A New Age In NC State (And Athletics): No Matter How Much You Hate Marketing, It Is Quite Important

Before I even get started, yes, I know some people love marketing.  People major in it, work in it, and live, breathe, and eat it.  The fact of the matter is, I don’t really care for it; however, I do understand its value and importance.  You see, marketing is a difficult and tricky thing to get a hold of.  How do you reach and sway a large targeted group of people effectively and consistently?  It can be as simple as putting up posters, or as difficult as planning for years how you’re going to run your presidential campaign.

The Breakdown

The official definition of marketing, provided by the American Marketing Association (AMA) is as follows,

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Now, lets break that down a bit.  A more simple definition provided by Wikipedia, explains that, “Marketing is the process by which companies create customer interest in products or services.”  That helps quite a bit in understanding the AMA’s long winded definition.

Marketing is whatever you do to communicate your product/service to customers. It covers all forms of communication, such as word of mouth, newspaper ads, posters, fliers, television commercials, etc.  Its whatever you do to make someone stop and say, “Hey, that looks cool!  I think I’ll attend/buy it.” This simple understanding by your potential customer is what drives business and creates success.

Why Marketing Is Important

Without marketing, for the most part, the general population would be clueless as to what to do or buy.  Think about it.  When was the last time you did or bought something without seeing, hearing, or reading anything about it? I’m talking about, see it for the first time ever, and buy it without speaking a word to anyone, not even a store employee.  Exactly.  You had to think for a bit.  We, as a society, have to be told what to buy for the most part.  We see on TV what to wear, hear from friends what’s good to eat, and read and talk about where to go.  Are you beginning to see why marketing is so important?

You have to get your product out there.  Make people aware of what you have and why they should have it.  Also, remember the age old life lesson, KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).  What a valuable saying.  Simple information is easy to process quickly and understandably. People make decisions about everything, some small, like what type of gum to buy, and some large, purchasing a home or vehicle.  The easier information is to process and obtain, the easier the decision, and the happier the person making the decision.  This job also lies in the hands of those doing the marketing.

Why Is Marketing Important To NC State?

Now, hopefully, you’re beginning to understand why I’m bringing this up in a blog about NC State.  How often do you hear about positive things going on at NC State?  When was the last time you saw a commercial for the university?  When was the last time you read/heard about some innovation made possible through research at NC State?  How about, when was the last time you heard a NC State sponsored athletics advertisement?  When you go into a clothing store, do you see more UNC, Duke, or NC State apparel?

So I’ve got you thinking again.  Granted, I don’t watch much TV, and its mostly cable when I do, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a commercial for NC State as a university, or for its athletics department outside the normal one or two during a football or basketball game.  I stay on the lookout for articles about NC State research and innovation, but I mostly see them from our own NC State website.  As for clothing sales, its sad to say, but I see mostly UNC and Duke apparel, even in Raleigh…

The University

We, as a university, need to separate ourselves from area institutions through marketing. I know, I know, times are tough and budgets are cut.  We have a handful of people doing the jobs of ten people, but we need to refocus.  We need to get our story– our success, out the the mainstream public at a higher rate.  We need to invest in commercials highlighting the innovations and discoveries taking place in Raleigh.  For example- our engineering department has developed a new methodology for better predicting winter weather and climate.  Did you know that?  It will cut winter weather preparation costs to governments and generally help everyone not get so mad at our local weatherman (I’m talking mainly about Greg Fishel).  Want to read more?  Check out the news release from NCSU.  There are tons of them.  Check them out here.

Why not make a commercial highlighting our biggest achievements?  The more people that go, “Wow!  That’s pretty cool,”  the more people we have respecting our university, the more students we have wanting to enroll, the more pride our alumni have in NC State, and the more donations we have flowing into the school.  Where’s the bad in that?

I know that increasing efficiencies in biofuel production isn’t the most exciting thing, but isn’t designing the next Mars rover pretty cool?  We need to build better relations with our local media to promote our news releases so more of them can be picked up for you to read about in your daily or weekend’s N&O or on WRAL’s website.

The Athletics Department

This same idea carries over to our athletics department.  We need to invest more in self promotion. Granted, when you have a nice period of a lack of success on the field, its a bit harder to do, but it can still be done.  While we wait for some of our programs to get it together, we can still promote.  We recently spent a good bit of money on revamping and improving the sound systems in Carter-Finley Stadium, so why not advertise it?  “Come out and join the excitement of Wolfpack football this season with 55,000 of your best friends.  Carter-Finley Stadium is one of the best venues in the ACC and we’ve recently upgraded our sound systems to make it even better.  Check out the schedule and purchase tickets to a game at GoPack.com or call us at (919) 865-1510.”  Now I know its not the best thing, but you get the point.  We can advertise basketball ticket sales with highlights of the freshmen and returning guys along with marketing our return to national prominence.

