Revisiting Last February’s Analysis

We will come back to this once the 2008-09 season is completely over. But I think it’s a good time to look back at this entry from last February, after a particularly brutal loss to Boston College. Many of our current commenters posted thoughts on that thread. Now that a little over a year has passed – how do you feel?

On the positive side, I think Lowe at least partway met the three criteria I laid out at the end of the post. We are better than last year, and the effort has at least improved. But not completely – we are not even in the NCAAT bubble discussion (NIT-ology has us on the wrong side of the NIT bubble this week). Our defensive effort is inconsistent at best. The 2009 recruiting class is good, but not Top Ten without Wall or Cousins – and we have very little chance of landing either.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the re-read was the discussion of adjustments/moves/lessons happening in mid-February that needed to happen in mid-December. That seems to have repeated itself, and is a giant red flag, at least to me.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

07-08 Basketball 08-09 Basketball Flashback General NCS Basketball Sidney Lowe

72 Responses to Revisiting Last February’s Analysis

  1. Alpha Wolf 03/03/2009 at 9:27 AM #

    I said back then that

    If everyone played the game like Ben McCauley, getting nasty diving after loose balls, setting hard picks, making smart passes, we’d be a much better team. But they don’t. It is if they are incapable of learning it.

    And it looks like certain players have not changed, but that other players are now showing a lot more effort.

  2. Par Shooter 03/03/2009 at 9:33 AM #

    What happened to the post on the potential Md recruiting violations? Did someone make you take it down for some reason?

    Alpha – I took it down in order to maintain focus on the football side as well as some other posts that Jeff, BJD and the other guys are working on.

  3. waxhaw 03/03/2009 at 9:43 AM #

    At the beginning of the year, I thought the NIT was a reasonable goal for this team.

    I had the schedule broken down as follows: we had

    13 must wins
    4 toss ups
    12 probable losses.

    So far, we are 1-3 on the toss ups but have won 2 of the probable losses. (I have the BC game as a must win and @ Miami as a probable loss.)

    I thought we would need to enter the ACC tournament at 16-13 to get an NIT bid.

    We can still do that but NITology has us out of the NIT at this point.

    We have at least 3 more games (BC, @Miami and ACCT versus ??)

    I think 0-3 is out; 1-2 is bubble and 2-1 is in the NIT. Being on the bubble would probably depend on how many regular season champions got automatic bids.

  4. Daily Update 03/03/2009 at 9:45 AM #

    Here is what I said last year:

    Fowler just got a contract extension thru 2013. Knowing what we know in terms of how NC State handles these situations, do you realistically expect Lee Fowler not to finish his contract?

    Seriously? I think you and I both know that there isn’t anyone with any sense of urgency at NC State who would have the willingness to make a move on Lee Fowler. It just won’t happen.

    I don’t know the issues behind the scenes with the basketball program, but it certainly sounds like some changes need to be made. Unfortunately, I don’t have much confidence in our BOT, Chancellor, Lowe or Fowler to make the necessary changes. Lowe because of his inexperience and the rest of them for due to their track records.

    When I went to Duke/State game at Cameron, I started thinking about how essentially our program today really has no link to the past anymore. Sitting in Cameron, which isn’t half as impressive as Reynolds, made me realize that we have either been horrible or mediocre for far too long for the history of our program to be relevant today. The folks at Duke built their program into one of the nation’s best while at the same time the people at NC State let our program crumble to pieces. The BOT, the Chancellors, the ADs, and the basketball coaches have all played a part in it.

    We are just like everybody else out there now. No different from Wake, BC, UVa, or GT. No different from most other mediocre BCS conferences and no different from a lot of the top tier mid-majors. We will have to catch lightning in a bottle to ever be a major player on the national level again.

  5. Daily Update 03/03/2009 at 9:49 AM #

    As far as how I feel this year, I still have zero confidence in Fowler, Oblinger, the BOT or anyone else at NC State. However, I actually do have more confidence in Sidney Lowe.

    There were a couple of behavioral/academic issues that he seemed to handle better this year(McCauley not going to Canada, suspension of Degand, Javi(?), and T Ferg for academic reasons mid-season). Also, the players seem to have responded to him as our head coach. He made some nice adjustments cutting the rotation and going to the big lineup. We also see significant improvement from the younger guys in the program (Horner, Javi, Leslie, T. Smith).

