Ever since the hiring of Mark Gottfried to NC State, we’ve heard a few people saying “wow, what a great hire”, a few people saying “I can’t believe that it happened AGAIN” and a ton of people saying “well, I didn’t know if I liked it at first, but I guess it’s ok, but maybe it’s not, so… we’ll just have to see.”Â It’s not that difficult to look at this staff, before they even coach one game, and acknowledge that the team is already looking at a brighter future.
…and I don’t just mean that from a classic NC State ‘well, we couldn’t get any worse’ attitude, either.
COACHING EXPERIENCE VS PLAYER EXPERIENCE
As the old adage goes, ‘those who can’t do, teach’.Â Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should.Â Sometimes when you have someone who has spent a long period of their life “doing”, they lose their ability to think and act objectively outside of the system that they use to act in.Â You could make this claim for the other coaching staff compared to the new.
First, let’s recall who was on Sidney Lowe’s staff.Â We had Sidney, himself a National Champion player on the 1983 Wolfpack team, Monte Towe who was on the 1974 Wolfpack team, Larry Harris who was a record-holding forward for Pittsburgh in the 1970’s and Pete Strickland, a fellow teammate of Harris’.Â Of the four coaches, all but Pete Strickland would play professionally.Â Monte Towe and Larry Harris only played for two seasons before beginning a coaching career, but Sidney Lowe played for just shy of a decade.
Obviously Gottfried doesn’t approach the task of team-building from the same “player experience matters” aspect.Â Gottfried himself played for Oral Roberts for one season before transferring to Alabama, but after completing his degree in 1987, he opted to not participate in the NBA (despite the fact that he was drafted) and instead ended up attending graduate school at UCLA where he began coaching as an assistant.
That only speaks for Gottfried; what about his assistants?Â Look no further than Bobby Lutz.Â Bobby didn’t even get a chance to walk-on to his college team.Â Still, he ended up getting an assistant coaching job at Clemson after getting his four degrees (including his masters at Clemson).Â Through his results, he proved a successful enough coach to get an offer to serve as Head Coach at Pfeiffer followed years later by getting an offer to coach at UNC Charlotte where he would become their winningest coach.Â All of this despite the fact that he had no college or professional player experience.
EXPERIENCED IN WINNING TITLES
You can’t talk about the Sidney Lowe coaching staff without talking about their existing lack of credentials when they ‘arrove’ in Raleigh.Â The only individuals who had even sniffed anything that looked like a “Title” at any level was Monte Towe who was an assistant coach at Florida when they won an SEC title in the 1980s, and Pete Strickland who had won a conference title at Old Dominion as an assistant coach back in the 1990s.Â Obviously Sidney Lowe hasn’t been coaching in the college game, but he hasn’t accomplished much better in the NBA.
Looking at Gottfried’s staff, you see a myriad of “Titles”.Â These guys are focused on producing hardware, which is something NC State hasn’t sniffed in upwards of two decades, or one-or-two generations of Wolfpack fans depending on how you are keeping count.Â
Gottfried, himself, has been a part of 3 conference championships (1 as an assistant at UCLA and 2 as a head coach at Murray St) and 1 national championship while serving as assistant coach at UCLA.Â Rob Moxley, by most accounts one of the nations top recruiters, was a part of 2 conference championships serving as an assistant under none-other-than Bobby Lutz.Â Lutz totaled 4 conference championships at UNC Charlotte, 1 as an assistant and 3 as head coach.Â Orlando Early also brings in 3 conference championships, 2 on the same staff as Lutz and Moxley, and 1 as an assistant coach at Western Carolina.
Between Gottfried’s coaching staff during their assistant coaching years and head coaching years, they bring in experience from 8 conference national championships (only counting shared titles as “1” win), and 1 national championship.Â That’s a stark change from the Lowe staff’s mereÂ 2 conference championships.
OVERALL WINNING SUCCESS IN THEIR CURRENT ROLES
To a lot of critics and supporters alike, it’s useless to attribute a win to an assistant coach if we are asking them to serve as head coach since they didn’t “lead the team” to their success.Â Just because someone was a national champion quality assistant doesn’t mean he’ll perform the same as a head coach.
