Heels rather unimpressed with Wolfpack press
Posted October 19, 2012
Here's a mental exercise: When was the last time Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State were all expected to battle for the ACC basketball crown?
Fans would need to hop in the DeLorean and set the flux capacitor to some point in 1988. While the Blue Devils were always the constant in the equation (Pete Gaudet never happened), the Tar Heels and Wolfpack went through varying degrees of down cycles. Those Matt Doherty years? Disavowed. Les Robinson minded the store while NC State dealt with NCAA sanctions, Herb Sendek just couldn't get over, and Sidney Lowe didn't get results despite bringing in talent.
So it makes sense the upcoming basketball season is a hotly anticipated affair. The Wolfpack's late arrival to the Triangle basketball party is easily the biggest reason why. Most observers believe NC State has the best parts to put together a great season, so they were ranked ahead of Duke and North Carolina in most Operation Basketball ballots and the USA Today Top 25.
That's not to say the Tar Heels and Blue Devils aren't in prime position to keep the status quo in the conference. Al Featherston makes a strong case that Duke is actually entering the season underrated. North Carolina simply suffered a massive talent drain, but their current roster has an incredibly high ceiling.
At the very least, UNC players are confident nothing has changed. James Michael McAdoo didn't seem all that concerned about the hype thrown NC State's way during the ACC's media day in Charlotte.
"We never really looked at them before, so we're not looking at them now. We just look at ourselves," McAdoo said. "We're just worried about UNC basketball and when the time comes for us to play them, we'll go over the scouting report. We're going to play them no matter if they're ranked No. 1 in the nation or not even ranked in the Top 25. We're still going to treat them as the same basketball team."
Dexter Strickland was slightly more pointed with his take on the Wolfpack, telling Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports, "They talk those guys up every single far, and we beat them every single year."
Strickland added, "Beat us one year and then they can talk smack...until then, you can't put them in the mix."
Overconfidence? Probably, but it's not like Strickland doesn't have a point, and it wouldn't be surprising if Wolfpack fans actually agreed. The preseason press is a great indicator of where the program is headed, but most fans will wait and see if NC State can finally get over.