    Still, Sidney making it at NC State to year six is not close to guaranteed at this point. I think the end of year 5 is where his job officially becomes in jeopardy if the we haven’t reached the NCAA tournament. It won’t be sooner than that because we are who we are. If he does make the NCAA tournament in year 5 (don’t see it happening next year), then Sidney will survive to year 6 and the program should be in decent shape.

    When I say “decent shape”, I am referring to a Herb Sendek level. I still believe that we will have to catch lighting in a bottle to be a major player on the national level again. The chances of Sidney being that guy are slim, but those chances are going to be slim no matter who is our head coach. Though I am convinced that John Calipari would have increased those chances significantly. However, our AD struck out and I don’t see us being able to hire an established coach like Cal next time around.

  6. wpackman33 03/03/2009 at 9:50 AM #

    I come away with a lot of positives from Lowe after reading that article from last year and looking at this year. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of things i think he would do a lot better in, but i am kinda seeing those things in the younger guys, i.e. smith, williams, javi. Honestly, as was said in other threads, i’m not going to miss Costner or Fells at all. I’ll miss Mccauley a little bit, simply for his hustle and passion, but not fells and costner. I think those are the two players who have regressed the most since they first came here. They had so much potential and with them being a 3rd and 4th year player, i would expect much more out of them considering how they began.

    But all in all, i think Sid is getting his arms around things and i can see progress in the future. I think we have a solid group of core players in mays, thomas, williams, smith, and with the additions of lo brown, leslie and hopefully a few other guys (Wall or Cousins), the athletic ability will be in place. Then its up to Lowe to do with it what he can. That is when the real test will come in my opinion.

    GO PACK!!

  7. Bubba 03/03/2009 at 10:11 AM #

    I thought NIT would be max for this squad. Maybe I’m just burned out, but missing out really wont bother me. Headed to Atlanta next week for ACCT so maybe that will get the juices flowing again.

    Looking ahead to next year,its John Wall or nothing as I see it. With John, we are an NCAA Tourny lock and would be capable of beating anyone on our schedule. Without him, I just dont see a step forward from the past 3 years.He is instant up-tempo which will be a necessity next yr given our lack of inside personnel.

    A starting backcourt of Wall and Brown will sell tickets and give Pack Fans a new outlook,a renewed hope. The thought of Javi and Farnold handling the point, not-so-much.

  8. Rochester 03/03/2009 at 10:21 AM #

    I’m a lot more optimistic than I was in January. Ever since the Death Spiral chain things have turned around a little, and Sid has shown me that he’s at least learning and improving. Because he was not ready for the job when he was hired, it set our program back at least two years, if not three, as we waited for him to figure out things an experienced college coach would already know.

    I’m interested to see what the team looks like next year. I’m expecting more universal hustle. The last two Sendek recruits (assuming Costner splits) will be Horner and Fergs and both hustle most of the time, so if there’s any lack of fire it won’t be old guys vs new guys, etc.

    The Maryland game aside, we’ve played pretty well in the second half of the ACC season. Tomorrow’s game will be telling. If we bounce back, Sunday was a blip. If we suck again, it could be a flashback to how last year ended.

  9. primacyone 03/03/2009 at 10:33 AM #

    I’m very pleased with the development of the Younger guys.

    If Brown, Wood, and Howell bring the same effort level that Hickson, Smith and really Javi have demostrated, I think we will see improvement.

    I have a feeling that Sid is recruting effort and dedication. I just hope we can make it to 2010 with Harrow and Leslie. I personally believe Harrow is a better player than Wall, just a little slower so not as much of an NBA target right now.

    If Howell is the second coming of Tracy Smith, which I believe he is, I think we will be happy. And if Wood can knock down the open three, I’m confident Lowe can get him the shots. We could really have a solid inside out game next year with several players that can finally drive the ball to the hole when needed to create a shot. Not sure what I record will be, but I think we surely see some improvement as far as the direction of the program goes and the type of ball we play.

    I also give Sid some slack for last year, not only did he have to deal with attitudes, minumal talent, but he had to deal with his son’s off the court issues as well. Tough year for Sid last year. I’m surprised he could handle it all.