Give the people something to want and they will come and get it. As much as you may hate delving into the depths of psychology and brainstorming idea after idea for marketing purposes, but the main idea is simple enough.

NC State has a lot to offer, we just have to make people want it.

Advertisements

Are You Ready For Some Football?!?

As the month of July is wrapping up, it is time to seriously start thinking about Wolfpack football.  After all, September 4th is only 39 days away!  With all of the excitement already surrounding the upcoming basketball season, what better way to get ready than kicking-off Wolfpack Football?  We have a pretty difficult schedule for the upcoming year, but as always, we Wolfpack faithful can expect an exciting product on the field, and a fun time in the stands.

This blog post will provide you with all the info you’ll need to get ready for the season.  I’m sorry that there are quite a few tables and pictures, but all provide important and necessary information.  Read to the end to see a cool update on Carter-Finley Stadium.

First, take a look at our upcoming schedule, courtesy of GoPack:

Date

Opponent

Location

Time (EST)

Results

Media

Sat, Sept 04 Western Carolina Raleigh, NC 6 P.M. ESPN3.com
Sat, Sept 11 at UCF Orlando, FL 7:30 P.M. CBS College Sports Network
Thu, Sept 16 Cincinnati Raleigh, NC 7:30 P.M. ESPN
Sat, Sept 25 at Georgia Tech Atlanta, GA TBA TBA
Sat, Oct 02 Virginia Tech Raleigh, NC TBA TBA
Sat, Oct 09 Boston College Raleigh, NC TBA TBA
Sat, Oct 16 at East Carolina Greenville, NC 12 NOON CBS College Sports Network
Thu, Oct 28 Florida State Raleigh, NC 7:30 P.M. ESPN
Sat, Nov 06 at Clemson Clemson, SC TBA TBA
Sat, Nov 13 Wake Forest Raleigh, NC TBA TBA
Sat, Nov 20 at North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC TBA TBA
Sat, Nov 27 at Maryland College Park, MD TBA TBA

** All home games are highlighted in bold**

Now for the students, via TicketReturn, here is the ticket claim schedule:

Game Date Opponent Request Period Claim Period 1 Claim Period 2 On Demand**
09/04/10 Western Carolina 08/27/10 12:01 AM – 8/28/10 11:59 PM 8/29/10 3:01 AM – 8/30/10 11:59 PM 8/31/10 3:01 AM – 8/31/10 11:59 PM 9/1/10 12:01 AM – 9/4/10**
09/16/10 Cincinnati 9/8/10 12:01 AM – 9/9/10 11:59 PM 9/10/10 3:01 AM – 9/11/10 11:59 PM 9/12/10 3:01 AM – 9/12/10 11:59 PM 9/13/10 12:01 AM – 9/16/10 **
10/02/10 Virginia Tech 9/24/10 12:01 AM – 9/25/10 11:59 PM 9/26/10 3:01 AM – 9/27/10 11:59 PM 9/28/10 3:01 AM – 9/28/10 11:59 PM 9/29/10 12:01 AM – 10/02/10**
10/09/10 Boston College 10/1/10 12:01 AM – 10/2/10 11:59 PM 10/3/10 3:01 AM – 10/4/10 11:59 PM 10/5/10 3:01 AM – 10/5/10 11:59 PM 10/6/10 12:01 AM – 10/9/10**
10/28/10 Florida State 10/20/10 12:01 AM – 10/21/10 11:59 PM 10/22/10 3:01 AM – 10/23/10 11:59 PM 10/24/10 3:01 AM – 10/24/10 11:59 PM 10/25/10 12:01 AM – 10/28/10**
11/13/10 Wake Forest 11/5/10 12:01 AM – 11/6/10 11:59 PM 11/7/10 3:01 AM – 11/8/10 11:59 PM 11/9/10 3:01 AM – 11/9/10 11:59 PM 11/10/10 12:01 AM – 11/13/10**

** On Demand Phase will end 6 hours prior to kick-off on game day**

And here is the parking distribution schedule:

2010 Football Student Parking Distribution Schedule

Game Date Opponent Distribution Date Time Notes
9/4/2010 Western Carolina 9/1/2010 9:00 AM-12:00 PM
9/16/2010 Cincinnati 9/14/2010 9:00 AM-12:00 PM **Thursday night game
10/2/2010 Virginia Tech 9/29/2010 9:00 AM-12:00 PM
10/9/2010 Boston College 10/6/2010 9:00 AM-12:00 PM
10/28/2010 Florida State 10/26/2010 9:00 AM-12:00 PM **Thursday night game
11/13/2010 Wake Forest 11/10/2010 9:00 AM-12:00 PM

As a reminder, this year we will be beginning the first year of having all students in the lower bowl.  Here is the new seating chart highlighting student sections in yellow.

