Katz: “NC State Working Back To Good Times”

Sometimes, it’s said, it is hard to see the forest for the trees.  That might be the case for NC State’s fans where its hoops program is concerned, at least in the eyes of ESPN college hoops scribe Andy Katz.  According to him, the Wolfpack is working their way back to respectability, albeit with a very young team.  Judging by the average fan’s expectations for the upcoming year, it’s fair to say that Pack fans may see things another way.

Let’s hope Katz is right.  At times last year, when the Wolfpack was not overmatched by teams with far greater skill, it looked lifeless and dispassionate.  Without pointing fingers or naming names, some of the players that left that impression are now out of the program, and Lowe is assembling a team wholly in his image and his recruiting ability.  Only one player, Dennis Horner, is a holdover from the Herb Sendek years, and Horner was only initially recruited by Sendek – he never played for the coach before he left for Arizona State.  For this season, Lowe has assembled some interesting pieces, but still lacks the one thing that will complete his squad: a go-to point guard that is the team’s knife to slice through an opponent’s butter.  Katz talks about that when he says

The anticipation is that they have found their backcourt of Lowe and Whittenburg — in the class of 2010, ranked at No. 12 by ESPNU with the expected arrival of Lorenzo Brown (Hargrave Military Academy/Roswell, Ga.) and Ryan Harrow (Walton HS/Marietta, Ga.). Brown could have gone to NC State this season but needed a fifth year of high school. Since neither player is signed yet, the staff can’t talk about them individually. But they said the future is “bright,” as both Lowe and Towe smiled and chuckled with delight.

And so, in year four, the Wolfpack will be younger and less experienced.

“I don’t know if we have a ‘pro’ right now, but we definitely have guys who can play,” Lowe said.

In short, 2009-20010 will be a year of change for the Wolfpack, and one that could, for once, represent a positive beginning instead of more of the same.  Wolfpack fans are impatient for their team to actually matter in the large scope of ACC basketball.  Old timers remember when the Pack was a feared team to play anywhere, especially at home.  Young fans just want to see a team that is consistently decent.  While much is made of State’s fans being envious of UNC and Duke, and to a degree there’s some truth to that, the bottom line is that State’s fans don’t want another year of loss after loss to not only Duke and Carolina, but also to the Virginia Tech,  Clemson and Miami.  With all due respect to those teams and their fans, State’s fans look at the rich heritage of the Wolfpack in college hoops history and want a return to vitality for the program that somewhat matches the history through the years.  Then — they can worry about maybe catching Carolina and Duke.

Katz’ article makes for an interesting read and one that has a different perspective than a naturally pessimistic NC State fan might have.  That pessismism – given the past five years – is well justified, and on paper, NC State hardly looks like world beaters coming in to 2009/10.  Katz sees a team that may be getting ready to do good things, and maybe that will be the pleasant surprise in the world of hoops this year.  For long-suffering State fans, that would be welcome relief from the unrequited  love they’ve given their teams through tough times.

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49 Responses to Katz: “NC State Working Back To Good Times”

  1. travelwolf 10/16/2009 at 12:34 PM #

    The overriding problem still remains: the lack of a true point guard. As long as the team is missing that piece, it won’t go anywhere (it’s already at the bottom).

    Even the article hints at this, but the writer somehow lacks the common sense to make the logical conclusion of a poor team until we find a guard.

    This year won’t be any different than the last 2 – because we’ve got the same problem.

    It’s so ironic that 2 point guards who won national championships have trouble recruiting a decent point guard to our school! I guess it’s a case of ‘opposites attract’.

  2. Pack Leader 10/16/2009 at 1:18 PM #

    Good write up Alpha. One thing I will say about the staff, they arnt blowing sunshine up our butt w/ high expectations or open promises. If you look at the roster of returning players only 1, TSmith, was a 4 star prospect so the talent level isnt where it needs to be to contend. BUT it can be very benifical to help young guys get experience (Painter,Howell,Wood) because that is the future of the progame. If Sid can establish a solid foundation of roll players and get this team in the right mindframe w/ uptempo and high intensity Def then it can be a springboard when we get our TOP 5 CLASS NATIONALLY. For the first time in 25 years I DONT EXPECT our team to compete w. ANY team in the top half of the confrence. Maybe a realization of our talent is what all our fans need.

    Cant help it but I HAVE to look ahead… ’10 starting roster


    That is a lineup that has the talent to compete w/ ACC teams…

  3. BJD95 10/16/2009 at 1:26 PM #

    It all depends on whether you are willing to give Lowe a COMPLETE PASS for Years 2-4, because of the HOPE you have for two players who will be FRESHMEN in Year 5 (and since they will be freshmen, Lowe’s defenders will emphatically declare how “unfair” it would be to expect any tangible results then as well).

    Alternatively, you might believe that Sidney Lowe is justly responsible for the product he will put on the court in Year Four, especially in light of the complete duds that were Years 2 and 3.

    One will make you feel better, and one makes sense. IMHO.

  4. statered 10/16/2009 at 1:35 PM #

    “Judging by the average fan’s expectations for the upcoming year”

    Since writers at this site like to pride themselves on using data to support its positions is there a link for this? Not saying I disagree but there seems to be a good bit of projection here.

