N.C. State has too many meltdowns (starting with Gottfried)

If North Carolina State's NCAA tournament fortunes went in the wrong direction Saturday, it falls on coach Mark Gottfried and his staff for not keeping track of fouls. (AP photo)

If North Carolina State's NCAA tournament fortunes went in the wrong direction Saturday, it falls on coach Mark Gottfried and his staff for not keeping track of fouls. (AP photo)

Mark Gottfried was correct about one thing Saturday.

“I think our players have proven that we’re going to be a tough out, if we’re fortunate enough to get in,” the North Carolina State coach said.

“In” would be a reference to the NCAA tournament.

Out is where the Wolfpack will be if their narrow 69-67 loss to North Carolina in the ACC semifinals Saturday and their body of work this season won’t be quite impressive enough for the tournament selection committee.

And that blame would fall on Gottfried and his staff.

This was a winnable game for North Carolina State against the conference’s top seed and an expected No. 1 seed when the NCAA bracket is revealed Sunday. The Tar Heels were missing one of their best players, John Henson. They didn’t play particularly well or inspired, except when they had to.

Roy Williams’ neat summary: “We feel very fortunate to say the least. If you want to put lucky in there, you can say that as well.”

But State suffered too many meltdowns, and the first one came on the sideline. The Wolfpack led 46-39 before Tyler Zeller sparked a 19-3 run that put North Carolina ahead. But a key moment came late in that span with 8:35 left when C.J. Leslie, State’s leading scorer, drew his fourth foul – and Gottfried did not take him out. Just 32 seconds later, Leslie drew another foul when trying to defend Zeller inside and he was out of the game.

The look on mixture of surprise and angst on Gottfried’s face made it clear: The head coach didn’t realize his best player was that deep into foul trouble. Now, we can blame an assistant coach or whose ever job it is to chart fouls — and scream “That’s four!” — for Gottfried. But ultimately, that kind of faux pas falls on the head coach.

“That was a miscommunication by our staff,” Gottfried said later. “That’s our responsibility. The two fouls happened so fast.”

He acknowledged he would’ve taken out Leslie (who led the Wolfpack with 23 points) for at least a minute had he realized the situation, although he referenced the team’s other foul problems up front and added, “We were trying to survive with smoke and mirrors a little bit.”

They almost did, which is impressive in itself. North Carolina State may have done enough to win over the committee. Despite a four-game losing streak late in the season, it finished 22-12 overall (9-7 in the ACC’s regular season). With Leslie, Lorenzo Brown and Richard Howell, the Pack are a fun team to watch, at least when they’re not coming unglued.

Despite Leslie’s disqualification, State battled back, largely behind the scoring of Brown, the former Centennial High School star (yet another Georgia product not playing for a Georgia school). Consecutive baskets by Brown tied the score at 66-all with 1:10 left.

Then came a nuclear meltdown. With the game tied at 67-67, Brown and Alex Johnson got their signals crossed on a five-foot pass. The ball went off Brown’s fingertips out of bounds. Brown: “[Johnson] told me that the [defender] was right on my hip, but I didn’t really feel anything. He kinda paused, and I turned around to see if the guy was there. That’s when he passed the ball. It just went out of my hands.”

North Carolina took the lead on a short jumper by Kendall Marshall. State fans screamed for an offensive foul, as Marshall lowered his shoulder and drove into Johnson before the shot. The call could’ve gone either way, but officials had been calling fewer flagrant offensive fouls all game.

Gottfried on officiating: “Can’t talk about that. You get fined.”

Moments later, State’s Scott Wood threw away a pass, and that pretty much was it. Carolina escapes, going into Sunday’s championship game.

There was one upset Saturday: Florida State beat Duke. There almost were two.

If somebody could count to five, there might’ve been.

By Jeff Schultz

45 comments Add your comment

Mike

March 10th, 2012
5:57 pm

NC State didn’t do themselves any favors but neither did the whistle that had a hint of blue to it.

Par for the course for the ACC.

Bob

March 10th, 2012
6:04 pm

Sorry but I disagree. I am more of a Tar Heel fan than any other ACC team, but State got screwed big time with the officiating. Gottfried is right not to say anything, but it seems that those officials might have been trying to get a little payback for their official being suspended following the FSU-NC State game in Raleigh a couple of weeks ago. This was not the ACC’s finest day.

heeldawg

March 10th, 2012
6:21 pm

I’m a Carolina fan, but State deserved to win this game. They wanted it more, hustled at both ends of the court, and got hosed by the officials.

That being said, the ‘Pack certainly showed that they deserved a spot in the Big Dance.

5150 UOAD

March 10th, 2012
6:51 pm

I hope NOBODY that is a NCSU fan knows where the refs are staying tonight. the refs would be blowing the whistle out of their butts tomorrow if i was a NCSU fan. I love the Heels but that was a joke.

