Mays and Smith Say Some Players on Last Year’s State Team Were Selfish

One of the oldest cliches in sports is that there is no “I” in “team.”  Like most cliches, there is a solid kernel of truth in the center, albeit one that becomes so overused the people start looking past it. According to an article on’s website this morning, there was a lot of “I” on last year’s Wolfpack men’s hoops team, something that won’t be as much of a problem on this year’s squad:

This year, Julius Mays said, “We have no individual just about themselves. When I got here, we’ve had players that have been more about themselves. They’d rather score 30 points than N.C. State win the game.

“You can’t win like that. We’ve also had players that try to turn other players against Coach to get them on their page instead of Coach’s page. You can’t win like that.”

Tracy Smith, who will be a key player inside, agreed.

“Last year and the year before that, everybody wanted to come in and play their own way,” Smith said. “I don’t think we’ll have that problem. Everybody’s on the same page.”

Let’s hope so.  State is a team that will quite often be overmatched from a physical skills standpoint, and if there are five freelancers out on the court facing that sort of competition, they will get last year’s results all over.  If this year’s vintage of Wolfpack basketball plays in usison and according to plan, they may well be a pleasant surprise – a team that wins games it is not supposed to win, and exceeds everyone’s expectation by a comfortable margin.

This topic was also launched on our message boards last Friday and can be seen by clicking.

08-09 Basketball 09-10 Basketball

90 Responses to Mays and Smith Say Some Players on Last Year’s State Team Were Selfish

  1. Thinkpack17 10/19/2009 at 9:28 AM #

    I know we all thought it…but to see it actually being said by two of our current leaders is a little disturbing.

  2. packof81 10/19/2009 at 9:40 AM #

    I’d say expectations are rather low at this point. A pleasant surprise is overdue.

  3. nycfan 10/19/2009 at 9:58 AM #

    With State on the cusp of what could be your best recruiting class since the ’70s, a “new” attitude (esp. if accompanied by improved W-L record) could be a harbinger of a genuine corner-turning season next year.

    For now, the skeptic in me will file this under “heard it before”. IIRC, when Lowe first arrived, the players who later came to be known as “Herb’s guys” made a lot of comments about how much more fun and exciting basketball under Sidney Lowe would be than under his predecessor. And many of those same people last season seemed to talk about how the prior season was too much about individuals and the ’09 season would be about team basketball. In other words, there seems to be a habit thus far of throwing the prior season/coach/players under the bus a bit in the preseason, without any resulting improvements (Horner might want to watch his back).

    Maybe Lowe really has been saddled with bad apples and now he starts anew; it is everyone’s chance this season to prove (or disprove) the bad apple theory.

  4. SMD 10/19/2009 at 10:17 AM #

    While I am glad to see that there may be more team unity and chemistry, it is still troubling to see that the problem existed in the first place.

    One of my favorite movies is “Remember the Titans.” At one point when he is trying to bring the team together, the coach says – “You don’t have to love each other but you WILL respect each other.” Granted, that quote was in the racial sense of that movie, but I think it can be applied to building a team in general.

    If the players are not getting along, to the detriment of the product on the court, then the Coach has to step up and kick some asses until they do – even if it means sitting the “best” players.

    This situation is exactly why I wonder if Coach Lowe is the right guy for our program. Clearly he can recruit, but he’s got a big learning curve in terms of managing 18-20 year olds.

  5. Rick 10/19/2009 at 10:19 AM #


  6. packalum44 10/19/2009 at 10:31 AM #

    This information should be kept internal.

  7. EdMar 10/19/2009 at 10:40 AM #

    We are about to do it again. We are eternal optimists.

    We should not have a very good team this year, but for the next month we will read all these wonderful stories about better chemistry, more experience, better point guard play, better depth, ten players coming in and out, freshmen that will really contribute, coach feeling more comfortable, etc. etc.

    By the time the meat of the ACC schedule comes we will all be mad at Coach Lowe.

