“Did you watch that sweet Baylor-Kansas game last night? Frank Mason and Josh Jackson are the real deal, huh? College basketball rules, man. The tournament’s going to be so sick this year. Anyone could win!”
That is what a person who knows nothing of the true nature of college basketball would have you believe as you blissfully be-bop your way through the regular season watching nothing but top-25 matchups. In fact, college basketball is bad, possibly the worst sport our forefathers left us with. Need an example? Take a look at this video, starting around the 3:21-mark.
Don’t be fooled by Syracuse guard John Gillon’s impressive 43 points and nine assists, or N.C. State point guard Dennis Smith Jr.’s triple-double—this game was terrible, one the NCAA would smudge from the record, along with the N.C. State program, if it had any honor.
Sure, sure, Syracuse made a powerful charge at the Wolfpack’s 16-point second half lead and buried N.C. State over the last 13:44 in truly bonkers fashion—I’ve seen the damn tweet. Its content is abhorrent: “OUTSCORED 41-18 OVER FINAL 13:44.” Here’s another batshit stat: Gillon entered the game shooting 37.5 percent from long range on 80 shots; after last night’s game, his percentage was at 43.3 percent.
If you’re partial to this N.C. State team, or just curious how a team capable of downing Duke at Cameron Indoor can turn around and craft such an impressive turd of a game, you might find yourself asking how or why such cruelties are allowed to take place, and who should you blame for all this. There’s no good way to explain it other than to surmise that head coach Mark Gottfried spent the second half instructing his team to stop playing defense all together.
Please keep in mind while you watch the N.C. State players make the following tactical decisions that by the 7:30-mark in the second half, when Syracuse made its run and the Wolfpack shrugged their shoulders, Gillon was already 4-of-4 from deep.
Okay, fine, but it was the beginning of the run and Gillon was just heating up. Surely, the Wolfpack wouldn’t continue to duck under on high screens, right?
Do you like defense? How about contested three-pointers? Yes? Then shield you eyes from this foulness.
What are your feelings on having four men, including the man guarding Gillon, crash the boards while the hottest hand in the game chills at the top of the key?
Gillon shot 90 (!!!) percent from behind the arc, not because he’s a great shooter (he is), not because Jim Boeheim is an all-time great coach (he is), but because N.C. State is N.C. State, and this team derives a sick pleasure from doing something cool and good—upsetting Duke on the road in this case—and then diving headfirst off a cliff, fans in tow. This year’s team is not special; do not send off angry tweets or break your TV when the Wolfpack’s hopes at claiming the NIT championship are dashed by St. Bonaventure in a third-round nail-biter.
The 2014 team beat No. 2 Duke at home then preceded to go 2-6 over its next eight games; those fuckers somehow made the Sweet 16. The 2012 team beat No. 1 Duke to cap a 10-game winning streak then went 2-5, losing to a Wake Forest team that finished 13-18. The 2010 team beat No. 25 Florida State, came within three points of beating No. 24 Clemson the next game, and then beat No. 7 Duke; the Wolfpack proceeded to go 1-7 over its next eight games and lose in the second round of the NIT. The 2007 team pulled off back-to-back wins against No. 16 Virginia Tech and No. 3 UNC and then lost its next three to Georgia Tech, Miami, and Maryland (the Terrapins were admittedly pretty good that year, but you get my point.)
The N.C. State athletic mission statement is “To Prepare, To Compete, To Inspire, To Achieve …” I have drafted an amended version: “To Prepare, To Compete, To Upset, To Disappoint ... Forever”