SFN will have a lot of analysis regarding the 2007-2008 NC State Basketball season and the future of the Wolfpack Basketball Program when this season mercifully comes to a conclusion.
Today, the News & Observer‘s Chip Alexander chimed in with a very good look back at 15 reasons why the Wolfpack stunk it up this year. The article is a quick read despite its thoroughness.
The 15 individual points can be grouped under three primary categories that we discuss below:
(1) Point Guard
Alexander specifically mentions the key injury to starter, Farnold Degand, in the 10th game of the season as point #4 but more than half of Alexanders points have some relevancy to the point guard position.
There is NO DOUBT that Degand’s injury took the Wolfpack off course for the season; there is also no doubt that Degand’s injury did not take the Wolfpack as far off course as the ship ended the season.
If Degand can stay healthy, the Wolfpack’s prospects at the point guard position improve next year as both Degand and Javi Gonzalez have shown flashes of skills and all indications are that in-coming recruit Julius Mays can provide stability and leadership as a combo-guard. If everyone remains healthy, I don’t expect Marques Johnson to see any time in a Wolfpack uniform for the foreseeable future. See the third category – Personnel – for more on this topic.
Alexander’s comments politely address the significant coaching problems that came to the surface in obvious ways this season. He addresses some of the ‘macro’ (organizational) issues in point #15, and discusses some of the ‘micro’ (execution) issues with points #9 – Scheduling and #13 – Smarts.
Alexander hints, but doesn’t go as far as to be as blunt as we will – the coaching job for this season was nothing short of atrocious. It was an unmitigated disaster. As we stated in the previous paragraph – State’s problems are both macro and micro in nature. Not a good combination. There are fundamental problems that stem from a horrendous organizational framework as well unprofessional execution.
The problems started the moment the Wolfpack lost in the NIT to West Virgina. Most of the staff spent most of the summer lobbying for money and spending inordinate amounts of time alumni. The team ultimately reported for the season in the worst collective shape of any NC State Basketball team in memory. That was just the beginning….
We will have A LOT more on this key piece of the problem in the future. In short, Coach Lowe CAN improve the leadership and coaching within this program; but, it will require tough decisions and a lot of organizational changes.
Personnel is a key component to our woes that a lot people don’t like to discuss because they feel like they are being tough on the kids. Alexander chooses to discuss this topic in the following points:
* (7) N.C. State doesn’t have good overall team quickness. The Pack’s reaction time in rebounding, recognizing screens and providing help defense has been too slow.
* (10) – Player regression. Looking at the returning players from last season, a good argument can be made that Costner, Ben McCauley and Dennis Horner took steps backward this season in terms of player development and improvement.
* (11) – Limited offensive options. The Pack doesn’t have enough guys who can slash to the basket or break down the defense off the dribble, nor is it a good running team. That means State must execute its set halfcourt offense extremely well to win.
* (12) – Leadership. Does the Pack have a leader? If so, it was hard to discern.
It is perfectly fair and accurate to use this issue as a reason for optimism in the future for State fans.
Coach Lowe inherited a program that ONE player who had ever seen significant playing time (Engin Atsur) and only six or seven total scholarship players. This general dearth of scholarship players was accentuated by the 2006 recruiting class basically did not exist (Dennis Horner); no true point guards behind Atsur inside of the program; and players with skills that were more suited for Sendek’s deplorable offense.
This is the primary issue that warrants the need for fans to have patience and give Coach Lowe a full cycle of three to five years to see what kind of program he can build. By all accounts, Julius Mays and CJ Williams are both athletic players who can fill three positions on the floor and who have solid basketball IQs. Add a recovering Johnny Thomas to this mix and the general composition of the Wolfpack’s roster is undergoing a transformation that needs another year to complete.
Of course, with increased athleticism and talent Coach Lowe will need to improve his staff’s intensity and commitment along with their teaching of fundamentals, rebounding and defense. If all of these things can come together in the future, then the points that BJD made in this entry from last month will mean that 2007-2008 actually was a “learning year” as opposed to a harbinger of things to come for NC State Basketball.
I hate to say it, and it makes me mad as hell to do so. But 2007-08 must be written off as a “learning year” for Sidney Lowe. Despite being an ACC school with all the institutional infrastructure needed to win, NC State is employing yet another head coach who has to learn on the job…
Guys take plays, or even whole games off. Sid shakes his head in frustration (Note to Sid – that won’t accomplish squat) – he doesn’t seem to know what to do. I don’t know if it’s a question of preparation, motivation, or both. But it is Sid’s job to fix it. And it sucks to waste an entire (once promising) season because our coach isn’t ready and is learning on the job.
But our situation is what it is. There’s no way anyone should remotely consider tossing Sid (or any coach) overboard in their first two years of a rebuilding situation. It would be unfair, expensive, and definitely make our program look bad. We hired a guy who has to learn – so let’s see if he can do it. That does not mean SFN is handing out free passes. Writing off one year for “learning” is all that I’m willing to do. We need to see evidence of maturation in three categories next year. The mileposts are difficult, but necessary.