Tag Archive | "ncstate"

Game Recap | nc state (23-9) 80, Hokies (13-19) 63

It’s not the way Erick Green wanted to end his career, but with the way the Hokies have played this season, today’s 17-point loss to nc state is hardly surprising.

Green hit his first two shots of the game, back-to-back threes, but was ice cold from that point on, scoring just 15 points on 5 of 19 shooting, as the 12th-seeded Hokies lost 63-80 to the 4th-seeded wolfpack.

The Winchester Rifle(man) really struggled. He had four turnovers in the first half, equalling his season-high for a game. Lorenzo Brown did a terrific job of shutting down the ACC Player of the Year. Of course, Green still got 15 points, so even on a bad day, he’s still good enough for 15.

Jarell Eddie played his best game in more than two months, scoring 21 points in the loss, the most he’s scored since he had 21 in a home loss to boston college on Jan. 9.

Outside of Eddie and Green, the Hokies didn’t get much from the rest of the team. Cadarian Raines had 8 points, pretty much all on dunks, and Marquis Rankin also had 8 points.

Tech managed to keep it relatively close in the first half and even led for a bit, but Richard Howell pretty much had his way with the Hokies inside the paint. Howell scored a game-high 22 points, but got help from C.J. Leslie, who had 15, while Scott Wood and T.J. Warren each added 13 points.

The Hokies have one of the worst defenses in the country and it was on full display Thursday afternoon.

It’s sad to think that this was how Erick Green ended his career at Virginia Tech. There is no post-season. No NIT. No CBI. Nothing. He’s done as a college player.

Earlier in the week, it was reported that the Hokies practiced with metal chairs on the court, presumably as teammates, sympbolizing the level of help Green got from the rest of the team this season. Apparently that didn’t help with motivation.

The Hokies, under first-year head coach James Johnson, finish 13-19, their worst season in 10 years, when they went 12-17 under ricky “program bomb” stokes.

Posted in 2012-13 Season, ACC Tournament, Game RecapsComments (8)

Game Plus/Minus | nc state Game

Wow, Marquis Rankin continues to put up brutal +/- numbers.  He was -13 in 13 minutes of play today.   No one else was worse than -7.  And Brown (+5), Wood (+3), and Eddie/Raines (+2) were positive.

Rankin is now -9.1 in ACC games (no one else is worse than -7.5).  And he’s a team worst -5.0 on the season, although to his defense he did miss Tech’s first two wins.

Barksdale (a rare -6 today) is +2.0 on the season and -0.2 in ACC games, both are the best on the team of the guys that regularly play.  Brown is the only other guy that is positive on the season at +0.7 (although he’s -7.4 in ACC games, third worst on the team — Wood is -7.5).

@nc st Season Wins Losses ACC Avg +/-
Player +/- +/- 11 14 12 Per Game
Barksdale -6 49 7.4 -2.5 -0.2 2.0
Brown 5 17 11.5 -8.4 -7.4 0.7
Green -1 -5 14.5 -11.7 -7.5 -0.2
Eddie 2 -16 10.3 -9.2 -6.0 -0.6
Wood 3 -17 5.8 -6.3 -7.5 -0.9
Raines 2 -35 6.8 -7.9 -4.4 -1.4
Johnston -5 -43 0.1 -3.7 -3.6 -2.0
van Zegeren -7 -52 4.0 -6.9 -6.2 -2.1
Rankin -13 -116 1.3 -9.8 -6.5 -5.0
TEAM -4 -57 11.5 -13.1 -9.1 -2.3

This shows only the players that played today.

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Game Breakdown | nc state 90, VT 86 (OT)

Like I said in the highlights, I’m so proud of the way the Hokies played today and the effort they gave.  It would have been easy to lay down having lost seven straight and playing on the road, but Tech played their heart out, and if it hadn’t been for a 14-0 run from the 8-minute mark to the 4-minute mark of the second half, the Hokies probably would have won.  And even after they fell behind, they pulled an incredible missed free throw play out (major props to JJ, they have obviously worked on this) to get the game to overtime.  But, alas, it was not to be.  I feel bad for the guys — they deserved to walk off the court as winners today.

Ugh, so close!!!  Tech is so close to being 2-0 in the Triangle this year, losing in OT at unc (after missing a shot at the end of regulation) and in OT at nc state (after blowing a 7-point lead with 8 minutes to play and a 1-point lead in OT with EG on the line).  It stinks, but it shows how good this team can be at times.  Well, maybe the third time is the charm?  VT plays at duke in a few weeks, and will head further down Tobacco Road to wake, also.

Because of the positive vibe from this game, I’m only focusing on the positives today…


  • Jarell Eddie had 11 points between the final 11 seconds of regulation and the 5-minutes of overtime, hitting 3/4 three-pointers and 4/6 shots.  Coming into this game he had been 2/21 on FGs and 1/14 on 3s in Tech’s previous 3 games, so this was a great sign.  He shot in rhythm squared up to the basket and looked as deadly as it did earlier in the season.  Hopefully he can maintain this stroke going forward, and if so, VT will start winning some games.
  • Marshall Wood looks like a different player the last week.   Going into the georgia tech game at VT, he was 1/7 on FGs and 0/3 on 3s in ACC games (2 total points), and was 1/22 on 3-pointers for the season.  Since then, he’s 7/14 from behind the arc and 9/16 from the field.  Wood scored a career high 14 today to build on his 8 at uva.  Marshall was 4/9 on 3s and he couldn’t hide his smile after draining two deep 3s in the second half.
  • More Wood: He had 16 rebounds today!!!  16!!!  That’s the most by a Hokie since Doo-Doo Finney-Smith in last season’s opener (also 16).  It was Wood’s first career double-double.
  • EG had a solid 29 points in regulation today on 11/24 shooting.  So whatever slump he was in during the first half at uva is over.  He had 50 points in the next three halves of play.  However, his miss on the front end of a one-and-one in OT with VT up 1 was disappointing, but he had to be exhausted by that point.
  • Offensive Rebounds: The Hokies snagged 21 offensive rebounds today.  21!  Tech grabbed 45% of their misses (nc state got 38% of theirs).  For the week, VT got 38% of their misses and held their opponents to 31%.
  • 3-Point Shooting: The Hokies were 11/23 (48%) from deep today.  That’s their most made 3s in an ACC game this year (previous was 10 vs miami).  Tech is 26/68 (38%) in their last 3 games from behind the arc. They had been 44/144 (30.5%) in the previous 9 games.  Again, if VT can keep this up, they will start winning.
  • 3-Point Defense: While Scott Wood killed the Hokies with 19 second half/OT points (including 5 three-pointers and 3 free throws after getting fouled on a 3 and a 4-point play), Tech did hold nc state below their ACC 3-Point % of 41% (VT held them to 38.9%).  I know, that’s pretty close, but considering 10 of Tech’s previous 11 ACC opponents had surpassed their normal 3-Pt%, we’ll take it.
  • Energy and Overcoming Adversity (i.e. the refs): I thought every Hokie played their rear off today and that’s something to be proud of.  Plus, Tech was called for 28 fouls, nc state 12.  Yes, they were more aggressive.  But 43 FTs to 7?  No Hokie other than EG went to the line.  But the Hokies just sucked it up and kept battling.  And it was state that lost their cool, with C.J. Leslie getting a technical foul when he finally didn’t get a call (at that point in the game fouls were 16-7 and free throws were 17-2 in state’s favor. Really, C.J.?  No wonder people think you have no heart.)