Having all students sit in the lower bowl, while moving the main away section to the upper deck will allow more sound to be closer to the field, enhancing our home-field advantage!  Students get closer to the action and our increased loudness and rowdiness will definitely pump up the football team.  This move will only help our status as one of ESPNs top 5 most spirited student sections (scroll down to see us) in the US.

Lastly, its exciting to say that the sound system in Carter-Finley is getting a nice (and long overdue) upgrade.  Fans can expect better quality sound and less annoying feedback noise.  Crews have been out working the past couple weeks on the jumbo-tron as well as other speakers around the stadium.  These upgrades should allow Carter-Finley to remain the best venue in NC, and one of the best in the ACC, to watch football.

I’m definitely ready for some football!  Go Pack!

A New Age in NC State Athletics: The Customer Always Knows Best

“The Customer Always Knows Best”

I’m not sure how many people have heard of the old adage about the customer knowing best, but I’ve heard it and seen it in stores many times throughout my life.  When you stop and think about it, the saying really is quite true.  In our capitalistic economy, the customer is king.  If I go into a business and try to purchase their services, my decision on whether or not to pay to begin with, or to acquire their services again, mostly hinges on their customer service.

I love Wikipedia, so naturally they provide one of my favorite definitions of customer service.  Wikipedia says,

“Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.”1

I like this definition because it defines customer service as a continuous process.  It goes on before, during and after a purchase.  It’s not just something that you do to make the sale; you have to continue it throughout the life of the product.  If not, then good luck getting the customer to come back.  This easily translates to the athletics industry with season ticket sales and donations.

Pearson Higher Ed, the wonderful publishers of many of our textbooks also offers a great definition of customer service,

Customer Service refers to the identifiable, but sometimes intangible, activities undertaken by a retailer in conjunction with the basic goods and services it sells.”2

What a fantastic definition.  Customer service is filled with intangibles.  You can’t really set a group of SOP’s for customer service.  Sometimes you just have to wing it.  Although not majorly, it’s different for every customer, as no two people are the same.  You can usually tell when you’re interacting with a customer if they’re digging what you’re saying and doing.  You change your approach to best fit the situation and customer, thus proving the identifiable aspect of customer service.

Ok, so it’s pretty obvious from both definitions that customer service is pretty important in the business world.

Now before I continue, I’m not saying that our University or Athletics Department doesn’t practice or value proper customer service, I’m saying that no one can say that their customer service is adequate, or “good enough” in the ever evolving nature of the business.

This brings us to my first charge to the NC State Athletics Department as it moves forward into the Yow era of leadership.  The department needs to become, at least, the conference standard for customer service.  Our department, and university, needs to heed the saying, the customer always knows best.  When dealing with all aspects that involve fans, or customers, we need to say, “what is best for the fans?”  I know that the bottom line and the difference between being in the black or red is a top priority as well, but there is no reason the two can’t go hand in hand.  We should say, what is this going to do to our budget, but we should also think about which would have the best impact on fans.  After all, our fans are our customers.  Students, alums, and fans are the ones who buy the tickets to watch teams play.  Fans are the ones who continuously pack the stands to watch the ‘Pack play, win or lose, but as you can tell from my last post, mostly the latter.

First of all, all problems would be solved, essentially, through winning ball games.  After a winning atmosphere is created, that’s where fans concentrate on having the best amenities and atmosphere for themselves.  I ask, why can’t you do both at the same time.  It’s not that you have to invest a fortune to better service customers; you can do so just through a few small steps.

Improving Customer Service: As Easy as 1,2, 3

  1. I believe that the most quintessential aspect of creating a better atmosphere of customer service is through promoting fan involvement.  Obviously, that would not carry over to coaching decisions, since all fans are “arm chair quarterbacks” and we should let the coaches, who are paid to coach, coach.  I’m talking about letting customer opinions be heard, and most importantly, felt heard.  This area is one in which I believe our new athletic director, Debbie Yow, is going to do a better job.  Honestly though, you can’t do a much worse job than our previous administration.  Debbie Yow has already said that she have an email account created for fans to email suggestions, critiques, and compliments (I’m going out on a limb and betting there are going to be few of those).  She has said this before she even started her job (her first day is July 15).  There we go… one step in the right direction.  The next one is following through and having those emails answered.  Every single legitimate email…
  2. The second area in which I think we would be able to improve customer service, is through increasing communication.  I’ll write more on the topic later, but I definitely think we have missed the ball on communicating with our fans for the past several years.  The Wolfpack fan base is such a passionate, information hungry group, why not quench that thirst and have them more invested in the program? By generating more frequent press releases and creating better relations with local media, NC State will be able to give its fans what they want, more access.
  3. I do believe that our Athletics Department does a good job with some of its promotions to fans, but we could do better. I am by no means a marketing expert.  I’m not even a fan of the subject, but I, as well as any business person, will admit that marketing is one of the most important aspects of business. Self-promotion gains more business and good products retain business.  We need to start with the beginning of that equation.  Our self-promotion is hit or miss.  This includes marketing and media relations.  Once again, I’ll expand more in another post about our marketing and SID needs, but one idea involves allowing court access to fans after basketball games similar to Cameron Indoor at Duke.  However, for my point, if we run the right promotions to bring in fans and show them a good product on the field, you can pretty much guarantee that they’ll (the fans) want to come back.

