Sidney Lowe’s very familiar philosophy

In today’s News & Observer article on NC State’s loss yesterday on the road against No. 25 Virginia, new Wolfpack Coach Sidney Lowe said something very important.

The N&O struck a similar note to Wolfpack fans about the performance of Lowe’s severely undermanned and overlooked squad — that the team played surprisingly well enough to win, despite being so thin and missing injured senior point guard and the “glue” of the team, Engin Atsur:

Without Atsur, a senior who has a pulled left hamstring, the Pack’s chances of winning seemed just as gloomy. And, in fact, the Wolfpack did not win, as the 25th-ranked Cavaliers scored the last five points for a 67-62 victory in the first ACC game played in John Paul Jones Arena.

But the Pack did not walk away from its first loss of the season downcast. Disappointed, yes, but hardly downcast.

The N&O talked to Coach Lowe about it:

State’s Sidney Lowe, after his first loss as the Wolfpack’s coach, appeared anything but crushed.

“I’m extremely proud of our guys,” he said. “That was a tough environment to play in.

We put ourselves in a position to win. That’s what you ask for on the road.”

A “position to win” — if that phrase is familiar, it’s because it was a signature expression of the late, great coach Jim Valvano. It reflected his philosophy of the game (and life, too). It was the “feet on the ground” aspect whenever Coach V would “reach for the stars” and speak of his dream of winning a national championship.

Putting yourself in a position to win meant coaching the fundamentals along with scouting the other team, great in-game coaching, excellent teamwork, etc. With three seconds to go in a tie game for the national championship, Coach V’s squad was in the position to win not only because they had the ball and Derek Whittenburg was firing up that 30-foot jumper, but also they were in the position to win because Coach V had drilled into a young sophomore power forward the importance of staying near the basket for rebounds. The superstar seven-foot center for Houston had drifted away; the heretofore unsung Lorenzo Charles was there all alone for the “stuff that dreams are made of.”

But even before that moment in the game, the Wolfpack was in a position to win because Coach V had realized what it would take to get there, and he said so before the game:

“We’ve got to control the game and put ourselves in position to win the game,” Jim Valvano said. “Going down the stretch, we want to have a chance to win the game.”

Seldom has a coach been more prophetic about the “tempo” of a game. As the final seconds flashed away tonight, North Carolina State won the title, 54-52, when the sophomore forward Lorenzo Charles soared up to grab Derek Whittenburg’s long one-hander that was short and to the right of the basket and jammed it down with only one second showing on the clock.

Not only had the Wolfpack been in position to win, but Jim Valvano had virtually predicted the score. “If the score is 100-to-something, we’re not going to win the game,” he said yesterday, “but if it’s in the 50’s…”

… Jim Valvano knew that for all their spectacular slam dunks, Houston had been less than spectacular from the foul line, shooting only 61 percent. “They’re not a particularly good foul-shooting team,” the Wolfpack coach said. “So we figured we’d try to make ’em beat us at the foul line if they could. As soon as Drexler made his two shots, I told my players not to foul him, so we fouled Young and Franklin, but not Drexler again. Not the guy who made ’em. Make sure it’s somebody else. Put the pressure on somebody else, an old Italian trick my father taught me in high school.”

I remember hearing V talking about it immediately after winning the title, being questioned by Brent Musberger while they’re watching the final 44 seconds of the game. “When you put yourself in the position to win, you have a shot at winning.”

A quick Google search found several interesting hits of “Jim Valvano” and “position to win.” Among them, I found a High Point businessman applying Valvano’s philosophy to his business. I also found survivors of Hurricane Isabel citing V as reason to hang tough in the face of a hurricane. I even found a speech greeting new members of an actuary society quoting him!

And I have frequently applied that principle to my own endeavors.

But it thrills me to hear another Wolfpack coach — one who knows what it means — applying that very same principle to the team in Red & White. I look forward to many years of watching Coach Lowe work to put his team in the position to win.

Flashback General NCS Basketball Quotes of Note Sidney Lowe Tradition

28 Responses to Sidney Lowe’s very familiar philosophy

  1. ushum 12/04/2006 at 6:03 PM #

    amen, brother…

  2. IMCN Red 12/04/2006 at 6:18 PM #

    Chuck had us in a postion to win in almost every loss. Just sayin’…but I agree it was good to hear the words from Sid.

