When Mark Gottfried was introduced as the new head man for NC State Basketball eighteen months ago, it’s probably a fair statement that all of us who have followed the Wolfpack for any considerable length of time were at least slightly underwhelmed, even if we were guardedly optimistic.
As Luke DeCock (N&O) reminds us today, Gott was selling the dream from the start, however.Â And in my not so humble opinion (on this matter at least), he has more than delivered on any promises made thus far, even if we didn’t necessarily believe he could at that time….
RALEIGH — It was only a little more than a year ago that Mark Gottfried stood up in front of the Raleigh Sports Club and delivered an address that was about 99 percent promise and 1 percent substance.
At the time, that was the new N.C. State basketball coachâ€™s job: Stoke the fires of a smoldering fan base, but without raising expectations too high. It required a delicate balance and left him describing his own team as â€œnot greatâ€ and â€œnot terrible.â€
The Wolfpack is coming off a 24-win season that ended with a loss to Kansas in the Sweet 16, good for a fourth-place tie in the ACC.
C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown passed on the NBA to return to the Wolfpack, where Purvis is part of a high-powered recruiting class that also includes T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis.
When the first AP poll comes out on Oct. 26, itâ€™s likely N.C. State will be solidly in the top 10. When the ACC media gathers in Charlotte next week, thereâ€™s a chance the Wolfpack will be predicted to win the ACC.
â€œIâ€™d love to stand up in front of every group and say weâ€™re going to be a top-10 team,â€ Gottfried said on Sept. 28, 2011, after giving his speech to the sports club. â€œWeâ€™re not there yet.â€
Fifty-three weeks later, theyâ€™re there now. Itâ€™s not a question of whether they have the talent, or whether they can do it. Itâ€™s only a question of whether they will.
â€œItâ€™s no different than last year,â€ Gottfried said. â€œWe were picked near the bottom, and thatâ€™s not something we paid attention to last year, and itâ€™s not something weâ€™re going to pay attention to this year. Regardless of where youâ€™re picked, the only thing that counts is how hard you work each day and how well you do your job each day.
â€œNow, can our players truly grasp that? Weâ€™ll find out.â€
Pretty heady stuff for a program that has been considered dead in the water for 20+ years.Â Even more impressive for the guy who was widely described as a “has been”, or even a “never will be” by many of us, if not most of us.Â Thank goodness at least one person in Wolfpack Nation had the vision to see Gott for what he could be, instead of what many said he was.Â ‘Nuff said about that.
NC State Basketball is making a lot of noise in the media right now.Â And while this doesn’t guarantee further on court success, it is a welcome change nonetheless.Â Especially considering that we had all but become accustomed to being ridiculed, or worse…forgotten.
Getting the program back in the spotlight, and into the minds of recruits, was job one.Â Check.
Landing our fair share of those recruits was next.Â Check.
Now it’s time to see what he can do with the talent that’s been assembled.Â I for one am trying to keep my expectations tempered.Â You have to walk before you can run in most cases.Â But if the comments from recruits and players are to be believed, as well as the unmistakable transformation of the TEAM culture and the development of certain individual personnel, both on the court and off….I wouldn’t stake any of my money betting against Gott completing his plan.
Regardless of what happens, there’s no doubt that Debbie Yow made a much better pick than many of us gave her credit for at the time.Â Coach Gottfried and his staff have apparently turned things around more effectively, and much more quickly, than even the most optimistic of us could have imagined.
So, as the official start of the ’12-’13 campaign draws near, a much deserved tip of the hat to both Coach Gottfried and AD Yow.Â And a big thanks, too.Â This is a whole lot more fun than sucking out loud year after year.
A whole lot of unique NC State discussions are going on over at the SFN Forums….don’t be the only one who isn’t in on the fun!