Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NC State Signs CJ Leslie

NC State has, beneath the radar, put together a really nice 2010 class, and it got even nicer today with the signing of power forward C.J. Leslie, considered somewhere between the 10th and 15th best recruit in the nation at any position, depending on which scouting service you look at. He joins point guard Ryan Harrow and shooting guard Lorenzo Brown to make up what is arguably one of the best recruiting classes in the entire nation.

Leslie will play down low with returning starter Tracy Smith, along with two young players with a lot of potential in Richard Howell and DeShawn Painter. Brown and Harrow will join returning starter Javier Gonzalez in the backcourt. Julius Mays will provide depth. NC State also has a few good returning swingmen: Scott Wood, C.J. Williams and Josh Davis.

But nobody has accused Sidney Lowe of not being to recruit, the question is whether he can coach. NC State has seemed like a drifting program with no obvious direction, and if Lowe can't win this season with all of this talent then the seat he's sitting in is going to start getting really warm. To me, even with the Leslie signing, NC State is at best a bubble team right now.


Anonymous said...

Bubble Team?? Are you nuts. If you took that line up and put a Tarheel jersey on them you would be picking them to win the National Championship. With the expansion of the tourney to 68 teams the Pack should be predicted in by any analyst with a bball IQ.

Jeff said...

One thing you need to realize before you jump all over the NC State bandwagon is that, as I said, Sidney Lowe has brought in top players before. He has a recruiting class that is ranked by many as one of the 15 best in the country. But you could also say the exact same thing about NC State's 2009, 2007 and 2005 classes. It's just a simple fact that NC State has a history of bringing in top recruits and not performing, which is precisely why Sidney Lowe is getting onto the hot seat, and why NC State never should have gotten rid of Herb Sendek.

NC State went 5-11 in the ACC last season, and they lose two of their five top players. They should be better, but it requires a huge leap of faith to think they'll be any better than 8-8 or 9-7 next season.

Anonymous said...

^Don't agree with these comments at all.

First, just a basic point, NCSU did not get rid of Herb Sendek. Herb Sendek left on his own. I'm amazed at how often people who write about basketball get this wrong. And Sendek is the most overrated coach in the country, but that's another discussion.

Your basic premise is wrong. This class is miles better than any of Sid's prior classes. This is a consensus top 5 class with three consensus top 30 players. You absolutely cannot say the same about Lowe's prior classes. Recruiting, especially backcourt recruiting, has been Lowe's main problem. He has not recruited a top 150 guard before this class. Over the last three years (and most of 2006 when Engin Atsur was hurt) unless Courtney Fells or Javi Gonzales were on a hot streak, State did not get enough production from their backcourt to win consistently in the ACC.

That should change next year. I do not expect a top 10 team, but State should have no problem finishing in the top half of the ACC and making the NCAAs.

Jeff said...

I understand you're an NC State fan, so there's no way I'm going to change your mind until the results actually happen in the fall. You can choose to believe this is NC State's greatest recruiting class ever (although you should replace "consensus Top 5 class" with "One recruiting service has them in the Top 5"), but I still think the '07 class was better. And it's impossible to tell with recruiting classes until they play anyway... one thing you'll understand when you follow this long enough is that a lot of the scouting is total guessing. Go take a look at the Top 50 recruits from 2006 or 2004 and have a laugh.

And yes, technically Herb Sendek wasn't "fired", but he saw the writing on the wall. NC State fans had an absolute hatred of him (as you do), and he knew he was going to be fired sooner rather than later and took another good job when it opened. It's the same reason Greg McDermott just left Iowa State... although he wasn't as hated as Sendek was.

I've actually talked a bit about the NC State hatred of Sendek, because in a lot of ways it's irrational - I've never seen another fan base that hated one of its own coaches so much. Even USC fans don't hate Tim Floyd as much as NC State fans hate Sendek. My belief is that it's the style of offense, and that deliberate offenses just don't fly in the ACC. It's the reason why I'm down on Wake Forest's hire of Jeff Bzdelik, even though he's a good coach. Bzdelik plays an even more deliberate offense than Sendek, so if Wake Forest fans are anything like NC State fans they're going to hate him unless he's winning ACC titles every season.

You would think that since Sendek took NC State to Tournaments in his final five season there, and has now had big success at Arizona State while NC State hasn't been Dancing since Sendek left, that NC State fans would have softened on him... but they haven't. It's fascinating.

DMoore said...

"Sendek is the most overrated coach in the country"

Except for Roy and Coach K, what other ACC coach has recently taken their team to 5 straight NCAA tourneys? How many coaches could make ASU into a perennial contender in the Pac10? I tried to think of an ACC equivalent to ASU and couldn't. It's like Wake and Duke consistently contending in football.

No, Sendek wasn't fired. He was smart enough to leave and go where he'd be appreciated.

"Recruiting, especially backcourt recruiting, has been Lowe's main problem."

You're right that Lowe has not had the guards he needs to be successful in ACC play. But CJ Leslie is not a guard, and Javier Gonzales is still likely to be running the show next year.


"My belief is that it's the style of offense, and that deliberate offenses just don't fly in the ACC."