1 – Wiki definition of Customer Service

2 – Pearson Ed definition of Customer Service

    Progress and Accountability: A New Age in NC State Athletics?

    I know this is coming a little late in the game compared to other entries on the depths of which NC State Athletics must climb to remove itself from the cellar of the ACC, but as someone who works with the NC State Athletics Dept. I’ve needed a little time to formulate what I’m going to say and how I’m going to say it.

    I’ll start with saying that I recently reviewed a comprehensive report on our past 5 years of athletic success (or lack thereof).  It was quite mind numbing at times to look at, but honestly, I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be pretty.  Needless to say, a small child could look at that report and tell that our new AD, Debbie Yow, has her work cut out for her.  I don’t have an electronic copy of the report I looked at, but thanks to WVWolf, an NC State grad in statistics, via RiddickandReynolds and StateFansNation, I’ll be able to provide you with a look at what he found in a one year comprehensive review.  Take the next few minutes to look it over.

    Now lets look at his analysis.

    Observations

    • Cross Country (M) and Rifle (SEARC) won conference championships.
    • In ACC competition for sports with win/loss records, only Swimming (M) and Swimming(W) with records of 3-2 had a winning record. Gymnastics had a winning record in the EAGL as did Rifle in the SEARC.
    • Of the 15 sports with win/loss records, 11 had overall winning records.
    • Cross Country(M) was the only ACC program to finish above 4th place. Gymnastics(EAGL) and Rifle (SEARC) also finished above 4th.
    • Outdoor Track (W) and Volleyball both finished last in the ACC, as did Rifle in the GARC.
    • Virginia won the most ACC titles with 7, followed by Florida St with 5 and Georgia Tech with 4.
    • ACC schools won 8 national championships. Duke, North Carolina and Virginia won 2 titles and Maryland and Boston College won 1. (Boston College won the the national championship in Men’s Hockey, a non-ACC sport).
    • In the Directors Cup standings, NC State ranked 89th, which is last in the ACC. In the next week or so I plan on posting an entry with a more detailed look at the Directors Cup for NC State as well as the rest of the ACC.
    • As maligned as NC State’s men’s soccer program is, it did earn the most points of any sport in the Directors Cup for a 17th place finish.

    Now that the nightmare of the instant analysis of that chart is over, lets continue to drag this thing out by me posting my thoughts.  Obviously things aren’t going so great on the field, pitch, court, etc.  One of the most telling observations from WV Wolf has to be when he says,

    In ACC competition for sports with win/loss records, only Summing(M) and Swimming(W) with records of 3-2 had a winning record.”

    The sad part of that quote is when you see that both of our swimming teams finished in 7th(W) and 9th(M) place in the ACC.  Not so good.  However, not visible in the statistics posted earlier, a couple shinning spots do exist in the forms of progress from new coaches.  Its obvious to see that we have a winner in Coach Kellie Harper.  She is an outstanding coach and the girls on our team love her.  I worked with the women’s basketball program a lot last year with the Kay Yow Memorial, and I know that the girls on the team love Coach Harper, and they love her style of play.  She brought us back to the NCAA tournament, and I know she has even bigger things in store for next year.  Also, our new women’s soccer coach, Steve Springthorpe, was able to help our women’s team win its first ACC game in 2 years during his first season as coach.  As you can see, the team went on to win 2 ACC games and tie 1.  It’s nothing impressive, but a start.  Although the results can’t be seen on last year’s review, the hire of Bryan Bunn to coach our volleyball team is a step in the right direction.

    Also, off the field, the dreaded facilities word comes into play.  We were able to install an, in my opinion, awesome new HD jumbo-tron and sound system in the RBC Center as well as install a brand new scoreboard and video board at Doak Field for baseball.  In the works are plans to upgrade the sound system at Carter-Finley as well the construction of a new state of the art tennis complex (the architect’s sketches for this look AWESOME).

    Over the next few days, I’ll post my charges to our Athletics Department for the upcoming year, which includes myself since I consider myself an extension of the department.  I’ll hold myself accountable to be more vocal and active in voicing my and students concerns to the proper channels in athletics.   The charges will be in no particular order, as I think most of them have equal importance.  I will not address winning, as that is something that shouldn’t have to be said.  Winning games is what an athletics department is supposed to do from day 1. I, nor anyone else, should have to say to an athletics department, “You need to win games.”  That’s pretty obvious to everyone in the office.