Lots of positives to take from today.  This team hasn’t given up yet.  Just need to come out Thursday (hopefully in front of a decent crowd in the Cassell… that is hopefully pro-Hokies) and give the blue devils a big old turd burger.  Let’s beat duke… again!

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Game Highlights | nc state (7-5) 90, Hokies 86 (2-10) (OT)

The Hokies drop an absolute heartbreaker to the nc state wolfpack 90-86 in overtime in a snowy Raleigh, NC.  Every Tech player gave every ounce of sweat they had, including a miracle missed free throw conversion with 5 seconds left to send the game to overtime (or you could say a brilliantly drawn up play by Coach Johnson).  But in the end, the Hokies couldn’t overcome the wolfpack and the officials:

  • Tech was called for 28 fouls, nc state just 12
  • state shot 43 free throws, VT just 7 (all by Erick Green)

I was really proud of Tech and the effort they gave on the road, and you have to feel for the guys, losing for the 8th straight time in a game they could have won against a NCAA Tournament-bound club.



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Recap | nc state (7-5) 90, Hokies (2-10) 86, Overtime

Despite playing it’s best game, perhaps of the season, the Hokies dropped their eighth straight game Saturday afternoon, losing 90-86 in overtime to heavily favored nc state on the road.

Senior guard Erick Green scored a game-high 29 points. In his previous four games vs. the wolfpack, Green had just 27 points combined.

Virginia Tech held a 60-53 lead in the second half, but nc state went on a 14-0 run to take a 67-60 lead. The Hokies, however, did not quit. Trailing by three with :08 left, the pack fouled Green as he crossed mid-court with about :05 left. Green made the first and intentionally missed the second. Eddie grabbed the rebound and put it back up and in to tie the game at 78.

nc state’s Lorenzo Brown missed a desperation half-court shot and the game went to overtime. The Hokies led a couple of times in the extra period, but committed two critical turnovers that eventually cost them the game.

While the loss will sting, there is finally a few bright spots! Freshman Marshall Wood had his coming out part by scoring a career-high 14 points and pulling down a career-high 16 rebounds. And junior Jarell Eddie, who has hasn’t started the last two games, came of the bench to score 17 points.

The Hokies’ 36 points in the first half were the most since VT scored 37 points against Maryland on Jan. 7. Tech trailed 37-53 at the half of that game.

Virginia Tech attempted a season-high 80 shots. EIGHTY! Their previous high was 68 attempts. Tech made 35 of those 80 shots for a 44 percent average.

The Hokies hit 11 of 23 free throws 48 percent from the behind the arc, well above their season average. The 11 made threes were the most since VT hit 14 vs. unc-greensboro.

Here’s a stat that’ll make you pull your hair out. The wolfpack attempted 43 free throws. The Hokies attempted seven. Yep. nc state attempted six times more FTs then VT.

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Preview | VT (2-9) @ nc state (6-5) on Saturday at 2 PM on ESPN2

Spread: nc state by 15.

If you asked most people who the biggest disappointment in the ACC is to date, they would tell you nc state. That’s because while Tech was picked to finish in the lower third of the league anyway, nc state was picked to win the ACC, C.J. Leslie was tabbed to be the ACC Player of the Year, and Rodney Purvis was slated to be the Freshman of the Year, a clean sweep in the preseason. They feature three 5-star and three 4-star recruits on their roster, half from the Sidney Lowe days and half under second year coach Mark Gottfried.

Yet, if it wasn’t for a Scott Wood 3-pointer with 1 second left at clemson last Sunday, the wolfpack would have a losing record in the ACC. As it is, they are just 6-5 and 5th place in the league. They got trounced by 20 points by oklahoma state earlier in the year and have lost to maryland, wake, uva, miami, and duke in ACC action.

Despite all this, the wolfpack are poised to go to the NCAA Tournament for the 2nd year in a row after never making it under Lowe. They are ranked 17th in the RPI, thanks in large part to the nation’s 8th toughest schedule. They’ve played 4 top 25 RPI teams (1-3), 3 more 26-50 (2-1), and 5 more in the top 100 (3-2).

At least Tech would have to worry about being outnumbered on Saturday. The wolfpack basically only go two deep on their bench. Vandenberg plays a minute or two here and there, but I’m not counting him. nc state lost three straight while stud point guard Lorenzo Brown was out, but he’s back now (played 32 minutes in the win over clemson) and should start Saturday. He is a devastating slasher.

C.J. Leslie has played well, but he will likely not be the ACC POTY. He’s averaging 15.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game and gets to the line a ton (6.5 attempts per game), but I wouldn’t even call him their MVP.

Richard Howell has improved night and day, and if you played fantasy sports, he would be a #1 seed in the ACC. Howell is in the top two on his team in points, rebounds, blocks, assists (as a big man), and steals. He leads the ACC in rebounding. Howell’s ppg have improved by about 2.5 ppg each year since his freshman year, and he now looks like a NBA player.

Don’t forget about Scott Wood. The beanpole is still around, and dropping 43% of his 3s (63 makes). And he’s automatic at the line, hitting over 90% but he doesn’t get there much since he’s soft.

Purvis, the preseason pick as FOTY, has been decent, but hasn’t lived up to the 5-star hype. T.J. Warren, another 5-star freshman, has played better (averaging 11.4 ppg to Purvis’s 9.3). Purvis is a better than 40% 3-point shooter, though.

Stat to Watch: nc state is #2 in the ACC hitting 41.2% of their 3s in league action. But they are 11th in the league with 5.1 makes per game (behind VT’s 5.4). Given nc state’s size advantage at almost every position, the Hokies have no prayer of winning if nc state is hot from deep. Given that 10 of VT’s 11 ACC opponents have shot a higher 3-point % than normal and made more than normal, that’s not a good thing. Tech must hope nc state missed from the outside, VT can hit some (like the 2 3-pointers they got from Marshall Wood against uva), and do a good job on the defensive glass (they held uva to just 6 offensive rebounds). Both teams have a similar turnover margin, but if the Hokies can cause misses, get the rebounds, and force turnovers, who knows.

Tech has won two straight at nc state. Since joining the league, this series has been a series of runs. VT won the first meeting, nc state the next 6 (we were the only team Lowe could beat), and then VT 4 in a row until state throttled Tech in the regular season finale last year at the Cassell. In that 70-58 win, Wood had 19, Leslie 18, and Brown 10. Raines had 15 and EG 12 for the Hokies.