Jeff, I don't think Wake Forest fans will have the same reaction. As long as Bzdelik is successful, I think Wake fans will embrace him. I think NC State's dislike of Sendek is just as much due to the giant aura that Valvano's memory still radiates. Valvano was one of the most likeable coaches of all time. Sendek is a very skilled coach, but he is both boring and nerdy. NC State fans picture their program as exciting (a perfect adjective for Valvano and his results), so Sendek was especially distasteful to them.

I think if Wake, or Virginia for instance, have success with a slower style, their fans will be very happy.

Jeff said...

DMoore, you might be right about Wake Forest. I thought that Wake Forest would be more like NC State because of the way they've played the last decade or so, which has been recruiting a lot of NBA quality athletes without much of an offensive system to speak of. Bzdelik won't bring in the same level of recruits.

That said, Virginia does seem to be doing okay with Tony Bennett thus far, so maybe Wake Forest will be happy with Bzdelik as long as he shows progress.

Anonymous said...

Jeff: "NC State fans had an absolute hatred of him (as you do)."

LOL. What a ridiculous statement. Absolute hatred? Give me a break.

I met Herb and liked him personally very much. I'm happy that he's doing reasonably well at Arizona State. It's a better place for him with lower expectations. I don't know any State fans who "hated" Sendek. It was just time to move on.

This is the Sendek record at NC State: one Sweet 16 appearance, one top 25 finish, and 0 regular season or conference tournament titles in a decade, while tallying historically poor records against Duke, UNC, and Wake. You need to do better than that at a school with 2 national titles and 10 conference titles, or fans will not be happy. Scraping into the NCAAs on the back of a weak non-conference schedule followed by a quick tourney exit every year is not good enough. Herb did not win enough, so fans wanted a new coach. It is no more complicated than that.

No one would have cared about his personality or style of play if he'd have won more games. All fans don't really care about a coach's personality; they care about winning. How well do you think Coach K's constant cursing and berating of players would be received if he wasn't successful? NC State fans loved former football coach Dick Sheridan, and he had the personality of a piece of dry toast. It did not matter, because he won.

It's hard for me to take you seriously when you state that I have an "absolute hatred" Sendek based, apparently, on my comment that he is overrated. Get a grip. The only reason any State fans talk about Sendek anymore is because the media cannot stop bringing him up, usually (like you did) with some bogus statement about how he was "fired." He got a nice raise from ASU. Good for him. Stop turning him into a martyr.

I think Coach Lowe is on his way to doing very good things at State and I'm excited about the future. I agree that it is not a sure thing, but for the first time in a long time I have hope that the program can get back to where it once was.

Good luck with your site.

(And just for the record, I already noticed ASU fans grumbling about Sendek's post-season tournament flame-outs over the past two years. I'm sure you'll be blasting them for "irrational hatred" if they eventually tire of sitting on the bubble every year, right?)

Anonymous said...

Im a Duke fan and what Sidney Lowe did with the talent he had on his team was really quite remarkable. I don't know much about NCSU's past classes but its scary to think what he can do with true ACC talent at the 1 and 2 spots.

Jeff said...

Sidney Lowe has been there for four seasons, and in two of those four seasons he came into camp with a consensus Top 15 recruiting class. And the best ACC record he's had in those four seasons in 6-10.

It's in fact hard to find any coach that has done less with more. That doesn't mean he's a terrible college coach, because college coaching is so much about recruiting and Sidney Lowe can recruit. But so far he hasn't been able to coach the loads of talent he's had.

He's on the hot seat for the same reason Dino Gaudio was on the hot seat, and the same reason why Paul Hewitt is on the hot seat: when you bring in so much talent, you've got to win.

If after five years of recruiting classes Lowe still cannot win, he could easily find himself fired at the end of the season.

Anonymous said...

I know the Costney, McCauley, Fells class was top 15, but what was the other top15 class? I notice that no one mentioned that Sendek never sniffed the tourney until his SIXTH year at State. And that was when he finally had a pair of decent GUARDS in Hodge and Grundy. In the ACC, it's all about guardplay. Get ready for the pain, ACC.

Jeff said... rated their 2007 class (JJ Hickson, Tracy Smith, Javier Gonzalez, et al) 17th overall, and their 2009 class (DeShawn Painter, Richard Howell, et al) 14th. Scouts, Inc. also had their 2009 class rated 11th. Let's not forget the hype NC State was getting into the 2007-08 season, when Joe Lunardi had them as a 2 seed preseason. Sidney Lowe has had top recruits and hype before, and hasn't come through yet.

Also, let's keep in mind that Herb Sendek took over a team that had been awful for about a decade and immediately grew the team, taking them to the NIT in his first four seasons before finally breaking through. Sidney Lowe was handed a team that had been to five straight NCAA Tournaments.

And to put to bed this Sendek hatred, you said: "Sendek is the most overrated coach in the country". Find me another fan base in the country that would say that about one of their ex coaches. NC State fans are unique in their hatred for one of their own ex-coaches... and it happens to be one of the most successful coaches in their history, and he didn't bring any off-the-court problems, or probation, or anything else. There's no reason for the hatred.

Anonymous said...

Lorenzo Browm is why the 2009 class was so high. He was not there last year...JJ was a cancer. The first class was Sendeks' ...because he left most of that class left as well. Time will tell whos hatin on whom. NC State fans on Sendek or you on Sidney Lowe & NC State.