This past Wednesday the Gaston Gazette got the chance to catch up with Coach Lowe on the Coaches Caravan Tour in Gastonia. Here is what Coach Lowe had to say to Richard Walker this past Wednesday:
Question: What have you learned heading into your 4th season?Answer: "I think what I've learned is that to compete and win at this level you have to have all your pieces. You have to have everything in order - as a coach and as a team. It's nothing new. I knew this before. As a coach on this level, you have to make sure you have the right guys and the right people in place."
Q: How frustrating has it been for you and assistant coach Monte Towe, point guards on N.C. State's 1983 and 1974 NCAA title teams, respectively, to watch your point guards struggle so much?
A: "It's an interesting situation. When I came in, we had a guy in Engin Atsur. He was a senior and an experienced guy who controlled the team. When he left, we were asking a freshman point guard to come in, control the show and play in the ACC. You know, I think Javy Gonzalez's first games in the ACC were at Clemson and at Carolina. That's a tough, tough deal. Certainly, coach Towe and I were a little spoiled because we feel we know how to play that position. But these young men are talented and might do it a different way. I just want a point guard who can think the game, understand the game, run the show and not make mistakes. I think what disappointed me more was not so much young point guards making mistakes, but some of the veteran guys making mistakes. That hurt more. Certainly, if we had an experienced point guard, it would've helped. What I think we'll see moving forward is the experience that Julius Mays had last year. He's going to be better. Javy Gonzalez is going to be better. Farnold Degand is going to be better."
Q: What was the biggest surprise for you switching from coaching in the NBA to coaching in college?
A: "What surprised me more than anything is the extras that coaches have to deal with on this level. When I say the extras, I mean the extra people. When I played and came to school, it was me. That was it. My high school coach sent me off to school. My mom and dad sent me off to school. So the only person coach (Norm) Sloan and Coach V (Jim Valvano) had to deal with was me. Today, you've got to deal with a lot of people. Parents are much more involved now with their kids' careers than they were before. Our parents were excited about us going to college and playing basketball. It was a privilege to play, not something somebody owed us. Now, because of the coverage of the NBA, the parents and a lot of AAU coaches - not all, but some - are looking at these players as someone that's going to help them get to the next level. So there's a lot of pressure on these young men, who are trying to come in here to go to school in addition to having a coach outside of your college coach trying to tell you what to do and what's best for you. And in some cases, you get the heat from the parents as well. So that's the biggest difference for me."
Q: You had a one-and-done player in (Cleveland Cavaliers' forward) J.J. Hickson. Some criticized his decision, but you were always supportive. What went into all that?
A: "In the end, the ultimate goal of all of these players is to be successful in life. Some of them, a lot of them, most of them want to do it in the basketball world. Some can't do that. So it's up to us to make sure they graduate from college. J.J., when he came in, knew exactly what he wanted to do. I didn't have a problem with that as long as he did it the right way. And he did that. What he did was show dedication. He got up at 6 a.m. and worked out every morning on individual stuff, then went to class and then came to practice later on. How many players do that? How many players are willing to put in that time in college to make that step? Not a lot of them. But, yet, some want to be one-and-done and go. I didn't have a problem with his decision because he certainly made us a better ballclub."
Q: Many N.C. State hate seeing North Carolina win a NCAA tournament like the Tar Heels did in the spring, but I'm sure coaches in the league like it. How do you see it?
A: "Well, we're always battling the other conferences who say they're the best. You know, the Big East says they are the best. The Pac-10, the Big Ten, everybody says they're the best. And we think we're the best. So when somebody in our conference does well, that is a feather in our cap. Regardless of who does it. Now, understanding the dynamic of the rivalry with the three schools that are so close in the Triangle (included Duke), there's probably some fans that are not happy that they won it. But, as a far as the league is concerned, it's great. Now we've got an opportunity to play and hopefully beat the team that just won the national championship."
Q: How do weigh in on the scheduling discussion at the recent ACC meetings?A: "They talked about having 18 games in the conference. I wasn't for it. Because I'm not sure nationally we get enough credit, really, for beating up on each other. So why add two more games? But you can go outside the conference and, it seems, get more credit for it when it comes time to hand out postseason bids."
Q: N.C. State has contracts for the upcoming season for non-conference games with Arizona, Florida and Marquette. Any others?
A: "Those are the main three right now. Arizona starts (a two-year contract) this year. We go to Marquette and Florida comes here. And we're in the Big Ten Challenge and we're working on playing in a tournament early in South Carolina. So our schedule is very, very tough. The ultimate goal for us is to make the tournament at the end of the year. And you need to have a certain number of non-conference games and win them to get there. And you need to play some competition. If the committee doesn't think we're playing the competition that they like, then we may not get there. Obviously, having a Lee Fowler as an athletic director who has been on that selection committee really helps. Because he knows what you need to do. Having said that, if we can go 10-6 in the conference, then that right there hopefully gets you in anyway."
Q: Summarize your thoughts about next year's N.C. State team?A: "We're going to be different, obviously. We'll be younger. But I think we'll have skill players that can just play basketball. Scott Wood coming in is an excellent shooter, but he can also pass it. I'm excited about the guys we have coming in and I'm excited about the guys we've got coming back. To a man, we're very tough and just want to win. They're not coming in talking about making a name for themselves so they can go to the NBA. They're coming in and trying to be the best college basketball players they can be. Something I say to myself about these guys is that I could be each of these guys' teammate. I got that from an old Hall of Fame coach (Lowe's DeMatha High School coach Morgan Wootten) who said, ‘When you look at your team, look at the guys and say to yourself would you want to be that guy's teammate.' And if you don't, then you don't want to have them on your team. I know how I played the game and how I approached the game. I can honestly say that everybody on this team that I'd want to be their teammate."
Q: How do you see the NBA finals going?A: "I like Kobe (Bryant), but right now Orlando just has something going. I think L.A. matches up better with Orlando than Cleveland did. I just like what Orlando has. I like their attitude. L.A. has Kobe. But what I saw in Dwight Howard and how he texted every player the night before the (sixth) game about the importance of closing it out said a lot to me about where this guy is about. He's a handful. It's hard to go against Kobe, but Dwight Howard and his guys, I'm going to go with them."