  10. wolfonthehill 03/03/2009 at 10:49 AM #

    The fact that we’re discussing NIT-ology… and being on the OUTSIDE looking in… is shameful. This team had a much higher ceiling, as they exhibited during the greater part of the month of February. If you can play that well for a month, you can do it for a season… at least the conference portion of it.

    Not giving a shit is not an acceptable excuse for under-achieving… neither is taking til February to figure out what your lineups should look like. And those are the two things that are driving us into irrelevance at this point.

  11. wolfonthehill 03/03/2009 at 11:03 AM #

    And to the three points of needed improvement that you posted last year…

    1) NCAA trip – no.
    2) Consistent effort on both ends of the court – no.
    3) Top-10 recruiting class – no.

    BJD: Therein lies the rub – we made progress in all 3 areas, but the benchmarks weren’t met. Lowe is improving and learning, but not very fast. Slow and steady doesn’t win the race in the ACC.

    So where does that leave us? WTNY yet again…

  12. sautz 03/03/2009 at 11:20 AM #

    Nearing the end of year 3 I would hope we would be arguing whether Lowe is a great ACC coach or even a good one, but it is not clear he is even up to mediocre – and given his NBA record he maybe much worse.
    Fowler completely blew it when we needed him the most. I can’t blame Lowe for that and I hope he can turn it around. However, building next year’s team on Smith, Javi, Horner, and 3 or 4 guys who haven’t played much (if any) college ball is scary. I cannot forsee how many years it will take for us to have a winning ACC record again.

  13. LKNpackfan 03/03/2009 at 11:24 AM #

    My outlook is certainly more positive than it was one year ago. As I said earlier, I’ve seen improvement, albeit some modest, in all areas. There’s definitely been more consistent effort on both ends of the court from all players with lastnames not Fells or Costner. I’ve been incredibly disappointed to watch their regression, but those frustrations will be indirectly migitated on May 9th.
    Lowe is still learning on the job, its been painful, but I don’t see how any drastic changes would be justified. Next season, when he has a full roster of “his” players, is the real bellwether.

  14. wolfonthehill 03/03/2009 at 11:43 AM #

    ^ Like I said… WTNY again.

    And I’m not advocating a coaching change by any means. I do think that Lowe has learned quite a bit, and is an infinitely better coach than he was even last year. That being said, he grossly mismanaged our personnel this past Sunday, all but eliminating any chance we may have had for an at-large berth.

    We’re stuck in no-man’s land. Not so bad that a change is called for, but nowhere near good enough to compete the way NC State should compete.

    In other words, the worst-case scenario.


  15. BJD95 03/03/2009 at 11:46 AM #

    For the record, I don’t think firing is on the table as an option here. Even without factoring in Fowler’s love of inertia, the combination of the shitty economy and sparse supply of “hot” mid-major coaches pretty much rules out a coaching change.

    But we should assess things anyway.

  16. Clarksa 03/03/2009 at 11:47 AM #

    I’m actually pretty impressed with what Coach Lowe has pulled off this year when you consider either one or two of our “big 3” seem to take the game off and hide in their little worlds. However, I also see some problems in some of Coach Lowe’s game decisions, but he is adjusting and learning the college game. We gave on the job training to the last basketball coach we had, Coach Lowe will be given the same opportunity. Is the coaching better, yes. Are the younger players developing, yes. Would it surprise me if the older players mail it in and decide they are done with basketball, no.

  17. primacyone 03/03/2009 at 11:47 AM #

    ^”That being said, he grossly mismanaged our personnel this past Sunday, all but eliminating any chance we may have had for an at-large berth.”

    You must have been watching a different game than I.

  18. wolfpackbball 03/03/2009 at 11:57 AM #

    ”That being said, he grossly mismanaged our personnel this past Sunday, all but eliminating any chance we may have had for an at-large berth.”

    It’s my stance that we really had no shot at an at-large period. We are lacking LOTS of pieces and have a few I’d rather be without. Lowe might even be one of the pieces that needs replacing, but our chances were all but eliminated before the first tip in late 2008.

  19. LKNpackfan 03/03/2009 at 12:07 PM #

    wolfonthehill – WTNY was never within the context of my post. From the beginning, considering the various circumstances beyond his control, all here have said and agreed that only a 4-6 year sample size would be appropriate for evaluating Lowe’s performance.

