Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The NC State Surprise

Flashback to the spring of 2011 after North Carolina State fired basketball coach Sidney Lowe.

Lowe was Wolfpack in thought, word and deed. He played on Jim Valvano’s national championship team. He bled red and white. But he couldn’t win enough games. Lowe had two meager NIT appearances to show for his efforts.

The NC State basketball program was frankly in a world of hurt. Then things actually became worst. No one wanted the job. A school with a rich basketball tradition including two national championships kept getting turned down like a guy seeking a prom date.

Finally, the Wolfpack found somebody. Mark Gottfried, a former head coach at Alabama, and two-year ESPN commentator accepted the assignment.

Gottfried was a surprising hire and one that didn’t exactly excite the NC State fan base or the college basketball world.

But about 12 months later, the Wolfpack is in the Sweet 16. They were one of the last teams to get into the NCAA field and they have caught fire..

Gottfried has performed magic with mostly Lowe’s players. His rah, rah speeches are getting television time. Apparently they are working. NC State has already sent a No. 6 and No. 3 seed home. The Wolfpack aims for No. 2 Kansas Friday night.

Funny how things work out. Miracles do happen. Ask Gottfried. Ask N.C State.

Here’s a team not satisfied with only being invited to dance. The Wolfpack want to dance all night long.

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