DSJ and J Cole Reunite in North Carolina for All Star Break

The friendship between North Carolina natives Jermaine Cole and Dennis Smith Jr. is truly special.

cole

J Cole, has he is famously called, is one of the top music artists in today’s pop culture scene. DSJ is one of the top rising stars in the NBA. They both share a connection through their roots in Fayetteville, North Carolina, but it doesn’t stop there.

Cole was a talented basketball player in high school and DSJ was one of the highest touted guards in the nation during his high school years. Both men were raised primary in a one parent home. Cole, by his mother, and Smith, by his father. As Smith progressed through high school, Cole would come to games and play pickup with the young basketball phenom. It’s something about the ‘ville that connects people.

DSJ continued his basketball career with a year at NC State. J Cole was notably known to be a UNC Tarheel fan but his ties with Smith came between his fandom for the Heels. Cole attended multiple NC State games during Smith’s freshman year.

“He’s a State fan as long as I’m playing for State.” -DSJ

I personally recall witnessing J Cole sit courtside as the Wolfpack took on UNC in the Dean Dome. NC State lost by 57 points that game but according to DSJ, he was still rooting for the Wolfpack. Cole didn’t leave until the game ending buzzer sounded.

A lot has developed for both Dennis Smith Jr. and Jermaine Cole over the past few years. Cole has produced a platinum album and several singles tracks and collaborations with other artists while Smith is on his way to his second NBA Dunk Contest in two years. Their roads will collide as Cole is set to perform at the half time show of the NBA All-Star game in Charlotte on February 17th.

jcolll

DSJ was recently traded from the Dallas Mavericks to play for the New York Knicks. J Cole promptly voiced his support:

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The Top 5 Best Dressed ACC Coaches

5. Kevin Keatts

(with a wolf grey suit and red tie)

This look by NC State coach Kevin Keatts demands respect. It’s almost impossible to distinguish a difference between Keatts and a wolf right here. You don’t want to be caught on the other end of the sideline when Keatts pulls this classic blazer out of his closet.

4. Kevin Keatts

(relaxed, no tie, beating UNC in the Dean Dome)

Google images via backingthepack.com

This look by North Carolina State coach Kevin Keatts is brought to you by subtle confidence and a gross amount of swagger. This look was perfected in Keatts’ first year at NC State while taking down UNC in the Dean Dome. The red pocket square completes the ‘fit.

3. Kevin Keatts

(with Yeezy’s)

Duke and UNC’s coaches choose to wear Air Jordan Nikes for their Coaches Against Cancer shoes, while NC State’s own Kevin Keatts decided to break out the “Wolfpack Yeezys” as he called them on Twitter. Style isn’t a game to Keatts therefore you can’t beat him at it. It’s a lifestyle. A way of life. And that’s why Keatts lands at #3 in the top 5.

2. Kevin Keatts

(at his introductory “KKIAW” speech)

Google images via apnews.com

Do you remember what you wore on your wedding day? How about your favorite shirt growing up? The shirt your dad wore every day after work? The same thing applies when Head Coach Kevin Keatts gave his “Kevin Keatts is a Winner” speech. Sporting this sleek red, black and white look, fashion critics from across the nation flocked to dissect how Keatts pulled out this look. Sheer drip, truly magnificent.

1. Kevin Keatts

(Full red suit with wolf embroidered Gucci slippers)

The number one best dressed coach in the ACC is…Kevin Keatts of NC State. I thought long and hard about adding Keatts to this list but when push came to shove, it wouldn’t be right to leave him out off this list. The combination of pure elegance and Pack pride is a work of art. The most amazing part about this outfit is how the Gucci company based this look SOLEly on the existence of Alpha Wolf Kevin Keatts.

Googles images via newsandobserver.com

Google images via charlotteobserver.com

WPN Should not be Upset with NC State’s Loss Against UVA

I attended NC State’s battle against Virginia Tuesday night and it was one of the most acceptable losses I can remember. Sure that sounds weird to say but the atmosphere is different in Raleigh and WPN is noticing.

Now “moral wins” are not something WPN needs to become accustomed to but what transpired against the #3 team in the nation was impressive to say the least. One fan stated that being down to UVA by 10 points is like being down by 20 points to any other team. That has to do with the mere pace UVA plays at.

Virginia is the most efficient team in the nation. And when you factor in their incredible defense, I would say the most difficult team in the country to beat. NC State got down by 14 points in the second half before climbing their way back into the game. Markell Johnson and Wyatt Walker sparked the Pack’s energy throughout the game. NC State had multiple opportunities to pull out the win when the game went into overtime but it really felt like Virginia was the team playing to survive.

As I left PNC Arena Tuesday night, there wasn’t booing. There wasn’t a hum tone of Pack fans groaning. Many State fans applauded the Pack’s performance. I believe in this particular case, WPN should be optimistic but not satisfied. With NC State’s largest margin of defeat this season at 8 points (UNC), I believe perseverance and grit remains Keatts’ team’s greatest attributes. NC State takes on #13 Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon. That’s a game all of WPN expects to win (and frankly) needs to.

wpn
Google images via Getty Images

Bennett Has Built UVA Into Goliath, But Will David Win Tuesday Night?

