John Delong Gets It Right

John Delong has penned the best article we have read on the Sendek Situation.

Frankly, I consider it all absurd, because unlike most, I don’t see this issue as being black and white. I see all kinds of shades of gray. I think it’s possible to praise Sendek and be critical of him, to like the program he runs and to cringe at the Princeton-style offense he tries to run.

For those of you who staunchly defend Sendek’s Xs and Os, grab the DVR and take another look at State’s first 12 possessions of the second half on Sunday. And for those of you who say anyone would be better for the program, get out your old VCR tapes of the Les Robinson years.

More than anything, I believe strongly that Sendek has brought this cloud of controversy on himself.

Anyone who ever takes a job coaching basketball on Tobacco Road has to understand first and foremost the lay of the land, then work within that framework as best he can to produce positive results.

Coaching at State is about Xs and Os and recruiting and emphasizing academics and dozens of other issues. It is also about giving the fan base a sense of hope, in good times and bad. It is also about putting your best foot forward at all times so that when there is adversity, the support, the hope, is intact.

It is not about being all things to all people, but it is about cultivating assets, especially when the biggest potential asset is a passionate support system of followers desperately wanting to feel good about the program.

Sendek has failed miserably on that front. It’s the biggest flaw on his resume. If he could project and instill a sense of hope, then a four-game losing streak wouldn’t drag the program down the way this one did. If he could instill a sense of hope, there wouldn’t be this uneasy truce that exists with an element of the fan base even when he’s winning.

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83 Responses to John Delong Gets It Right

  1. Cardiff Giant 03/21/2006 at 10:07 AM #

    Yes, barring his “plague on both your houses” approach – those of us who wish a coaching change are, of course, correct. 🙂

  2. Rick 03/21/2006 at 10:09 AM #

    I hate it has come to this.
    A change has to be made but I fear it will not be.

  3. Pi 03/21/2006 at 10:15 AM #

    “I see all kinds of shades of gray.”

    I was beginning to think I was the only one.

  4. SaccoV 03/21/2006 at 10:20 AM #

    John DeLong is a good writer though I sometimes disagree with him. This, however, is not the case for this article. I also think that it’s great to have legitimate media criticism of a mediocre coach. Though this season was Prosser’s worst by far at Wake, he’s been very very good for the three years prior. Secondly, most of the basketball gurus who call us morons for critiquing the coach as we see fit, are the Vitale clones who will never ever criticize a coach (except maybe for a specific call in game time). None of those prudes would make a point to call out a coach about his overall record, good, bad or mediocre. I’m glad DeLong has the guts to say what we’ve been saying for some time.

  5. VaWolf82 03/21/2006 at 10:44 AM #

    “I see all kinds of shades of gray.�

    I was beginning to think I was the only one.

    But after some period of time….that becomes a condemnation all on its own. 10 years should be enough time to make a decision. You are either happy with what Herb has produced or you are not. It’s not about next year or the next 20 years….are you happy with what has been accomplished?

  6. ncsslim 03/21/2006 at 10:47 AM #

    I wrote him and thanked him for such an insightful article. Then told him to “be gone, Hole….”

  7. Par Shooter 03/21/2006 at 10:48 AM #

    Great find! That article really does the best job of any I’ve read of outlining the issues. In the end, I think that Herb’s arrogance and stubbornness are the root of our problems since they impact many of the strategic shortfalls (“This offense has stood the test of time”; “we are who we are”) as well as the more programatic issues (his apparent disdain for a majority of our fanbase). People that are 43 years old are never going to change. And if anyone suggested that he change, I’m sure they would be immediately dismissed.

  8. jesse 03/21/2006 at 11:07 AM #

    i am for the most part a member of the HSSS. however this article brings up a very valid criticism of herb. he makes little or no effort to connect with the fans. personally that doesn’t bother me as much as it does many other wolfpack fans. herb should realize however, that he has a responsibility to ALL of the pack fans.