    If you have any ideas or things you’d like to see addressed, feel free to comment or send me an email at jeffrey.johnson721@gmail.com.  I love getting feedback about things that I can address to people in the athletics department.

    July 6th NC Pro Am Scouting Report

    July 6th NC Pro Am Tournament

    A good crowd turned out last night for the 2nd round of basketball games at NC Central for the second round of games at the 2010 NC Pro Am tournament.  On the slate for last night’s games were:

    • 6pm – Hendrick vs. Body of Christ
    • 7pm – Team 212 vs. Team Stackhouse
    • 8pm – Coaches in Christ vs. Team Navy
    • 9pm – Team Lucky 7 vs. Team McGladrey

    I’ll preface what I write by saying that although summer league pick up games don’t always provide the most accurate predictions for future performance, it is always exciting to get a sneak preview of our current and future players.  The NC Pro Am provides an exciting opportunity for Wolfpack fans to see future players in action alongside other local standout players including those in the ACC and NBA.  I would encourage all NC State fans to go check out some games and show support for our Wolfpack players.

    Game 1:  6pm – Hendrick vs. Body of Christ

    The first match up of the night was between Hendrick and Body of Christ.  The match up pitted a team made up mostly of high schoolers and Norfolk State star Michael Deloach versus prior Wolfpacker Johnny Thomas and local standout Akeem Richmond (Uni. Rhode Island).

    Johnny, who is transferring from NC State up to Marshall University, came out really strong.  Looking healthier than ever and ready to play, he scored 20 points in the first half.  Johnny, who graduated this past semester, is transferring to Marshall to attend graduate school.  He has one year of eligibility remaining.  I was extremely impressed with him throughout the game with his effort on both ends of the court.  He found his shot easily from behind the arc as well as from in the paint during his drives.  It was unfortunate that he was injured for most of his career at State, but I wish him the best of luck in his future at Marshall and beyond.

    The next player that I was impressed with was, unsurprisingly, Michael Deloach.  Deloach, who was a star player at Norfolk State, played point guard for Hendrick most of the night.  Seeing as how his team’s two best players (Duke’s Kyrie Irving and Kyle Singler) didn’t show, he played an outstanding game.  He finished with 18 points in a variety of ways.  He shot the long ball, drove to the rim, and got to the free throw line.  Great player and a great game.  Good luck to him in his future whether it involves playing basketball or not.

    Final Score: Henrick 86 – Body of Christ 94

    Game 2:  7pm – Team 212 vs. Team Stackhouse

    The second game of the evening was what most fans came to see.  It featured two of the new Tar Heel Trio, including savior Harrison Barnes, as well as John Henson.  Although the show that most Pack fans came to see didn’t start until after 9pm, the preview was sufficient.  Jordan Vandenberg, Scott Wood, and Team 212 had a show down with Tar Heel stacked Team Stackhouse.  This game was the best of the four.  Both teams hustled and although I wouldn’t say real defense, they both attempted to play a little D.  The game was close throughout and went into OT, only for Harrison Barnes to take over in the extra time to lift his team to victory.

    I’ll start off with what I saw in Wood and Vandenberg since that’s what really matters…

    The nature of these summer pickup games is similar to AAU basketball games — high paced offenses with relatively non existent defenses, so its easy to see how a player like Vandenberg could struggle a bit.  That being said, he was able to contribute some nice dunks and rebounds.  He put up 8 points and 7 rebounds while playing around 20 minutes.  You can tell that he is still growing into his body a bit, but it does look like he has put on a little weight.  All in all, he struggled a little bit trying to keep up the end to end play, but when it comes down to the grit, you can tell that he’ll be able to bang, play hard nosed defense, and grab some rebounds.

    Scott Wood could have done much better than he did.  Unfortunately he got in foul trouble early and was never able to really get in the zone.  He finished the game with 8 points, but didn’t get to play too much.  He did hit a couple nice threes but missed several as well.  He just couldn’t find that rhythm that shooters rely on.

    UNC-Chapel Hill’s trio played extremely well.  They ended up scoring 73 of their teams 76 points with Barnes leading the way with 31 points.  To me, Barnes definitely lived up to the hype.  He seemed to always be in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.  Whether it was picking up loose balls, rebounds, or easy points under the basket, you can tell that he has a high basketball IQ.  Reggie Bullock, from Kinston, NC, also played well in spurts.  During the first half he was doing what Barnes was doing.  He seemed to be in the right places at the right times.  He cooled off a bit in the 2nd half, but still scored 20 points.  John Henson still looks like a toothpick for the most part, but in his defense, it does look like he’s put on a little weight.  He continued to play well like he started picking up in the 2nd half of last season.  Never really playing like a center, he worked the perimeter, had some nice drives, and sent a couple shots into the rafters.  Much to the amusement of non-UNC fans, he got tomahawk dunked on BIG TIME at one point and had a couple traveling calls that resulted in sheepish grins.  He finished the game with 22 points.