  3. cowdog 12/04/2006 at 6:20 PM #

    From day one there were only a few of us that post or respond in here that had Lowe at the top of the list before the fiasco that the search became. I spent way to much time slingin’ stuff against the walls, frustrated wondering why the Admin couldn’t get off their fat asses off the couch, walk thru the kitchen, open the back door and see who the hell was sittin’ in the lawn chair out there.

  4. packpigskinfan23 12/04/2006 at 7:07 PM #

    one question….

    How come NC State dosnt seem to ever play the Jimmy V Classic?!

    I think we deserve that much.

  5. jwrenn29 12/04/2006 at 7:31 PM #

    I feel VERY comfortable with Sid as our coach, and his philosophy being an old one. As an aside, I never felt COMFORTABLE with Herbster, more uncertain. So having Sid is a relief, of great import.

  6. vtpackfan 12/04/2006 at 8:13 PM #

    Put YOURself in a position to win. Teaching, watching film, drilling the foundamentals. It is all hard work, meaningful, and necessary, but not what anyone should be in it for. In the end you (coach) want to witness them(players) win it for and by themselves.

  7. RAWFS 12/04/2006 at 9:11 PM #

    Coach Lowe is an integral part of the team, vtpackfan, so when he says “we put ourselves in a position to win” he is correct, in my opinion anyway.

  8. GAWolf 12/04/2006 at 9:19 PM #

    The more I read about and the more I get to see of Sidney and how he’s “fixing” our basketball program, the more I come to the realization that even if… and I don’t believe such will be the case… but even if his record his similar to Herb’s and even if we get knocked out of the Dance in the first or second round for four or five years running, I’ll pretty much be okay with it. Watching this team battle has been a joy. That’s the sort of thing that starts with th attitude of the coach and thus that intangible that we’ve all longed for for years is not going anywhere as long as Sid is our leader. I can only hope that whoever we hire as our football coach brings that same selflessness, team concept with him as well.

    I feel as good about Wolfpack sports right now as I have in what…. a couple of decades?

  9. shellnc 12/04/2006 at 10:17 PM #

    As soon as Fouler, is gone, then maybe the final demons of the last 16 tears will have been exorcised. I’m not saying that Lee is evil. he just doesn’t understand what the Wolfpack is all about.

    Once the last of the vestiges of torment are gone, then we need to start layinf the groundwork to have the Basketball court in the ESA named after Coach Valvano. If K and the Nose can be honored, then so should V. I’d also like to see Coach Case and Stormin Nowman get their rightful places also. I’d love to see statues erected outside of the ESA. Now the Dark Ages of NC State Basketball are over, it is time for a renaissance of the great coaches and players of the past.

  10. VaWolf82 12/04/2006 at 10:25 PM #

    Nice piece. This year may have more downs than ups, but I am happy with everything that I’ve heard from Sid….and more iimportantly, everything that I’ve seen from his team.

  11. NCSU84 12/04/2006 at 11:22 PM #

    This season will be a long one and wins may be few and far between. Please Wolfpack nation, give Sidney a chance to build our program. It will take time and he has some outstanding recruits coming in. Just be patient and good things will happen. I was a student with Sid in 83, and I believe we have the right man for the job. Just give him time.

    — NCSU84

  12. class of 74 12/05/2006 at 8:01 AM #

    ^Don’t worry all real fans of NCSU have seen enough to know this guy is the real deal. He was as a player, he is as a person and he damn sure is as a coach! We should thank our lucky stars this guy is back in Raleigh as well as the staff he has collected.

  13. Rick 12/05/2006 at 8:13 AM #

    Lowe said a few things on his radio show that almost made me cry for joy
    1) He believes in a tough OOC conference schedule
    2) He listens to his players. When Fells told him he thoguht he could post his man up Lowe belioeved him.
    3) He said the more you try to control the team the more they will tighten up.
    4) Against WVU he said he did not want to fall into the trap of shooting all long shots.

    I was very impressed with him and he is such a refreshing change.

  14. vtpackfan 12/05/2006 at 8:25 AM #

    Your dead on and that was not a coherant thought I made. Ofcourse the team, or active players do not reside in a vacuum apart from the coaching staff. Otherwise it would not be a true family or team. I was merely singling out one motivational tool that V seems to have passed on to Sid, which is taking ownership in doing the little things that it takes to put yourself in a position to win. With so many specialist designing ofensive systems, asst. coach’s galore, and right off the court to teaching assistants and tutors, it seems common place today for players to expect constant instruction.