  5. bradleyb123 10/16/2009 at 1:37 PM #

    I don’t have any expectations for THIS year, although I do have some “guarded hope”. I think there’s a chance we could surprise some people this year, but if we don’t, that’s ok with me. Even if we had won 30 games/year for the last three years, we shouldn’t expect much from a team of mostly freshmen and no great PG. My “guarded hope” is that Mays and Gonzalez have improved since last year, when they were already showing some promise down the stretch.

    What I would really like to see is some life this year. I want to see improvement, and reason for hope for next year. If we lay an egg and only win 10 games or something, that won’t be the bridge to next year that I’m hoping for. I want people to think we’re on the verge of something THIS year, and next year actually pull it off.

    And if we do even more this year, that much better.

  6. ncsu05mit10 10/16/2009 at 1:51 PM #

    Those that keep a lot of good stats on our team have indicated that it’s not our players’ inability to put the ball in the basket, it’s their inability to keep the other teams from having their best offensive performances of the year. This year’s offense might take a small step back from last year, but I’m more concerned with them taking a big step forward in defense, offensive rebounding, limiting and creating turnovers, etc. If that doesn’t occur, no amount of recruiting will change the product on the court.

    Lowe’s got to prove to me this year that the culture of the program has changed.

  7. Alpha Wolf 10/16/2009 at 1:59 PM #

    Statered, I base my impressions of what I have read on The Wolfpacker, on Pack Pride and by talking to a number of my friends at tailgates, etc.

    Is it a scientific poll? No. But I do think that it is safe to say that generally speaking, State fans have as low a set of expectations as I have seen in a few years.

  8. Statereverend 10/16/2009 at 2:04 PM #

    travelwolf: he acknowledged that and he also acknowledged that we DO have our PG coming, unfortunately we have to wait for next year for him to get here, but he’s coming.

    BJD: Lowe told you before he started that he needed 6 years to get this thing rolling like it’s supposed to be. Whether you want to acknowledge that our program was in that bad of shape when he took the job or not, I don’t really care. The facts are that he TOLD us it would take 6 years to do this, that’s why he received a 6 year contract instead of 5. Lowe has never redirected blame, he’s taken full responsibility for his record, however, we already knew this was going to be the case before he took the job. Just because you had unrealistic expectations doesn’t mean you were/are right. I’ve stated all along, last year was going to suck (it did), this year we are going to see a small improvement in wins but a large improvement in the quality of basketball our team is playing, and next year is the year when you will see a dramatic increase in wins. I’ve said it for 4 years now and I stand by it… and at the end of the day, I’ll be right.

    How could ANYBODY have high expectations for this year? We lost our top 3 scorers, 3 of our top 4 rebounders, 3 of our top 4 defenders and our top 3 assist-men. You can’t expect freshmen to come in and make up for that. That’s simply a ludicrous assumption.

    ncsu05: what you were looking for cannot be instilled into players who simply do not have that personality. I don’t care how much you coached Costner, how much time you spent with him, he was never going to be an aggressive defender, he was never going to be big on hustle. That was just his personality. Lowe has people now who will do those things and you’ll begin to see them this year. Though this won’t translate into a lot more wins, but the product on the floor will be much different.

  9. choppack1 10/16/2009 at 2:17 PM #

    I’d be a lot more excited w/out the whole Brown fiasco.

    To me, that puts an “*” by everything.

    I have definitely seen some good things from Lowe’s teams at different times – and I think the effort last year – on the whole – was the best of his first 3 years here.

    I have a glimmer of hope that Lowe is learning how to motivate and develop kids each day in practice, in the off-season, and before the game…and in college, this is where the majority of the games are won.

    Once the ball is up in the air, it’s almost too late. You can be the world’s greatest situational coach, but if your guys are out of shape, and don’t do the little things well (which are developed in practice) – you’ll lose a lot.

    I think Lowe has shown that he has a fantastic eye for talent. He’s shown he can get some attention from talented players.

    I’ll be looking for intensity on the floor this year – each and every night out. If I see us playing hard, in shape and looking like we have some element of a game plan – I’m certainly willing to give Lowe a chance to coach Harrow here.

  10. Alpha Wolf 10/16/2009 at 2:19 PM #

    I would be happy to see solid improvement through the upcoming year, with tenacious defense that other teams find difficult to solve. That and team cohesiveness.

    The best State teams I’ve seen – whether coached by Sloan, Valvano or the rest is that they always seemed like they were on the same page. No prima donna types.

  11. Statereverend 10/16/2009 at 2:21 PM #

    Ummm, you better give Lowe a chance to coach Harrow here, otherwise Harrow won’t be here. It would be the single most ignorant thing this university has done since the V fiasco if they were to get rid of Sid this year. You would lose Brown, Harrow, and Cothron. You would probably have at least 2 or 3 transfers. I mean you’d have to be insane to do that.