Preview VT nc state

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Game Highlights | VT 77, nc state 69 | 2.2.11

Highlights from the Hokies’ final win against Sidney Lowe.  Tech won at nc state for the second year in a row after a 93 year drought (VT hadn’t won in Raleigh since 1917 before last year).

Malcolm Delaney became the 4th Hokie to reach the 2,000 point mark in this game.  Congrats!

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Sweet-n-Lowe: Hokies Alone in 4th | Recap | Hokies (5-3, 15-6) 77, nc state (2-6, 12-10) 69


Tell me if you’ve heard this story before: The Hokies jump all over a team on the road in North Carolina and get up by about 16 points, but then crumbles in the second half, allowing its opponent back in the game. Luckily for the Hokies, n.c. state sucks more than unc.

Note: maryland, bc, and clemson all lost so Virginia Tech sits alone in fourth place in the ACC at 5-3.

Malcolm Delaney led the Hokies with 22 points as Tech won 77-69 over n.c. state. The senior from Baltimore is only the fourth Hokie ever to score more than 2,000 points in his career. He reached the 2,000 point mark on a layup with a minute to go that iced the game.

In fact, it was a night of milestones for the Hokies:

  • Delaney’s 2000th point
  • Allen’s 1500th point
  • Delaney’s 500th assist

The win is only the fourth ever by Tech on the road against the wolfpack. Tech’s all-time record at n.c. state is now 4-19.

Fellow senior Jeff Allen was a beast for the visiting team, especially in the first half. Allen had 10 of Tech’s first 18 points, and finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for his third straight double-double. He has 10 double-doubles this season and 38 for his career.  Allen sits at 16th on the all-time VT career scoring list with 1,513.

The Hokies absolutely dominated on the boards in the first half, out-rebounding the pack 25-9. That included 14 offensive rebounds in the first stanza. Fourteen!! The second half was a completely different story. The wolfpack won the second half battle of the boards, 24-16. state grabbed nine offensive rebounds to just five by Tech in the second half. Overall, the Hokies still out-rebounded n.c. state 41-33.

Terrell Bell had a rare double-figures scoring night with 13 points on 4/8 shooting and a perfect 4/4 from the charity stripe. Meanwhile, sophomore sensation Erick Green, a.k.a. the “Winchester Rifle,” continued his stellar play with 13 points on 3/6 shooting. He also had two blocks, a steal and an assist. The kid appears unflappable running the point.

It’s truly amazing to witness Green’s transformation from an undisciplined freshmen to a veteran-like sophomore holding his own against the best of the ACC.  He also regained his form on his mid-range jumper.  The one negative for Green was his foul shooting.  He was 28 for his last 29 from the line coming in and hit his first four foul shots.  But he missed two of his final four from the stripe, and that’s not including a foul shot he missed on a lane violation.  Let’s hope this doesn’t become a Davila-like mental block.

Victor Davila had another hot and cold game. He had a game-high 13 rebounds and six points, but he continues to put the ball on the floor when all he needs to do is go up to the basket. I counted at least four times in this game in which Davila got the ball underneath and put it on the floor rather than go straight to the hoop. By putting it on the floor, he allows the defenders time to collapse and foul him. And when he goes to the line, it’s not pretty. He was just 2/5 at the line tonight. He’s shooting under 48 percent for the season.

Nonetheless, Davila did more good than harm and he was pulling down rebounds left and right tonight and even fought through box outs to get a few of those.

Tech got decent minutes from its bench, but sophomore forward Manny Atkins was the only one who contributed on the scoreboard – he had eight points (all in a three minute span late in the first half) and played extremely tough. He’s developing into a quality sixth man. He can come off the bench and hit the deep three and also mix things up in the post fighting for rebounds. He plays hard and doesn’t back down.

Freshmen Tyrone Garland and Jarell Eddie were a combined 0/7 from the field, but did give the starters some much needed rest. Eddie was a beast on the offensive glass to earn his per diem.

Tech played man defense almost exclusively tonight and was aided by the fact that n.c. state’s best player, Tracy Smith, was battling a knee injury the entire second half. The Hokies (mainly Davila, who is now a great post defender) limited Smith to 11 points (four below his average) and six rebounds on 4/11 shooting. C.J. Leslie, the pack’s stud freshman, had 18 points to lead the state. The pack hit just 3/15 three-pointers.

This one almost got away, but the Hokies held on for a key win in ACC play. Tech is now 5-3 halfway through the ACC schedule and that’s a hell of a lot better than 4-4.

Virginia Tech heads north to face boston college Saturday at 1 p.m. The Hokies didn’t fare well in their last trip to chestnut hill, losing badly 60-80.  And bc will have a chip on its shoulder after losing by 32 at home to unc on Tuesday.

Niemo’s Note: VT is 5-3 at the halfway point of ACC play.  Who’d have thunk that after Tech started 1-2 with a horrible home loss to uva, and a 16-point blown lead at unc?  Once again, Seth found a way to rally the troops.  Random note: uva held clemson to 13 points in the first half tonight… ouch!  Then uva turns around and only scored 13 in the first 19+ minutes of the second half.  This game set ACC bball back 30 years.  It looked like a wisconsin intra-squad scrimmage… Oh, and I shed a tear when Greenberg and Sidney Lowe shook hands at the end.  It is likely the last time VT will face Lowe, the worst coach in the ACC.  Tech somehow started 0-4 against him but have now won 4 in a row.

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Preview | VT (4-3, 14-6) @ nc state (2-5, 12-9) | Wednesday at 7 PM | ESPN2

Spread: VT by 3. 

Will this be the final time the Hokies face Sidney Lowe, at least in the regular season?  [My guess is YES.]  Will Lowe wear that bright red sport coat?  [No doubt.]  Can the Hokies hit the halfway mark of the ACC schedule at 5-3, or will they be 4-4?  [Hmm, I think the former but wouldn’t be stunned if it was the latter.]  Tune in to the Deuce on Wednesday as these questions and more will be answered.

With a win in Raleigh on Wednesday the Hokies will move to two games over .500 in league play for the first time all season.  That would quite an accomplishment for Tech to be 5-3 at the midway point considering they were 1-2 with a terrible loss at home to uva and a tough loss at unc where VT squandered a 16-point lead.

Tech really needs to get at least a split this week with road games at nc state and bc.  This is the easier of the two.  The wolfpack have lost five of their last six since defeating wake forest in their ACC opener.  nc state lost by at least nine points in all five of those games, with the lone win a 2-point victory over 1-6 miami (the pack blew a 17-point lead in that game).  state also choked away a 31-12 lead at clemson last week (they were outscored 48-19 the rest of the way).  These guys are not a second half team.  If the Hokies can get up early, it could be good night.

