N.C. State hasn't had much glory lately, so
their last second win over Houston, with the echo of Lorenzo Charles' dunk
and Jim Valvano's mad dash, provides a touch of gold to the Pack and their
always passionate fans. Having said that, here's the downside:
it was an ugly, broken play. Luck played too big a role in it, because
certainly the play wasn't designed for Marcus Melvin.
Herb Sendek worked overtime to fit a lot of cliches into this passage: "Even when they went up by two, we knew the game wasnÂt
over. You know, 6.5 seconds is a lot of time in basketball. It was a great win for us, but it was one of those games that you didnÂt want to see anyone lose. There was a lot of grit, hustle and determination on both sides. We battled and just stayed the course."
Still, no matter how you look at it, and we have criticized State's
weak schedule, the Pack is 10-2. We can think of a few teams around here -
no names - who would kill for that record. If State can build on it and
step up to play ACC level ball night in and night out, who knows. It's an
interesting team all of a sudden. The backcourt is not perfect - Miller is
too small, really, and Grundy is eccentric. Sherrill and Crawford are athletic
but not highly skilled yet. The frontcourt is young, with two freshmen and
a sophomore, but all three have had solid years thus far. Certainly Julius
Hodge is a legitimate player, and Marcus Melvin is coming round, but Josh Powell
is perhaps the best news for State. He's going to be pretty good.
The Pack gets a chance to make a statement when Maryland comes on December
30. Interesting statistical note: Steve Blake is shooting 31.3% for the year.
At UVa, like Duke, the players actually have to study during exam time, so a
ragged performance after exams is not surprising. Rutgers gave UVa
fits before they worked the bugs out and claimed the victory.
Tech is back to .500 after
losing to Tulane.
a Sunday article on Maryland-Oklahoma we missed, and gee, here's
another. Did anyone else see Oklahoma and think they looked pretty
different? We're so used to seeing a slower, more methodical team. It's one
reason we always pick against them in the tournament. They're frankly kind
of boring and predictable, though sound.
Not this group. They looked like a panther attacking Maryland. Quick,
smart, athletic - if they maintain that level of play, they have a great shot in
This brings us to a thematic critique of Maryland: clearly, we're not
Maryland fans, but we do admire certain players and teams. Last year's for
instance, despite their problems with Duke, was a really great team full of
overachievers. They were a blast to watch.
A lot of times, though, Maryland gets out-toughed. The Terps look like
a dream when they are running breaks on less-powerful teams, but when a team of
equal strength comes at them hard, Maryland tends to buckle. Last year
they manhandled Duke at times, yet Duke won 3 out of 4 games. Oklahoma did
the same thing, and UNC used to do it on a regular basis. Virginia did it
to them last year, too, and of course UCLA's tournament domination is
We thought last year's team was legitimately excellent, but we can't say that
yet about this year's model. Also, for a team which was supposed to have a lot
of depth, Maryland only played 7 guys?
Clemson continues to be up and down, but they at least are
happy at this point.
UNC has obviously struggled this season - don't put too much stock into the
St. Joe's win by the way. Any time Brian Bersticker has an offensive explosion,
it's more than likely got something to do with the defense, and St. Joe's was
pretty crimped personnel-wise by the end of the first half - but Raymond
Felton is on the way, and he'll cure a lot of what ails UNC. Even on a
very young team, with Sean May, Jackie Manuel, Melvin Scott, and Rashad McCants,
Felton is good enough to make a difference. UNC might have only the Kentucky
loss if he were playing for them now.