Sometimes, it’s said, it is hard to see the forest for the trees. That might be the case for NC State’s fans where its hoops program is concerned, at least in the eyes of ESPN college hoops scribe Andy Katz. According to him, the Wolfpack is working their way back to respectability, albeit with a very young team. Judging by the average fan’s expectations for the upcoming year, it’s fair to say that Pack fans may see things another way.
Let’s hope Katz is right. At times last year, when the Wolfpack was not overmatched by teams with far greater skill, it looked lifeless and dispassionate. Without pointing fingers or naming names, some of the players that left that impression are now out of the program, and Lowe is assembling a team wholly in his image and his recruiting ability. Only one player, Dennis Horner, is a holdover from the Herb Sendek years, and Horner was only initially recruited by Sendek – he never played for the coach before he left for Arizona State. For this season, Lowe has assembled some interesting pieces, but still lacks the one thing that will complete his squad: a go-to point guard that is the team’s knife to slice through an opponent’s butter. Katz talks about that when he says
The anticipation is that they have found their backcourt of Lowe and Whittenburg — in the class of 2010, ranked at No. 12 by ESPNU with the expected arrival of Lorenzo Brown (Hargrave Military Academy/Roswell, Ga.) and Ryan Harrow (Walton HS/Marietta, Ga.). Brown could have gone to NC State this season but needed a fifth year of high school. Since neither player is signed yet, the staff can’t talk about them individually. But they said the future is “bright,” as both Lowe and Towe smiled and chuckled with delight.
And so, in year four, the Wolfpack will be younger and less experienced.
“I don’t know if we have a ‘pro’ right now, but we definitely have guys who can play,” Lowe said.
In short, 2009-20010 will be a year of change for the Wolfpack, and one that could, for once, represent a positive beginning instead of more of the same. Wolfpack fans are impatient for their team to actually matter in the large scope of ACC basketball. Old timers remember when the Pack was a feared team to play anywhere, especially at home. Young fans just want to see a team that is consistently decent. While much is made of State’s fans being envious of UNC and Duke, and to a degree there’s some truth to that, the bottom line is that State’s fans don’t want another year of loss after loss to not only Duke and Carolina, but also to the Virginia Tech, Clemson and Miami. With all due respect to those teams and their fans, State’s fans look at the rich heritage of the Wolfpack in college hoops history and want a return to vitality for the program that somewhat matches the history through the years. Then — they can worry about maybe catching Carolina and Duke.
Katz’ article makes for an interesting read and one that has a different perspective than a naturally pessimistic NC State fan might have. That pessismism – given the past five years – is well justified, and on paper, NC State hardly looks like world beaters coming in to 2009/10. Katz sees a team that may be getting ready to do good things, and maybe that will be the pleasant surprise in the world of hoops this year. For long-suffering State fans, that would be welcome relief from the unrequited love they’ve given their teams through tough times.