Google images via usatoday.com

Tuesday night, Kevin Keatts’ team embarks on possibly the toughest game this season. The Virginia Cavaliers are sitting at 18-1 (6-1) on the season. That record is currently the best in the ACC. Virginia has been able to establish themselves as one of the premier college basketball teams.

Tony Bennett has been at UVA for a decade now but it hasn’t always been a sunshine and roses. During Bennett’s first four years, UVA went 77-53 posting a 59% winning percentage. A lot of schools, especially in a powerhouse conference like the ACC, would have fired Bennett with those numbers. But they didn’t and what they got has been nothing short of amazing.

During the last six seasons, Bennett has led UVA to a 143-34 record and a 80.8% winning percentage. 83% if you count this year’s record so far. During that time, the Cavaliers have won 3 ACC regular season titles. Tony Bennett’s success is built on discipline, defense and accountability. Those attributes are often associated with Kevin Keatts.

Now I’m not saying we need to give Keatts 4 years before we expect success. Because frankly, Keatts doesn’t need 4 years. Keatts is a winner. But UVA spent a decade to develop into of the most intimidating basketball programs in the nation and that’s a good lesson.

Coaches, staff, players and fans have to be willing to all contribute over time to build a great program. WPN knows Raleigh is the best place in the nation to have a powerhouse basketball program. History, passion and loyalty is oozing here.

This team has the opportunity Tuesday night to prove to the country that NC State basketball is finally back. I’m not saying back as in “CJ Leslie, Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown” back. Or a “Sidney Lowe home win against Duke to keep his job” back. No, what I’m talking about is the opportunity to take down the most consistent teams in college basketball and walk off the court like we do it all the time.

Grading each NC State team this week (January 20th-27th)

#21 Men’s basketball (16-4, 4-3)

Thursday @ #23 Louisville: L 84-77

Saturday vs Clemson: W 69-67

Next game: Tuesday vs #3 UVA

The Pack spilt this week with a Clemson home win and a Louisville loss away. Louisville is a strong team and the Pack was in the game until the very end so that game shouldn’t hurt their AP ranking too bad. Saturday’s game was wild as Braxton Beverly savaged their week with a clutch buzzer beating three. Overall, the Pack wasn’t hurt much by this week’s performance and I’ll give them a…

6.5/10.0


#8 Women’s basketball (20-0, 7-0)

Thursday vs Clemson: W 54-51 OT

Sunday @ Georgia Tech: W 68-0

Next game: Thursday @ Wake Forest

This women’s team is special. As of Sunday, they are the only team in Women’s basketball who hasn’t lost. Clemson put up a fight and it wasn’t a pretty game but you can’t really critique a win that takes you to 19-0 on the season. The Pack won on the road against Georgia Tech Sunday after to go to 20-0. Overall, this squad is rolling and this week I give them a weekly performance of…

9.3/10.0


#8 Wrestling (13-2, 1-0)

Friday vs Duke: W 25-16

Next up: Friday @ UVA

This year’s team has been battling out of their minds. NC State has established theirselves as one of the consistent teams in the NCAA. With a win over Duke to begin ACC play and improve to 13-2 overall, this squad deserves a weekly grade of…

8.2/10.0


#5 Men’s and #6 Women’s swimming

Sat vs UVA: W (Men 185-100, Women 167, 127)

Next up: Friday vs Texas/Arizona

8.0/10.0


Hockey (19-0)

Wednesday vs UNC: W 5-0

Saturday @ UNC-Charlotte: W 5-1

Next up: Friday vs Duke

This team has been absolutely sheesh pumping teams. They are on a wrecking ball winning tour that has landed the Pack at 19-0 so far. After destroying UNC in a loud PNC environment, the Pack traveled to Charlotte this week and put the Niners in their place. This week, Ice Pack earned a weekly grade of…

6.9/10.0

Sorry typo…

9.1/10.0


Women’s and Men’s Tennis

Womens

Saturday vs Mississippi State: W 4-1

Next up: Sunday (27th) vs #7 Florida

8.1/10.0

Men’s

Saturday vs #24 Michigan: L 1-4

Saturday vs #12 Georgia: W 4-3

Next up: Saturday vs North Florida

7.2/10.0


Gymnastics

Friday @ #28 UNC: W 195.200-194.650

Next up: Friday @ LSU

8.8/10.0


The overall grade for the entire week, including all teams, is…

8.1/10.0

This coming week is PACKed with huge games for many of the teams. Go Pack!

newsandobserver.com

Captain Beverly saves the day, Johnson returns, WPN contributes and NC State avoids first consecutive loss of the season

 

Google images via 247sports.com

NC State is 20 games into this season and hasn’t lost consecutive games yet. This is huge when playing in the ACC. It has been the case, especially within recent years, to hit a losing streak in the midst of ACC play. It’s not hard to drop a game or two and before you know it, we’re on the outside of the NCAA tournament looking in.