  9. ncsslim 03/21/2006 at 11:27 AM #

    I don’t need some touchy feely connection, I want hope, some semblance of success, and the respect that comes with it. I see very little oportunity of any of the above in virtually any NCSU athletic endeavor (some will fool you awhile, but eventually the chickens will come home to roost). Maybe I expect too much. Honestly.

  10. scott 03/21/2006 at 11:46 AM #

    It’s not Herb’s personality or even the offense he runs that makes him so unpopular with fans. It’s his failure in a decade to win any championships, advance far in the NCAA tournament, or even have a really good overall season record (at least 25 wins or fewer than 10 losses) that gives the average fan little hope that the program will ever be very successful (at least by UNC, Duke, UConn, Ky, Memphis, Villanova, etc standards versus those of Lee, Bobby and the HSSS’ers) under his direction.

  11. class of '74 03/21/2006 at 11:54 AM #

    I could care less about Herb’s ability to connect with the fans how about connecting with some wins over top 25 programs!

  12. wopacker1980 03/21/2006 at 12:05 PM #

    Les Robinson?! That was a fluke and I’ll tell you why:
    1) Mary Ann Fox was quite content to de-emphasise athletics and she left Les in at least two seasons longer than she should have.
    2) Les was a ‘member of the family’ because he had played for Everette Case (yeah yeah, nothing to you youngsters but he’s the high school coach that came to State and won 10 straight conference titles).
    No way the Wolfpack nations accepts that again.

    If I hear one more person say “State fans, keep Herb, you just need to understand you can’t compete with Roy & K and you shouldn’t expect to” I’m going through the radio dial and whippin’ someones butt!
    The idea that these guys are the absolute pinnacle of college hoops coaching and no one out there will be able to come along and compete until they retire is crazy!

  13. TampaPack 03/21/2006 at 12:15 PM #

    Unrelated I know, but Statefans Nation has a link to the K defending Sedek article on the SI on campus sight. Also, the headline story of the day is the ‘nut punch’ to Hodge by Wake. State is all over SI on campus today….

  14. David 03/21/2006 at 12:32 PM #

    I also read the DeLong column this morning. He seems to have a good overall grasp of the mess.
    I applaud Herb for moving the program forward but I do think the program stalled about 5 years ago. I also think Les did what was asked of him as basketball coach – it is had to remember how much the program suffered with the expose of the Valvano years (probably some truth but a lot of “fluff” also).
    I do think it’s time to step forward with the BB program and I have come to the conclusion that won’t happen with Herb as coach (and maybe not with Fowler as AD).
    I applaud the players for their loyality to their coach but I do think the time for change has come (maybe 5 years too late?)

  15. Trout 03/21/2006 at 1:18 PM #

    “1) Mary Ann Fox was quite content to de-emphasise athletics and she left Les in at least two seasons longer than she should have.”

    I’m guessing you meant Monteith. MAF came to NC State about 2 years after Led resigned.

  16. class of '85 03/21/2006 at 1:22 PM #

    Scott, I agree with you 100%. I have never had a problem with his personality, but I have had a major problem with his success. For most fans, if he wins, the personality issue is not a big deal.

  17. boonami 03/21/2006 at 1:25 PM #

    Question: Has Lee Fowler come out since our ousting in the tourney and said anything about the Herb situation?

  18. topOtheorder 03/21/2006 at 1:43 PM #

    That was definitely a GREAT article—very fair but to the point.

    I don’t really like being associated with Barney and Goober, but, if we don’t do this right, we will look like we traded Andy Griffith for Mayberry RFD…

    At one time, there were plenty of REASONS why we did not succeed at the level we all want, but, over a TEN YEAR time period, reasons become EXCUSES.

    Injury problems? Recruit and use a deeper bench to compensate when injuries happen. Too slow, must play Princeton ball? Princeton fundamentals are great to know for any ball team, but recruit speed, recruit guys who can actually take people off the dribble when the PO breaks down, and, oh yeah, use those players. Can’t stage a comeback, can’t ice a game? Recruit a top shooting guard, not just set shooters. Recruit a point guard or at least a quality combo lead guard, not set shooters trying to act as point guards.