Matt

March 10th, 2012
7:43 pm

Yeah, shift the blame to the coach. Whose game plan worked? States. Who got screwed by the refs? State?
And at least he didn’t break a clipboard

Paul in NH

March 10th, 2012
7:46 pm

A tough loss for State. On the plus side, at least the refs didn’t have any former Wolfpack legends escorted from the arena.

On the subject of former Georgia players – State could have used Ryan Harrow today.

5150 UOAD

March 10th, 2012
8:15 pm

Paul who was escorted form the game?

Paul in NH

March 10th, 2012
8:26 pm

UOAD
Chris Corchiani and Tom Guliotta were thrown out of the arena by ref Roger Hess during the FSU-NCSU game at the RBC Center last month.

Paul in NH

March 10th, 2012
8:27 pm

should be – Tom Gugliotta

Dev

March 10th, 2012
8:28 pm

This article is just as biased as the refs today. Too many meltdowns? Yes I agree but not from the team in red but the guys in black and white. NC State played their hearts out and deserved this game. The mistakes didn’t cost NC State this game, the ref’s did. The blame does not go on Gottfried (who was robbed of coach of the year as well). This article is just ridiculous.

5150 UOAD

March 10th, 2012
8:32 pm

I didn’t hear about that.

bigcrimson75

March 10th, 2012
8:42 pm

51 — the ejection of Googs & Corch was incredible….the refs had better ears than Colin Montgomery…..

Shultz — I disagree with your opinion of Gottfried. By no means am I a Gottfried fan — believe me, I had 10+ years of the man Coaching @ Bama —- this game was on the refs!!

Dan_in_NC

March 10th, 2012
9:32 pm

Schultz,

Obviously you haven’t followed tobacco road much…you putting the blunt of the blame on Gottfried?

If not for the man who can’t count to five…NC State would once again be an after-thought in the ACC. But obviously they must be relevant since you’re writing about them.

Don Corleone

March 10th, 2012
9:33 pm

The refs are on my payroll and I placed my bets on UNC to win.

bananajacket

March 10th, 2012
9:33 pm

Shultz–basketball is not your strong point. Gottfried’s STAFF screwed up, but that did not cost them the game. Always hate to blame refs but let’s just say this was not the best officiated game of the year!

Jeff Schultz

March 10th, 2012
10:10 pm

Wow, surprised so many folks blaming officiating. Actually, maybe I shouldn’t be. … I didn’t like officiating either but I thought bad in both directions. Last call easily could’ve been offensive foul. But way too many offensive fouls called in game (in both directions). Just my opinion. … As for not knowing foul totals, that’s a cardinal mistake. Obviously somebody on bench at fault for not telling Gottfried, but ultimately the HC’s responsibility, he knows that.

5150 UOAD

March 10th, 2012
10:20 pm

yes bad calls both ways but DUKE benefited more from the missed calls in the last 30 seconds of the game. No Offensive against Duke gave them the lead.

5150 UOAD

March 10th, 2012
10:21 pm

Titus

March 10th, 2012
10:44 pm

Schultz, you give new meaning to the word HACK.

phil

March 10th, 2012
10:49 pm

Not knowing the foul count is a firing waiting to happen.

Pathetic and inexcusable.

Fire CMG!!

phil

March 10th, 2012
10:50 pm

Titus, you give new meaning to the word moron…

Joey

March 10th, 2012
11:42 pm

It’s consistency Jeff. They called that kind of play a charge all game. And at the end, they swallow their whistle. Always happens when acc teams play duke or unc in the tournament. Surprised the refs let fsu win

Ken Stallings

March 11th, 2012
12:17 am

You’re a clown, Shultz. You omit the critical fact that it was not a foul that resulted in a stoppage of play since no free throws were given. It was a change of possession and therefore Gottfried had to wait for a timeout (either called by him, turnover, or official timeout) before getting a player in the game for Leslie. Before that stoppage of play Leslie got his fifth foul.

It would be nice if you could accurately relate the events of a game! Gott’s comment was simply his way of taking responsibility — something you now wish to use against him.

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William

March 11th, 2012
3:03 am

ACC officials may not be on the take, but it sure seems that way. For the last 15 minutes of the game, every call or non-call went against NCSU. Sure they did not help themselves, but Marshall knocked his defender into the dirt, then after all that, NCSU was fouled at the end when Brown attempted to shoot at the end. Touch fouls, touch fouls then nothing. If the officials are going to walk around with Karl Hess on their shoes, it shows that they can do anything they desire and will only allow who they want to win.

FSU hasn’t got a hope in Hell.

Coach

March 11th, 2012
5:31 am

I coach HS basketball, I mean how hard is it to look at the scoreboard and see how many fouls the kid has! And at the least, somebody should have known every player in the game with three fouls….come on this is big time basketball.

