3:15pm What stands out from watching Miami and Virginia Tech right after the Carolina game is the talent gap.
Even Florida State had more talent on the floor than either of these two teams, so you have to give Haith and Greenberg credit for what they've accomplished this year.
Virginia Tech holds a 25-23 lead at the half despite a long scoring drought in the middle of the half. Luckily for the Hokies the Hurricanes haven't done much either, and McClinton has looked off his game both days so far.
2:40pm A couple of notes from the UNC/FSU game.
- Jason Rich is really good, and he plays with a permanent scowl. I can't tell if that's just how he looks or if he plays angry, but whatever motivational tactics he uses – they work.
- Hansbrough postgame quote "It's not a situation where I try and get fouled its just something that happens." Yes Tyler, because you never initiate contact on any of those plays. People just love fouling you, that's all.
- Roy postgame, doing his civic duty in hyping the ACC teams, "In my opinion Florida State is one of the top 65 teams in the nation." They lost to NC State at home, the Pack's only ACC road win, so I think that automatically disqualifies them.
- Roy on Lawson, "I still have not seen him run past someone yet. Until I see that I won't say he's 100 percent." Lawson looked good today but he definitely doesn't have that explosiveness still, it will be interesting to see how much he can improve in health between now and next weekend.
- The Florida State cheerleaders wore three different outfits during one game. They had a first half look, a halftime look and a second half look. It was like watching Tori Spelling wear nine outfits in an episode of 90210 that spans afternoon.
Alright time to find a seat for VT/Miami, the only game with true bubble implications today.
2:05pm On of the cool things about finding a random seat on the floor is that you never know who you'll sit next to.
For the Carolina game I had the pleasure of sitting next to Don Shea (not the one your thinking of). Mr. Shea was a college official for 27 years and now works for the NCAA in evaluating officials.
He told me he believes that basketball is the hardest sport to officiate because you have to watch for so many things and because of the constant motion. He said when he evaluates officials he looks at positioning, accuracy and guts. He defined guts as the ability to make the tough call when it needs to be made.
UNC takes care of Florida State by a 82-70 final. I'm going to head behind enemy lines and check out the UNC locker room.
1:00pm Florida State played a pretty good first half, but kind of fell apart at the end. It's a really really pro UNC crowd, as was to be expected.
The highlight of the first half for me was either Danny Green getting his dunk rejected (or fouled, whatever) or the Duke fans behind me doing the Tomahawk chop with the Seminole band.
12:00pm Just before tip-off here at the arena and its not as crowded as I expected. Still plenty of open seats, though that may change quickly.
Looks like some Pack fans are hanging tough, but just as many appear to have sold their tickets to the Evil Empire (Carolina fans).
I don't have a seat today so I'm off to try to steal a spot on press row.
Friday, 10:45am NC State might be gone, but I'm not going anywhere. In many ways Friday still feels like the first 'real' day of the ACC Tournament, as there's already a lot more activity in the building compared to this time yesterday.
I expect the presence of UNC in the first game will lead to a full arena at noon today, when the Tar Heels take on Florida State. We'll see how many Pack fans stuck around just to boo their least favorite ACC squad.
5:30 The postgame was understandably negative, most of it focusing on what went wrong this season. As usual, a lot more questions than answers. Costner probably summed it up best when he told me, "I have no idea, I wish I did."
Here's what went wrong, your team was built to have to shoot 50% every game to win because it can't rebound or hold on to the ball.
There was also plenty of talk about Hickson going pro, and he didn't exactly give a ringing endorsement for his love of NC State. "I'm just going to get together with my family and my coaching staff, see where I am on the draft board and go from there."
Back with more for the night session and look out for a story tomorrow that delves more into who's to blame for this disastrous season.
** Also its been pointed out that I completely forgot about the 2000-2001 season when saying its been over a decade since the Pack had a losing season. My bad, trying to do three things at once is a bad idea.
4:25 There's still two minutes left in the game but this thing is effectively over with two minutes remaining and the Pack down by 13 points.
It's just been more of the same for the Pack, and after awhile you run out of adjectives that mean terrible when trying to describe this offense. There are so many basic things the team never learned to do, and its been a failure on every level. This will be the first time since 2001 that the Pack won't participate in the NIT or NCAA Tournament, and also its first losing season since that time.
Back with locker room quotes and other postgame thoughts a little later on.
3:20 NC State finds it down by a 24-17 score at the half, and it would be considerably worse if not for the efforts of J.J. Hickson.
Hickson, who didn't start for some reason, scored 11 first-half points for the Pack. The rest of the Pack offense was abysmal however, especially the outside shooting. The Pack shot just 22 percent in the first half and was 0-for-6 from the 3-point line.
Frank Weedon was honored at halftime, winning the 2008 Francis award. I've had the honor of meeting Mr. Wheaton a couple of times, and you won't meet a nicer person or a bigger NC State supporter.
There was a nice video of the 1982-83 NC State basketball team played during halftime as well. The video ended with a speech from Valvano, prompting cheers from the entire stadium, even from rival teams.
2:51 It took over 11 minutes, but the Pack finally hit a field goal. Pretty amazing they are only down by a 13-6 score considering the offensive ineptitude early on.
2:35 Lowe has decided to start Brandon Costner of J.J. Hickson. Wow.
2:15pm The entirety of press row came to a grinding halt for a while as the wireless went down for over half an hour. Order has finally been restored, however. Not that surprising since I can't imagine the Bobcats arena is used to having much media in attendance.
I managed to find the Florida State cheering section, as the Seminoles knock out the Deacons with a 70-60 win in the first game of the day. There's maybe 20 of them, and they didn't stand once during the entire game, so that's probably how I missed them. My game ball goes to Jason Rich, who hit some ridiculous shots down every time that Wake started to go on a run.
The NC State seating section is right between the Clemson and Maryland sections, making it hard to see where State fans end and Maryland fans start from a distance. A decent amount of red sprinkled around the stadium right now, and you have to assume most of those are Pack fans. The Pack gets a nice cheer when they come onto the court as well.
Tip-off for NC State vs Miami looks like about 2:30pm.
1:00pm Halftime of the first game, with Florida State leading Wake Forest 31-26.
It's been a quiet stadium early on despite the presence of Wake, the school with the closest geographical proximity to Charlotte. A decent number of Deacons fans are here but they aren't creating a lot of noise, and if Seminoles fans exist I haven't noticed them. Seems like a lot of people decided to skip the afternoon session today.
Ishmael Smith has kept wake in it during the first half, and he's clearly the quickest player on the court. He absolutely blew by the entire Florida State team on one fastbreak for an easy lay-up. Both these teams rely on their quick guards to create off the dribble in the offense, something you didn't see a lot of from NC State this season.
11:10am Good news, there is now a giant vat of coffee available for the media.
The bad news, NC State is now in very real danger of going through two straight decades without winning an ACC Tournament. The Wolfpack has just two more chances to win in this decade, and didn't take home a title at all in the 90s.
Before the 90s the Pack had taken a title in every decade since the ACC came into being. Everett Case won four titles in the 50s, Press Maravich coached the Pack to the 65 tourney title, Norm Sloan won three in the 70s and Jim Valvano won two in the 80s. But the Pack hasn't won a title since 1987, making it to Sunday four times.
10:45am Just arrived at the arena here in Charlotte and right now all is pretty quiet. Not even a lot of activity in the media room, and the only buzz is about how there's no coffee available.
Just to set up what to expect from this blog today, I'll be checking around halftime and between games to give you my observations. Any updates will be noted in the story summary visible on the front page.