What CJL Means To The Coaches

Picture courtesy Ethan Hyman/N&O. Click the photo for more pictures.

There’s an old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”  For NC State’s coaches, these times are indeed interesting, and those coaches are not just the ones who lead the basketball program.

Yesterday’s word of heralded recruit C.J. Leslie’s re-commitment to play hoops for NC State and head coach Sidney Lowe will have an effect further than the long-sleeping Wolfpack program. It also will have an affect on football and head coach Tom O’Brien as well. Finally, Leslie’s commitment for NC State might mean something different for Coach Lowe than one might believe. Consider:

While Tom O’Brien and his football program currently enjoy widespread support, there are also the first murmurings of discontent starting to echo where Wolfpack fans gather. O’Brien has yet to have a winning season on the Wolfpack sideline, and for some that’s not good enough. O’Brien has been rebuilding a depleted team with depth and skill in many key areas, this season could well be a turning point for him one way or the other in terms of fan opinions.

The game-changer, however, is that with Leslie and the rest of the heralded incoming class of freshman coming into the basketball program.  It will be understandable if all eyes turn towards the RBC Center and hoops more quickly than it has in almost any season in recent memory. That in turn will ease the pressure on O’Brien, especially if the program has a mediocre record — something that may well come to pass given the difficult 2010 schedule.

For Sidney Lowe, Leslie’s commitment actually will not lessen the pressure on him to bring a winner to the court. In fact, it will only increase it, because now, Lowe will have the players he needs to compete and to win.  No excuses, no what-ifs, no blaming his players when times get hard.  That will not work this year, and for Lowe, the time has come: now or never.  If the Wolfpack has a bad year on the court next season, the hue and cry from the fanbase will resemble something like a banshee scream and Lowe’s seat won’t simply be hot, it will be in flames.  That said, State has to win in 2010-11 if Lowe wants to stay in Raleigh.

On the other hand, if Lowe and company leads the Wolfpack to something meaningful — meaningful being an ACC Title or Final Four or better, that will cement him as the long-term coach of Wolfpack hoops, and satisfy the long-hungry Wolfpack fanbase.  If that happens, it will also set a standard of expectations that Lowe will need to meet on a somewhat regular basis.  While reasonable NC State fans don’t expect a national title every season, and while they also understand full-well the competition the program faces from not only the Royal Blues but also from the rest of the traditional ACC members, it collectively also believes that it can and should compete regularly in the upper third of the conference — and also be regular entrant into the NCAA Tournament field.  If Lowe can accomplish that — and he will have the tools starting this fall — he will become one of the beloved legends of the university and will enjoy the collective support of  ardent fans for as long as he wants to lead the program.

One other person that may feel the benefit of Leslie’s commitment is Lee Fowler.  State fans suddenly have hope again, and when there’s hope, there’s generally a lack of finger-pointing for past failures.  Fowler has been the focal point for the overall failings of Wolfpack athletics of the past decade, and even though CJ Leslie has yet to play a single game in a Wolfpack uniform, Fowler can (and almost certainly will) point to him and to the other signees as a ratification of his leadership, wisdom and patience as the CEO of Wolfpack athletics.  While many knowledgeable Wolfpackers may not buy that and think that it smells worse than a two-cent cigar, others –especially those who never read a Wolfpack-oriented message board or blog — may well believe it and in turn they just might drop the pitchforks they have pointed in Fowler’s direction…for a while anyway.  Given that Lee Fowler is biding his time and happily collecting his paychecks at his Lake Gaston hideaway, that’s just fine.  For him, time is money, and it’s plain that money is what Fowler loves above all else.

At the end of the day today, it’s indeed fair to say that we are living in interesting times.  What it means for some may not be readily apparent, but what is obvious to everyone is that CJ Leslie’s coming to NC State will make a splash not seen in quite some time.   The ripples of that splash will extend far beyond the confines of the basketball program, and it will mean different things to different people.  How it all plays out this fall and winter will be nothing short of intriguing.  Stay tuned.

'10 Football 10-11 Basketball Sidney Lowe Tom O'Brien

53 Responses to What CJL Means To The Coaches

  1. packfan03 04/29/2010 at 8:11 AM #

    Spot on. Pressure should be on both coaches at this point in their careers regardless of CJ signing with us.

  2. Prowling Woofie 04/29/2010 at 8:20 AM #

    Well said – time for TOB and Sid to put on their big boy pants and get the job done. No excuses.

    SFN, please continue to run the ticker banner at the top of the page – a painful reminder to the devastation that Uncle Jed has wrought…

  3. wolfie91 04/29/2010 at 8:30 AM #

    I really don’t know how next year will play out, but until I see otherwise, I choose to believe that Lowe will get it done next year.