  20. wolfonthehill 03/03/2009 at 12:39 PM #

    primacy – My assertion regarding gross personnel mismanagement comes down to (1) the fact that Costner started, given the fact that the off-court situation put him in a position of being mentally unprepared to play, (2) the fact that, after Costner’s mental state was painfully clear, he still logged a LOT of minutes… I don’t blame that on Costner… he did his best… but if I could recognize it in 2 minutes of gametime from home, Sid has to recognize it from the sideline, (3) the fact that Courtney played a team-high 36 minutes, despite playing an abysmal offensive and defensive game by any objective measurement used, and (4) the fact that guys like CJ and Johnny, guys who clearly bring energy to the game and can break up a lethargic effort, got four and zero minutes of playing time, respectively.

    That being said, Sid DID give Tracy 34 minutes (but I will never understand why it took til February to give him meaningful minutes), and he DID call a timeout once, just to stop the clock and get him back in the game. The latter, in particular, is a sign of progress.

    Bottom line – we had potentially better personnel options available on Sunday than the ones who got about 80% of the minutes, but we did not give those options a chance to see if they even gave a damn. That’s what I was talking about above. And it’s NOT post-game quarterbacking… it’s exactly what I was saying on the S6 liveblog as the game progressed. We needed to go with Plan B from a personnel perspective, and it was obvious early in that game. We never did it, and that’s on Sid.

  21. wufpup76 03/03/2009 at 12:41 PM #

    Strides have been made, albeit not huge ones – but I’m a lot more optimistic / feeling better about Coach Sidney Lowe and the program than I was last year.

    The problem is, that’s not saying a lot.

    February of this season was a MONUMENTAL improvement over February of last season. There was reason to have a little hope again. But starting with the Virginia game, the level of play has tailed off significantly.

    Thus, this sets up yet another “referendum” type game against BC tomorrow night. Just like it’s never too late for hope, it’s never too late for another “death spiral” type scenario. These are extremes, and the answer as usual probably lies in the middle – but if we bomb out and lose 3 more consecutive games to close out the season then where does that leave us?

    Any faint hope of being in a “bubble” discussion is gone. Will the team pack it in or play hard?

    If the team quits for a second consecutive season what then? The staff and players showed some resiliency after the Va Tech game – can/will they do so again?

    Sid deserves credit for areas that have improved this season, but he’s still on the hook for the other stuff. I’m willing to “stay the course” provided that there is hard fighting going on to close out this season. But let’s be honest, it looked like a couple or more of the players mailed it in on Sunday night. If the team up and quits and mails in 3 more ballgames (which I wouldn’t put out of the realm of possibility) then that marks two consecutive seasons of quitting basketball … out of 3 seasons.

    On a brighter note, conference tournament season begins today. Best time of the year for me.

  22. wufpup76 03/03/2009 at 1:03 PM #

    Wow! I got my avatar to work.

    Even idiots get lucky …

  23. highstick 03/03/2009 at 1:48 PM #

    I’d bet if I wrote Obie another letter that I’d get the same idiotic response about his confidence in Lee Fowler!

  24. Old School Wolf 03/03/2009 at 2:18 PM #

    I think when this team and staff re-grouped and re-focused at the end of last year, it was probably like my ex-wife/current wife gathering for a family birthday party. I’m just happy everyone remains civil and looks forward together for the common good. We have got two ACC caliber players coming next year and another who may be. At minimum this third player is a dead eye dick from three point land. Another two say they are coming in 2010. Playing together as a team is another thing altogether but a talent upgrade is coming. All it takes is two ACC guys a year ( at least one guard) and a couple of role players sprinkled in. Our supposed “leaders “exiled us to this Nov-April shit hole existence we have been in since Jimmy. We fans “need” a roll over year added to Sid’s contract each year to keep the positive vibes in place with talent upgrading recruits and retaining the chance of success. “Deserve” another year isn’t as important in my book right now as giving us fans a chance to have a real program. Also I would not rule out W/C coming to join us if they indeed want to play together, maximize their TV exposure, play against the best, and also have the grades.

  25. wolfonthehill 03/03/2009 at 3:11 PM #

    So since Sid is now 0-4 against Maryland, should his last name now be Llllowe, ala Phillllip?

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