- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
THE LITTLE THINGS ARE A BIG DEAL FOR MARK GOTTFRIED. SHORTLY after leaving his job as an ESPN analyst to helm N.C. State, he met with each of his inherited players to outline his expectations for the program. Chief among them: punctuality "for everything," explained Gottfried, "from workouts to tutoring sessions to study hall to classes."
Not everyone felt at home with his no-nonsense approach. Point guard Ryan Harrow transferred to Kentucky seven weeks after the coach was hired last April. That was fine by Gottfried. "If you don't want to be a part of this," he says, "then you're free to go."
The remaining players were more receptive to their new coach's plans on the court itself, where he wants his Wolfpack running. Gottfried coached Alabama from 1999 to January 2009, and the Tide increased its tempo (number of possessions per game) in each of his last four seasons, ranking in the nation's top 25% by the time he left the program. North Carolina State, meanwhile, plodded its way through most of Sidney Lowe's tenure, ranking 248th or lower in tempo from '08 to '10.
Speeding up the team will require individual adjustments. A three-headed platoon manned the point last season, but only Lorenzo Brown returns. Gottfried will give him the reins, hoping to develop the former combo guard's ballhandling and comfort running the offense. More drastic is the transformation of power forward Richard Howell, former owner of a 261-pound build that Gottfried recalls was like that of the Pillsbury Doughboy. After working with a nutritionist and the Wolfpack's new trainer, Bob Alejo, in the off-season, Howell dropped close to 25 pounds, better equipping him for a faster-paced attack. And teamwide Gottfried has been emphasizing defense and rebounding as a means of kick-starting the offense. "If you don't rebound the ball," he says, "you have no outlet pass and no [fast] break."
All this, he hopes, will lead to even bigger changes, like N.C. State's first NCAA tournament berth since 2006. Gottfried's ultimate goal? To move the Pack not only from the ACC's dregs to its throne but also into the national-title picture the school once knew well.
"I know that's biting off a lot," he says. "We just have to build the pieces day by day." In other words, Mr. Punctuality is saying, it's a matter of time.
COACH Mark Gottfried (1st year)
ASSISTANTS Orlando Early, Bobby Lutz, Rob Moxley