  4. NCStatePride 04/29/2010 at 8:34 AM #

    I tweeted this yesterday, but the only big plus this has for Lowe is that while many NC State fans did (and some still do) feel that we were “giving” Lowe another season, landing CJ Leslie does show that he’s earned his “one last shot at winning”. This recruiting class is huge and you’d be hard pressed to make a good point that we would have been better firing Lowe this season and rolling the dice on another coach, recruits be damned. It’s not just Leslie, but rather the entire recruiting class is of a quality exceding excuses that “Lowe just got lucky”. He did a great job recruiting.

    That being said, spot on, Alpha, about the winning aspect. I think NC State fans are tired of moral victories like leaving last season saying “we beat Duke!” or during football season when we beat Carolina… again. We want [b]real[/b] results now.

  5. PackisRolling 04/29/2010 at 8:37 AM #

    no way should getting a basketball recruit change one thing about Lee Fowler. The problems with Jed are so much bigger.

  6. Wisc-Wolf 04/29/2010 at 8:46 AM #

    Given the way this years team finished the season and the incoming class before Leslie, and even more so now with Leslie, it is tough to argue that Lowe is not improving this program. The pressure is on Lowe but you have got to like his position to get off of the hot seat. I believe NCSU is one of the toughest jobs in the country and while there have been some major potholes Lowe has managed to put together the most talented team for the 2010-2011 season that NCSU has seen since the Valvano era. While that is not saying a lot, given the way we have performed for the last 20 years, also compare how many future NBA players were on Lowe’s first team and how many will be on his fifth team.

  7. DRW 04/29/2010 at 8:48 AM #

    Amen, brother, Preach it!

    Time for Lowe to put up or shut up.

  8. LKNpackfan 04/29/2010 at 8:55 AM #

    Jeebus man, can’t a fanbase just enjoy some good news?

  9. thekind 04/29/2010 at 9:02 AM #

    I agree PisR-
    No way Fowler gets a hall pass for this one. Fowl-up is a joke and he needs to go.

  10. theghost 04/29/2010 at 9:04 AM #

    From everything I’ve seen and heard from Sid, I have little doubt that Sid would rather have the players AND the pressure than neither one. That’s in part what I like about him, because I don’t know if I could say the same for the last two guys, or for Fowler.

  11. NCSU84 04/29/2010 at 9:12 AM #

    Yes, Lowe must produce next season IF (Big IF) everyone remains healthy AND there are no off the court distractions (i.e. the football antics that occurred this week). And remember, if these players are as good as they are predicted to be, we will only have them for one year. You only have to look as far as Chapel Hill to realize what happens when a team is flush one year and gutted the next. That said, I will gladly take one good year at this point.

  12. primacyone 04/29/2010 at 9:14 AM #

    IMO We need to start the Football Coaching Search NOW. TOB is not getting it done and we are so far away right now from being a contender that it can’t do any damage at all to go ahead and change the coach.

    We continue to pursue and offer second tier talent in football. We are not gaining any ground. We are barily maintaining, and I’m really not sure we are even doing that.

    For all the right reasons, we really should start the Football Coaching Search NOW.

  13. coach13 04/29/2010 at 9:21 AM #

    Year 5 will be the deciding year for Lowe. We have endured 4 mediocre to poor years. I hate WTNY but I think we (Wolfpack fans) are informed enough to no we SHOULD be in good shape next year.

    If we use that same formula for TOB, technically we should be willing to accept another mediocre year? He will get year 5 regardless so we might as well not think about talking about firing him if he falters this season (short of a winless season). We are knowledgable enough to be optimistic for Sid’s 5th year. Just not sure if Wilson returning if enough to give us that same sense of optimism coming up year 4, particularly if we keep having stupid things happening like the 4 morons recently busted.

  14. primacyone 04/29/2010 at 9:27 AM #

    ^ The difference coach13 is that we could see the horizon in basketball and knew that the future was brighter than the imediate history. We had comitted recruits that are as good as we have ever had.

    Football is not there. We do not have a solid class this year, and the guys we are currently pursuing are not any better as a group.

    Bottom line, keeping Sidney would improve our talent and not do us any harm. At this point, keeping TOB could do some serious harm. Really. I don’t think people realize how far away from being a contender we really are and the direction we are headed is not any better. TOB needs to go NOW. We need to have a top notch coach ready and waiting to take over at the end of the season next year.

  15. Wolf-n-Atl 04/29/2010 at 9:31 AM #

    I’m interested to see how this improves the players that are already on the team. Imagine Harrow breaking down a defender with the dribble and then dishing it to a wide open Wood for a 3 or to CJL for a dunk. It will also help players like CJ Williams who can now play with less pressure and excel at his own game. This will also increase the intensity level in our practices. Nothing makes you better than playing against the best. Javi will gain experience playing against a fast PG while Harrow will learn to play against a seasoned ACC PG. Hopefully Javi’s toughness will rub off on Harrow and Harrow’s handle will rub off on Javi. Now can someone hit fast forward on the DVR so we can be in Sept already!

