Lowe, Wolfpack want to forget about last season
By Aaron Beard
RALEIGH ó Sidney Lowe is apparently finished with thinking about everything that went wrong in his disastrous second season at North Carolina State.
“I want to get past last year,” Lowe said Thursday during an offseason news conference. “I’m moving forward now. We’re looking forward to this year. Our guys are working hard right now. They’re in shape. I think mentally they’re ready to go.”
No matter what Lowe says, it’s impossible to erase the memories of last year. N.C. State went from nationally ranked in the preseason and picked to finish third in the ACC to a losing record, a last-place ACC finish and a nine-game losing streak to end the year. Along the way, there were plenty of questions about the team’s apparent lack of chemistry that grew steadily worse as the season wore on.
Lowe wasn’t in much of a mood to reflect. Instead, he’s focused on moving on after J.J. Hickson jumped to the NBA draft after one season, robbing the Wolfpack of its leading scorer and rebounder. Lowe talked glowingly of how upperclassmen like Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley ó two players who took a step back last season ó have each slimmed down and are working hard in the offseason. They’ll need to be in good shape considering Lowe expects to play a faster tempo without Hickson in the low block.
“No one was more disappointed than we were,” Lowe said of last year’s 15-16 record. “That hurt. That hurt those guys. So they want to certainly try to take care of that this year. I think they re showing that by what they’re doing this summer.”
When asked about the team’s lack of chemistry, Lowe brought up the way the Boston Celtics welcomed Kevin Garnett with open arms. The result was an NBA title.
“Now, if they didn’t like him or didn’t want to play with him, chemistry probably would have been bad,” said Lowe, a former NBA coach. “Chemistry is just people accepting their roles and playing to win. That’s it.”
He wouldn’t elaborate on whether there was a problem last year. But he spent some of the news conference emphatically driving home another message: Things are going to be done “my way.” It came through in the way he “demanded” his team to work hard this summer and be ready to play. It also came through when he talked about “the people in the background, the AAU guys, parents, girlfriends, whatever it might be” who can influence the way his players think or behave.
While he wasn’t defensive or aggressive in his demeanor, it was a confident show of control over a program emerging from a shaky season. He’ll just have to wait to see if it makes a difference this fall.
“(The players) understand me and where I’m coming from,” Lowe said. “In no other terms is it going to be any other way. It’s going to be my way, and that’s it. It’s real simple. They’re players and I’m the coach and they’re going to do it my way. And if they don’t, then they don’t want to be here.”