Meanwhile, Sidney Lowe, the ricky stokes of Raleigh, continues to do his thing — lose.  He’s 22-49 in ACC regular season games in his five years, and just 6-30 on the road.  But they are 16-19 at home under him, and Tech has not faired well in Raleigh over the years other than last season.  VT is just 3-19 all time at nc state, including just 1-3 in the ACC.

The Hokies swept the wolfpack quite easily last year, winning 72-52 at nc state and then 71-59 in the ‘Burg on Senior Night.


  • All Time: nc state 34-13
  • In ACC Play: nc state 6-4
  • Streak: VT has won 3 in a row (after losing 6 in a row)


Position Virginia Tech nc state
Guard 11 Green 6-4 10 Gonzalez 6-0 or 12 Harrow 6-1
Guard 23 Delaney 6-3 21 Williams 6-5
Wing/Forward 1 Bell 6-7 15 Wood 6-6
Forward 0 Allen 6-7 23 T. Smith 6-8
Forward/Center 14 Davila 6-8 1 Howell 6-8

C.J. Leslie is the wolfpack’s 6’8″ super sub.  He is a 5-star recruit with a ton of athleticism but is not a great shooter.  Ryan Harrow had been starting at PG over Javier Gonzalez lately but that changed in the unc game Saturday.  Harrow is also a 5-star freshman who can slash but also struggles to shoot from the floor.


  Virginia Tech nc state
RPI 68 97
PPG 71.0 72.0
Pts Against 60.7 69.7
FG % 47% 45%
3-Pt % 33% 35%
FT % 71% 71%
Scorer Delaney 18.1 Smith 15.0
Rebounder Allen 9.5 Leslie 7.4
Assists Delaney 4.5 Harrow 3.5
Steals Green 2.1 Brown 1.4
Blocks Bell 1.2 Leslie 1.5

INSIDE THE wolfpack:

  • Best Player: Tracy Smith – Probably the best player in the ACC with his back to the basket.  Missed 10 games with knee surgery but has scored at least 12 in every game since his return (9 games).  VT held him to 12 points in both games last year.  Davila will need to battle him inside, and Victor has done a great job of post defending lately.
  • Best Shooter: Scott Wood – Has already hit 55 3-pointers this year and at a 44% clip.  If Tech goes zone, as I expect they will, you have to know where Wood is at all times.  He has great range.  Despite being 6’7″, he cannot play inside at all and will be mostly on the perimeter.  Reminds me of Joe Trapani earlier in his bc career.  Scott had just 13 total points in the two games last year and was just 1/5 on 3s.  But that was thanks largely to Zo Hudson.  Might be a different story in the zone.
  • Best Athlete: C.J. Leslie – Big things were expected of this 5-star freshman but it has been a struggle for him at times.  He is averaging 10.4 ppg and 7.4 rebounds (the latter is tops on the team).  As Seth talked about, you have to keep him off the offensive glass.  C.J. is averaging almost 3 offensive rebounds per game.  He’s long, but skinny.  Be physical with him or he’ll jump over you.  Force him to shoot jumpers – he’s hit just 3 3’s all year.
  • Best Slasher: Ryan Harrow – I really like this fellow 5-star freshman.  He is not quite the penetrator Iman Shumpert is, but he is great off the dribble.  Shoots 94% from the line so when Ryan gets to the line, it is automatic.  Have to cut him off and force him to shoot outside.  Just 9/40 (23%) on 3-pointers.
  • X-Factor: Richard Howell – He’s scored 12 or more points six times this year.  He’s also scored four or less seven times.  All his points are going to come near the tin either from offensive rebounds (he has even more than C.J. Leslie) or easy feeds from Harrow or others.  Stop penetration and rebound, and you stop him.
  • Best Defender: Don’t have one – Sidney Lowe’s teams don’t work hard on defense.  Lorenzo Brown does get 1.4 steals per game off the bench, but selling out on D just isn’t the Lowe way.
  • Worst Player: Javier Gonzalez – He makes Larry Drew II look like John Wall.  Can’t shoot (34% FGs, 30% 3s) and is too slow/small to defend.  Harrow had been starting over him recently but Lowe will screw this up.
  • Worst Coach in the ACC: Sidney Lowe!  My man!  Never won more than six games in an ACC regular season.  22-49 in ACC regular season games in his five years, and just 6-30 on the road.  But he’s 4-3 against the Hokies (ugh).  He has lost three in a row, though.  Let’s even it up Wednesday and put another nail in his coffin.


  1. Play Your Game: The wolfpack aren’t very good at anything.  They are not in the top three in any category in the ACC.  If VT can play a solid game, they are the far superior team.
  2. Rebound: nc state is the fourth best offensive rebounding team in the ACC.  Have to keep Smith, Leslie, and Howell off the offensive glass and limit their second chance points.
  3. Stop Scott’s Tots: Scott Wood is #3 in the ACC in 3-Pt% and #2 in makes.  He is the ONLY threat from deep for the wolfpack.  He’s made 55 of their 98 3-pointers (second lowest total in the ACC).  If VT goes 2-3 zone, as I’m sure they will, you have to know where he is.
  4. Count Hack-ila: Will the wolfpack foul Victor Davila whenever he gets the ball inside? He was just 3/9 from the line against miami, but had been decent in the six games before that (12/19).  Victor must finish his opportunities, even when there is contact around the rim to avoid FTs.  And he must do a good job on Smith down low, making him work for feeds inside.  Victor was great on Williams from maryland and Johnson from miami.  That’s a key again here.
  5. Go Green: Erick Green is #1 in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio and #3 in steals per game.  VT is 10-1 with him as a starter when he reaches double digits.  He’s also 28/29 from the foul line recently.  Straw that stirs the drink.
  6. The Big Donut: Jeff Allen had 18 points and 11 rebounds in both games last week after a rough four game stretch.  Given the pack’s talent inside, Jeff must be a monster on the glass and go at the state bigs on offense to get them in foul trouble.


  • Founded: 1887
  • Enrollment: 23.7 undergrad, 7.4 postgrad
  • National Titles (Basketball): 1974 and 1983
  • ACC Titles (Basketball): 10 – last was in 1987 – 3rd most in the ACC
  • ACC Football Titles: 7 (tied for 4th most) – none since 1979 – in fact, the two state schools (unc and nc state) haven’t won an ACC football title, or even tied for one, since 1980.  There’s no pigskin on Tobacco Road.

