State takes long path back

13-3 N.C.

`Pack in both Top 25 polls for first time since '89

Cameron changes due?

ACC notebook

January 26, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

The 'Pack appears to be back.

It has taken two coaching changes, a new arena and a full decade's worth of patience, but the No. 21 North Carolina State basketball team has clawed itself back to national prominence.

Winner of three of its past four games, the Wolfpack (13-3, 4-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) cracked both the Associated Press and coaches' polls this week for the first time since Dec. 12, 1989. That's when former coach Jim Valvano showcased a junior backcourt of Rodney Monroe and Chris Corchiani alongside a lanky sophomore named Tom Gugliotta.

"It's about time," said junior forward Damon Thornton, State's leader in rebounds (7.6) and field-goal percentage (.562). "This is what we've been waiting for."

To make matters worse, N.C. State hasn't had a winning season in the ACC since 1991 while in-state neighbors Duke and North Carolina have combined to win three national titles from 1991-93.

Now, with five returning starters, the Wolfpack looks to christen the Entertainment and Sports Arena with its first NCAA tournament bid in nine years. State has risen to No. 17 in the Rating Percentage Index after beating Georgia Tech and taking Duke into overtime last week.

"It feels good," sophomore guard Anthony Grundy said. "We predicted this. This is where we expected to be in preseason."

And N.C. State has relied on the same game plan, stressing balanced inside scoring and rigid man-to-man defense.

N.C. State is the only school without a player among the ACC's top 14 scoring leaders and racks up 41 percent of its points from inside the paint. Defensively, the Wolfpack allow a league-low 61.2 points per game.

"I think our team does have a renewed sense of confidence," said Herb Sendek, 35, the youngest coach in the conference who replaced Les Robinson in 1996. "And that has steadily grown throughout the season."

Changes at Cameron?

The ACC's oldest home court may be receiving a makeover.

Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium, which opened in 1940, is the center of a fund-raising effort in which more seats and luxury boxes could be added, coach Mike Krzyzewski said yesterday. With a capacity of 9,314, Cameron is the second-smallest facility in the conference, ahead of only Virginia's University Hall (8,864 capacity).

The students at Duke, who line nearly the entire court area and call themselves "The Cameron Crazies," create one of the loudest and most hostile environments for opposing teams. The Blue Devils have won 44 straight at Cameron.

"I don't want to coach in any other place," Krzyzewski said. "I think Cameron needs to be enhanced, but the intimacy not changed."

No super distraction

How does a team remain focused when one of the world's largest sporting events comes to town? Schedule two games within a 40-hour period.

Georgia Tech will be competing against the Super Bowl hoopla this weekend in Atlanta, when the Yellow Jackets play host to Wake Forest on Thursday night and then turn around to face North Carolina on noon Saturday.

"With two ACC games this week, I just don't think we'll be thinking about the Super Bowl," Tech coach Bobby Cremins said.

Eye-opener

Duke's Chris Carrawell could do without games with noon starting times.

"I hate these early games," he said. "You're yawning out there. You really have to dig down [to wake up]."

Quick quiz

Name the only three ACC schools that are undefeated at home. Answer at the end.

Fast breaks

Strange stat of the week: Teams that have been out-rebounded in ACC games this season are 17-5. Florida State's Damous Anderson, who scored a season-high 25 in a 76-71 win at North Carolina, became the first Seminole to be named Player of the Week during the ACC portion of the season in coach Steve Robinson's three seasons. Duke has been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for 67 consecutive polls. Cremins is the third winningest coach in ACC history with 350 victories. In five league contests, Virginia's bench has outscored the opposition's subs by 24.6 to 12.2. N.C. State's Thornton and Kenny Inge have combined for 39 dunks, which is 34.8 percent of their field goals. Nine players have started for Wake Forest this season. Answer: The only undefeated teams at home are Duke (8-0), N.C. State (11-0) and Georgia Tech (7-0).

Turnaround?

Off to its best start in 10 seasons, N.C. State is looking to end its eight consecutive losing seasons in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which has tied Maryland for the longest streak since 1980. The Wolfpack, which is off to a 4-2 start in the ACC, had a 35-93 (.273) league record from 1992 to 1999. A look at the other major consecutive streaks of losing seasons in the ACC over the past two decades:

School Years Streak

Maryland 1986-93 8

N.C. State 1992-99* 8

Clemson 1991-96 6

Clemson 1981-86 6

Florida State 1994-99* 6

Wake Forest 1985-90 6

* -- current

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.