Monthly Archives: January 2016

Where would Wolfpack Basketball Be ? If Only – Daniel Bayer

The Season that Could Have Been for NC State Basketball – Daniel Bayer/252 ESPN Radio

Things were looking up for NC State basketball. The team had just came off of a successful run in the NCAA Tournament, with beating the number one seed in their region (VIllanova) and making it to the Sweet 16, the team had signed Mark Gottfried to a contract extension through 2020, and Dennis Smith Jr. (top PG in 2016 recruiting class) had recently signed and enrolled in the school early. However, the outlook for the 2015-2016 season and the feel good vibes for NC State would quickly change with the 17-point opening night loss to William and Mary at HOME.

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In what has been a pretty disappointing season up to this point (and one that will probably end in the team not making the tournament for the first time under Coach Gottfried), let’s take a look at what could have been for this year’s NC State team.

Even before the opening night loss, the decision of Trevor Lacey to forego his Senior year and enter the NBA Draft would be the first domino to fall. What was worse for State fans is that Trevor was not even drafted (although for him it was a smart decision because of his age) and is currently playing over in Italy averaging 13.4 points a game.

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Another domino to fall before the season, yet one that was barely talked about, was the transfer of Kyle Washington (to Cincinnati). Though he started only 17 games last year (averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds a game), Washington figured to play a more prominent role in this year’s team before his unexpected transfer. He certainly would have provided more depth and scoring for a team this is depleted in the front court. These two sudden and unexpected departures left huge voids in the roster, which are not easily filled so late in the recruiting season and with transfers having to sit out a year before being able to play. It is not like the NBA where you can just go and either make a trade or pluck someone from free agency to fill holes in your roster. Coach Gottfried was left to scramble, and was lucky that Freshman Maverick Rowan was able to reclassify and enroll at NC State early or they would be on the same level as Boston College (yes, they have similar records in the ACC, but NC State is a lot better than the Eagles).

Transfers are nothing new, or at this point should not be surprising for NC State under Coach Gottfried. Kyle Washington was the 4th big name to transfer since Gottfried’s arrival. Tyler Harris, who would not have been on this year’s NC State team, transferred to Providence and is now a Graduate Student at Auburn averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds a game. Tyler Lewis (transferred to Butler and is averaging 7 points and 4 assists a game) and Rodney Purvis (transferred to UCONN and is averaging 13 points a game) would have been Seniors on this year’s team and probably would have really changed what this team currently looks like. On the other hand, NC State and Coach Gottfried have certainly benefited from transfers into their program: Trevor Lacey, Ralston Turner, Terry Henderson, and next year they will be getting UNCC transfer Torin Dorn (C-USA Freshman of the Year who scored 12 points a game for the Niners).

Finally, it also hurts to lose your starting shooting guard 7 minutes into the season. Losing Terry Henderson and his 11 points a game (while at West Virginia), has essentially crippled this team. Henderson was expected to come in and replace the scoring and 3 point shooting that was lost from the previous year’s team, due to the departures of Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner. This has left NC State having to rely too heavily on Cat Barber to do all the scoring, and leaves the team without a true outside 3-point threat. There is still no timetable for the return of Terry Henderson to the line-up; however, by the time (or if) he returns, it will probably be too late.

NC State had hoped to build upon the success from the 2014-2015 season, but if you think of all the changes and the losses that this team has had to endure not just this year but in years past, it is not hard to see why this team is sitting towards the bottom of the ACC; however, it is hard not to think what could’ve been for this year’s NC State team.

Mar 18, 2014; Dayton, OH, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward T.J. Warren (24) drives the ball past Xavier Musketeers forward Justin Martin (20) in the first half of a college basketball game during the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at UD Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 18, 2014; Dayton, OH, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward T.J. Warren (24) drives the ball past Xavier Musketeers forward Justin Martin (20) in the first half of a college basketball game during the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at UD Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

*Note to Reader: Yes, I know that TJ Warren would have been a Senior this year; however, I purposely left TJ Warren out of this column because there is no way a player with his talent would have played into his Senior year.

Catch Daniel Bayer EVERY Tuesday on “The Drive” 4-6pm on the 252 ESPN Radio Network

DH in the NL ? More Cons than Pros – Nick Bequette

Is the DH headed to the National League?
Nick Bequette – 252 ESPN Radio

A lot has been said over the years, whether or not the DH (designated hitter) should be implemented in both the National and American League. As of right now players like David Ortiz and Albert Pujols, aging power hitters, hold far more value in the American League as opposed to the National League. Players like Ortiz and Pujols replace the pitcher from the batting order, giving the lineup more power or just an overall better bat. (Now this can be for any position, but the Pitcher is DH for 99% of the time in MLB)

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photo courtesy of mlb.com

Now… me personally? I don’t care for the DH because it takes a lot of situational play out of baseball. The double switch, and matching up pitchers for situations aren’t as prevalent with a DH in your lineup. I like seeing double switches, and substitutions in the game because it implements a huge element of strategy. Do you bring in the pinch hitter for the starting pitcher, or do we leave the starter in and hope he can bunt the runner over and gives us one more good inning? That type of situation will never be seen if the DH gets voted to both leagues.

