RALEIGH, N.C. -Sidney Lowe might be entering his fourth season as NC State basketball coach, but he feels like he is getting a fresh start thanks to a six-member recruiting class that Rivals.com ranks No. 19 in the country.
Lowe addressed the media Thursday about his new recruits and other topics. Here is part of that question-and-answer session.
Do you like the direction of the program?
"I see it going definitely up. I see it going in the right direction. I'm excited about the players that we have coming back, the players we got coming in, and then going forward, the players that we were able to get in on early in the recruiting process. Now we're starting to get some of the top players, and it's going to continue to be that way. I'm excited about it. We're going to be young. Most of the guys are guys that I recruited. I think we're going to do well. I think we'll be fine."
Do you feel this is a make-or-break year or you need a certain kind of progress?
"For me, as a coach, you're always trying to get better. This is, my fourth year is kind of like a lot of times where coaches get in their second year, where you are able to bring in a big class. And yes, it's most of your guys, or guys that you've had an opportunity to watch as high school players. So we're, instead of being young our second year we're going to be young our fourth year. I think the thing to watch with this team right now is the progress. You got obviously six freshmen and a few sophomores on this team that are going to play major minutes. I think when you look anywhere around the country when you see a team like that you're looking for progress. I think we're going to be better. I think we're going to be maybe a little more versatile in a couple of positions, an opportunity to play a little different style at times. As far as I'm concerned you're look for growth. If you have a young team you're looking to get better. The guys that are coming back, you'll see improvements in those guys, but I think as a team we'll do some things well."
Have you talked to [athletic director] Lee Fowler about the expectations?
"I talk to Lee all the time. I know his expectations, he knows mine. It hasn't changed. The thing is, the reality is of where we are and who we are. We're a young team. You have to look, obviously winning is the most important thing, but you have to look for progress, you have to look for development. Sometimes that can translate into wins. I feel very comfortable, very confident in our guys, I do. I think the guys that are coming back have great experience of playing. I think they feel better. This is the first time really we've got guys in the gym, in the weight room at 6:30 in the morning right now doing their own thing, and to hear the conversations that we're having right now it's encouraging, it's encouraging. But, as far as expectations, it's always to win. It's always to win, but I think you have to be realistic, sometimes stuff or things happen, but I think we have to look, as I've said before, you have to look for progress. This is six freshmen. We know how that can be, but I feel confident in those guys and the guys we have coming back."
Duke won the ACC [title], Carolina won the national [title], does that raise your expectations?
"I think that happened when I first walked in the door. That's just the way it is, and it's no different from what I always thought. I expect us to win, which is part of why I was so disappointed sometimes in the past because I felt we should've won some games and we didn't do everything that we needed to do. So yeah, I'm fully aware of that, and I knew that coming in. I wouldn't have taken this job had I not known that, but I also know that we can get that done. But you got to have the right people in place, the right pieces. Sometimes time is a factor, not just time for us to develop and continue to get the players that we need, but also time which is happening in our conference. Time that some of the older guys, the top players, are leaving. But yeah, expectations, that's always there."
This is your fourth year, where do you think you are now versus where you started?
"I definitely know that I'm very much, very much more aware of the dynamics of this job. The most important thing, I probably should've known that before I walked in here, but the most important thing is that you go out and get the players. You got to get players. You got to get good people, guys that are committed. I think the top programs, they get the players that are committed, and it's got to be from one to 13. Not just five guys or whatever, because that's what it takes. I think when you look at the history of the great coaches and you look at their personnel, it wasn't until the get the personnel that kind of resembles them that they start to take off. Some of the great coaches that are going to be in the Hall of Fame struggled their first three years or so. You got to make sure that you have everybody on the same page and all just driving to win."
Who do you see as the leader next year?
"It's interesting, and I've said this, I think I said this last year, I talked about C.J. Williams and I talked about Julius Mays and just how they approached things in their demeanor and those two guys, in particular, have stepped up this summer. They're kind of the ones that are leading this thing about working out. ... They're in the gym at 10 o'clock at night, working individually. They're talking to guys about winning, they're talking to guys about what we have to do to win. I think C.J. and Julius will be two guys that I feel will step up, and step up in the right way. Step up in the right way, and that's something that's important."
What kind of impact will the incoming recruits have?
"Impact-wise I don't know, but they are going to play. They have to, but I feel comfortable with them. I think they all have a certain thing right now that they do well, from [Lorenzo Brown]'s ability to handle the ball at that two-guard position, I mean he can play two and one, but at two, the ability to run ball screens, make passes. He can defend, he can run the floor, that's who he is. Certainly he's going to make some mistakes, but when the pressure's on, he's going to revert back to what he's most comfortable with and that's what he does. Scott Wood is making shots, handling the ball at times, just knowing how to play. I think what I feel most comfortable with these guys is the basketball IQ of these guys is pretty good, and that's important."
This is going to be your fourth year, but does is kind of feel like your first year?
"It does, it does because it is the first time we're going to be young. It's the first time that it's going to be majority of the young men that we've recruited."
Do you feel like this is an opportunity to put your stamp down on the program?
"Absolutely, absolutely, no question about it. ... This is now where you can make the mark or you can change things."