Headscratching Hire – Strength and Conditioning Coach

As I alluded in the comments section of this thread, Robbi Pickeral penned an interesting article last Sunday, noting that Sidney Lowe had named a new strength and conditioning coach. Lowe’s choice? Wright Wayne, Lowe’s coach in 1983, who had been reassigned to other programs within the athletic department for the last 12 years. If Lowe’s rationale sounds a bit off to you, you’re not alone:

“I know he can make our guys better in the weight room, but it goes beyond that,” Lowe said. “His vision is being the best, and he can talk to the guys about that, from experience. … He can tell the players about what it takes, all that we did and how hard we worked [when we won the NCAA title]. And they’ll listen.”

Think about that for a minute. Even if we make the somewhat questionable assumption that 1983 remains relevant to a group of players born almost a full decade later, clearly it must have its limits. Haven’t you already maxed out whatever power it might have by, say, having a head coach who was the senior point guard on NC State’s last national title team? That certainly seems like the strongest possible link to me. And it’s motivational mileage to date? Uh, not so good. A more realistic picture of nostalgia’s impact on today’s players is painted by a prominent Wolfpacker of much more recent vintage:

Q: Do you plan to come back and speak to the team at some point?

A: Well, they don’t know who I am and they don’t care (laughing). It would be an honor to come back and do that. . . .I’ve been invited to toss the coin before the North Carolina game. I guess they felt like we had some good luck against the Tar Heels. Maybe I can bring a little luck.

From a practical standpoint, it’s obvious that college basketball has changed dramatically since 1983, in ways more substantive than uniform fashion and three-point rules. Strength and conditioning methods are drastically different today, and cutting edge methods from 1983 would be completely obsolete today. There has already been chatter on other websites that Wayne’s methods are not in line with how major D-1 basketball players train today – and we hope anyone with special knowledge on this topic will add their perspective in the comments. Without question, Lowe is putting alot of faith in someone who hasn’t been around mens’ basketball in over a decade. And his track record with unorthodox hires that are “people Sid knows” is, again, not so good (Quentin Jackson, anyone?).

Several SFN editors/authors discussed this topic earlier this week (and we have a much broader spectrum of Lowe opinion and intensity of said opinion than critics suspect), and the feeling was unanimous – this hire is a total headscratcher. When I later spoke to someone whose read I trust greatly on all matters Wolfpack hoops, he interpreted it as a likely “circling of the wagons” – putting someone else in place that will be in Lowe’s corner, come hell or high water. That definitely makes sense, and certainly doesn’t make me feel better about the future of NC State basketball.

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.

09-10 Basketball Editor's Picks Headscratchers Sidney Lowe

43 Responses to Headscratching Hire – Strength and Conditioning Coach

  1. Sw0rdf1sh 08/21/2009 at 7:18 AM #

    I’m not sure if this hire is good or bad….I can understand what you are saying in that S&C has changed in time, but has Wayne been under a rock for the past 20 years?

    Brown, Harrow, and the next recruit make me feel better about the future of NC State Basketball.

    This season I’m approaching very cautiously.

  2. Afterglow 08/21/2009 at 7:37 AM #

    Yeah, kind of what Sw0rdf1sh alluded to I mean… I would hope that someone who’s worked at NC State for the last ten years would be up to date on how to condition and strengthen athletes. Granted, the game of basketball has changed (especially the physical aspect) but I don’t think it’s a far reach to think that Robbi Pickeral has evolved as well. Honestly, any type of conditioning would be an improvement from last year’s team.

    As for circling the wagons, who knows. I suppose if I were in a position to suggest hires (not out of a desire to protect my job) I too would maybe lean towards the familiar-but perhaps balancing that with a non-bias perspective is good practice as well. I guess we’ll see.

  3. Par Shooter 08/21/2009 at 8:52 AM #

    This seems to be the type of thing where it’s easy to just wait and see. Whether this was a good hire will be clearly revealed in our conditioning level and strength/fitness. The only thing I’ll say in defense of the change is that I strongly feel the old S&C guy wasn’t cutting it. Lowe’s teams have all been in bad physical shape for an ACC team and its frequently shown on the court. There have also been some serious errors such as bulking up Brackman to the point that he had hip and then (possibly) elbow problems. Just for that episode alone I would be comfortable permanently parting ways with Stephenson. I’ve always wondered if our many injuries over the years could be traced, in some ways, to our S&C program.