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Niemo’s Notes | nc state – A Tale of Two Halves

What went wrong in the First Half:

  • Tech came out at practice speed, not game speed.  The eight day layoff really seemed evident in the first half, VT was rusty.  Sidney Lowe noticed the same thing about his team last year, and as a result, scheduled a cupcake (nc central) this week to keep the guys in game shape.  Greenberg/Weaver might have to look into this next year.
  • This has become an issue all year long: Tech’s low-post defenders allowed the nc state big men to catch the ball way too close to the hoop.  Then, the pack players were backing the Hokies down with ease.  When an ACC-caliber player is shooting a two-foot hook/jumper, they are going in 80-90% of the time.  It almost looked like a practice drill.  Let the offensive guy receive the ball low and do his move, instead of forcing him out or fronting him.  Tracy Smith, who averaged just 8 ppg coming in, had 13 in the first half.
  • The Hokies don’t get a lot of easy buckets in transition.  But they counter that by not giving up any.  VT wins because they force you to earn every point in the half court set.  This was not the case in the first half.  On numerous occasions, a Hokie defender blew an assignment and a wolfpack player was left wide open for an easy deuce.  Again, this was likely due to rust.  Also…
  • Lazy passes:  Hudson had a couple in the first half, though he was not alone.  These led to some easy breakaways for state.
  • Bad fouls:  Allen committed yet another foul 80 feet from the hoop.  This was his second foul and cost him the final 10 minutes of the half, a half he had nine points in and was Tech’s best offensive weapon.
  • Losing focus:  At the end of the half, the Hokies completely lost their cool.  While that is acceptable for Greenberg to an extent, as he was making a point and his technical was probably the right thing to do to send a message, the Hokies didn’t respond.  Instead, Vassallo forced a bad shot down 10 in the final 80 seconds, followed by an easy bucket for state.  Then, Tech could have held for the last shot, but instead shot the ball with 20 seconds left, giving state another possession.  On that possession, it looked like Tech had already checked out for the half.  Tracy Smith was left wide open inside for an easy flush.  The result: a 9-0 run by the pack and a 14 point halftime deficit.
  • Tech allowed 49 first half points to a team that had only surpassed 70 points in regulation once in their previous seven ACC games.

What went right in the Second Half:

  • Extend pressure on the ball:  Greenberg actually made this adjustment late in the first half and it paid big dividends.  nc state’s guards are weak.  Similar to what Delaney does at times, the pack ballhandlers will pick up their dribble 30 feet from the basket if pressured.  This keeps them from setting up their offense and being able to feed the ball inside on the first pass.  This bogged down state’s offense and forced them to put Costner on the perimeter to receive that first pass.
  • Front the low-post players or force them farther out:  J.T. Thompson by far is the best at this for the Hokies.  In the second half, he was working his tail off to keep McCauley or Smith or Costner from catching the ball down on the low block.  Jeff Allen also did a much better job at this.  You have to root the guys out from inside, or simply set up where they want to be before they get there.  If they do get position, front them.  When state could not feed the ball inside, it exposed how weak their offense was.  Tracy Smith, after 13 first-half points, had a big goose egg in the final 25 minutes.
  • Defensive intensity:  Greenberg was imploring the team (and crowd) to pump up the intensity on every possession in the second half.  It worked.  nc state only made one field goal between the 13:30 and 2:10 mark of the second half.  As a result, the pack only scored 13 points in the final 13:30 and had just 27 points all told in the second period.
  • Versatile Vassallo: Courtney Fells had A.D. on lockdown on the outside.  As a result, Vassallo did not hit a three in the game.  So A.D. focused on penetrating and either shooting midrange jumpers, shooting runners/floaters, or backing defenders like Costner down in the paint and showing that he has moves with his back to the basket.  A.D. was an impressive 10/14 on two-point shots.
  • Killer instinct:  For whatever reason, VT knows they are going to win in overtime.  Just chalk up the ‘W’ for VT and start the bus to Raleigh once that game goes to the extra period.  The Hokies have won eight straight ACC overtime games.  They need this confidence late in close games.  Treat the final five minutes like OT.  Plus, nc state expects to lose close games like that.  They are used to it.  VT had the confidence on their side.

For the whole game though, Tech’s defensive rebounding was terrible.  The biggest play of the game, if Tech hadn’t come back and won, would have been that missed free throw by Tracy Smith late in the first half.  At the time state was up six.  Grab that rebound, and the foul on Delaney and the subsequent technical on Seth would never happen.  It seems at times like the only way the Hokies will get the ball back is if the other team scores, turns the ball over, or it gets knocked out of bounds.  Not good.

Summary: The wolfpack monkey is off our backs!  The Hokies now sit at 5-3 at the halfway mark of ACC play.  I think we all would have taken this before the duke game (and certainly after it).  Tech could have easily won the clemson or at bc games, but should have lost this one.  So things sort of evened out. 

The Hokies were 5-3 at this point last season.  They responded with a three game losing streak, followed by a four game winning streak, and then a loss in the regular season finale.  Tech cannot afford a three game slide now.  The next three games are all very winnable: ga tech (1-8), @maryland (4-5), and @uva (1-7).  The Hokies need to go at least 4-4 the rest of the way to keep alive NCAA Tournament hopes (and then likely need to win one in the ACC Tournament).  To do that, they need at least two of these next three.  Hopefully, that run starts with a win over the ACC’s last place team on Wednesday at the Cassell.

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Recap | Hokies Rally from 18 Down to Tame the pack in OT, 91-87

Box Score

About [bleeping] time… The Hokies finally got a close game to go their way today as they came back from down 18 points in the second half, and down 8 with less than two minutes to play, to beat n.c. state in overtime, 91-87.

It was also the first win for the Hokies over the pack since Jan. 15, 2005, when the good guys won 72-71 at the Cassell. The OT win was the eighth straight overtime win in ACC play for Virginia Tech, which improved to 15-7 overall, 5-3 in the ACC.

Senior A.D. Vassallo scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half and OT; Jeff Allen had 21 points, 8 rebounds; Malcolm Delaney scored 18 points; and J.T. Thompson stepped up with 12 points off the bench.

The Hokies jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead, but it was all pack after that in the first half, using a 30-8 run to take a 16-32 lead midway through the first half. The Hokies responded with a 17-4 run of their own to cut the state lead to 33-36. In a game of runs, the pack answered with a 13-3 sprint to take a 49-35 halftime lead.

The Hokies continued to struggle early in the second half, falling behind by 18 points at 43-61 with less than 14 minutes to play. But in the span of just 27 seconds, the Hokies scored 8 quick points to cut the lead to 10.

The outburst began with a steal by Hank Thorns who appeared to have a clear path for an easy layup, but state’s Courtney Fells sped down the court and fouled Thorns from behind while blocking the shot. Fells, who has 9 inches and 60 pounds on Thorns, made contact and sent the smaller Hokie flying face-first into the padded base of the basket. The ref called an intentional foul, even though it clearly was not (I’ll get to the officiating later).

Dorenzo Hudson came on to shoot the technical foul shots and made both. The Hokies inbounded the ball and got it to Hudson who drained a three from the right wing to cut the pack lead to 63-50. At the other end, Allen stole the ball from Dennis Horner and fed Delaney on the left wing for an uncontested trey to cut the lead down to 53-63.

From there, the Hokies kept within reach of the pack and were trailing by eight with under two minutes to play. Tech used a Thompson layup and four foul shots from Delaney to pull within two. After a pair of missed free throws by state’s Horner, Vassallo drilled a baseline jumper with 17 seconds left to tie the game at 76 and sending it into overtime.

