Long-time commenter (and very gracious guest in Wolfpack Blogistan) nycfan gave a very detailed assessment of our basketball program under the “stewardship” of Fowler and Lowe. Many times, a knowledgeable outsider can give a more honest, objective assessment – since emotion doesn’t get in the way. I just wanted to highlight this comment for the community, and don’t believe it needs more commentary from me. Have a good weekend, everyone!
At this point, even as an outsider I think I can say without offending anyone that State’s hoops program is not among the elite and hasn’t been since about 1990. So is it aspiring to be elite? I can only assume that deep down, that is what Lowe aspires to, but the public statements sure don’t sound like it.
I know coaches always have to engage in managing expectations just for self-preservation, but what I hear from Lowe and Fowler seems more expansive than that — it sounds like rationalization why Lowe failed to motivate or develop the left-over guys, as though it is not fair to expect Lowe to connect with or develop inherited players (or that no one else has ever won with some one else’s players). This argument rings hollow in particular regarding Costner/Fells/Ferguson/McCauley to me because they played most of their careers for Lowe.
OK, I can accept that upperclassmen left by a prior regime might harbor resentments and never buy what the new guy is selling. I also know that some coaches have no qualms about throwing those upperclassmen overboard (K after his first season at dook, Mack Brown at UNC), taking early lumps in order to build something with “their guys” from the outset. But we’re talking about guys who were freshmen and sophomores when Lowe arrived, who had played limited playing time and who expressed a lot of optimism about basketball being fun again. And yet we are told (or left to infer) that Lowe had no obligation to develop these guys (or cut bait) and expectations to the contrary are too demanding. Lowe can only be expected to develop guys he personally recruited (but we also can’t count his early recruiting classes against him, so no data on player development counts yet either).
I dunno. I’m not a State fan but I personally think the ACC is more fun and healthier when State is a relevant team. And I can’t believe you guys are basically being told, sorry, those first three years didn’t count, we were just learning on the job and you know, killing time until we could purge the system and START building in YEAR 4. And, oh, by the way, the goal of three years of wheel-spinning and a 4th year reboot is to finish in the top half of the conference and make the NCAAT. Really?? Seriously??
OTOH, I’m no seer. Maybe this is somthing that could work. After all, didn’t that guy I’m not supposed to name work on that same time-line (though Year 5 was a bit of an OOOPS! and then those top half ACC/NCAAT seasons came rolling in without much hope of challenging for a championship locally or nationally, maybe, but you consistently got to be involved in the first weekend of the NCAAT for 5 years).
But from my outsider’s POV, I have thought Lowe is awfully prone to excuses and rationalizations in his first three seasons and it seems to me that nothing has yet changed. He is basically starting this season by saying “you know all those guys who just graduated or left, well they all sucked, so what the heck was I supposed to do? change the culture? make them better? that’s not my job, my job is to coach guys I want to coach and now I just need you to back off and give me time to coach them.” It rubs me the wrong way as an ACC/college hoops fan; it would piss me off if one of those players were my kid or if I were emotionally invested in NC State’s success.
I absolutely HATED that same kind of thing from John Bunting — I never doubted the man’s love for UNC or his overall integrity, but he engaged in endless rationalizations and blame games and I always disliked him as a coach because of it. (Losing consistently just made it that much more demoralizing to have him around.)
It’s not often that fans are asked to WTNY the summer before THIS year begins. And heaven help Ryan Harrow for all the hopes, dreams and expectations being heaped on him as a freshman PG in year 5. I always felt sorry for Ishua Benjamin b/c I thought he was a great kid who got chewed up by those kind of expectations/desperate desire for a savior at State.
Sorry for rant. I try not to be too negative (and comparing anyone to John Bunting in my book is a serious negative) as a guest on other fan sites, but there is my unvarnished POV.