Road Scholar

March 11th, 2012
7:59 am

“The call could’ve gone either way,…”

BS! It was a charge and you know it based on your following comment that they weren’t enforcing the rules! Combine that with other biased calls/noncalls…

Until Duke lost, I thought that UNC and Duke should play all by themselves and bring their own refs (which they do) and let the other ACC teams play for a NCAA slot in the tournaments.

Bull Meacham

March 11th, 2012
8:06 am

And how about the foul call that got Zeller out of the game. Pro UNC refs there too? Barnes constantly being mugged with no call? Pro UNC. Face it, State didn’t get it done against a depleted UNC team.

GT

March 11th, 2012
8:39 am

Look at the best coached team’s benches. You see head coaches in the making. Look at a team loaded with talent like N.C State and you see recruiters dressed in suits. Tech had this recruiting, babysitting kind of bench under Hewitt. Somebody has got to coach and do the nerd work. Fox at Georgia had a med school drop out last year as a grad assistant. The real work does not get done by slick dressed no brain guys. Duke is a perfect example of how a well coached team should look.

greg

March 11th, 2012
10:10 am

Jeff,

As for for Gottfried, even if he did know it was four fouls on Leslie, is other big men also had four. Somebody had to play. As to the non-call on Marshall at the end of the game, come on, that was charging in this game. If Leslie’s 4th foul, a charge was the right call, then the refs had to make that one on Marshall. Plus, the refs had been blowing their whistle every time Zeller and others “flopped”. Example, the 4th foul on Howell.

Phil

March 11th, 2012
10:22 am

Let this article serve as evidence that there are far too many “Sports Bloggers” on the internet. UNC is a great team. NC State played them close and made some mistakes down the stretch. The no-call charge/block at the end (after the officials called so many touch fouls in UNCs favor in the 2nd half) had a huge impact. State deserves an NCAA bid.

Ryan

March 11th, 2012
10:26 am

Who is this Jeff Schultz jimmy?

Mike

March 11th, 2012
10:34 am

Lance Robinson

March 11th, 2012
10:39 am

An article obviously written by a person who either didn’t watch the game (and thus is just reporting on the highlights) or is on the refs team.

Badinboarder

March 11th, 2012
10:43 am

Zeller’s 5th foul was completely reasonable, he hacked State’s arm bad, very stupid foul for someone with 4 fouls. Barnes admitted in the post-game interview that he got away with alot of calls. Bull Meachum: idiot.

3 of State’s coaches on the bench have been head coaches. Bobby Lutz was the head coach at Charlotte and was VERY good there. GT: moron.

Abe

March 11th, 2012
10:51 am

Considering Leslies 4th foul was very questionable and the 5th foul was not a foul, but a blocked shot, and the non call charge and the toe on the line and the Mcadoo giving Johnson a little extra on the pick at midcourt(which the pack would have been called for), etc etc….how can the writer question that we question the officiating?

Chris

March 11th, 2012
11:20 am

How about you maintain present/future tense consistencies within a sentence? Credibility starts with fundamentally strong writing. If you’re going to write a heated article at least be grammatically consistent from the beginning to end of each sentence. ” How about you maintain present/future tense consistencies within a sentence? Credibility starts with fundamentally strong writing. If you’re going to write a heated article at least be grammatically consistent from the beginning to end of each sentence.” Writing this way makes it unclear if you think that or if it depends upon the committee. I take solace in the fact that you probably didn’t go to UNC’s school of journalism.

Paul in NH

March 11th, 2012
11:44 am

I lived in Charlotte for 4 years while Bob Lutz was HC for the 49ers. The guy can coach.

Paul in NH

March 11th, 2012
11:47 am

@Chris – Lighten up Francis. It’s a blog from Schultz not an edited piece in the print version.

ormewood

March 11th, 2012
1:09 pm

State’s last two possessions (other than the last second heave) resulted in self-inflicted turnovers. How is that the refs fault?

seawolf

March 11th, 2012
1:59 pm

No game will ever be called perfectly but the chances of it being called this poorly are beyond calculation. NUmber of blocks/charging calls alone would blow the odds. I don’t have a problem if offical do their job but they bailed. It was a little late to start advocating less fouls when our starters are all in danger of disqulaification. Finally regradless of their mistakes as a team, they deserve a game with unbiased officials who didn’t plan on having KH on their shoes during the tourney. Sadly that wasn’t their option

Greg

March 11th, 2012
2:34 pm

Mark Gottfried may have made a few mistakes in the UNC game, but he has done a terrific job at NCSU in his first year. And, he has recruited what might be the most talented class of recruits in the history of the program. As a long suffering NCSU grad and basketball fan, I am really looking forward to next year.

Ted M

March 11th, 2012
3:34 pm

How many more years, if ever, before the Jackets are relevant?

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12:17 am

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