Saturday, January 29, 2011

No excuse for lazy effort by N.C. State

The North Carolina game is always a crucible for N.C. State, a test that football coach Tom O’Brien has embraced. But the men’s basketball team produced an embarrassing effort Saturday that highlighted the deficiencies of this Wolfpack team.

State has talent, but that’s not enough. Whether Ryan Harrow is on the bench or not with the flu, there is no excuse, none at all, for lazy play. College basketball players, whether playing their rival in the Smith Center on ESPN or playing Delaware State before a small crowd, should give their all. UNC did that Saturday, and great coaches like Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski get maximum effort from their teams.

That’s not the case with N.C. State. Carolina roared out to a 19-6 lead early in the game thanks to a 15-2 rebounding advantage. That’s simply an outrageous imbalance. One of the rare mistakes the Tar Heels made in the game is they once had six players on the floor, which was comical given that UNC seemed capable of winning this game with only four.

But there were little moments that were telling. Carolina’s Kendall Marshall zoomed right down the middle of the NCSU defense untouched, missed a shot and there were two Tar Heels to rebound. Richard Howell got caught in a double-team, and as ESPN astutely pointed out, not a single Wolfpacker rushed to get the ball. You could see it clearly on the replay – with Howell in trouble, his four teammates just stood there.

State never moved with crisp efficiency on offense, preferring to hope a player could beat his man and get a basket.

And as for overall hustle, you just didn’t see that from State. Harrison Barnes once beat two Wolfpack players to a loose ball. Late in the game, C.J. Leslie made almost no effort for a loose ball as two Carolina players went after it.

The only conclusion you can draw is N.C. State is simply a lazy team. They have some guys who play hard – Tracy Smith, Lorenzo Brown, Ryan Harrow – but not enough. By game’s end, UNC fans were chanting, “Not our rival!” Right now, that’s the case.

This was a ridiculous performance from N.C. State, and it’s school, and fan base, deserve better.

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