    Most of our problems have always stemmed from recruiting and team construction. WE ARE WHO WE ARE because Sendek has mostly only been able to bring in set shooters on the perimeter and forwards who like to shoot the 3. It should be no wonder why we have had so much trouble getting rebounds, burying people, coming back on teams, or having end game situations that are anything but chaotic.

    We need a new leader with recruiting prowess and the ability to construct a team and coach that team to be WHO WE WANT TO BE…

  19. boonami 03/21/2006 at 1:56 PM #

    Good points topOtheorder.. funny when Herb put in Fells and Grant and we played up tempo, we cut the lead and the team looked quick. Second half comes and we sank back into that 3 pt shooting funk and didn’t recover. I wish Herb would scrap that so called offense for something better suited for quickness so we can get the better players. Our starting 5 was VERY slow and please play our freshman so they don’t transfer.

  20. Fish 03/21/2006 at 1:56 PM #

    MAF at least understand the correlation between visibility and athletics. If Monteith had stuck around we would have only had intramurals. By the way, we are not far from it.

  21. choppack 03/21/2006 at 2:18 PM #

    I really think this article touches on some things, but I think the reason why there is so little so support for Herb comes down to 3 basic reasons:
    1) The first 5 years – No NCAAs and countless meltdowns. Ugly basketball, ineffective results. Even though Herb has done better the last 5 years, it’s hard for many to forget the first 5, and while Herb has done some good things, we all know he’s capable of going 5 years w/out an NCAA bid.

    2) Very few “magic moments” – The 5 NCAAs in a row is great, a 4-1 record in the first round in the tourney is solid as well. However, he’s been here 10 years – no regular season titles, no tourney titles, no final 4s or even elite 8s. To make matters worse, he’s stunk against our regional rivals.

    3) Our history – The last 2 coaches that have been here as long as Herb won national championships and conference championships. These results may be tolerable at any other school not named Duke or Carolina in our conference, but our a large % of our fans remember at least one of these moments.

    This is the equivalent of coaching the Dallas Cowboys or NY Giants, going to the playoffs several years in a row, but not winning your division, a Super Bowl or going to the conference championship. For a year, these results are acceptable – as an average, the results for the last 5 years are acceptable, but when you look at “the entire body of work” and the “high-water marks” – that’s where you run into trouble.

  22. class of '85 03/21/2006 at 2:23 PM #

    How many other ACC schools have retained a current coach for 10 yrs or more?

  23. scott 03/21/2006 at 2:31 PM #

    At least MAF told O’Cain when it was time to go. I didn’t care for everything MAF did, but she was tough and I think she had more balls than Lee & Bobby put together!

  24. topOtheorder 03/21/2006 at 2:34 PM #


    No doubt!! That pressing and running lineup with Fells and Grant almost looked like a Pitino disciple’s team!! And, I was about to throw something at the tv watching Tony and/or Engin walking the ball up in the second half…How different COULD we be or have been if we had a Jerry McNamara type or a Sean Singletary leading a charge of Cam/Gavin/Fells + big men that can get down the court like Ced (and hopefully Ben and Costner in the future)?????

    My hope is that, next year, we will have to play more like that because Fells and Grant will have to be in the lineup, but, of course, Engin (a set shooter who should come off the bench as a zone killer on a top flight team) will be bringing the ball up for us…

    Just one knotch up in style of play and a related one knotch up in recruiting, and we could have an exciting contender of a program without totally abandoning strong Princeton fundamentals of basketball and defense (which used to be a hallmark of Sendek but is not now because we are so slow)…

  25. robert 03/21/2006 at 3:07 PM #

    This isn’t about Herb. This is about the State fans inability to accept that most schools(including themselves) will finish third to Duke and Carolina at a time when both schools have Hall of Fame coaches at the helm. The nature of the battle is cyclical and this isn’t your time. Fire Herb if you want, it’d serve the most vocal state fans right cause you sure aren’t going to get anyone better. The problem with that is that most state fans are great! The ones I talk with realize Herb is good for the program, they just aren’t the ones running their mouths!

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