Fueled by a monster 18-point comeback in the second half and by the energy of the Cassell crowd, the Hokies took over the extra session. They grabbed a quick 4-point lead and never looked back, though it did get a little scary toward the end. Though his stats don’t look all that impressive, Terrell Bell played a solid game defensively and led the Hokies in OT.

After Vassallo gave Tech a 78-76 lead, Bell blocked Fells’ shot at the top of the key, grabbed the ball and took it the other way for a layup and a 4-point Hokie lead. With about a minute to play in OT, Bell had a key assist to Allen along the baseline for the hoop and the foul. Allen completed the 3-point play to put Tech up 85-80.

The pack kept it close with a pair of clutch treys from Javier Gonzalez, but Vassallo hit four foul shots in the final 17 seconds to close out the game and snap Tech’s two-game skid. The win also snapped Tech’s six-game losing streak to state, and Tech’s nightmarish string of close losses.

The Officiating

Back to the refs. The officiating was questionable at best in this game, particularly late in the first half when the Hokies got called for two fouls within nine seconds of each other and neither one was a foul. The first was on Victor Davila, who was called for a foul even though he had position and his hands were straight up in the air. That foul ignited the crowd into deafening cascades of “boos”, and Seth Greenberg exploded off the sideline to contest the call.

The official nearest Seth gave him a warning, but Seth continued to seethe and stalk the sideline. The pack’s Tracy Smith missed the second of two foul shots, but state rebounded the ball. While trying to guard Brandon Costner, Delaney was thrown to the floor by the much bigger Costner, and when the whistle sounded, Hokie fans started to cheer, but the official immediately pointed to Delaney and the chorus of boos began again.

This time, Seth had to be restrained by his assistants as he screamed at the officials, who quickly gave Seth a technical foul. It didn’t deter Seth, as he continued to yell while his assistants continued to stand between him and the refs. After the first half, Greenberg waited for the officials to walk off the court, but they motioned for Seth to leave the court, which he did, but not before a few choice words. Only after Seth was gone did the officials leave.

The Fells foul on Thorns in the second half was called an intentional foul, but after watching the replay, it clearly was not. The refs reviewed it at the scorer’s table and still called it intentional. That led to five points for the Hokies.

Neither coach was happy with the officiating in this game, but then again, when was the last time a coach in any sports was thrilled with the officiating?

Virginia Tech returns to action in the Cassell on Wednesday night at 7 PM, hosting georgia tech. The game is scheduled for ESPNU, so for many of us not able to attend, and not able to get ESPNU on Comcast, it will be time to find a barstool and belly up. georgia tech is struggling through an abysmal season at 1-8 in conference and 10-12 overall.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Recaps, GamesComments (2)

Preview | nc state (12-8, 2-5) @ VT (14-7, 4-3) | Sun., 1:30 PM


The Opposing View  |  Old School nc state Brick of the Game

Superman has kryptonite, Achilles has his heel, Niemo has that cafeteria chicken salad wrap he ate for lunch, the Weekend Warrior has Wild Turkey bourbon, uva has, well, anything VT, and the Virginia Tech basketball team has the nc state wolfpack.  Since Tech joined the ACC, nc state is just 28-43 (under 40%) in ACC regular season play, yet five of those 28 wins have come against the Hokies.  nc state also ruined VT’s chance of reaching the ACC Tournament Finals by defeating the Hokies in the Semi-Finals of the 2007 ACC Tournament, even though state was just 5-11 during the ACC regular season that year with two of those five victories against the Hokies (yes, they beat Tech three times in probably Tech’s best basketball season ever and one of state’s worst).

It is bad enough to lose to nc state over and over again, but the games haven’t even been close for the most part.  In Tech’s six losses, they have lost by an average of 13 points.  And VT’s lone win was by just a point, where the Hokies overcame a late 10-point deficit.

Well, I’m here to tell you people: this crap ends Sunday!  Enough is enough.  I’m tired of losing to the worst coach in the ACC, Sidney Lowe, and his bright red sport coat that would make a pimp throw up.  You heard it here: the Hokies are neutering the pack on Sunday!

Niemo’s News & Notes 6-Pack:

  • Tech is trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season.  They have lost two in a row twice.
  • Of the top-nine Hokie scoring efforts in an ACC game, Delaney’s 37 against clemson last week marks the only time the Hokies have lost one of those games.
  • With a win, Tech will clinch a winning record at home this season.  Tech has only had a losing record once at the Cassell in its 48-year history (ricky stokes was the coach).
  • Delaney is fourth in the ACC in scoring with 18.5 ppg.
  • A win Sunday would put VT at 5-3 at the halfway point of the ACC season, the same mark they had last year.
  • Vassallo is sixth in the ACC in scoring with 18.0 ppg.


Warning!  It ain’t pretty…

  • All-Time: 10-34
  • At the Cassell: 1-3
  • In the ACC: 1-6
  • Streak: nc state six in a row
  • Last Meeting: 2/5/08 – nc state 73, VT 63 (Recap)
  • Of Note: The Hokies have not won at nc state since 1917.  After winning the first two road games in the series, Tech has dropped 19 in a row.  The wolfpack are one of just two ACC teams that VT hasn’t beaten on the road since joining the ACC.  fsu is the other.  Luckily, this game isn’t in Raleigh.


Virginia Tech






Point Guard

23 – Delaney




Shooting Guard

40 – Vassallo




Small Forward

33 – Thompson




Power Forward

0 – Allen





14 – Davila





1 – Bell





5 – Hudson





10 – Thorns





21 – Witcher




34 – Diakite




 nc state






Point Guard

12 – Degand




Shooting Guard

4 – Fells




Small Forward

23 – T. Smith




Power Forward

33 – Costner





34 – McCauley





10 – Gonzalez





15 – Ferguson





24 – Mays





30 – Thomas





31 – Horner




Depending on if state goes big or small to start, Ferguson could get the nod over Tracy Smith and begin the game at the two, moving Fells to the three — this is their smaller lineup.


  • ACC Tournament Titles: 10 (third most in the ACC by far)
  • Last Title: 1987

nc state is a bad road team.  They are 1-5 on opposing home courts this season, including five losses in a row.  Their lone win was at uno (new orleans).  The pack did play davidson and florida tough away from Raleigh, but have lost their last three road games to clemson, duke, and bc by double digits.

I’ll let Steven from Section Six (nc state blog) break down the pack team in detail.  Here’s what he said in our Q&A:

Niemo: What are the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s wolfpack squad?
Steven: Pretty much what they’ve been throughout the Lowe era. At the offensive end, we shoot reasonably well, but we turn the ball over too much. We were offensive rebounding well in the non-conference portion of the schedule, but we’ve slid predictably in conference play. Defensively, we’re among the worst teams in the country at forcing turnovers, and we give up a lot of second chance opportunities.
Niemo: Tell me about your players.
Steven: Brandon Costner has regained much of his form from two years ago, and he does a little bit of everything — he’s a pretty good rebounder and passer, and will block some shots, in addition to scoring. He has a tendency to score 3-4 buckets in a row and then promptly disappear for long stretches. But some of that is on the coaching staff.