    Henson getting dunked on

    Final Score:  Team 212 72 – Team Stackhouse 76 OT

    Game 3:  8pm – Coaches in Christ vs. Team Navy

    The third game of the evening featured Team Navy, with 3 Duke players and NCSU walk-on Kendall Smith, against Coaches in Christ with a couple rising AAU stars and area players.  Surprisingly enough Team Navy lost with the 3 Duke players, but I’ll explain more about that later.

    You could tell right off the bat that the Duke players didn’t care too much about the game.  It was just a chance to go out and play a little ball.  However, it was clear that Ryan Kelly was the best player on the court, and he wasn’t even trying a lot of the time.  He seemed to tweak his knee early in the game, which might have something to do with him not really hustling, but in this game, no one was.  He seemed to have added a bit of weight to his frame, which will surly help him in ACC play this year.  He created his own shot quite nicely a couple times, most noticeably with a Singler-esque drive with the mid-air adjusted one handed shot (made) with the foul.  He finished with 10 points.  Andre Dawkins played a bit during the game, not a whole lot though.  He hit a couple nice 3’s and had a nice dunk, but that’s about it.  He scored 11 points.  Newcomer Tyler Thornton also played well.  He came in sparingly, as Team Navy mostly featured some older players (age 30+) who I guess had to play, and did really well.  He scored 9 points off of three 3-pointers and had a few nice assists.  You can tell that he has great awareness on the court and plays some good defense.  Kendall Smith, a walk on at State, also played pretty well when he was on the court.  He received a couple nice feeds from Ryan Kelly and finished with 6 points and several nice rebounds.

    Final Score: Coaches in Christ 78 – Team Navy 69

    Game 4:  9pm – Team Lucky 7 vs. Team McGladrey

    This is what all the Wolfpack fans were waiting for.  The first match-up where you could see the incoming freshman playing alongside each other.  You could tell during the first few minutes of the game that the new guys were a little anxious to show off for the Wolfpack faithful that came out to see them play together, but once they settled down, the show started.  Team McGladrey featured 4 members of the 2010-2011 Wolfpack, Ryan Harrow, Lorenzo Brown, CJ Leslie, and CJ Williams.  Unfortunately Tracy Smith couldn’t make it out to the game, otherwise, it would have been a team full of Wolfpack.

    Team Lucky 7 was a great team, as it featured former Wolfpack star Courtney Fells, who scored 21 points.  They held the lead for most of the game, until Team McGladrey decided they weren’t going to lose.

    Overall, I thought the new guys played really well together for the first time in public.  You could tell that there were a few timing issues that accompany inexperience playing with each other.  These issues were mainly a pass going one direction while a guy cuts in another direction, or alley-oop lobs that sail too high.  Going hand in hand with the timing issues were a few communication issues.  Earlier in the game, CJW was the only one directing his teammates on where they should be on D, and what he was doing on offense, but the new guys picked it up a little bit later on.  Once again, this is only a summer league pick-up game, so they’re not trying too hard, especially on defense.

    Harrow made some great plays with his passing, dribbling, and shooting.  He wowed the crowd on a couple different occasions with a sick behind the back display of dribbling, no look passes, and a surprisingly easy dunk for someone who is only 5’11”.  He finished the game with 25 points, a lot of which came from outside shooting.

    CJ Leslie had the best game of all.  He came out a bit slow, remaining scoreless in the 1st quarter, but after letting the game come to him, he started heating up.  He scored 17 points in a variety of ways, including put back dunks, driving to the basket, and getting to the free throw line.  He had a great all around game, where he posted 17 points,  6-8 rebounds, and at least 5 assists.  He displayed his excellent athleticism by throwing shots into the stands, and by throwing down the go-ahead put back dunk over 2 people at the end of the game.  I doubt he’ll be at State long, but he’ll be a crowd favorite for sure.

    Lorenzo Brown also played a great game.  He quietly and efficiently posted 19 points on long range shooting, driving to the basket, and getting to the stripe.  He also led the offense for part of the game.  You can tell that he is definitely game ready for the Wolfpack and will make an immediate contribution.  By going to Hargrave he has gotten in better shape and put on a little weight.  He rebounded well and was not afraid of contact.  I think Wolfpack fans will enjoy watching him play during his career in Raleigh.

    Lastly, CJ Willams played his normal game.  He was efficient, played hard, and was noticeably more experienced than the freshmen.  He quietly scored 10 points and pulled down a ton of rebounds.  One thing that I’ve always wanted more from CJW is aggression.  I’ve always thought that if he more aggressively looked for his shot and drove to the rim, he could be an even better player.  He was a little aggressive at times (in which he scored) but also held back at times.  He has the tools and the body to be great, he just needs to work on his ball handling a little and be aggressive.

