Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

An Uncanny Whammy; Though Such Long Skids Are Rare, FSU Has Lost Nine in a Row to N.C. State

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

An Uncanny Whammy; Though Such Long Skids Are Rare, FSU Has Lost Nine in a Row to N.C. State

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Thomas, The Times-Union

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton firmly believes that in college basketball, the most talented team doesn't always win. That is especially true when it comes to intraconference play, when teams square off twice, and sometimes, three times a season.

Dramatic swings in shooting fortunes, individual career performances and momentum make upsets commonplace, particularly from January through March. In part, that explains how Duke's 16-0 run to the 1999 Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title is the league's only perfect record in 17 seasons; where three- and four-loss regular-season champions are the norm.

Extended streaks of success or failure against a single opponent are not the norm.

"Streaks in and of themselves are an aberration because of parity, if you will," said third-year Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, who is 5-0 against North Carolina. "I would hesitate to say that [the UNC streak] would be a long-term thing. I'd say it varies from game-to-game and sometimes year-to-year."

Clemson might not buy into that notion after dropping 15 consecutive games to Duke, and 11 in a row to Maryland. The Tigers are also 0-49 all-time at North Carolina.

Likewise, FSU has lost nine consecutive games to North Carolina State, heading into Sunday's game.

Before dismissing Clemson and FSU as perennial ACC bottom-dwellers, it is important to note that the Tigers split games with North Carolina last season, and the Seminoles have consecutive home wins over five-time defending ACC tournament champion Duke.

"I can't imagine there are a lot of teams in the middle of the pack [in the ACC] involved in those streaks," said Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, whose program has dropped 14 in a row to Duke.

In actuality, N.C. State -- which is six games under .500 over the past three seasons in ACC play -- has the upper hand in three of the league's eight longest active winning streaks.

Series dominance often comes down to matchups in contrasting styles and personnel.

Herb Sendek's Wolfpack provides the perfect example. With its hybrid version of the Princeton offense, which values each possession, extends defenses and produces a variety of back-door layups or 3-point opportunities, N.C. State poses a unique challenge. It's especially effective against an aggressive defensive team, like Florida State.

"There's a wariness because one minute the high post man is just a delivery man [for the pass] and the next minute he's delivering the blow to you with a basket or taking the ball off the dribble," FSU senior forward Michael Joiner said. "Every possession in this game really counts. . . . They limit the possessions of each team with this slow-down offense that they have. They do a great job with it. It's been frustrating just to be losing to those guys for so long. …

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