In addition to this piece, another of SFN’s more respected local writers penned some greath thoughts regarding Sidney Lowe today that merits some attention and discussion.
The News & Observer’s Caulton Tudor compared the big gamble on Coach Lowe to the role of underdog that the 1983 National Champion Wolfpack. Tudor goes on to say:
my hunch is Lowe will eventually improve State’s program and have a long, successful run
Tudor proceeds to speculate more specifically about talent and re-hashes an old NC State internet debate of the last few years — “what if” former coach Herb Sendek had done a better job with his talent evaluation of just in-state players (not to mention out of state decisions like passing on Steve Blake for Cliff Crawford).
In retrospect, Herb Sendek’s biggest problem was an inability to lure top-line talent. The most obvious red flag came when he couldn’t get Shavlik Randolph, a lifelong Wolfpack fan and the grandson of a school great, away from Duke. That was one of the few times Sendek and Duke went head-to-head over a target.
Improving State’s haul in North Carolina would make a big difference. Many of State’s best players were in-state finds — David Thompson, Tom Burleson and Phil Spence off the ’74 national champions alone. Think of where the program might be today had Sendek signed Randolph, Eric Williams, Chris Paul, Anthony Morrow, Anthony King, David Noel and Reyshawn Terry.
In addition to the names Tudor referened, take a moment to think of what Herb Sendek’s NC State program could have been had Sendek not told ACC Player of the Year and NBA star Josh Howard that he wasn’t good enough for a scholarship at NC State but we would allow him to walk on?
Imagine NCAA Champion Chris Wilcox on a Wolfpack front line that would have overlapped with 7’0 Garner’s David West (Xavier)?
I wonder how this year’s NC State-Texas NCAA Tournament game would have looked if Big 12 Player of the Year, Raleigh’s PJ Tucker, was playing for the team from Raleigh?
Tudor inherently understands what many young NC State fans don’t because they haven’t experienced it — NC State’s program can be nationally successful by keeping North Carolina’s top local talent local in Raleigh.
In the 1970s and the 1980s, the core of the blueprint for NC State’s basketball success program was built on two key components:
(1) NC State was able to land a majority of the nationally relevant talent from North Carolina High Schools that didn’t sign with UNC-Chapel Hill.
History shows that it is relatively inconsequential to NC State’s overall success if Carolina lands the top in-state player (like Buzz Peterson, Michael Jordan, Curtis Hunter, Ranzino Smith, Brad Daugherty, Rashad McCants) as long as the Wolfpack is still signing the “next tier” of legitimate ACC players. Names like Burleson, Thompson, Spence, Shackleford, Washburn, Chucky Brown, Brian Howard, Kevin Thompson, Bryant Feggins, Nate McMillan, Alvin Battle and others (Dinky Proctor? George McClain?) served as heartbeats on the fantastic teams in the 1970s and 1980s.
Under Les Robinson and Herb Sendek, NC State moved away from its traditional model of landing the “best of the rest” in North Carolina. Wake Forest gladly stepped into the role and it wsn’t a coincidence that the Demon Deacons have simultaneously experienced the greatest 15 year period of excellence in its program’s history.
Since 1990, the Demon Deacons have basically “replaced” NC State as the destination for key local talent that historically made a tremendous impact playing in Reynolds Coliseum. Before 1990, State would have almost never missed on Rodney Rogers, Chris Paul, Craig Dawson, Eric Williams, Justin Gray and Josh Howard. Think of the impact that these stars have had in elevating Wake Forest’s program while NC State’s program (that once served as these players’ destination) floundered.
This whole NCHSAA-talent issue is one of the primary reasons that I scoff at the ‘experts’ that say State can’t be successful because of its proximity to Duke. Hell, State has had single seasons with more NC players on our roster than Duke has had in spans of a decade. Why does it matter how close we are to Duke if we have so rarely competed for talent against them? A more detailed look at the facts of the situation indicate that Wake Forest’s success actually has a stronger impact on NC State than Duke’s success. Forming this conclusion would take time, research, and some critical thinking skills that are all counter to skills of being a member of the national media.
(2) Of course, there was another key component to much of NC States 1970s and 1980s success — talent from the Washington, DC area.
Wolfpack greats like Kenny Carr, Hawkeye Whitney, Clyde Austin (Va), Thurl Bailey, Sidney Lowe, Dereck Whittenburg, Quinten Jackson, Bennie Bolton, and Rodney Monroe all called the area home. (Where was Kenny Matthews from?)
Where is Sidney Lowe from again?