That being said, it should have been obvious how doomed NC State was from the start (and to be fair, many would claim that they did see it from the start) of the Lowe era at NC State.Â While Lowe was a head coach, he was only successful in beating his opponents inÂ barely over 25% of his matchups.Â As an assistant, he was still only a part of 55% successful teams.Â As for Lowe’s assistants, Towe’s teams were typically 58% successful with him as an assistant, Harris 44%, and Strickland 47%.Â Now, can you blame an assistant for 30% success?Â Not exactly, because he could have just had a terrible boss/head coach.Â At the same time, it does speak to the “winning experience” they bring in.Â Overall, Lowe’s “winning experience” was 26% as a head coach (albeit, NBA experience, not NCAA experience)Â and his assistants only brought in an average of 50% “winning experience”.
If the application of this fictional “winning experience” measure isn’t evident, let’s take a look at Gottfried.Â First of all, Gottfried is personally responsible for 68% success as head coach (75% at Murray St and 62% at Alabama).Â That is already a massive improvement over someone who is 26% successful.Â As for his assistants, Moxley, Lutz, and Early bring in 55%, 56%, and 58% “winning experience” as assistant coaches respectively which averages out to just over 56%.
The conclusion you can draw is that Gottfriend not only brings in significantly more experience as a winning coach than Lowe did, but his staff also brings in more experience of being a supporting character in more successful squads than Lowe’s staff ever did.
There are a lot of qualitative improvements this staff brings over the previous administration.Â First of all, when you look at the origins of the previous staff prior to arriving at NC State, Lowe brought in NBA connections which helped him with recruiting, but his staff consistented of one assistant coach from the same university he came from and two other assistants that both attended Pittsburgh.Â Lowe and his staff also spent a lot of their careers working in very distant positions from the recruiting grounds of North Carolina.Â Larry Harris worked in Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Washington before arriving at NC State and Monte Towe spent 11 years in Florida, 8 years in Venezuela, and 5 years in Louisiana.Â Strickland would be the only one on the Sidney Lowe staff to have “deep” connections to the region.
Mark Gottfried’s staff is studded with regional stars (and I feel pretty safe referring to them as “starts”).Â As previously mentioned, Moxley is one of the nation’s top recruiters, by some accounts one of the nation’s top 20.Â He has spent his entire coaching career in North Carolina, Marlyand, and Tennessee.Â Bobby Lutz is obviously the home-town sweetheart of the famed Queen City.Â the only time he strayed away from the Carolinas was last year when he served one year as an assistant of Iowa State.Â Orlando EarlyÂ has also spent 9 of his 18 years coaching in North Carolina, only leaving the state to serve as an assistant to Mark Gottfried at Alabama and then accepting a head coaching position at Louisiana-Monroe from 2005-2010.
The ironic part of having a coaching staff with no organic roots to NC State is that they are far more connected to the region they will be coaching in than the previous staff which was heralded as a “hometown darling” for NC State by the then-administration.
I’m only writing this last section for posterity because I think the conclusion is clear: this staff is loaded with so much more promise and potential.Â For those that get put-off by promise and potential and demand results, this is as good as it will get until tip-off this fall.Â You have coaches with far more experience coaching and winning than the previous administration and who are accustomed to winning.Â Unlike other “winners” we have brought into NC State for various teams, the one thing that makes this group unique is that none of them have had the luxery or opportunity to get comfortable with their success.Â Mark Gottfried obviously made the personal decisions he did in Alabama which cut his winning tradition short.Â The various assistants that are serving Gottfriend have all experienced success at UNC Charlotte where they wracked up multiple NCAA tourney bids and 20-win seasons, but Bobby Lutz was dismissed in 2010 after a 218-158 record.
This is a staff that you could argue is so well suited for NC State that its creepy.Â They have a history of success, but in recent years have had an unfortunately series of events, some self-inflicted, that have stopped them from continuing their success.Â If you don’t take anything else from the article, just consider this: this coaching staff “fits” with NC State and like the staff’s careers, we are in need of proving a point.Â If any staff is going to “get it” and be capable of acting on it, it’s going to be this group.