Ben McCauley has also had a bounce-back year shooting the basketball, and he is rebounding better than he has at any point in his career. Courtney Fells remains an enigma, scoring effortlessly in some games while being a complete non-factor in others. He’s prone to poor decisions, be they shots with a hand in his face or lazy passes.

Julius Mays has been a pleasant surprise at the point, playing about as well as could reasonably be expected. But he’s not much of a factor at the offensive end, and neither is Farnold Degand, the other point guard. Both have had turnover problems.

Though not so much of late, Tracy Smith has been an excellent high-energy contributor off the bench. He’s an outstanding offensive rebounder.
Niemo: This might predate most people reading this column, but on the TV show Dallas I’m pretty sure they had a season without J.R. Ewing (he was supposedly dead), then brought him back and pretended like that previous season was just a dream. For some reason, that’s how I look at this year’s nc state team. It is almost like last year, with J.J. Hickson playing for you guys, didn’t really happen and now you’re back to basically the same team you had two years ago except for Atsur and Grant. Agree?
Steven: In the sense that Courtney Fells, Brandon Costner, and Ben McCauley are once again the team’s primary sources of production, that’s true, but there is one big difference: the lack of a competent distributor at the point. Engin Atsur really complemented those guys well — McCauley in particular — and we’re missing that. 

For more, see The Opposing View.


Big 3 > Dynamic Duo: Two years ago, Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley killed the Hokies.  McCauley averaged 15 ppg and 6 rpg in the pack’s three wins.  Costner went for 11 ppg and 7 rpg.  Last year, only McCauley played and had just eight points, but that team was the J.J. Hickson show. 

This year’s state team is much more like two years ago.  Costner and McCauley are averaging 28 ppg and 14 rpg this year to lead the wolfpack.  The Hokies are going to have to limit their points.  Costner is solid with his back to the basket or facing up, while McCauley is better in the low post.  Both are terrific passers.  Ben used to be the better passer, but Costner is averaging an impressive 2.5 apg this season, good for second on the team.  Tech must guard Costner on the perimeter — he has attempted 82 three-pointers at a 37% clip.

Vassallo and Allen had good games last year (31 points combined), but Delaney was a no-show.  He had just four points on 1/5 shooting.  He must abuse the poor nc state defense this year.

Attack the pack: nc state is not a good defensive team.  In ACC play, they are dead last in field-goal-percentage defense and 10th in scoring defense.  Costner and McCauley are good on offense, but can be lazy on D and aren’t very athletic.  Plus, their guards have trouble shutting down talented opponents.  Delaney needs to attack the paint and either score or look for an open teammate.  Or,since state is used to collapsing the lane on help defense, Delaney’s teammates (Vassallo or Allen off a pick and pop) should be open on the perimeter for a three.  Allen should be able to beat McCauley or Costner.  Tracy Smith is a high-energy guy in the low post for state that could present more problems for Jeff.

On offense, state is last in scoring offense.  They don’t have a lot of consistent productivity beyond Costner and McCauley.  Focus on these guys and force someone else to beat you.  Courtney Fells is a good long range shooter, hitting 41% of his threes.  He doesn’t get to the hoop much, and therefore doesn’t get to the line much.  state does not have a quality slasher that can get to the hoop and create points.

In the intangibles, the pack are dead last in rebounding margin and 11th in turnover margin.  The Hokies need to pressure the ball.  state lacks an experienced point guard.  Also, Costner will force passes at times leading to turnovers, and he can be stripped (Allen) when he’s on the perimeter.

The Past is History: Tech has lost six in a row to nc state.  Big deal.  The Hokies are a better team than nc state and this game is in the Cassell.  Tech will be well rested in this one, having had eight days off.  The Hokies may be a little rusty at first, but Delaney and Vassallo should have fresh legs in this one, which perhaps has been an issue of late at times.  If VT can get off to a decent start, they should be fine.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Previews, GamesComments (0)

The Opposing View | nc state

This week the Opposing View takes us down to Tobacco Road, wolfpack style, as we do a little Q&A with a big time (wolf)packer and fellow blogger. For the second year in a row, Niemo interviews Steven from Section Six.

Interviewee – “I’ve been blogging about the Wolfpack at Section Six since 2004.  I graduated from NC State in 2005 with a degree in History.” -Steven from Section Six

Here’s a link to last year’s interview: 2008 nc state Opposing View

Basketball Questions:

Niemo: Kay Yow recently passed away, meaning two nc state legendary basketball coaches have lost their lives to cancer in the last 20 years. What did Kay mean to the nc state community, and how has her passing affected it?
Steven: It’s been tough, obviously, to lose someone who had such an incredibly positive impact on NC State basketball and women’s basketball in general. She was a pioneer in the sport, a great coach and a great person.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Virginia Tech community, which raised more than $26,000 for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund last week. You guys rock.

NOTE: Donations to both the V Fund (Jimmy Valvano) and the Yow Fund can be made through the V Foundation website: Don’t Ever Give Up!
Niemo: What are the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s wolfpack squad?
Steven: Pretty much what they’ve been throughout the Lowe era. At the offensive end, we shoot reasonably well, but we turn the ball over too much. We were offensive rebounding well in the non-conference portion of the schedule, but we’ve slid predictably in conference play. Defensively, we’re among the worst teams in the country at forcing turnovers, and we give up a lot of second chance opportunities.
Niemo: Tell me about your players.
Steven: Brandon Costner has regained much of his form from two years ago, and he does a little bit of everything — he’s a pretty good rebounder and passer, and will block some shots, in addition to scoring. He has a tendency to score 3-4 buckets in a row and then promptly disappear for long stretches though. But some of that is on the coaching staff.

Ben McCauley has also had a bounce back year shooting the basketball, and he is rebounding better than he has at any point in his career. Courtney Fells remains an enigma, scoring effortlessly in some games, while being a complete non-factor in others. He’s prone to poor decisions, be they shots with a hand in his face or lazy passes.

Julius Mays has been a pleasant surprise at the point, playing about as well as could reasonably be expected. But he’s not much of a factor at the offensive end, and neither is Farnold Degand, the other point guard. Both have had turnover problems.

Though not so much of late, Tracy Smith has been an excellent high-energy contributor off the bench. He’s an outstanding offensive rebounder.
Niemo: This might predate most people reading this column, but on the TV show Dallas, I’m pretty sure they had a season without J.R. Ewing (he was supposedly dead), then brought him back and pretended like that previous season was just a dream. For some reason, that’s how I look at this year’s nc state team. It is almost like last year, with J.J. Hickson playing for you guys, didn’t really happen, and now you are back to basically the same team you had two years ago except for Atsur and Grant. Agree?
Steven: In the sense that Courtney Fells, Brandon Costner, and Ben McCauley are once again the team’s primary sources of production, that’s true, but there is one big difference: the lack of a competent distributor at the point. Engin Atsur really complemented those guys well — McCauley in particular — and we’re missing that. 

