Can One Quit If They Never Started? (The ‘Coming to Jesus’ Entry)

Pack Pride’s morning webrun this morning contains that reads “Webrun: Pack Players have Quit” The highlighted quote of the entry originates from 99.9’s Dan Mason’s tell-it-like-it-is blog entry:

I never thought I’d be writing this. I figured there was no way Sidney Lowe would allow his team to go to Clemson and put up a goose egg like they did tonight against the Tigers

…State Fan…..your team has quit on you. They have quit on their coach. They have quit on their university. They have simply quit on that celebrated uniform and you should be furious and saddened all at the same time. If you deny that, you are truly in denial.

I’m not convinced that the Wolfpack has ‘quit’ on the season nor am I convinced some guy I’ve never heard of named Dan Mason knows what he is talking about…but, the entry makes som interesting points. (expect for the childish, irrelevant and immature Herb Sendek remark at the very end). I particularly like the fact that Mason doesn’t let Athletics Director Lee Fowler just disappear into the distance with his undeserved contract extension raise.

Sidney Lowe and AD Lee Fowler simply can’t avoid the obvious.

Collectively, they have to publicly challenge this team and address its many issues, which could involve gently moving out some individuals from this group.

It may not be their style but at some point this group of individuals has to decide what their basketball futures will be, and the department as a whole has to come down with the hammer.

These young men have quit on the program and school that has afforded them the opportunity to attend school for free.

But I have a slightly different take on the obvious point that this team has “quit”. I submit to you that the real problem here is that this team never even began.

I’ve been holding off on writing this entry, but there is no point anymore. It is time to call it as we see it — I honestly believe that the members of this program could not have done less in the offseason to prepare for the 2007-2008 Basketball season and everyone involved in NC State Basketball from Lee Fowler to the student manager owes Wolfpack Nation a huge apology.

I said it multiple times in the early season and I don’t understand how so many people in the media and on the internet don’t grasp it as they continue to wait for a big change &/or predict a turnaround. Our problems are fundamentally systemic. There is NO SWITCH to flip here to get things fixed. Players don’t just have epiphanies and start playing exponentially better when your problems include significant breakdowns of fundamentals like not playing defense, not boxing out/rebounding, not being able to shoot, not having a point guard or an offensive system that flows. We SUCK at the basic things that a team must do to compete in COLLEGE basketball.

Folks, this meltdown isn’t happening in front of your eyes; this meltdown started BEFORE the season. Hell, this kind of decline pretty much had to start the minute last season was over! The conclusion is pretty obvious – These coaches and these players did not do *@^&# in the off-season. Can the team really quit if it never really started?

I am not just making this realization today – I am just finally choosing to share the observations of others with you (that were shared with me before the season even began).

At the start of this season I spoke with a few folks who are historically close to our program and two specifc comments in struck a chord with me at the time.

The first comment was related to conditioning (or the lack thereof). One gentleman shared that he “hadn’t seen bodies this out of shape on an NC State team since his relationship started with Coach Robinson almost 20 years ago.”

I knew what he meant the moment the team stepped on the court against William & Mary in November and it has manifested itself during the season. I have rarely seen a college team look more lethargic, slow, and disengaged than what we are witnessing this year. Heck, Brandon Costner was so obvioulsy out of shape that it led some people in our community to nickname him “porkchop” until we put the kabosh on the practice. I honestly think that a Herb Sendek all-star cast of Engin Atsur, Archie Miller, Ilian Evitmov, Luke Buffum and Steve Norton could use their ‘fleetness of foot’ to apply smothering defensively pressure the version of the 07-08 Wolfpack.

Now that NC State is experiencing a rash of strange ankle and knee injuries, people are taking note. At the half way mark of the season the out of shape Wolfpack has already been impaired by injuries to Farnold Degand, Courtney Fells, Dennis Horner, and Ben McCauley. A poster on Pack Pride’s message boards astutely commented today:

“If you look at the muscle definition on the UNC and Clemson players and then look at our guys, you will see the difference. Other teams pay the price in the weight room. We clearly do not. Our guys, with the exception of Hickson and Tracy, physically look like a pick up squad of off-work bankers.”

Of course it is taboo and politically incorrect to highlight the distratction that Sidney Lowe, Jr’s arrest understandably created for Coach Lowe in the off-season. But, in a results-oriented world the causes of the off-season laziness are irrelevant.

However, our coaching staff has not done themselves any favors in their presentation and reputation of excessive relaxation in and around town. Whether it is accurate or not, a perception exists with many at NC State and in Raleigh that there is a deficiency in commitment and work ethic within our administration. To be fair, how can you blame any coach for not working hard when their boss and the leader of our Athletics Director is known for his aversion to hard work, love of being on the golf course, and consistent practices of ‘working’ from his Lake Gaston retreat and the use of Wolfpack Club members’ mountain homes?

Remember I told you that I was concerned after speaking to a couple of heavy hitters BEFORE the season? Well, the second observation that concerned me came in a response to my inquiry about how the season was going to go for us. The Wolfpack Club member replied, “I certainly hope that this team is going to be good after [coaching staff names witheld] spent the whole summer playing golf and lobbying our adminstration for raises.”

I’m not telling you that it is true that this staff doesn’t work hard. I am not criticzing this staff for not working hard. I am telling you that others don’t believe that the staff works as hard as needed – and I am criticizing the physical condition of this year’s team and the results that they are generating. I don’t know how ANYONE could argue with this but I am sure someone will try.

Post script: Unfortunately there are a lot of people in the world who struggle with reading comprehension or simply choose to misinterpret things that are said (or not said). For those people I will state the previously unstated — NOT ONCE did we REMOTELY hint to a suggestion about any kind of rash ‘firing’ or unjustified job insecurity for Coach Lowe and his staff. Unlike many crazies out there, we are actually CONSISTENT in our timeframes to judge ALL coaches and, depending on different sets of circumstances, we believe that every coaching staff deserves anywhere between three and five years to implement their system and generate results.

Additionally, we are very disheartened by some of the comments of the remnants of the Herb Sendek Sunshine Squad (and mainstream media) related to this year’s performance. Do we REALLY have to remind the world that after four years of barely earning an NIT bid that Coach Sendek’s FIFTH year generated a meltdown of epic proportions? We suggest that for the obvious sake of consistency and common sense that the fools who continue to evoke Old Snaggletooth into this conversation keep their mouths shut until after the SIXTH year Coach Lowe’s regime. Otherwise you just embarass yourself with your hypocrisy.