    And I think Brown coming in next year is a win/win for everybody. We weren’t going to be great this year even with Brown. This way our new recruits have a year under their belt to develop, Brown has a year to develop without using a year of eligibility and it also gives Brown and Harrow the opportunity to come in and play 4 years together. Not to mention, if we happen to land Leslie, this will give us the #1 class in the nation. I don’t see the downside?

  12. statered 10/16/2009 at 2:22 PM #

    As for me and the folks that I talk to…we really don’t have expectations on wins and losses per se. But we are all really interested in seeing new players and what happens since the other guys have left. My expectation is that this season will definately be more interesting than the last three. I guess that might actually qualify as a higher expectation as it is entertainment after all.

  13. Alpha Wolf 10/16/2009 at 2:30 PM #

    That’s a great attitude, statered. Usually, when “expectations” come up, however, the number of wins and losses gets into the picture. I hear everything from 4-6 conference wins, with no one expecting more than 8.

  14. LRM 10/16/2009 at 2:33 PM #

    “Ummm, you better give Lowe a chance to coach Harrow here, otherwise Harrow won’t be here. It would be the single most ignorant thing this university has done since the V fiasco if they were to get rid of Sid this year. You would lose Brown, Harrow, and Cothron. You would probably have at least 2 or 3 transfers. I mean you’d have to be insane to do that.”

    I recognize the point you’re trying to make, but when does the “You have to give him the chance to get [insert recruit here]” ever end? There will ALWAYS be another recruit to insert into that argument.

    What if we recruit Hickson every year, how on earth that does that help us?

  15. Statereverend 10/16/2009 at 2:40 PM #

    Hickson was not the problem. The other players that acted like they didn’t want to be here was the problem. Hickson was a monster. Give me 5 guys that played as hard and were as good as Hickson and I’ll beat the snot out of pretty much everybody in the country.

    You’re right, you don’t keep a coach based on the sole fact that he has a recruit coming. However, you have to give a coach a chance. If you knew, before he was hired, that this was going to take 6 years to get this train back on the tracks, then you haven’t given him the opportunity to do what he needed to do. You’re short-changing him and yourself for that matter. You haven’t given him the opportunity to coach his high-level players and possibly turn this thing around. Also, for one recruit you do not keep the coach around, however for 3 4*’s and at least one, if not two, 5* players, you probably keep the coach around till he’s proven that he can’t coach the guys that he’s recruited.

  16. TheAliasTroll 10/16/2009 at 2:40 PM #

    I honestly don’t see us losing any more than 4 games this season.

  17. pack44fan 10/16/2009 at 3:16 PM #

    I’m not of the opinion that it takes 6 years to turn a program around. Before Lowe got here, we had been in the tournament for several consecutive years so I don’t buy the argument that the program was destitute when he came in.

  18. Clarksa 10/16/2009 at 3:26 PM #

    “I honestly don’t see us losing any more than 4 games this season.”

    Welcome Gavin!

  19. Statereverend 10/16/2009 at 3:26 PM #

    We had like 5 scholarship players lol We had to bring walk-ons in just to hold practice. We didn’t have a center, we had absolutely no depth whatsoever, we played 5 guys for basically 40 minutes a game. We had a PG that got injured and had NOONE to back him up or replace his minutes.

    WTF are you talking about?

    Edit: Not to mention we lost all the recruits from that year except for Dennis… the cupboard doesn’t get much more bare than that.

  20. packplantpath 10/16/2009 at 3:27 PM #

    Statereverend – “Lowe told you before he started that he needed 6 years to get this thing rolling like it’s supposed to be.”

    Pack44, nobody said it takes 6 years to turn a bball program around. They said it takes 6 years for Sydney Lowe to do it. Big difference there.

  21. Wolfpack_1995 10/16/2009 at 3:30 PM #

    Good points in thread so far.

    The first point by “travelwolf” was the best IMO.

    Why has it taken so long for Sid/Monte to bring in a solid PG?

    We will only go so far as our guards take us.

    I hope Degand stays healthy, Javi learns to handle the ball better, and Mays becomes more of a leader.

    Defense is also Key as pointed out.

    If we do not step up on defense we go nowhere. Defense is one of the areas that has gone down since the last coach. At least with the former coach we were able to stay around in most games but then we usually would lose.

    Let’s step things up on Defense.

    Also, Here’s hoping that CJ Leslie has a boring experience at UK this weekend.

    If Leslie ends up signing with Sid I would be willing to let this year be less frustrating.

  22. JeremyH 10/16/2009 at 3:31 PM #

    I don’t know about you guys, but I’m interested in seeing what our new talent can do.

  23. Statereverend 10/16/2009 at 3:31 PM #

    wolfpack_95: You can’t FORCE a PG to commit to you.

    and pack44: name one more person who actually wanted the job that could turn the program around in less than 6 years…. hell i’ll make it even easier for you, just name one person who actually wanted the job in the first place.

  24. packplantpath 10/16/2009 at 3:34 PM #

    Easy. Rick Barnes. Just because he isn’t here, doesn’t mean he couldn’t have been here if the hand was played right.

  25. CarnifeX 10/16/2009 at 3:49 PM #

    Mr. Katz:

    Agree to disagree.


    Seasoned Statefan

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