What’s the appeal?

The player union would most likely condone a DH in the National League because it would add another big name hitter in the roster to bargain. Also, the DH is used at every level of baseball besides the 15 teams in the National League. Ultimately more teams would vote for the DH rule then those voting against it. Teams don’t want to get in an unfamiliar territory when playing interleague match ups during the regular season, and especially the World Series. To vote for a DH amongst all clubs puts every team on an even playing field. Also it could leave a team in a situation that cost them the World Series. A National League team doesn’t want to sign a big name DH that will only play in a handful of games, so they are left to use situational players or their fourth outfielder.

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photo courtesy of The Chicago Tribune

What’s the verdict?
With the MLB playing an interleague game everyday this season, the issue is at a peak in discussion. I believe we will see this rule instilled in baseball, where both leagues have a DH in the next 5 years, if not the 2017 season. With this being said, it makes me sad that pinch-hitting for the pitcher and subbing in situational pitching matchups will be outsourced from the game as it evolves. I personally hope that since no one would vote to get rid of the DH, hope that the rule stays the same, so I can watch Mike Matheny and Joe Madden play chess amongst matchups. This is extremely hopeful thinking. As a fan of the Cardinals and the National League, I hope that coaches can stay true to the pitcher remaining in the lineup, so we can see a game of chess be played amongst managers more often. But to all other purest like myself, I am sad to inform you that the pitcher remaining in the lineup will most likely be a thing of the past in the near future. ☹

A New Year for Tar Heel Hoops – Daniel Bayer

New Year’s Resolutions for UNC Basketball – Daniel Bayer 252 ESPN Radio

I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. Why should I plan to start something new or make a drastic change in my life when I know that I am going to just end up not doing it a month from now? I certainly respect those people who can stick to their resolutions, but I just can’t ever do it. If someone asks me if I have any resolutions for the new year I always tell them the same thing, “I plan to only drink craft beers, none from the big beer companies (Bud, Miller, Coors).” I have been able to keep this resolution for the last few years, and yes, I am a beer snob. I do hope to read more, eat healthier, and be more active this year.

In an effort to add to the countless other New Year’s Resolution articles that have been written this week, I have offered up some resolutions for the UNC Basketball team as they begin the ACC season:

•Play better defensively. I know that this has been written by numerous other writers, but it cannot be said enough that defense (and Kansas) are the only things standing in the way of UNC and another National Championship. This team needs to defend better against the 3 (way too many open looks because of the guards not being able to stop dribble penetration) and learn how to defend the pick and roll. Here is a great article on this very issue: http://keepingitheel.com/2015/12/14/unc-basketball-full-breakdown-of-uncs-pick-and-roll-defense/

MEEKS  photocourtesy of al.com

•Get Kennedy Meeks healthy. I am fully supportive of the team not rushing Kennedy back, especially with how well that Isaiah Hicks and Brice Johnson have played in his absence, but he adds much needed post depth and makes the team a championship contender with his size on the inside.

•Make sure Brice Johnson keeps eating his Wheaties (Note: as I write this, Brice has 39 points and 23 rebounds vs. FSU). Speaking of Brice, he really has been a lot more consistent, and at times dominant, this year. Since Kennedy Meeks has been out with his knee injury, Brice has averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds (9 double-doubles on the season), while shooting over 60 percent from the field (shooting 81% from the free-throw line).

•Find another year of eligibility for Marcus Paige. I know that this is not possible, but one can dream. It is so much fun to watch this guy play and he is such a great ambassador for the university, he will certainly be missed in many ways next year.

•Wear the black uniforms a few more times this season. Not only did UNC play well in these uniforms, but they looked good while doing it.

•Have Sean May talk to Joel James before every game. Here is what I am talking about: http://www.scout.com/college/north-carolina/story/1629042-sean-may-talk-fuels-james. While you are at it Sean, can you lend Joel James your hands for a few games?

•Play better on the road (Note: as I write this, UNC put up 106 points at FSU). UNC’s only two losses of the season came in their only true road games. So, as the ACC conference season gets started, UNC will need to play better on the road (especially against inferior opponents). They have a tough game in the Carrier Dome on Saturday vs. Syracuse, especially with it being the first game back for Jim Boeheim.

•Find a job for Rasheed Wallace with the team. One of my favorite UNC players of all time. I would love to see Sheed on the sideline with the Tar Heels yelling “Ball don’t lie” after opposing teams missed free-throws. I mention this because recently he was sitting court-side at one of the games and was heard calling out screens and giving advice to the UNC players.

•Play for a full 40 minutes and close out games when they have the lead. This was a major goal for the team going in to the season. In their two losses vs. N. Iowa and Texas earlier in the season, the Heels had leads in the 2nd half in both of these games and could not close them out. The team is shooting free throws better this year, which was a major achilles heal the last few years, but they need to learn to put teams away when they have the lead. This team has so much depth and talent, if they play well for a full 40 minutes and not decide to just flip on the switch whenever they get in trouble, this team will be very hard to beat come March.

•Beat Duke.