn’t make the NCAAs in any of his first five years.Â How many other basketball schools would hang onto a guy with that track record?Â So I totally understand that viewpoint.Â
But, look, I was entering kindergarten in 1988–I don’t remember any of the good old days.Â I grew up dreaming that the Wolfpack would just make an NCAA tournament.Â That’s all I wanted.Â Even after our fifth consecutive trip to the dance under Sendek, the whole experience was still something of a novelty to me.Â So I was pretty patient with the way Sendek’s tenure unfolded, which is not to say I didn’t get frustrated or wonder if a change might be beneficial.Â I was just more ambivalent about the whole thing.Â
Q: Prediction for the VT @ nc state game?
A: It looks like a good matchup for Virginia Tech to me.Â The Hokies’ interior defense has been outstanding, and they have been shutting teams out of the offensive glass.Â That’s a good recipe for shutting anyone down, but us especially.Â Our backcourt should have an easier time protecting the basketball, but I’m not sure that’s going to be enough.Â Give me Tech by a handful.
Niemo’s Note: Hmm, I smell another Jedi-mind trick. Though the fsu guy picked us to win and we did, so I’m liking it.
Q: nc state has owned the Hokies since they entered the ACC, more so than any of the other NC schools. What has been the key to success?
A: I haven’t the slightest idea. During Tech’s first two years in the ACC, the Pack football team’s overall talent level was comparable to the Hokies. On the basketball side, we’ve just generally had the better program.
Q: VT has dominated football since entering the league four years ago.Â Why?Â Is the ACC the worst BCS football conference?
A: Tech’s timing hasn’t hurt–Florida State was in the midst of a decline they’ve still not turned around, and Miami started losing momentum with Butch Davis’s departure.
I don’t know if the ACC is the worst of the BCS conferences, but I do know it’s the most unwatchable.Â Â Â
Q: Since 1980, the four NC schools have only two ACC football titles: duke in 1989 (a tie)Â and wake in 2006.Â Why has the state of NC sucked so much in football despite having half the teams in the ACC for most of that time?
A: “Sucked” is a bit harsh, at least in the cases of NC State and UNC, as both are above .500 since 1980 and have earned a good number of bowl bids.Â They just haven’t been able to move themselves into that upper eschelon.Â The ratio of division I-A schools to prospects in the state of North Carolina works against the in-state schools, and there’s a lot of poaching from neighboring states with schools that have higher football profiles.Â In our case, prior to Chuck Amato’s arrival, we didn’t make the financial commitments that are necessary to take the program a step forward.Â
Q: Just to emphasize my point, a NC state school (unc or nc state) has not won, or even tied, for an ACC title in football since 1980.Â How is that possible?
A: Priorities that differ from other schools in the conference and the region, for one thing.Â Tobacco Road is college basketball country.Â The culture has changed somewhat at NC State, but our modest history and the small imprint on college football that’s resulted from it can be difficult to overcome.Â Â Â
Niemo’s Note: Wow, everyone is telling me I’m too harsh lately. Maybe I need to go to rage-aholics. I’m sorry, but no football titles in 27 seasons, not even a share of one, for either of the public NC schools equals “sucked” in my book. If we go 27 seasons without one, I’ll be real bitter. Wick – can I give them a ‘D’ for football or will you get upset?
I kind of see VT as the nc state of Virginia. Except we have found our niche in the ACC already – winning football titles. state is just one of the also-rans in football and basketball, often the runner-up in the ACC Tournament. Not bad, but not great. They should have built up their football program while they had the chance and made that their mark since bball is for unc and duke and it is tough to eclipse those programs. Too late now. Kind of like how uva has let VT have football and basketball in this state while focusing on women’s lacrosse and field hockey, you know, the important sports. Anyway, as always, it’s great to be a Hokie. VT wins this one and reverses the trend of nc state victories. This young Hokie team is all about breaking trends (uva, bc, fsu).