Niemo: The wolfpack are 11-28 in ACC action over the last three seasons under Sidney Lowe. Fill in the blank: Lowe gets fired after this season if…?
Steven: …he commits a federal offense. Or accidentally sets fire to Lee Fowler’s (ncsu’s Director of Athletics) lake house.
Niemo: If you had to rank the coaches in the ACC, where would you put Greenberg and Lowe?
Steven: I’d put Greenberg behind Roy Williams, Coach K, Al Skinner, and Oliver Purnell, at least, so he’s somewhere in the middle. Lowe has to be in the bottom two or three until he shows some signs of progress. I sure hope I’m not still ranking him near the bottom in another couple of years.
Niemo: The Hokies have the fourth most ACC regular season wins (behind duke and unc, of course) since joining the league five years ago, and have picked up a first-round bye in the ACC Tourney three of the four seasons. What do you attribute their success to?
Steven: I had not realized Tech’s had that much basketball success. Impressive. I’m not sure there’s any one thing I can point to, save Seth Greenberg’s solid coaching. Having a couple of great guards — Dowdell and Gordon — to lean on when the team first joined the ACC was huge. And I give Greenberg a lot of credit for maintaining continuity after those guys graduated. I’d be lying if I said I thought Tech would be a consistent winner in the ACC.
Niemo: Despite all the Hokies’ success in the ACC, they are just 1-6 against the wolfpack in league play, and have lost six in a row. Why are you our daddy?
Steven: I don’t know, but, kids, daddy’s going through a tough time, and he really needs your continued support. You’re all he’s got right now. [Niemo: LOL!  Sorry, but it is time for us to give daddy a little payback.]
Niemo: What will it take to turn the nc state basketball program around?
Steven: Finding a capable point guard would be a start. When Herb Sendek left the program, it destroyed the recruiting class he’d put together, and we’re still recovering from that. There’s a reason an extra year was included in Sidney Lowe’s first contract. If nothing else, Lowe and his staff have proven to be effective recruiters, and they’ve got a pair of good classes lined up. 
Niemo: What’s your prediction for this game?
Steven: Malcolm Delaney is going to do whatever he wants — you can go ahead and mark him down for 25. I think the Pack keeps it close, but the Hokies ultimately win by 7-8. We tend to play with our heads up our asses for at least five minutes a game; that’s enough to do us in on the road. By the way, I noticed that AD Vassallo is listed at 6-6, and I could swear he used to be 6-8. You guys may want to check into this, as a shrinking small forward could be problematic in March.

Fun Stuff:
VT has won three football titles in five years in the ACC, and played for another title. nc state has not won an ACC football title since 1979. In fact, since 1980 the only North Carolina team to win one outright was wake in 2006. duke tied for one in 1989 (Spurrier). Why is college football so darn awful in North Carolina?
Steven: A lot of unspectacular quarterbacks. The league’s just been in a down cycle; that’ll change. Butch Davis is going to win big and NC State will get back to being a consistent bowl team. We’ve found the outstanding QB we’ve been missing post-Rivers (Russell Wilson from Richmond, VA), and I expect we’ll be pretty good sooner rather than later. If FSU and Miami can ever figure their [poop] out, the league will be good to go.
Niemo: Do you see state ever contending for ACC football titles consistently, or just in rare years?
Steven: I like to think so, and I do think (Tom O’Brien) TOB’s staff can get us to that point, but ultimately, I don’t care. I’m okay with competing for the occasional title and winning 7-8 games the rest of the time. 

Niemo: Tyrod Taylor vs. Russell Wilson: Contrast and compare.
Steven: Taylor is a little faster and more elusive. Wilson is a vastly superior passer, in terms of both accuracy and decision making, and in my opinion, that makes him a much more balanced dual-threat QB. 

Niemo: What are your thoughts on having a female mascot to compliment your male one? Seems pretty lame to me. Don’t see too many of them around the nation.
Steven: Lucky for you they haven’t decided to have children yet. I like the fact that Mr. Wuf is in a monogamous relationship; I mean, you look around the country and all you see are womanizing douchebags like Bucky Badger or Herbie the Husker, running from one mid-major hussy to the next. And don’t even get me started on Testudo. I swear, if Miss Pawla calls me in tears one more time…
Niemo: The nc state football stadium is right next to the NC State Fairgrounds. What’s the best thing to eat at the fair? Funniest thing/person you’ve seen there? I tried a pickle-on-a-stick and a corndog at the Shenandoah County Fair last Fall. My bowels are still sending me death threats.
Steven: I went to the fair last fall for the first time in like fifteen years, and aside from your typical carny folk and people wearing an astounding number of McCain/Palin buttons per square inch of sweater, I can’t say anyone stood out. The renaissance fair, which also visits the fairgrounds, is really the better place to be if you’re out looking for the eccentrics.

Just about everything at the state fair is deep-fried delicious, meaning there are no poor choices. I recommend trying a fried candybar or a fried cheeseburger. However, your bowels will absolutely send you more death threats, and may go through with them this time.  [Niemo: I wonder if I could get this fried stuff on a stick since that’s my MO.]
Niemo: Are there any schools other than state you actually like/root for? Who do you hate the most and why?
Steven: I have grandparents from Michigan, so I’m partial to the Wolverines, but I don’t actively follow them. When it comes to the ACC, schools fall into two categories: (1) I hate you, or (2) I don’t totally dislike you (but will find a reason if pressed). Boston College (because of the TOB thing), Maryland (because of certain Rivers-era incidents), and Duke (because [fornicate] them) are in category one, while the rest sit in category two but may periodically move into category one at my discretion.

An example of this would be when Chris Paul punched Julius Hodge in the groin, making Wake Forest provisional category one members. Category one incidents are generally followed by a three-to-six month probationary period, and once my grudge begins to fade — sometime around mid-July, barring a breach of probation — their category two status is restored. Obviously, this is serious business.

[Niemo: 2 things: 1) Who doesn’t hate maryland?  2) Steven is a better man than me for only having a 3-6 month probationary period — I didn’t buy Tostitos for 5 years after the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl screwed VT over on the 2001 Fiesta Bowl for a crappy notre lame team that got blown out by oregon state, and I didn’t shop at advance auto parts for 10 years after they flew a “Congrats tiki and ronde” banner over Lane Stadium at OUR SENIOR DAY in 1996.  Only reason I ever shopped there is I had a dead battery after a VT bball game and was late meeting Miss Niemo back in NOVA for her birthday which I had blown off for said bball game.]

Thanks so much, Steven, for taking it easy on us and helping with this article.  Hopefully nc state will think they are playing someone other than VT on Sunday and let us win one!

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