So we’ve gotten to the point of the season to start the talk of whether Coach Mark Gottfried should stay or be asked to find a job outside of Raleigh. The most recent loss to Louisville has stirred up some members of Wolfpack nation to ask A.D. Debbie Yow to relieve Coach Gottfired of his command of the Men’s Basketball team. This squad was considered to be the most talented in years, but the team’s inconsistent play has put it on the verge of not making the NCAA tournament for a second straight year. It’s easy to just say “fire the guy” when the season isn’t going as expected, but let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of the program before we make a rash decision and fire a guy only to be replaced by Pete Gillen.
Reasons To Keep Coach
Entire Body Of Work
Easy question to answer. Is the program in a better position then before Coach Gottfried arrived? YES. When Gottfired arrived at NC State they hadn’t been to the NCAA tourney in five seasons, tied for their longest drought since the NCAA tournament was expanded to 64 teams. Since he’s arrived, they’ve made the tournament four times and twice landed in the Sweet Sixteen. While the last two years haven’t been great, it’s not fair to make a change when a team is not that far removed from the Sweet Sixteen.
Ability to Recruit (Transfers In Included)
Gottfried has been able to bring in strong recruiting classes year after year. I don’t think anyone has ever accused Coach Gottfried of being bad at recruiting. Also, he has been able to bring in solid transfers such as Trevor Lacey, Ralston Turner, and Terry Henderson (when he hits shots). Let’s just leave it at “the dude can recruit and that is a plus”.
Grass Is Always Greener
So if you’re going to let Coach Gottfried go, then you better have a plan to replace him. My concern is you make a decision to let him go, hire the next hot coach from the tournament, and then end up like Boston College. The only way you make a move is if you go all in to get a guy (Archie Miller). Remember Gottfried was NC State’s fifth choice last go round, so it’s not that easy to get who you want.
Reasons To Part Ways
Instability In The Program
The problem with this year’s team is a lack of cohesion from not playing together before this season. My concern is all the transfer outs (Kyle Washington, Martin Twins, Rodney Purvis, etc) are starting to catch up to the program. Gottfried got lucky filling in the gaps with transfers (Lacy, Turner), but to be successful you need multiple guys who have significantly contributed to the program for a few years. The only players with significant playing time before this year are Maverick Rowan and Abdul-Malik Abu (Anya doesn’t count). That isn’t going to cut it.
The biggest frustration this year is the inability to make in-game changes by the coaching staff. This edition of the Pack prides themselves on being jump shooters. Problem is they aren’t all that great at it. Yes, in stretches, they can shoot lights-out but not consistently enough to help them dig out of holes. They’ve been in a lot of holes this year and instead of changing it up and maybe driving the lane for two, they continue to just keep shooting three’s or long two’s. [Reference UNC and Louisville.]
The team has no idea how to play defense. It’s well documented and doesn’t seem to be changing. It might relate to the inexperience of the team, but I think it ties more into the instability of the program.
I think Coach Gottfried is safe for another year. If you weigh his body of work and the players coming back next year, I think it’s a tough call to buy him out. The ACC is a tough conference but next year you will have experienced players with a bench of athletic guys. So keep him around one more year and give him another shot to make the big dance. That is unless Archie Miller guarantees his arrival, then Yow has got to make the call.