  16. Thinkpack17 04/29/2010 at 9:50 AM #

    Sid doesn’t even have to write his first pep talk, Lou Holtz did it for him.

    “On this team, we are all united in a common goal…to keep my job.”

  17. phunisher 04/29/2010 at 9:55 AM #

    Great point about the ripple effect of the coaches and Fowler.

    What about the recruiting ripple effect for next year. Will there be any more interest on NC State from the top 30 nationally because we secured 3 top 35 players?

    The Charlotte Observer ran this article this morning.


    At the end it states:

    “We’ve had some players leave and go on to great things,” Telep said. “P.J. Tucker and John Wall come to mind. To keep one of the greatest athletes in the country here is big.”

    Leslie is the highest-rated player to commit to Lowe’s Wolfpack. J.J. Hickson, who was ranked No. 13 in 2007, played one year at N.C. State before entering the NBA.

    Leslie might not be the last recruit to join the Wolfpack.

    Tashawn Mabry, Rocky Mount’s all-time leading scorer and the most valuable player in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A final, said Wednesday night, “State is way out front. It is my leader.”

    Minutes after committing to N.C. State, Leslie said, “I talked with Tashawn yesterday. It’s his turn next.”

    I thought that was very telling.

  18. blackdom 04/29/2010 at 9:56 AM #

    No more excuses for Sid after 5 years will hwe be held accountable?

  19. primacyone 04/29/2010 at 10:01 AM #

    Man, give the man Sid his due. He just put together one of the greatest recruiting classess in the history of NC State basketball. At least give him a break for a couple days. Damn.

    Is it really that hard to congratulate your coach on a job well done? He did do a great job. Really he did. 15 stars on the board right now divided by 3 players.

    Send the man a positive email.

  20. kyjelly 04/29/2010 at 10:02 AM #

    He still has not proven he can coach…………It is not an easy task coaching prima donnas. His past teams for the most part did not have much leadership. We shall see ,hopefully not the inmates running the show.
    No one has answered yet if Brown has qualified?

  21. phillypacker 04/29/2010 at 10:03 AM #

    State will have a much better year this year. I’m guessing they win 23+ games. The chemistry between Harrow, Brown and Leslie is already there, to a degree. State has struggled because it has not had an ACC-level #1 or #2 in a long time. You can’t win without it. I think Lowe is a better coach than he is given credit for. Unless this team has a losing record overall, I don’t see any way that Lowe gets fired. If he does, the 3 amigos will go with him. Count on it.

  22. phillypacker 04/29/2010 at 10:06 AM #

    He proved he could coach his first year when he took a difficult group of players to the ACC championship game and made a run into the NIT. What a coach is trying to do and what a coach is able to do is often to a large degree out of his control, at least in his first few years. Ask Dean Smith or Coach K in their first 3 years at UNC/Duke. I predict Harrow will be an on court coach. He is a natural leader.

  23. old13 04/29/2010 at 10:11 AM #

    That’s all well and good. And I hope it is the turning point for Sid in a long, successful Wolfpack career. But I can’t help noticing that the 2010-2011 Pack BB team will have only two PGs – one senior and one freshman. According to PP, no PGs in the 2011 or 2012 classes have been offered. With Sid’s history of poor PG play under his reign, that cannot bode well for maintaining a top program as the 2010 class moves on. Hopefully that will change as recruiting moves forward.

  24. Prowling Woofie 04/29/2010 at 10:12 AM #

    Harrow completely changes the complexion of the team. Now the players will know to fly to the rim, to gain position and post their men up, to keep their eyes open and their hands ready, because THE BALL WILL BE COMING.

    This kid can dish like nobody we’ve had in years, and the biggest adjustment will be for our bigs to be ready to catch the ball and finish.

    I think TS and RH will really flourish this year. Their hard work underneath will be rewarded !

  25. Alpha Wolf 04/29/2010 at 10:12 AM #

    I think Sid can coach, and I also believe he is learning to manage personalities better. His last couple of teams have not been blessed with natural leaders, and it is hard to mold one if the player doesn’t naturally have that kind of personality.

    He did, however, take a team in disarray last year and put it on track towards success. They played well the last few weeks of the ACC regular season, won a game in the ACCT and get into the post-season — something that looked nigh on impossible on Valentine’s Day.

    Now he will have a higher skill level to work with. With that improved skill, expectations will increase with it. Most folks are not saying “Final Four or Bust.” That’s ridiculous. Saying that a winning ACC conference record and an at-large berth into the NCAA decided before the ACCT is quite reasonable however.

    As for congratulations, yes, he’s due that for getting the first part done. The rest will be seen by late winter.

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