NC State fell behind 6 points with 20 seconds remaining against Clemson Saturday afternoon. Clemson’s Marcquise Reed (82% FT shooter) continued to miss 4 straight free throws. After each miss, State fans gained confidence. And with confidence, came noise. That noise is going to be needed Tuesday night against #3 UVA.

Braxton Beverly proved to be the hero after he drained a deep, deep three pointer from a dump pass from behind via CJ Bryce as the buzzer sounded. This NC State team lost a close game down the stretch just two days ago against Louisville but found a way to wiggle out of PNC a winner. The one attribute this year’s squad has greatly exemplified each game is perseverance. Thanks to the full court press, the Pack is able to disrupt their opponents’ game pace more than not.

Markell Johnson returned to the floor and hit clutch three after clutch three. Johnson, Keatts and the fans played a huge roll in the Clemson win. All must be present and contributing Tuseday night if the Pack hopes to take down the Coaches’ Poll #1 team in the nation Tuesday night, Virginia.

GAMEDAY RUNDOWN: #21 NC State at #23 Louisville

Location: Louisville, KY. KFC Yum! Center

Time: 8PM Eastern

TV: ACC Network


What you need to know about Louisville:

-Three game win streak: UNC, Georgia Tech and Boston College

-Notable wins: @ UNC, @ Georgia Tech

-Conference record: 4-1

-Home record: 10-1

-Entered AP Top 25 this past week for the first time this year.


This Louisville team has played well and is in the midst of a three game wining streak. They only have one loss at home (10-1) and one loss in the ACC (4-1). Forward Jordan Nwora leads the Cardinals with 18 points per game. The next top three scorers average between 9.6 and 10.4 PPG.

Keatts coached at Louisville under Rick Pitino for four years as an assistant (2011-2014). Keatts returns to Louisville for the first time since his departure. NC State beat Louisville last year at home 76-69.

There’s a lot at stake for the Pack. With a win Thursday, NC State will have their best start in 44 years. This squad is sitting at 15-3 with a lot of quality ACC on the horizon.

This is the first of four ranked matchups for the Pack in the next five games. Leading scorer Markell Johnson is still a “game time decision” with his back injury. The Pack played well Saturday without Johnson in their win against Notre Dame thanks to a 23 point performance from CJ Bryce.

VIDEO: Michael Jordan: “I was an anti-UNC guy, I hated UNC.”

https://youtu.be/b7tmhJHrbKw

No one can deny the greatness of Michael Jordan on the court, not even Duke or NC State fans.

What Michael Jordan did for the University of North Carolina is unimaginable. Jordan has become the icon of the NBA and of basketball as a sport.

But Michael Jordan, to the surprise of many people, choose NC State legend David Thompson to present at his Hall of Fame ceremony in 2009. Thompson is regarded as one of the best college players to ever take the hardwood. MJ was 8 years younger than Thompson. As a fellow North Carolinian, Thompson was MJ’s idol growing up.

Google images via nba.com

Below is a clip of the beginning of Michael Jordan’s 2009 Naismith Hall of Fame speech with David Thompson.

https://youtu.be/b7tmhJHrbKw

NC State Plays FOUR Ranked Teams in Next Five Games

There has been a lot of complaining from the baby blues about NC State’s schedule being soft. Regardless, there’s no denying that once ACC play begins, there’s no escaping quality competition each week.

Google images via backingthepack.com

It all begins with a chance at the best start in NC State history Thursday night at Louisville. Louisville snuck in the top 25 this past week at #23. This will conclude the Pack’s three game road trip.

Keatts and crew will then return to Raleigh to play three straight home games. Clemson (unranked) is first on the menu. Virginia comes into town and Virginia Tech after them. NC State travels to Chapel Hill for the 4th and final ranked opponent in the next five games.

Next 5 games:

NC State Could Do Something Thursday That Has Not Been Done in 44 Years

NC State has started this 2018-2019 season 15-3. But how does that compare to previous seasons?

Last time NC State started this well?

2013. The Pack was ranked #6 during the beginning part of the season. Led by the Lorenzo Brown and CJ Leslie, NC State was able to maintain a 15-3 start but dropped the next game to…Wake Forest to go 15-4 on the season. They followed the Wake game with a win then three straight losses. The Pack did the same thing in 1982 (started 15-3) but also lost the following game.

Last time NC State started better than this year’s team?

1974-1975. Yep, you read that right. If NC State beats Louisville Thursday night and advances to 16-3, it would be the best start since 1975 when the Pack started 16-3.

44 years.

1975 was David Thompson’s last year in the red and white and the Pack was defending their first national championship.

Yes, the non-conference schedule this year has been more considerate for the Pack mostly due to courting a very inexperienced team. Nevertheless, this team has persevered better than anyone could have imagined. Fundamentals, pressing and hard work has defined this year’s squad. I guess it’s safe to say this season has surprised anyone but Kevin Keatts that is.