In our preview article focused on NC State’s HUGE trip to Gainesville today we opened the topic of Dan Werner. Instead of dominating that entry we thought that we would follow-up with more insight on the topic in this entry. Similarly, please try to keep the conversations here focused on this topic and don’t dominate the comments section of this entry with ‘game-talk’.
(Photo courtesy of Scout.com)
State fans will recall that starting Florida forward Dan Werner was originally committed to play for NC State but backed out when Herb Sendek resigned to take the Arizona State job. We said the following about Werner at the time:
Dan Werner – Looks like an Evtimov clone. He has a great basketball body and decent athletic ability. He has vey good shooting form and is an excellent passer. He will contribute immediately.
Werner would have probably started for the Wolfpack in his freshman year – Coach Lowe’s first season. In hindsight, his presence on that squad may have been the difference in an NCAA Tournament bid for the Wolfpack who had to battle through the season with only five to six serviceable players and whose ability to shoot from the perimeter was significantly impacted by an injury to Ilian Evtimov.
Werner is having a strong season this year, so make no mistake that in typical NC State fashion he will probably drop fifty points on the Wolfpack today and set an NCAA record for consecutive three pointers.
The N&O/Charlotte Observer featured an article on Werner’s impact to the NC State program that can be seen by clicking here.
Although the article is interesting and definitely relevant, I take a little issue with some detail (not) included in the presentation.
The article – and the related callout box – lumps point guard Chris Wright into the list of ‘players NC State lost after losing Herb Sendek without identifying/discussing a very key distinction – Wright was in the recruiting class AFTER Werner & Larry Davis and his commitment to NC State was therefore nothing more than a non-binding verbal commitment.
Werner and Davis had actually signed binding letters of intent to play at NC State and were therefore required to get NC State’s permission to be released from their commitment to attend other schools. Although the Observers article appropriately touches on the topic, there is more to the how the story unfolded than is discussed in today’s newspaper.
Although N.C. State could have demanded they honor their scholarship agreements, school officials agreed there was no sense forcing them to enroll if they didn’t want to come.
"We were not happy that we couldn’t keep them here," Lowe said. "My thing was to make sure those young men were happy with their decisions, and we let them go where they wanted to go."
Werner said Friday that he committed to N.C. State in part because he liked Sendek’s coaching staff and system, and he fit in with the Wolfpack players. He was disappointed that it took N.C. State more than a month to name a new coach after Sendek left.
Although Werner liked Lowe after meeting him, the fact that Lowe had coached exclusively in the NBA concerned Werner.
"There were just a lot of unknowns," Werner said. "I wasn’t comfortable and my parents weren’t comfortable with a coach who didn’t have college experience."
The real story behind what is now public record with today’s article is that by the time Sidney Lowe was hired at NC State there was no way to save Larry Davis and Dan Werner. Whether appropriate, ethical, or within NCAA rules – these kids had already moved on and just needed the formality of Lowe’s hiring to go through the motions to secure their release.
The unfortunate part of the situation is that it didn’t necessarily have to be that way; you can thank good ole Lee Fowler and the NC State way of laziness, self-loathing and conciliation for the helping push these kids right out of the door.
In a follow-up to the issues surrounding Larry Davis, SFN shared the following with you in April of last season: ———————————————————-
What we didn’t share with you at the time was the scoop on how Lee Fowler was handling our three committed and signed recruits – Larry Davis, Dan Werner and Dennis Horner – during his embarrassing coaching search. You see, during the month long search process when these recruits were reading tons of negative stories about Lee Fowler’s failures in the press…"Coach" Fowler’s communication with the recruits and their families was extremely limited. In other words, it barely existed.
After all of the dust settled, some people close to the situation informed SFN that the recruits’ families were very disappointed with the manner in which the transition was executed and that Lee Fowler and NC State had almost no communication with the families for the entire month of April. (We heard a rumor that Fowler spoke to the families one time – right after Sendek left – and never reached out to the families again. We do not have verification of this.)
Of course, this doesn’t surprise us – as we shared back then, Fowler wasn’t even calling the coaches that he was trying to hire in attempts to build relationships and sell what NC State had to offer. If he wasn’t calling/selling the coaches that he was trying to hire then he sure as hell wasn’t going to interrupt his Lake time by bothering with the recruits. You know how it goes…this stuff just works itself out. There is no reason for anyone to think strategically and spend time executing on a transition plan. There is certainly no reason to promote the virtues of NC State and make our experience appear appealing to recruits – that’s the coaches job!
When it became known that Davis was not going to play for the Wolfpack we logged this entry that will be of interest to you. In the entry we discuss our thoughts on the general practice of being so passive and conciliatory with scholarship releases during a key time in NC State’s Basketball program.
Let’s assume for a moment that you work in the real world and own a company that is your livelihood.
One of your account officers makes a key sale for the company. In the sale the new client signs a contract committing the client to provide certain services for the next four years. You are restricted by law to having less than fifteen clients at any one time, so the commitment of the new client is very important.
After the new sale is signed, sealed and delivered and you have begun making arrangements and planning around the new client, the account officer who signed the deal accepts leaves your company to accept a new job with a competitor.
The new client, who signed his/her contract with YOUR COMPANY – not the account officer – suddenly claims that they are uneasy with their agreement and would like to take their business elsewhere.
Question: As a prudent manager of your business, do you allow the new client to freely ignore his commitment and simply waltz into the horizon without exercising any of the penalty clauses availability to you in the signed contract?
Had Lee Fowler and NC State not handled the Davis (and Dan Werner) situation in his typical lazy, non-confrontational, passive manner then Davis very easily would have been suiting up for NC State’s over last two years.
Though Davis has not excelled at Seton Hall, he has not been a total bust. With this said, Davis would have been on the roster last year when Engin Atsur was injured and would certainly have executed the point guard position with more success than Gavin Grant. Had NC State had a point guard throughout last season the Wolfpack may have won a couple of more games which may have produced bubble scenario for an NCAA Tournament berth.
One thing we do know for certain – Larry Davis is better than Marques Johnson. Had Davis been on the roster last season, the Wolfpack would have been significantly more hesitant to accept a transfer from a similar combo guard in Marques Johnson…and if Davis was excelling under our system one could also speculate that Javi Gonzalez may not have gotten an offer. This would have freed-up two valuable scholarships for Coach Lowe to have used during last year’s recruiting cycle to have allowed him to capitalize on the positive buzz and late season success of his first year.
In the end, no one still knows if Larry Davis would have been a good fit at NC State. As you will see in this entry, bridges got burned pretty quickly in the process. Which, of course, opens a whole new perspective into the ‘reasoning’ why NC State would be so conciliatory in a situation where we were being publically ridiculed despite our excessive support of the whims of an 18 year old who was unethically contacted by the program he attended only because of our generous release.