I apologize for not being more timely – I’ve been on vacation and out of the loop. But yes, what you may have heard is indeed true – Lorenzo Brown is headed to prep school and will not suit up for the 2009-10 Wolfpack squad. No matter how down the ACC may be, this is almost certainly a fatal blow for NC State’s already remote chance to contend for first division status.
Long-time readers will note that SFN commenter Noah has been hinting about possible issues with Brown ever since he committed to the Pack. Although we (and you) may fervently hope Noah is wrong, perhaps it’s time to stop expecting him to be so.
The obvious question now is “what happens next?” We can break that down into two parts – what should happen, and what to expect from the Lowe camp and his enablers.
On the should side of the ledger, nothing changes in the bar set, just the math regarding the likelihood of clearing it. Again, the fundamental key is distinguishing between fault and responsibility. While it is not Lowe’s fault that Lorenzo Brown’s grades fell short of what Georgia requires, in Season #4 the state of the program is Lowe’s absolute and unequivocal responsibility. The product on the floor must be something that NC State can be proud of. No excuses. Giving Lowe “credit” for recruiting rankings while giving him a pass when said recruits fail to qualify is the height of idiocy. But if you focus on bottom-line responsibility, it doesn’t matter. You can produce by bringing in great talent (ala Guy Lewis), or you can overachieve with lesser talent (ala Seth Greenberg). Either way, you have to produce. Lowe is not likely to produce with the current roster, but that’s on him. He is the coach and the general manager.
So, back to prong two. What should you expect? Well, for Team Lowe and its dwindling band of true believers, this is actually perfect. It gives you the perfect opportunity to intensify the pre-emptive excuse making. WTNY!!!!! Since almost every pundit will now expect State to finish 11th or 12th, they can (and will) shift the focus to beat “expectations” – despite the fact that expectations are so low because of the personnel Lowe has brought in and Lowe’s demonstrated coaching “acumen.” A career-best 9th place finish after four years gets you a pink slip from 95% of major D-1 programs, but the dead-enders would demand a contract extension instead. And since it isn’t possible to perform below expectations (i.e., you can’t fall off the floor), they will deem anyone not satisfied with 2009-10 results as delusional. Expect Fowler (if he’s still here) to break out the “lunatic fringe” term again.
More importantly, the status quo folks get to double down on blackmail. Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow are both from the same recruiting pipeline, and will thus have access to the same set of talking points (that Harrow has already been testing out over the summer). Expect this to get a lot less subtle, and a lot more public – certainly no later than January 2010 (fun idea – run a pool for the date of the next public article with a qualifying Brown or Harrow quote). With Lowe’s tacit or explicit approval, these young men will declare that they are committed to Sidney Lowe, not NC State. This is certainly true of a certain individual deeply intertwined with their recruitment. And since recruits have not taken the court in a college game (and thus only have untapped potential for greatness, and no weaknesses in the eyes of many), some people will take this as a legitimate consideration. This is true despite what happened the last time NC State faced such a situation, which led to five years of basketball limbo – and that was with the best player in school history since the legendary David Thompson, not two Top 50 kids.
Feel free to shoot the messenger in the comments – but that’s simply how I see things shaking out. Things are ugly in West Raleigh, and about to get much, much uglier. Brace yourselves for the coming storm.
Projected 2009-2010 NC State Basketball Roster
(1) Dennis Horner (F)
(2) Farnold Degand (PG)
(3) Javi Gonzalez (PG)
(4) Tracy Smith (4F)
(5) Johnny Thomas (Wing)
(6) Julius Mays (PG/SG)
(7) CJ Williams (Wing)
(8) Scott Wood (Wing)
(9) DeShawn Painter (PF/C)
(10) Richard Howell (PF)
(11) Josh Davis (WF)
(12) Jordan Vandenberg (C)
(13) Lorenzo Brown (PG/SG)
(1) Departure of Dennis Horner – Ryan Harrow (PG)
(2) Departure of Farnold Degand – Previously CJ Leslie (PF/C)
(3) Departure of Javi Gonzalez
(4) Departure of Tracy Smith