  15. ncsu81 12/05/2006 at 8:43 AM #

    off topic , but there is an update on the coaching search on

    David Glenn’s ACC Journal

  16. Clarksa 12/05/2006 at 9:25 AM #

    “Chuck had us in a postion to win in almost every loss. Just sayin’…”

    This was my first thought as well…

  17. TNCSU 12/05/2006 at 10:35 AM #

    I wonder if Quentin Jackson can set us up to play in the Jimmy V classic? I was also wondering why we don’t ever play in it. I think there are some (maybe his ESPN connections after NCSU) that still feel Coach V got shafted by the University? I think now is the time to move on and get NCSU in a positive National spotlight!
    Regardless, Coach Lowe has NCSU going in the right direction!! Let’s all get solidly behind the coaches and players!

  18. redfred2 12/05/2006 at 10:39 AM #

    It’s just a simple feeling, I grew up with it, and it cannot be summed up in a few sentences, or even a novel for that matter. But what Sidney Lowe is doing right now is much more than any wins or losses, offensive styles, or any of that. He is simply restoring the confidence and forcing an entire university in Raleigh, all it’s alums and fans, to remember NC State.

    I believe that what he is bringing back to the table WILL spill over into every aspect of athletics at NC State, and then well beyond. When that feeling finally takes root throughout, and in Raleigh once again, then there will be no way for anyone to deny that college athletics can absolutely drive a university to new heights. Those unfortunate individuals who continue to deny that fact, will simply be forced to step aside and watch, as this new/OLD version of NC State reemerges and completely passes them by.

    The whole administration was very lucky with the hire, but if they don’t SOON realize it, then start properly promoting this university as they should have been doing all along, this lucky hire may turn out to be their own worst nightmares. The success that Sidney Lowe is now demanding requires much more than their previous track record indicates they are capable of. It’s either climb on board, and work much harder, or get swept away by the tide.

  19. GoldenChain 12/05/2006 at 10:44 AM #

    I personally had some misgivings about Lowe (mainly because of the botch job by LF). However I must admit that I am 100% impressed so far.
    I think our hoops program is in good hands.

  20. legacyman 12/05/2006 at 10:51 AM #


    I’m glad you now see the light. Really, what caused you concern over Sidney. Granted LF did appear to screw up the process but I thank goodness that he ended up with Sid.

    My early thoughts were that Sidney had no degree and it was not reality to get him at that time. Wow am so glad that he did the things to get this job. Sidney is home.

  21. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 12/05/2006 at 12:59 PM #

    How come NC State dosnt seem to ever play the Jimmy V Classic?!

    Because some narrow minded, short sighted, academic types with no friends had him fired. I doubt they would name the court after someone that got fired. Some say they didn’t talk to Whit about the bball job because he was an assistant under V and let it be know he felt he was mistreated.

    Seems like we played the V classic once with Herbert but I’m not sure.

    I thought they should of named the ESA the CASE Center. Capital Area Sports and Entertainment Center.

  22. redfred2 12/05/2006 at 1:24 PM #

    I still believe that it would focus and pump up a much needed home crowd, if they would run a short, narrated, WOLFPACK archive, up on the jumbotron, as close to tip off as possible. But someone in Raleigh would have to have an imagination and it would take a few hours each week.

    Sorry, I know, I know, that’s WAY too much to ask.

  23. beowolf 12/05/2006 at 2:08 PM #

    I was hoping we’d have gotten CVS to sponsore the arena, so we could call it the Case/Valvano/Sloan arena…

  24. PackGirl 12/05/2006 at 2:24 PM #

    Speaking of coaches who resemble other coaches – Read the article linked below. I am so glad Beilein turned down the NCSU job. There are lots of reasons for that, but one of them is that he talks in the same vague, meaningless “coach-speak” as a former coach. I thought they all talked like that, pretty much, until Sidney. After listening to his radio show a couple times I now realize that some coaches do give direct, intelligent and meaningful answers to questions.

    It will be interesting to see how the guy who turned down the job faces off with the poor guy who accepted the “undesirable” job many others rejected. Beilein does at least seem to have some class in that he refuses to comment on being offered the NCSU job.

  25. Dr. BadgerPack 12/05/2006 at 5:10 PM #

    We did make one appearance in the Jimmy V classic, lost to Cincinnati…

    It does appear that for the most part there is always an ACC team in it (on a quick glance 2 have not) and they are well rotated.

    If the link will post (been a long while since I fooled w/ boards of any sort) you can look at past results here:

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