You are welcome to wade through the glossy political nonsense of sports if you like, but nothing distills the essence like the players involved. NC State fell behind early at Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon, and this is what Wake’s Keyshawn Woods had to say afterward:
Wake Forest's Keyshawn Woods on today's game vs NC State: "We knew if we got up early on them, they was going to quit."— Aaron Beard (@aaronbeardap) February 11, 2017
If you couldn’t simply tell by the first, oh, let’s say five minutes, yeah, State quit on this game. You could argue State never actually arrived to play this game. This is a rough time for both players and coaches, with Mark Gottfried’s tenure now over and the players’ goals within this college basketball season dashed.
Still it is embarrassing that opposing players can be so open about these kids’ lack of spine, and how these kids are just letting all this shit happen. They aren’t playing for themselves, they aren’t playing for anybody, and it’s ugly. This is really bad basketball.
Dennis Smith is impervious to all of this mess, which, good for him, he’s amazing—but when you position yourself as a leader before you’re even eligible to play, you had better deliver. DSJ has been great on the court; off it, clearly, he’s been lacking. These are the risks you take with players like Dennis, who is understandably immature, who now plays with terrible body language every game. The season’s destroyed everybody’s confidence.
There is nothing left. Dennis could have done something about this; DSJ has also never been through anything like this and he is only a freshman, so where do you go when that’s your leader?
Those are the risks you take.
I hate to see it explode like this but there’s no denying what is actually happening on the floor, regardless of what may be happening behind the scenes. NC State’s basketball team no longer cares about the outcome of games, and we’re not even to mid-February.
A good coach can motivate a team to play hard this time of year despite its low standing, but that comes with qualifiers: where you were predicted to finish and where you thought you’d finish matter a lot. I’m not excusing Mark Gottfried, who should be fired yesterday, but context does inform a lot during basketball season.
You can see why State is DOA regardless of Gottfried’s efforts, regardless of anybody’s efforts. They thought they were going to be good, they turned out to be not very good, and everyone is done. Nobody fixed the crisis of confidence—maybe there was no fix—and that crisis demolished this fragile team. That’s it.