I’m going to tease with Bomani Jones’ second lesson first before delving into the real meat of this piece. Here is that second lesson:
“The nation should be glad NC State didn’t make the NCAAs.”
Jones praises NC State and Sidney Lowe highly here:
My goodness, that team looked good. This wasn’t a charming Cinderella that got all the right breaks. This was a dangerous team.
The last thing anyone wants to face in the NCAA Tournament is a squad that has good athletes, two strong big men, a few capable ball handlers and a strong half-court game. After watching this team for four days, I couldn’t help but wonder how things would have been different if Engin Atsur, the player Gavin Grant referred to as their “general,” hadn’t missed 12 games with a bad hammy.
Also, consider what Grant said their approach was before the Duke game: “Don’t let anybody punk you.” A team with someone bold enough to say that from the dais of a postgame media session is a team to be reckoned with.
That’s great press, and Jones “got” it. Lowe’s team isn’t going to back down from a challenge. Lowe’s philosophy seems to be that shared by Patton and Frederick the Great: L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace! (Audacity, audacity, always audacity!) The red blazer is audacious. The up-tempo style is audacious. The declaration that the only goal for a 10th-seeded team is the championship or bust is audacious.
I’d like to take an aside and quote my favorite writer on Lowe’s audacity back when he was very sick with the flu and still donning the red blazer for a trip to Chapel Hill, because I think he was right in pointing out the foundation being laid for that leave-nothing-on-the-floor, 4-day effort that we saw this weekend and that Jones is praising now:
I want to underscore SFNâ€™s point about Sid wearing the red jacket again. Thatâ€™s just ballsy. It was ballsy enough at home. … Here Coach Lowe goes into Chapel Hill, with the frigging FLU, dons the red jacket again, and really gives everything he had. I doubt any of his guys will question him if he wants them to leave it all on the court. … [Further down] Mark my words, this will be a turning point on the season. Which way it turns I canâ€™t say, but Iâ€™m optimistic.
Jimmy V’s “Dream” was audacious, too. But remember, a wise man once said, â€œNothing can happen if not first a dream.â€
Now back to Jones. His No. 1 will be a “shocker” to the Fowlers, Doyels, and the cultists:
1. Coaching is really important
NC State’s surprising run to the tournament championship game can be credited to many factors, but none more important than Sidney Lowe. …
This was all about the brilliant offense he runs, a motion scheme that still allows his players to use their individual talents to make plays. No team shoots 73 percent from the field (like the Pack did in the second half against Virginia) on luck and talent alone. The Wolfpack’s players were in great places at great times, and the reason for that was Lowe and his seemingly infinite reservoir of plays.
Let’s hit the highlights one more time: Coaching is really important â€” and â€” No team shoots 73 percent from the field on luck and talent alone. That means, by the way, that no team shoots 30 percent from the field on bad luck and lack of talent alone.
Wolfpack Nation is not so far removed from a time when we were told that the coach wasn’t to blame for players continually and reliably missing shots, game in and out (see Excuse No. 2). But I would like to point out that this year’s team shot 49.4 percent from the field, which was the highest shooting percentage since 1988-89.
That’s no accident. That’s coaching.