Gottfried's Wolfpack ahead of schedule
Posted March 16, 2012
Before I get into the "meat and potatoes" of this blogpost, I'll offer up a few random thoughts about NC State's regional location.
Columbus, OH has a lot of the comforts of home for this team: Like Raleigh, it's a state capital, where the home team wears red. The regional site doubles as a hockey arena, much like the RBC - er... PNC Arena. Hey, the Hurricanes are even on the Nationwide Arena marquee - they play here next week. So, State should feel right at home in this town.
The Pack's a popular pick this weekend. None other than President Obama has State advancing to the Sweet 16, and the odds-makers are actually favoring the Pack over San Diego State – even though the Aztecs are the higher seed.
But, that's all silly, superficial stuff.
The real story here is what Mark Gottfried and his staff have done with this program over the last year.
Coach Gott & Co. have molded a group of individuals into a team. They've introduced the concept of accountability – the decisions you make on the court affect everyone around you, so make smart ones.
And the difference has been amazing.
OK, maybe "amazing" is stretching it a bit. This team had talent, but it was disorganized. Now, this State team moves with a purpose on the court. They have a system, and it maximizes the returns for the group. Sure, State plays only seven players on regular basis. But, those players have clearly defined roles. They're not asking players to do "too much." Instead, they're accentuating the positives each player brings to the court. Richard Howell's not being asked to knock down 3-point shots, and Scott Wood's not running the point.
The result has been fun to watch.
When he took over the program, Gottfried made no promises for this season. Quite to the contrary, he warned fans this could be a long year. As it turns out, State may well be ahead of schedule. They're back in the tournament, with a chance to make some noise before next year's heralded recruiting class arrives.
If this year's team is building a foundation, that recruiting class could be the main floor.
I didn't have a vote this year for the ACC awards – I simply forgot to pay my dues to the sports writer's association – but if I did, I'd have strongly considered Gottfried. The difference between last year's Wolfpack team and this one is striking – and he and his staff deserve the credit.