    All in all, I thought that the future of Wolfpack basketball had a great showing.  They showed off their individual skills and wowed the crowd with some exciting plays.  Once again, I’ll state that watching summer league pick-up basketball is not the most accurate way to predict future success of players, but NC State fans can assuredly continue their excitement over the fresh talent and faces entering the RBC Center late this year.

    Final Score: Team Lucky 7 75 – Team McGladrey 77

    The Trials, Tribulations, and Joys of Building A Memorial

    Over the past 11 months I have been working on the construction of a memorial for the late Coach Kay Yow.  Before I delve in and say anything else regarding the project, I have learned so much from working on it, many lessons I’ll never forget.

    Now that is said and done, the memorial was truly a wonderful experience which is not quite over… If you are unfamiliar with who Coach Kay Yow is, you must have been living under a rock, but if you really don’t know, just check out her Wikipedia page for the gist of her legacy.  She was the coach of NC State women’s basketball team for 34 years.  Of those 34 years, she spent 22 battling breast cancer.  You can see the long list of honors and awards she received on her Wikipedia or by visiting her WBCA bio, here.

    How It All Began

    Last year, when I was contacted about becoming our student athletics director at NC State, the current student body president asked me if I would be interested in constructing a memorial for Coach Yow and if I thought it would be a feasible thing that students would want to see done.  Sure, it shouldn’t be too hard to honor someone who meant so much to so many, plus, our student body loved her.  So that day in July 2009 I said yes to taking on one of the biggest projects I have ever worked on.

    I gathered my thoughts and came up with a few ideas over the next couple weeks.  I knew it was going to be a large task, so I wanted to get my thoughts together before I did anything.  Then, the first thing I wanted to do was find out some more about her from the people closest to her, so I ventured my way over to the Women’s Basketball Office in Reynolds to see what I could find out, also, I wanted to see if they would help.  I remember the first thing that happened when I walked in the door to that office and told the office admin (who is an extremely sweet and amazing lady) what I was doing… I was on the receiving end of a tearful bear hug.  At that moment, I realized how much this memorial was going to mean.  I had never had the fortune to meet, Coach Yow, one thing that I wish I could have done, so to see first hand how much she touched the lives of those who worked alongside her was special to pushing me to another level in my quest for the memorial to be completed.  One other pleasant surprise that I did get during my visit was finding out that someone had already contacted the office about wanting to construct a memorial and wanting to make a large donation to it.   Great start right off the bat!

    Over the upcoming weeks I formulated a plan to construct a memorial honoring Coach Yow in the form of a statue at the entrance to Reynolds Coliseum.  Only the best for the best I thought.  I spoke with a sculptor, who was recommended by the family, and he loved the idea (of course).  So I set about having him draw up some sketches of the statue as I got to work contacting the university’s architect office to find out what I needed to do on their end.  We worked originally to see how it would turn out with the location I had in mind and how we could fit it in with the current landscape.

    The Wrench

    All was going smooth at the start until the snag came in.  Someone in the upper levels at NC State was not too keen having a looming statue at the entrance to Reynolds.  So…the brakes were applied to the project.  We had to find some other place to put it.  Where else would be a good spot for a larger than life statue to go at Reynolds?  One side is a giant parking lot, the two ends are roads with minimal walk space, and the other side was a walkway by Talley.  Naturally I figured the Talley side would work, and naturally the architect’s office wanted to put it on the parking lot side.  Once more we came to a halt.  Neither side wanted to budge.  So we compromised.  The statue shrank in size to a bust and it was moved to a more prominent location on the Talley side of Reynolds.

    This is when the idea for the memorial expanded into the Coaches’ Corner theme.  How could we build one memorial for one coach at a place where several coaching greats had prowled the sidelines?  What about Jimmy V (a national champ), Norm Sloan (another national champ), and Everett Case (grandfather of southern basketball)?  They all stalked the sidelines and produced fabled teams who played in Reynolds.  We must surely honor them as well.  So the idea for a Kay Yow Memorial expanded into the Coaches Corner.  Located on the Talley side of Reynolds, the Coaches’ Corner will play home to the busts of great coaches in NC State history.  However, Kay Yow would be the first and the host.

    A settlement had been reached, and approved through all the necessary channels.  As you can imagine, some people were not too happy with the end result, but I believe that it worked out for the best.  Coach Yow would be honored, as well as other great coaches in our history who rightfully should be honored as well.***On a side note, the Coaches’ Corner got me to thinking.  Don’t you find it a bit odd that our great coaches in Reynolds develop some sort of cancer?  Case, Valvano, and Yow? *** Now came the time to get together all the details of design and get to work!

    I worked with the architect’s office to finalize a design for the garden while working with the sculptor to design the bust.  Once most of that was completed I got in touch with Coach Yow’s family to let them know what was going on and to show them what we had planned.  Family approval was very important to me.  After I received the go ahead from them, the fund-raising commenced.

