One of our goals here at Wolfpack Hoops is to help educate the Wolfpack Nation on the legacy of our basketball program. In fact, when you look back in ACC history you will find that NC State layed the foundation of the ACC basketball tradition. Over the summer we will be covering all of our ACC championships, our honored jerseys in the rafters, and both of our NCAA championships. We have a rich basketball history at NC State and sometimes I think that is forgotten. In this article we will be covering the Pack's 1st ACC championship.
After arriving at NC State in 1946, Everett Case wasted no time, scooping up 5 quick Southern Conference Championships. He was one of the proponets of the formation of the ACC and his extreme success in the Southern Conference helped open people's eyes that a better brand of basketball was needed. The Pack's 1st ACC Championship came in 1954 (which was actually the 1st of a three-peat), with Case at the helm. Not only was this the 1st ACC Championship for the Pack, but it was also the 1st year of the ACC Tournament. Case's '54 squad was led by 1st Team All-ACC Senior Mel Thompson. He had a productive Senior campaign averaging 18.6 points per contest, which ranked him 4th in the ACC. The Pack also had a studded Sophomore class that was headlined by Guard Vic Molodet and Center Ronnie Shavlik. Molodet was a 5'11 guard out of Chicago who entertained the crowds with his ballhandling and flashy style of play. His Sophomore campaign was so impressive that he earned 2nd Team All-ACC honors. Ronnie Shavlik was a 6'8 Center out of Denver and also made noise within the ACC as a Sophomore, ranking 2nd in the ACC in rebounding, pulling down 13.4 boards a game.
The ACC was in its elementary stages and in 1954 they had yet to establish a system where every team played an equal amount of ACC games. The ACC schedule for each team was sporadic to say the least. One team played a mere 5 ACC games and another played 12. The Pack played 8 ACC games going 5-3, ranking them 4th in the league. After going 21-7 during the regular season the Pack didn't finish the regular season ranked, even though they were in and out of the rankings through out the year. They entered the inaugural ACC Tournament as the #4 seed. The Pack might have held a slight advantage with the tournament being held in the sacred Reynolds Colliseum. I think all of us would covet the cost of admission to the '54 ACC tourney. You could buy tickets for the entire tournament for only $10. It must have been a beautiful thing to see the Wolfpack take down each member of the Tobacco Road crew.
39,200 people attended the 1954 ACC tournament. The Pack began their destruction of the Tobacco Road crew by handling #5 seed UNC 52-51 in their Quarterfinals. The Duke Blue Devils were the next victims, falling to the boys in Red & White 79-75 in the Semifinals. The State fans probably had their nerves shot by the end of the tournament, as none of the wins came in an easy manner. NC State went on to claim the ACC Title by defeating the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 82-80 in Overtime. Mel Thompson and Ronnie Shavlik were selected to the All-Tournament First Team and Herb Appelbaum was selected to the Second Team.
The ACC Tournament held a lot more weight back then, because the winner was the only team to represent the ACC in the NCAA Tournament. The Pack went on to win two out of their three games, as they represented the ACC in the NCAA Tournament. The Pack was victorious in the opening round of the tourney, defeating George Washington 75-73. After loosing to La Salle in the Second Round 81-88, they went on to defeat Cornell 65-54 in the 3rd place Regional game. The Pack could hold their head high knowing that they lost to the team that went on to win the National Championship in La Salle.
State finished the season with a record of 26-7 and finished the season 10th in the AP poll and 14th in the Coaches Poll. Everett Case's incredible run in the inaugural ACC tourney earned him the Coach of the Year award in the ACC, and this would become one of many in his 18 year career at NC State.