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State Now is your place for Wolfpack sports. Beat writer Joe Giglio has up-to-the-minute news and analysis. Columnist Luke DeCock also contributes. Follow us on Twitter at @jwgiglio or @accnow.

Three Points: Florida State 76, N.C. State 62

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Three Points from N.C. State's 76-62 loss to Florida State on Saturday:

1) Reloading the gun

N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried compared the timing of the turnaround from Thursday's loss at Duke to Saturday's game with Florida State to the setup of the NCAA tournament.

One problem with that comparison: You don't have to play again after a loss in the NCAA tournament.

It's tough to reload the gun that quickly, even under normal circumstances, and this did not qualify as normal. Emotionally, almost all of the N.C. State players hadn't recovered from Thursday's gut-punch at Duke, a game which the Wolfpack led by 20 points in the second half (with the notable exception of forward C.J. Leslie, who finished with 21 points and nine bards and continued his march to the first round of the NBA draft).

Compounding the "turnaround" issue was the "Florida State" issue. FSU is an athletic team with experience and also a point to prove after nearly losing at home to a bad Virginia Tech team on Thursday and losing its previous road game to a bad Boston College team on Feb. 8.

FSU's size and athletic ability is a bad matchup for just about everybody (except, apparently, Ivy League teams) and especially a flat, N.C. State team which couldn't hit water from a boat.

"We just didn't have it," senior C.J. Williams said.

His summation was dead on. The Pack was just 6 of 29 in the first half and fell behind by 11, 37-26, at the break. Against FSU's defense 11 points is like 33, there's no coming back without a 3-point explosion. Such a a flurry never happened for the Pack, which finished 3 of 12 from beyond the arc.

And Gottfried didn't like how his team responded after a slow start.

"We just seemed to accept our fate," Gottfried said. "I did not like that. This team has not done that this year."

2) Running out of time

N.C. State has four more games before the ACC tournament starts, two of the teams are ranked in the top 50 of the RPI (UNC, Miami) and State has to play the other two games on the road (Clemson, Virginia Tech).

As Gottfried pointed out before the trip to Duke, that's a difficult closing path for his team. A win in either of the previous two games — at Duke, No. 2 in the RPI, and vs. FSU, No. 28 in the RPI — would have dramatically improved N.C. State's NCAA tournament chances. As would a win over North Carolina, No. 8, on Tuesday.

Gottfried has argued about the relative significance of this three-game stretch. He has argued that even if the team loses all three games, it's not eliminated from the NCAA tournament conversation.

His preference is for his team to focus "one game at a time" and also to be judged on the entirety of the season.

These are both fair points and one a coach should make. To Gottfried's point, Virginia Tech beat Duke last year and everyone from coach Seth Greenberg to Dick Vitale had proclaimed the Hokies were in but Selection Sunday rolled around and the Hokies were out.

Clemson, meanwhile, was winless in four games against Duke and Carolina, but found its way into the field of 68. (Clemson also had a head-to-head win over VT)

And while Gottfried is right, that doesn't discount the external value we (media, fans) have placed on the Duke-FSU-UNC stretch. Games against the top 25, and top 50, of the RPI matter. They just do.

Going back to Virginia Tech's example, the Hokies only top 50 win last year was against Duke. The NCAA was telling them, they needed more than just one win (which is Gottfried's point).

I had an animated exchange with Gottfried after the game on the topic of being judged on three games versus the entire season. He offered some funny, and insightful, comments about his experience as an ESPN analyst.

"I worked for ESPN. I was told to be an expert," Gottfried said. "I was told to stand up there and for sure say, 'This is the law.'

"Hell, I didn't know but I'm not going to get on TV and say, 'I really don't know what they got to do.' "

And Gottfried continued, admitting the value of the Duke-FSU-UNC stretch.

"Sure, it would be nice if we would have swept right through, you know all that, but if you don't, that doesn't mean you are eliminated," Gottfried said. "Some things still happen. You never know with this."

3) About Corch, Gugs and Hess (and the officials)

In 10 years, no one will remember Saturday's game because N.C. State couldn't get over the Duke loss or that it shot poorly but everyone will remember that Wolfpack greats Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta were ejected with 6:40 left in the game by referee Karl Hess.

Corchiani, who regularly attends games, and Gugliotta, who was visiting from Atlanta, were sitting behind the scorers' table and by their own admission, protesting a series of calls during the game. According to Corchiani, and at least two officials at the table, Corchiani did not use any profanity or threaten Hess.

"We were just fans, cheering and yelling like everybody else," Corchiani said.

Hess refused to offer an explanation to the Associated Press seeking comment after the game.

The ACC has admitted that Hess did not follow the proper NCAA protocol, which is to confer with the school's game management official before having the fan(s) removed, but it did not offer an explanation for why the former players were asked to leave their seats.

The NCAA rule says the game official has the authority to eject "unruly fans" who exhibit "extreme or excessive" behavior. By Corchiani's account, their behavior did not qualify as either extreme or excessive.

At minimum, Hess and the ACC should provide a thorough explanation, not the weak e-mail response the conference flimsily provided Saturday night at 9:32 p.m. (four hours after it was originally requested by the media).