    This is the Action

    As I mentioned earlier, fund-raising got off to a great start.  To me, the key thing we needed to do to raise funds was marketing the project and contacting former players and fans.  So a wrote a nice solicitation letter, requested info on all of Coach Yow’s former players, and then decided to do something which took forever.  I hand addressed the letters in calligraphy.  At first, I thought, no way am I going to be able to write calligraphy.  When I was growing up, my parents would ride me about how terrible my handwriting looked, but to my surprise, my calligraphy turned out pretty well, other than taking an excruciating amount of patience and time.  After I mailed out the letters to former players, fellow students and I sold t-shirts, some donated by Nike and others ordered by us (which are still available for purchase), at basketball games and in the Brickyard.

    We also stuffed hundreds of envelopes with general letters, return envelopes, donor info cards, etc to be mailed out to season ticket holders.  Thankfully we didn’t have to address those, as Athletics just ran them through the machine.  We also got our very own Kay Yow Memorial webpage from NC State and we got it up and running with the help of an amazing and beautiful webmaster (my girlfriend).

    The money came in through spurts.  We’d get a few donations here and there.  It would slow down, I’d make some phone calls, we would get some press, then we would get a few more donations.  Finally after what seemed like waiting forever, which was actually just a few months, we had enough to begin construction in March 2010.  So with the assistance of our construction manager from the university, contractors were finalized and the job began.  First off was the memorial garden.  We dug out a walkway, installed a drainage system, and laid a stone paved walkway and seating area (formed by the bottom side of recycled granite counter-tops).

    Then came the planting.  On Saturday, April 17th at 8am (yes before the Spring Kay Yow Football Game), around 20 students showed up to plant the garden.  Oh how sweet it was to see signs of life in the project site!  It was all coming together in front of my eyes and I couldn’t believe it!  As that finished I just stood back in amazement of how great it looked.  Pink flowering plants forming a boundary around the beautiful stone paved walkway with two benches on which to relax and reflect.  Just one thing missing, the most important piece, Coach Yow’s bust and pedestal.

    The Last Piece is Sometimes the Hardest

    We had the garden planted with the walkway paved; it had to be all downhill from here.  Wrong.  Little did I know that our contractor for the pedestal would end up making things much more complicated than they needed to be.  Let’s just say that he was not exactly the nicest person and wasn’t doing the memorial work for the right reasons.  Up to that point, every contractor had been honored to be a part of constructing a memorial for Coach Yow.  They would give us their best price and their best work.  That went for everyone except one person.  His original estimate for the pedestal came in WAY over what we estimated it would cost, so after a long series of negotiations and threats to use another contractor he dropped $4,000 off the cost.  Now why it was that high to begin with, I don’t know.  Every other contractor had given us their bottom line cost the first go round, so I had a bad feeling about this guy from the start, but we needed to go with him because the sculptor for the bust always used him.  He later showed his true colors after the memorial was done, but I won’t go into specifics about the trouble he gave me and others at the university.  Let’s just say that he won’t be doing any business with the university ever again.  Finally we had everything figured out and construction of the pedestal got underway as the bronzing of the bust wrapped up.

    Finally we reached the day where the pedestal and bust were to be installed.  The project was almost completed.  Myself and a few donors met out at the memorial site and watched as the memorial was installed.  First the pedestal and then the bust.  I couldn’t believe that it was finally done, except for the plaque, but that’s the easy part.  Right before my very eyes all of the hard work and perseverance since last year was paying off.

    All that’s left now is to install the plaque, which we’ll do closer to the dedication date, and host the formal dedication of the memorial.  So go ahead and mark your calendars for August 24, 2010 at 3pm.  We’ll be having a formal dedication for the NC State Coaches’ Corner – Kay Yow Memorial with (99% sure) speaking appearances from Chancellor Woodson, AD Debbie Yow, and more.  The dedication shouldn’t last more than an hour though.  The area isn’t very large, so there won’t be much room for chairs, except for the people who have to sit.  All donors, family and friends of Coach Yow, and most importantly, students of NC State, are invited to attend.  We’ll officially unveil the memorial with the newly installed plaque on the front.

    Final Thoughts

    Even though the project had its up and downs, I could not have asked for a better experience.  The people involved with the project were so awesome that even the downs weren’t really that down at all.  I learned many important lessons that will stay with me through life, most importantly perseverance and compromise.  We all know the famous Jimmy V, don’t ever give up, quote, but it really is true.  When something is important to you, you have to keep pushing.  The more you push, the more that wall will cave and eventually you’ll push through it.  It’s like Randy Pausch said in The Last Lecture, “Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.”  I’d like to think that I was meant to be the one to push through those brick walls.

    After the formal dedication I’ll post a more complete version of my finals thoughts since there is still some work to do, but for the meantime, it has truly been a rewarding experience.