JOHNSON: A Fitting End

RALEIGH, NC -- Sidney Lowe's team gave a fitting performance against Florida State in what could be the beleaguered coach's final game at RBC Center.

If Sidney Lowe coached his final game at the RBC Center on Sunday night, it was an appropriate way to stamp his tenure at the helm of NC State basketball.

Disappointing, probably less than what Lowe deserves, but appropriate. The Wolfpack fell behind early, got dominated on the boards and made a late rally only to fade in the final minutes. It's a pattern Pack fans have become all too accustomed to watching over the last few years.

"That's a disappointing loss right there," Lowe said following the game.

The loss knocks the Pack into the 10th seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament, meaning a match-up with Maryland on Thursday - a team that Lowe has never beaten as a coach. A quick exit from the tournament would in all likelihood mean no postseason for the Pack.

"I feel like its kind of a disappointment," sophomore Scott Wood said. "I think we let down a lot of people, a lot of fans. But we have a chance to make up for that in the ACC Tournament."

For whatever reason, Lowe has never seemed to be able to squeeze the full potential out his teams. He spent most of his coaching career with adults, and transitioning to college kids never worked out. He wasn't able to get his players to maintain the kind of focus it took to win a basketball game at the highest collegiate level.

Still, his players have nothing but kind words for him as his job hangs in limbo.

"I wouldn't want to see him go – he's the one that recruited me he got me here," junior C.J. Williams said. "But I also understand that this is a business."

From a business standpoint, even if NC State were to somehow string together four wins this week, there would be five years of evidence versus one weekend.

Athletic director Debbie Yow would never fire a coach after winning and ACC title and hanging the first banner for Pack basketball in 25 years, but one weekend won't turn Lowe into a good coach. Lowe has never won four straight ACC games.

And as much as this young team could use some experience, a quick end to this season might be the best thing for all parties involved. It would make the final decision easier and give Yow a comfortable amount of time to search for a new coach and lessen the media circus surrounding the search with the NCAA Tournament still in progress.

That is of course assuming that Yow and NC State doesn't choose to delay a public decision on Lowe to prevent a lengthy search due to candidates participating in the tournament.

Yes, a quick exit for Lowe would mean more time with the program rudderless. But you have to hope that Lowe, who clearly still loves NC State, would sit those kids down before the announcement and tell them the same thing Norm Sloan told him.

That these kids made a commitment to play for the Pack and they should honor their commitment even if they'll be playing for a different coach.

"I think we will [stay together]," Scott Wood said. "I think that's the main thing right now, just staying together and bonding."

The time has come to turn the page on the program, and the sooner the season ends the sooner that page can get turned.

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