The Pack has returned to national prominence this season. Herb Sendek has been methodical in rebuilding NC State basketball to such a level. He inherited a program that was decimated and pretty much dismantled during the years of Les Robinson. I believe Coach Robinson did all he could considering the circumstances. He was handcuffed by both stringent, self-imposed academic requirements and a general ill will by many outside and inside the NC State community. In fact, he was probably the person for the job during those years. A loyal alumni, who took "one for the team" during a period when the NC State administration and others decided it was time to take a basketball sabbatical. When the furlough was over, the program had collapsed into the ACC cellar.
Sendek did not bring instant success as recorded by wins and losses. He did not "win" in one, two or even five years much to the chagrin of critics who, in my opinion, had no concept for the reality of how bad the program had truly become. Instead, Sendek has worked in layers putting the pieces into place.
It has been done while keeping academic integrity. It has been done by gradually increasing the talent level. It has been done though the attrition of players who have not bought into his system. It has been done while building the integrity of the program with the consistency in which the program has been managed. It has been done within the rules of the NCAA.
It also can be said that the program has returned to prominence by the continued support of the current administration. There were screams by those who called for Sendek's replacement last year. They did not waiver and they backed their man.
The alumni and supporters have done their part. The ESA was financed and constructed in what may be considered the darkest time for Wolfpack basketball. NC State simply plays in the best facility in the nation. What a great tribute to those who dream NC State.
Indeed, the Pack has returned to prominence by the steady hand of Herb Sendek and those who support him and the program. If one looks back at how Sendek has presented himself to the NC State community, one sees a plan in motion. What I have witnessed is a man who speaks with precise wording. I have seen a man who lacks in the self promotion that is so prevalent in today's society. I have seen a man tell the NC state community that he is beyond being measured by mere wins and losses. I have seen a man that refuses to change his beliefs or philosophy for the sake of winning now. I have seen a man who seems driven by the smallest of details. Now that time has passed, I can see a man working his plan.
For those who look at "wins and losses" as a gauge for success, NC State is a legitimate top 25 team and a young one at that.
For those who have looked forward to the return of national prominence, NC State has arrived with character and integrity.
For those who look for NC state's arrival to the classification of "elite", Coach's job is not complete. Duke, the number one program in all of college basketball showed us last night exactly how far the program has yet to go.
There have been times when Wolfpack fans have questioned the direction NC State was heading during Sendek's time at the helm. The last decade has been hard for the fans, but to their credit, many have shown patience. The thoughts of "will we ever be prominent again in NCAA basketball" have now turned to "how on earth will the Wolfpack ever overcome the Dukes of the world."
If the newly emerged "measurable past" is an indication of the man, I have no doubt that Coach Sendek is still working his plan. In his scheme of things, there is probably a collection of details that map NC State's direction to the "elite". For the first fifteen minutes of the Duke game, we may of had a glimpse of what the future holds.