The Sidney Lowe era will begin soon and substantial rumors are circulating focused on the potential make-up of Lowe’s first staff in Raleigh. The composition of Lowe’s staff is going to be of the most extreme importance due to his lack of experience of collegiate coaching experience. We are NOT confirming these names as definite assistants of Lowe’s; we are just passing along what seems to be the direction in which the momentum and chatter is headed:
* Larry Harris is well known to Wolfpackers and would be a super addition to the staff. He provides and immediate bridge of credibility to the existing players on the team as well as key recruits that the Wolfpack has signed for next season and from whom we have earned verbal commitments in future years. Harris was the lead recruiter on most of Herb Sendek’s top commitments. Sendek was not adept at dealing with off-the-court personnel issues with his players and would almost exculsively turn to Harris to take care of the “softer stuff”. This led to Harris’ reputation as the most popular coach on Sendek’s past staffs.
* Pete Strickland has ties to both Lowe and Harris as he is a DeMatha High School alum and a Pitt undergraduate (like Harris). Strickland was the head coach at Coastal Carolina for seven years before being relieved of his duties prior to last season when former NC State assistant Buzz Peterson took over. We are still doing some digging on Strickland, who also coached Ravenscroft High School in Raleigh for one year. He is being billed as an excellent x-and-o coach. This link will take you to one of his last biographies at CCU.
* Monte Towe would be able to balance Sidney Lowe’s National Championship ring with one of his own after playing the same position as Lowe for the 1974 Wolfpack. Towe has been the Head Coach at the University of New Orleans for the last five years, but the toll of Hurricane Katrina may play a compelling role in incenting him to return to an assistant’s position at a top program (like he held under Norm Sloan at Florida). Towe has to have some decent experiences and perspectives after his years as a Head Coach. You can see Towe’s biography by clicking here.
* Quentin Jackson has been rumored as Lowe’s potential Director of Basketball Operations. Jackson shares DeMatha roots with Lowe and actually followed Lowe to Raleigh as a point guard for the Wolfpack in the mid 1980s. He played a key role in NC State’s last ACC Championship in 1987 and then played for the Harlem Globetrotters. Jackson currently owns a company that is featured in this article.
All-in-all, the potential staff seems to be very good. It may end up a home run, but feels more like a double being stretched into triple right now.
We feel super about Harris and Strickland. Monte Towe is a little bit of a mystery in light of the magnitude of the NCAA problems that he and Norm Sloan left in Gainesville when they exited the University of Florida program. But, the most perplexing issue of the names is that of Quentin Jackson.
The Director of Basketball Operations position is usually reserved for young coaches that are trying to break into the business with experience. Jackson is almost 40 years old and has no college basketball experience. In our opinion, Coach Lowe’s lack of collegiate experience does not afford him any wiggle room on his hires. He needs to be phenomenally strategic with every hire in order to build the most connected, diverse, and talented staff possible.
The Operations job is an opportunity for a head coach to draw from a different well of talent and diversify the perspectives of the staff – like someone from a Bob Knight or Tom Izzo or Rick Pitino lineage. Jackson may offer some unique perspectives built on a background of running his own business, but this currently feels like Lowe is hiring an old buddy into a situation where Lowe has a lot more to offer Jackson than Jackson offers NC State.
These are just initial thoughts that we may learn to be off base when we learn more specifics around the names and situations.
10:10 UPDATE We’ve been told from multiple sources that Larry Harris and Pete Strickland will be on staff at NC State. In our opinion, this is fantastic news. Harris is getting a very nice pay day with Coach Sendek in Arizona, but his family loves Raleigh. We are still tracking down some information on Strickland from some folks in Myrtle Beach, but our initial indications are that he has a good reputation related to recruiting, strong AAU ties, and a good bench tactician that Coach Lowe is going to need.
No word on how the national media is going to explain Larry Harris’ desire to come back to NC State after (supposedly) being treated so poorly by the NC State fan base.
10:20 UPDATE Monte Towe is still not confirmed for the staff. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported this morning that:
One stumbling point in Towe leaving would be the buyout clause in his contract. When Towe was given a three-year contract extension through 2009 two years ago, it included a buyout equal to Towe’s remaining annual salary, which would be $450,000.
Honestly – we just don’t know that much about Monte Towe’s x-and-o abilities or much about in what roles he would excel as an assistant at State. If Towe doesn’t work out, SFN would love to see a senior assistant with past head coaching experience riding shotgun with Coach Lowe; something similar to a Larry Shyatt at Florida or Jerry Dunn at West Virginia (thanks goes to a friend for those examples). Perhaps a Rob Evans or a Louis Orr? Perhaps our readers would have some other suggestions?
11:15 UPDATE Pack Pride has put together a little more biographical information on these projected assistant coaching names for premium subscribers. Link here.