If Hess' account for what happened matches Corchiani's, there should also be an apology. And that's not because of who Corchiani and Gugliotta are but because any fan, regardless if their jersey hangs in the arena or not, has the right to protest calls within the limits of civility. To suggest otherwise would mean Duke and Maryland (to just name two hostile environments) would have to play in front of a sea of empty seats.

Hess is a good official who is having a bad year. He was also involved in the no-call on a goaltending at the end of West Virginia's loss 63-61 loss at Syracuse on Jan. 28. Hess and the ACC should provide the proper contrition and let everyone move on. Their paying constituents are owed as much.

As for the actual in-game officiating, ironically, there were no issues, at least not for N.C. State. FSU was probably not happy that the Pack was in the free-throw bonus 8 minutes into the first half and attempted 31 free throws for the game.

The free throws (18 in the first half for State, four for FSU), and ostensibly the officiating, actually kept N.C. State in the game in the first half, when Leslie made five field goals and the rest of the team combined for one.

Forward Richard Howell fouled out for the fifth time in the past eight ACC games but Howell is his own worst enemy. No amount of complaining on Twitter is going to change that. He has to play smarter. He's playing noticeably harder this year but that also leads to touch fouls.

His first foul on Saturday happened about 75 feet from N.C. State's basket. There's no reason for that.

Brian Dorsey made a bad call on Howell's fifth foul, a clean block of Michael Snaer, but Howell put himself in foul trouble by picking up fouls early that could have been avoided, without sacrificing his hustle or defense.

The bigger issue, going back to the Duke game, is N.C. State needs to let its fans — and in the case of Hess, its AD — worry about the officials. The players need to regroup and finish out the season knowing they gave their best effort. I don't think that was the case on Saturday, no matter how surreal the circumstances.

Comments

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Howell has only himself to blame.

He reaches in constantly going for a steal and he is way too big and slow to be doing that.  He needs to just keep his arms up. 

 

CJ Leslie needs one more year.  I completely dissagree that he is not a team player this year.  He has bought in as much as anyone.  Last year was a different story. 

10-6 with 1 or 2 wins in the ACC Tournament gets us in.  That has to include another win over Miami to boost our RPI.

We match up incredibly poorly with tall athletic teams like UNC and FSU and have no chance against either.  We just dont have enough height and are a little slow compared to other ACC teams.

cjl

I agree that he needs another year, but I doubt that he would agree with either of us.

My sense is that he has picked up the intensity on offense, because the end of the season is near and he has his eye on the NBA draft. Up until the last few games, he has been up and down. He has however been consistent on defense all year and is the master of the ole style of defending. Despite the NBA's well-deserved reputation for not valuing defense, you need to be really good offensively to get away with playing no defense at all. Calvin's offense isn't that good. It's that lack of defensive intensity that, I believe, will relegate him to a mediocre professional career at best, It is also why I don't think that he has totally bought in, even though I agree that he is more a part of the team than he was last year.

Your point on match ups is right on. Although I agree with red-shirting Vandenberg this year, his presence would have helped some this year. This is one area that has to be addressed in recruiting. As good as the incoming class is, the Pack really needs a true center to provide depth behind Painter and Vandenberg next year so that most of Richard can be spent at power forward.

Will

Unfortunately, Howell plays the center position when he desperately needsto be playing the power forward slot. 6'8" is no place for a center in a power conference. His talents aren't being showcased and he's a disservice to his team bc of it. I feel for the guy.

Points

  • CJ first round of the draft? Really?
  • True, State seemed to be getting the brunt of the calls (Maybe Hess was trying to issue the ultimate "make up call"
  • Bad call on Howell's fifth? IIRC, it was a clean block on the ball, but quite a bit of body contact too
  • While 11-5 is a possibility for the Pack, somewhere around  9-7 would not surprize me. If that happens, the NCAA is looking pretty doubtful. Perhaps the committee will look at the 20 point margin they had against dook?

1.  Exactly.  C.J. Leslie

1.  Exactly.  C.J. Leslie was the only one to 'reload' -- maybe his motivation IS the NBA, but still he 'reloaded.'  (Why not attribute, say, Tyler Zeller's performance to the NBA?)

2.  Yes.  How ironic -- appropriate? -- that Gott's first year will be judgued by the UNC game in Raleigh.

3.  Nothing good coms from Twitter.  :p

Sure

Sure it does. Thanks, Marv.

3 points

1. Regarding CJ Leslie's "march to the first round of the NBA draft" I get the sense that this is his main concern right now. How the team finishes is secondary.

2. I listened to the press conference and heard your exchange with Gottfried. I thought he handled himself pretty well in the press conference, because he was obviously upset at the end of the game, like many of us were. I thought his apology to you was appropriate and sounded sincere. I can think of a million times I have been in that position, albeit not in a public setting.

3. Since I don't follow Twitter, I was unaware that Richard Howell is complaining, about what I don't know. He needs to shut up and focus on improving his performance on the court. He, more than just about anyone else on the team, let's setbacks bother him to the point that his play suffers. Constant complaining just makes it worse. If I were Gottfried, I would take him aside and have a serious discussion about who is responsible for whatever issues he has on the court. Having a mirror handy for him to look at would help focus the blame.  

C'mon jpd

Twitter is where it is at. I don't post a lot, but I do like reading what folks have to say.

Just what I need

Another distraction. The ramblings on ACCNow are enough, thank you.

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About the blogger

Joe Giglio covers the ACC for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1997.
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