    Stepheson Out=Good Thing; Wayne In=??

  4. Noah 08/21/2009 at 8:54 AM #

    Glad to see that Lowe’s old boy-network is still working well. Afterall, it’s paid handsome dividends so far.

    Why bother hiring the best people available when you can just put your drinking buddies on the payroll?

  5. WildWolf 08/21/2009 at 8:58 AM #

    No special knowledge here about S&C for elite athletes. Don’t know about team strength but our game conditioning has been a little sucky for two years. I feel more comfortable with the old school S&C men in any sport. My fear is that new S&C guys are more willing to go the “better living through chemistry” route. Key to this move will be whether the players buy into WW’s program and have a higher motivation to succeed than before. If so, good for us. On another level, this “4th season” reassignment in such a critical area is another public confirmation that the athletic department did not expect or demand early results from the program.

  6. Alpha Wolf 08/21/2009 at 9:07 AM #

    Playing Devil’s Advocate, let me ask you this: were you to hire anyone for any position, would you hire someone you know who you are sure could do a good job, or would you take a flyer on a stranger and hope that works out?

    Whether or not he is right or wrong, Sid went with the choice most people would have made.

    At the same time, I think you are correct in his circling the wagons a bit here. His job is as secure as any in college sports, however. He has a boss whose performance expectations are God-only-know-what but they sure as hell aren’t victories and championships. He only wants “progress.”

  7. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 08/21/2009 at 9:21 AM #

    If we were looking to go old school Sid should of contacted Jack LaLanne. At 94 he is in better shape than most of the team. Not forgetting to mention that State would have a would class legal juicing program.

  8. Noah 08/21/2009 at 9:34 AM #

    were you to hire anyone for any position, would you hire someone you know who you are sure could do a good job, or would you take a flyer on a stranger and hope that works out?

    That’s sort of the reason that most people require things like — a resume’, professional recommendations, references, job history…

    I reject the notion that the only two ways to hire people are to hire your friends and to throw darts at the phone book.

  9. Alpha Wolf 08/21/2009 at 9:43 AM #

    Perhaps so, Noah, but it is my experience in business that it is who you know, not your resume that will often get you a job.

  10. nycfan 08/21/2009 at 9:56 AM #

    I think the general consensus was that State needed a new S&C program, so a new S&C coach seems to be in order. It sounds like Mr. Wayne was already working at NC State, though I’m not clear if the Basketball team is just one of the teams he supports or if he has been reassigned solely to basketball(?)

    It sounds like the concern here is his lack of recent (within the last decade) experience training for hoops, but if he has been training other athletes, surely he has kept up with modern trends. My (limited) understanding of athletic training at the college and professional levels is that it is an evolving, cutting-edge type practice, and I know you train differently for different sports or positions. But is basketball training so specialized that some one training your soccer and/or track team couldn’t make an easy transition to basketball? (Genuine question — I have no idea).

    Maybe this is just the confluence of needing a change at S&C and being subject to budget constraints and having some one close at hand that you have personal experience with?

  11. packalum44 08/21/2009 at 10:11 AM #

    ^ I think the point of this article is to highlight more Sidney Lowe cronyism rather than the actual substance of the hire. S&C is the least of our worries.

    To another point, sure we hire our friends over others, but the best coaches (or accountants, attorneys, doctors) surround themselves and attract the best colleagues. So if Roy Williams hires a S&C coach who happens to be a friend, well rest assured the guy is pretty damn good.

    Whether its fair or not, every move Sid makes will now be scrutinized by the Wolfpack faithful, because thus far, he has proven Peter’s Principle, and has reached a level of incompetency. For this very reason, he would have been better served to hire from the outside, but what the hell does he care…his fat paychecks keep on coming without any end in sight.

    God help us.

  12. MatSci94 08/21/2009 at 10:11 AM #

    Our new infomercial….

    Don’t waste your time training for a new job, come to NC State and figure it out while you get paid to do the job!

    (mostly humor here, this isn’t my (total) perception of the athletic dept)

  13. Clarksa 08/21/2009 at 10:20 AM #

    I’ll go “glass half full” and will be happy that the coaching staff is willing to make changes in an area that seemed to be a problem in the past.

  14. burnbarn 08/21/2009 at 10:22 AM #

    ^^ coach’s checks aren’t so fat compared across the league.

