Historic day in NC State’s heritage

We are in the middle of “Jimmy V” week as sponsored by the ESPN Networks; and NC State is gearing up for a big game against UConn in the Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden next Tuesday (in which we will wear special jerseys that can be seen by clicking here.)

But, who would’ve thought this is where the former NC State coach’s legacy would sit some thirty-two years to the day after Jim Valvano coached his first game for the Wolfpack?

The Norm Sloan era was over. The Jim Valvano era was about to begin.

NC State hired Valvano, the coach at Iona, as its head basketball coach in 1980 after Sloan resigned to take the head coaching position at the University of Florida.

Valvano brought a different style to NC State, both on and off the court. It all began on this day in 1980, when Valvano coached his first game for the Wolfpack.

The game was against UNC-Wilmington. NC State was led in scoring by sophomore Dereck Whittenburg (24 points) and in assists by sophomore Sidney Lowe (8). NC State easily won the game, 83-59.

The team went on to finish the year 14-13, but Wolfpack fans were encouraged by what they had seen. This is what the 1981 Agromeck had to say about Valvano:

“He is the man who upon his arrival in March of 1980, danced the usual illusions of grandeur in front of State followers’ eyes.

“He is the man, who with his rich Italian brogue and witty one-liners spoke his mind with the media during post-game interviews.

“He is the man who transfused life back into a basketball program that under Stormin’ Norman was turning as stale as a six-week old loaf of bread.

“He is the man who said he didn’t mind his players drinking beer and having a good time as long as they didn’t disgrace the name N.C. State and who professed that basketball was just a game.

“He is the man that took the bridles off the horses and let them run.

“He is the man that at the end of his first ACC season said: ‘I think the quote where the philosopher said

‘Expectations are greater than realization’ never coached in the ACC.’

“He is James T. Valvano — alias coach Valvano or quite simply Coach V — and he was Wolfpack basketball in 1980-81.”

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12 Responses to Historic day in NC State’s heritage

  1. NCSU84 11/29/2012 at 6:36 PM #

    Ah yes, 1980 my freshman year. New school and new coach – who knew.

  2. saigonwolf 11/29/2012 at 8:47 PM #

    Mine too. One of my first experiences as a freshman was going to the baseball field to watch our new football coach, Monte Kiffin, jump out of a helicopter. Good times. Too bad Kiffin didn’t work out like V. He’s also a pretty good guy.

  3. Wolfiegirl 11/29/2012 at 8:56 PM #

    My first year too…..great memories! Jimmy V was a fantastic motivator…one that has yet to be matched

  4. timberwolf 11/29/2012 at 9:24 PM #

    Perfect. With all that is going on (I’m pulling for UoL over Rutgers at the moment) . Great piece.

  5. ADVENTUROO 11/29/2012 at 10:02 PM #

    Little older than you guys. Eddie Bidenbach was my platoon sergeant in Freshman ROTC.

    Heard Jimmy V. talk several times. Also have a copy of his Audio Book – Lifetime Contract.

    One of the lines that still tears me up is when he talks about his first press conference. A reporter asks him how he plans on beating Dean Smith….

    “I don’t plan on beating him. I plan to outlive him….”

    That is a DIRECT quote. He was one heck of an individual. Never will be another.

    He loved to play in the “Garden”. Did it his Sr. Yr. at Rutgers in the “9:00″ or prime game.

    One of his bucket list was to coach in the Garden in the 9:00 game. He did that in his last year at Iona. He actually crashed a cocktail party and cajoled Sonny Werblin, CEO of the Garden to giving Iona TWO prime games. The LAST game was against #2, Louisville. Iona BEAT Louisville by a dozen or so and the fans gave the team a standing “O”. Louisville went on to win the national championship and Willis Casey called Jimmy V. and we know the rest.

    Will probably shed a tear or two next Tuesday night. You gotta think that he and Lorenzo Charles will be watching and if the Pack needs some help, then they will get it.

    My ONLY fear is that some idiot will assign Karl Hess to that game….

  6. blpack 11/29/2012 at 10:45 PM #

    He was one in a million. I remember State nipping Wake and Duke beating the Holes in the same afternoon in ’81. Fun game in Reynolds. I was fortunate to be at State later in the decade when he was there.

  7. dutchpack 11/29/2012 at 11:31 PM #

    Jimmy v is the coching persona we have misssed for a number of years. I’d like to think we have it back with Gott. The history of our program, which I witnessed during the DT years, is something special, and while it was never perfect, it kept you on the edge of your seat. I hope we’re back there again.

  8. Texpack 11/30/2012 at 6:20 AM #

    Attended that first game as a sophomore. V really struggled that first year but it was well worth it. I believe we won the Holiday Festival in MSG his second year.

  9. Wufpacker 11/30/2012 at 6:41 AM #

    I’m not usually one for the special jerseys (and tend to lean toward the simple old school look), but do understand the attraction to the players/recruits. That being said, those jerseys effing rock.

    Whoever came up with the idea for the cut net image around the neck needs to get a raise, pronto.

  10. rtpack24 11/30/2012 at 10:23 AM #

    CoachV was a great coach and unbelievable promoter for our school. The BigTen challenge was his idea among many others. As I watch the coaching searches like the one we are having in football right now, you never know if the guy you end up with is The guy. When V was hired it was because Morgan Wooten had a change of heart at the last minute. Willis Casey had made him a five year deal starting at $125,000 a year(which was big money at the time). Wooten had accepted and was going to be coaching his former players Lowe and Whittenberg. Changed his mind before signing contract and Casey lands V. The rest is history.

  11. NCSU84 11/30/2012 at 10:47 AM #

    One last note from me. For all Coach V did for NC State basketball which was quite a bit (and I was there to witness it), his legacy with the V Foundation is, in a way, much larger than his accomplishments on the court. Think about it. Millions watch ESPN this week with the V Foundation watermark on every ESPN television screen. Millions of $$ have been raised and who knows how many lives have been prolonged or saved as a result. If a man is measured by his legacy, Coach V stands very very tall.

  12. mak4dpak 11/30/2012 at 5:31 PM #

    Jjimmy V was a great coach, and should be with us today, but the powers that be were intent on punishing him to the fullest, and I believe contributing to his illness. Others do far worse things with little if any punishment, yet NC State wanted to make a statement. Obviously State was in Jimmy V, as he never chose to coach anywhere else, after his departure from the university. Yes, he is gone, but the memories will always be there, and especially the national championship game against phi/slama/jama. Our basketball program seems to have been cursed since Jimmy V, but maybe that curse has finally been lifted.

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