    I refuse to get my hopes up. I’m planning for a bottom three finish and wait for the recruits next year before I even consider not having to hide during basketball season.

  8. Thinkpack17 10/19/2009 at 10:42 AM #


    Well maybe he did kick some ass. We all complained about Lowe’s substitution patterns. I remember specifically in the Marquette game, Costner couldn’t miss in the first half. But he blew two defensive assignments to end the half. We came out the second half and hit one of our infamous scoring droughts and I remember yelling “Where the Hell is Brandon Costner!?!”….”He DID NOT miss in the first half. Why the hell would you sit him for the first 10 minutes of the second half!? What are you doing!?!”

    Now, looking back, maybe he WAS kicking ass and sitting his “best” players. Maybe he was trying to get his point across even at the cost of losing the game.

  9. Thinkpack17 10/19/2009 at 10:46 AM #

    “This information should be kept internal.”

    LOL…this from the guy who says Julius Mays sucks and averaged 10 turnovers a game. NOW you are worried about what should be said and what should be “internal”? Come on.

  10. Statereverend 10/19/2009 at 11:22 AM #

    SMD you CAN’T be serious? He couldn’t sit Fells, McCauley and Costner… who the hell would he put in? At one point, i don’t think we even had enough players to replace them with… Give me a break. If he had sat them and played some worse scrubs, you’d all be on here talking trash about him saying how stupid he is for not playing his best players… Must be nice to never be able to be wrong.

  11. Master 10/19/2009 at 11:33 AM #

    SMD – “Remember The Titans” is a MOVIE.

  12. choppack1 10/19/2009 at 11:39 AM #

    As nycfan notes – in year 1 – “we were having fun.”

    What happened between year 1 and year 2? It sounds like in years 2 and 3 – we were plagued by “selfishness.” I’m sorry, but selfishness is a coaching issue.

    If guys aren’t on good teammates and aren’t doing what they are supposed do, they don’t play – period. To tolerate and even reward such behavior is bad for morale.

    I’m hoping that much of this can be attributed to the combo of the learning curve between coaching college players vs. coaching pros and having players from the previous regime not on the same page. However, it’s a little disconcerting that after each of the last 2 years we here how there are problems w/ attitudes.

  13. wolfbuff 10/19/2009 at 11:46 AM #


    I sure hope better team chemistry translates to better effort. We’re going to need the team to be greater than the sum of the parts.

    A lot of people (including me) have said – and I still agree – that team chemistry problems is a coaching problem. I would rather have seen less experienced players playing hard (and maybe not winning) than Costner moping up and down the court half-assing it. It is inexcusable the year we had Hickson we weren’t a top tier ACC team. And if we’re ever able to get there, Coach is going to have to figure out how to snuff out egos and get the most of out players for the good of the team

  14. Clarksa 10/19/2009 at 11:49 AM #

    I don’t really know about this one…maybe the “big 3” did what they were supposed to in practice in order to play and then just stunk it up on the court when it was time for the games…

  15. newt 10/19/2009 at 12:23 PM #

    I think I would have liked to see a player trying to score 30 points last year…

    Anyway, much of this “better chemistry” talk sounds so familiar…

    And two years ago, Grant was talking about the more uptempo style of play…

    Just sayin’ we’ll see.

    I do think that it takes awhile to go from the Princeton style approach to a more normal style of ball in terms of personnel and some of the skills you want on the team, so a transition period is reasonable in that regard.

  16. Thinkpack17 10/19/2009 at 12:30 PM #

    ^^I think when Gavin talked about the uptempo style his last year none of us, including Gavin himself, envisioned HIM playing point guard for half the season.

    Engin went down and a lot of things changed.

  17. Cardiff Giant 10/19/2009 at 12:34 PM #

    So the meme is, “We Suck – Together!”?

  18. Dr. BadgerPack 10/19/2009 at 12:36 PM #

    At this point at least all of the personnel should be CAPABLE of playing uptempo. I don’t think that was the case in any of the past 3 seasons. It would be really ugly to have watched one set of personnel last season play uptempo, and another group not be able to.