  15. newt 08/21/2009 at 10:24 AM #

    I see a new S&C coach and the clear plan for achieving the goals and objectives for S&C that are described in this article as nothing but positive.

  16. BJD95 08/21/2009 at 10:28 AM #

    ^^^ The “half empty” view is that he didn’t bring in new blood, just recycled somebody he knows personally.

    Ridiculing cronyism is part of the point, as well as the weird notion that the players will listen better because he was around in 1983.

  17. Clarksa 08/21/2009 at 10:42 AM #

    My interpretation of the “half empty” view is that no matter what he does to try and improve the program, someone has a problem with it…

  18. choppack1 08/21/2009 at 10:51 AM #

    I read the article – and the coach says all the right thing, though he does look, errr, really long in the tooth…

    I mean, I’m willing to give him a chance, but it would be more comforting if we had some sort of bio on the guy…

  19. BJD95 08/21/2009 at 11:13 AM #

    ^^ Not true. I applauded the Vandenburg gamble, for one example. If he had gone outside his “comfort zone” and brought in an outsider from another university’s basketball S&C program, I would applaud that, too.

  20. Rick 08/21/2009 at 11:36 AM #

    I have always wondered if our S&C coach had something to do with our injuries as we are way above average on that front (and only that front). Has it been the same one the whole time?

    I wonder about using this guy too. It seems to me a change needed to be made but, why now and why this guy?

  21. GAWolf 08/21/2009 at 11:36 AM #

    I don’t exercise as a matter of principle after having it forced on me for many years, but I’ll play the occasional fat-boy pick-up game or rec league fill in for whatever sport is in season. The point is that I’m no progressive thinker schooled in the ways of the modern physical fitness. I’m going to assume that many theories have changed immmensely in a quarter century, especially when it comes to high-profile athletes in big money sports. Still, I’m in no position to say whether this guy has kept ahead of or at least with the curve.

    I do know this, however: I watched the ’83 championship game recently. College basketball today hardly resembles college basketball in ’83. In fact the comparison I gave the others when discussing this over email was that today’s game makes ’83 look like James Naismith throwing volleyballs into a peach basket attached to the wall of the gym.

  22. choppack1 08/21/2009 at 12:02 PM #

    GA wolf – you’re right Let’s face it – anyone who saw our 83 Championship team would say that they weren’t exactly svelt. In ’83, defense wasn’t played like it is today and game was much slower then.

    And Sid’s comments kind of take me back to my main criticisms of his tenure here:
    1) I don’t see a lot of evidence of organization of the staff.
    2) Sid has no successful model from which to draw from.

    When asked to comment about his coach, he goes back to the gray/feel good comments about how this guy has vision. It’s not like he is saying, well, Coach Wright was a big part of some school that recently made a run in the NCAA/or had a successful conference run – and just look how that team played.

    Like I said, the S&C coach clearly says the right things here. However, we have no recent resume from which to draw so we can make an informed opinion of this guy. While it’s not really our right as a fan to have this info, if you’re in your 3rd year and you haven’t come close to .500 record in conference – forgive us if this hire doesn’t inspire confidence.

    The proof will be in the pudding. Will these kids look lean and mean when they take the court? Will they hold up in the second half of games?

  23. DRW 08/21/2009 at 12:44 PM #

    As someone who has worked a supervisor for ten years, it is not a good idea to hire a friend. If you friend turns out to not be able to do the job, it is going to be difficult to fire him/her.

  24. Thinkpack17 08/21/2009 at 12:55 PM #

    Meh…S&C is all about “want to”. An athlete can go through the motions of a 6am weightroom workout or he can really bust ass and make it worth something. The person that has the most influence over that is the kid. A coach can write up a program and yell and grunt when he gets a chance, but if you don’t have the internal drive it’s worthless. I may have said it before but the Irainian wrestling squad used to dominate the world with a few old cement weight benches, some milk crates, and a pull up bar. S&C is all about want to.

  25. Wolf-n-Atl 08/21/2009 at 1:02 PM #

    My observations and questions:
    -what team(s) was/were Wayne working with and how did he do with them
    -our problem the last couple of seasons seemed to be conditioning, not necessarily strength. I think a lot of conditioning should come from practices. maybe some adjustments in that regard will help the overall team conditioning

    I agree that the players is our main issue. If we get our talent level up, I think we will be fine. I have more issues with the situation where Lo Brown was not cleared than the S/C program. Our staff should be on top of things like that.

Leave a Reply