Adorned in the red blazer that he debuted in an upset win over North Carolina his first year, Lowe yelled and directed – called timeouts and changed defenses. But nothing could keep his team from repeating the same mistakes that have cost them all season long.
A slow start, poor defense and mental miscues ended the Pack's season during a 75-67 loss to Maryland in the opening round of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. With a 15-16 overall record, there is little chance the Pack will play in any postseason tournament.
"This is my school, I love this school," Lowe said. "I poured my sweat for four years here to give it my best. It was my hope and dream to come back here and do something special again. It means a lot more to me than it might mean to another coach."
"It hurts me. I know what its about down here and I know what its like to win here."
The question remains as to whether the game was the final of Sidney Lowe's coaching tenure with the Wolfpack. Earlier in the week, WRAL reported that Lowe would not be retained and an announcement could come as soon as Monday.
"I'm a basketball coach so you are always hoping to coach," Lowe said. "We are going to sit down and talk, Debbie [Yow] said that from day one. We'll sit down and talk and see where it goes from there."
Seniors Javi Gonzalez and Tracy Smith were two of just 10 players to score in double digits for the Pack. Neither started however, as Smith violated an undisclosed team rule and was forced to watch the first few minutes of the game from the bench. But the senior forward finished with 14 points and eight rebounds while Gonzalez finished with 12 point in their Wolfpack finales.
"It was always my goal – to make the NCAA Tournament," Smith said. "But like I said, the team had a couple of defenses lapses and I think early in the season that was our downfall. We weren't defending at times, we weren't rebounding at times and that's what hurt us. Now I just have to be ready to face the real world."
Once again, the shots didn't fall for the Pack from the floor. The team hit just 34 percent from the floor and was an ugly 2-of-17 from behind the 3-point line for the game in addition to just shooting 61 percent from the free-throw line. Maryland hit 45 percent of its shots and 36 percent of its 3s in the win.
"We missed a lot of shots," Lowe said. "A lot of lay-ups, a lot of open looks. But I was really proud of the way our guys hung in there and fought."
The Terrapins got off to a fast start, as the Pack fell into its old habits by allowing the Terps to jump out to a 10-2 lead. The Pack cut it to four points at one point in the half, but a 13-0 run kept the Terrapins in control for the first 20 minutes of action.
The Pack shot just 32 percent in the half and hit only 1-of-7 from behind the arc, while allowing the Terrapins to shoot 47 percent from the field and hit 3-of-7 from 3-point range. The Pack did manage to force nine Terp turnovers, but several poorly executed fast breaks led to just four points off turnovers while Maryland scored nine points off five NC State turnovers. The Pack trailed most of the half by double-digits, but managed to cut it to 42-33 heading into the locker room.
The Pack started the second half by cutting the Terrapin lead down to six points, but that was as close as it would get for the No. 10 seed. By the 10-minute mark the lead was back to 12 points and the Pack's ice-cold outside shooting kept it from mounting a comeback. The Pack would cut the lead to seven with 1:29 to play only to turn it over on their next possession and finish its season watching Maryland run out the clock.