    This years team should be much more athletic, and the style of play should reflect that. I’m cautiously optimistic that the extra size and athleticism will help with another big problem in Sidney Lowe’s tenure (and even predating it), which would be rebounding. Not giving up a dozen plus offensive rebounds will have a profound impact on the perceived defensive ability of the team (read: fewer points!).

    I also wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more defensive aggression; fouls in most cases shouldn’t be an issue, especially in the frontcourt. There are a lot of big bodies to throw around.

    I’ll be pretty happy if this team is fun to watch, exerts some effort for 40 freaking minutes, and improves as the season progresses. Even with the youth, the breakdown is in a good way– guards that have been around for at least 1 ACC season and the young ‘uns down low. The other way around just gets ugly.

  19. Lunatic Fringe 10/19/2009 at 12:43 PM #

    To build on Statereverend’s point…

    In Year 1, Lowe had to play players out of necessity. The 3 amigos were able to have free reign over their PT regardless of their performance and if they did get out of line we did have leadership from Atsur on the floor. The problem is that bad habits set in during Year 1 that simply were too hard to remove in Year 2/3 for those players.

    It is not so different than the business world when a new manager is brought in to revitalize a business except Lowe could not fire any of the presumed leaders. He had to do the best he could with what he had at the time.

    Year 2 the “upperclassmen” came in with expectations on the following year being the same as Year 1 and now there was no true leader on the team to guide them. Lowe had other options, but even than he was still limited to what he could do with the team.

    I remember the rumblings from the fans about Costner potentially leaving early, McCauley not participating in summer games, and PT being given to others (namely JJ) rather than the supposed leaders of the team. It is very easy to say, “sit them” or “kick them off” now, but what would that have accomplished in Year 2 except us having the EXACT same issue as Year 1.

    It was one reason why I was not as critical as some of Lowe during his first years and was happy to see those guys move on last year. I am sure there are things Lowe would have done differently, but it was an ugly situation regardless. The upcoming years are a completely different story…

  20. Rick 10/19/2009 at 12:47 PM #

    “So the meme is, “We Suck – Together!”?”

    How about “well we will at least try”

  21. wolfonthehill 10/19/2009 at 12:54 PM #

    Isn’t this two straight years with the same mantra?

    Lemme guess… in 2 more years, SMITH will be the “selfish” one, and we’ll be on the road to team chemistry without him!!!

    Jeebus, where the hell else does this happen on such a routine basis? Surely nowhere with great (or even good) coaching regimes in place.

  22. Thinkpack17 10/19/2009 at 1:02 PM #

    ^Everyone for two years has been poking at Costner. In our fanbase and on this very board. I have done it, most of you have done it too. We called him lazy, we said he lacked passion and didn’t play any defense. So when Julius actually confirms what we have all long suspected that make it somehow LESS believable? I don’t think I get it.

  23. wolfonthehill 10/19/2009 at 1:04 PM #

    “And these players, Lowe believes, have a chance to show some promise. He’s particularly excited about moving to a faster-paced style.

    “We’re going to get up and down the floor a little more unless they show me they can’t do that,” he said. “But if you’re going to play up-tempo, you can’t play seven guys.”

    And seems like about the 10th straight year we’ve heard that refrain, as well……

  24. GAWolf 10/19/2009 at 1:05 PM #

    I’ve watched Tracy Smith give 110% on the court. He’s anything but selfish.

    I’m not saying this was a wise move to publicly out some past players, but as Thinkpack17 has pointed out… this doesn’t really catch any of us by surprise.

  25. choppack1 10/19/2009 at 1:18 PM #

    “I don’t think that was the case in any of the past 3 seasons. It would be really ugly to have watched one set of personnel last season play uptempo, and another group not be able to.”

    quick question: Who is in the back court this year, that wasn’t there last year that makes this possible?

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