Biedenbach Speaks Out

Several NC State alums have recently expressed their opinions on the basketball program, but one of the ex-Wolfpack players in the coaching profession has been relatively quiet.

Eddie Biedenbach, who recently completed his 10th season as UNC-Asheville's head basketball coach, played at NC State in the mid-60's, and was a three-year starter for the Wolfpack. He spent one season in the National Basketball Association before pursuing a career in coaching, a career that began in Raleigh.

He began his nine-year coaching career at NC State as an assistant under head coach Norm Sloan. Biedenbach recruited such players as David Thompson, Tommy Burleson and Monte Towe, who helped make those Wolfpack teams among the greatest ever to play in the mighty Atlantic Coast Conference. NC State won the 1974 NCAA national championship and three ACC titles while Biedenbach worked there. Thompson was the national player of the year in 1974 and 1975 and was ACC Player of the Year three times. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in the spring of 1996, with Biedenbach in attendance. Biedenbach bleeds Wolfpack Red, and there is no doubt about it.

While at UNC-Asheville, Biedenbach has often brought his teams to Raleigh to square off against his alma mater, and he became very close to former NC State head coach Herb Sendek.

Herb Sendek
"I think Herb did a very good job at State," Biedenbach stated. "I think he's a very good coach. He's got a lot of class to him, and I was disappointed in how some of the State fans treated him.

"I love NC State, and I want us to act in the best interest at all times and demonstrate the best sportsmanship. I thought Herb was excellent at that."

Like most, Biedenbach first heard of Sendek's decision to leave NC State this past weekend, and he was at the Final Four in Indianapolis when the news came out.

Surrounded by other college coaches, the NC State opening quickly became a hot topic, and the reasons for Sendek's surprising move was a question on the minds of a lot of coaches. It is being speculated that criticism from fans played a major role in Sendek's decision to leave NC State, and the coaches have taken notice.

"I think several coaches feel that State fans in the past few years have gone beyond rowdy," Biedenbach said. "I think being rowdy, exuberant, and full of energy is great. I think State fans have always been down-to-earth and a classy group of folks.

"I think lately a few individuals have caused some folks to feel that is not the way State is, and I don't think that is right for the fanbase or for the university."

People have suggested that the recent years under Sendek divided the fanbase, with fans openly supporting or criticizing every move the Wolfpack head coach made.

"Well I don't think we have a divided fanbase anymore," he said. "That I don't think is the problem, other than the fact that some people are more outspoken about winning, at least that is not my perception."

With the head coaching position now open, NC State athletics director Lee Fowler is conducting a national search to find the best coach for the job. Will Fowler look to make a splash with a big-name hire or choose to go the mid-major route, a road taken in the past at NC State with Sendek (Miami of Ohio), Les Robinson (East Tennessee State), and Jim Valvano (Iona)?

"I don't think I should comment specifically on that," Biedenbach said. "Lee Fowler knows what NC State needs, and I think he will get the right man.

"I feel Lee Fowler has done a great job as an athletic director, and I think he is going to find a quality coach with a national reputation. I think his intent is to find a quality coach with a national reputation to get the State basketball program back to the consistent national-level State fans believe it should be."

Rick Barnes
The early name being linked to the NC State coaching job is Texas head coach Rick Barnes. Barnes, a Hickory, N.C. native, has a special relationship with Biedenbach.

Biedenbach's first head coaching job was at Davidson College for three seasons (1978-81), and he helped turn the Wildcat program around. In the 1980-81 season, Biedenbach guided Davidson to a first-place finish in the Southern Conference, the program's highest finish in 10 years. While Biedenbach was helping turn the Davidson program around, one of his first hires at Davidson was none other than Rick Barnes.

Biedenbach admitted that Barnes is an attractive option for the position, but there are also other coaches out there who could get the job done at NC State.

"I think that the two names that flashed in my mind... well Rick along with several other names have been mentioned," Biedenbach said. "I think Rick and any of the guys that coach Fowler considers can do the job necessary to win at NC State."

Biedenbach understands the tradition at NC State. He played during an era when the Wolfpack was among the nation's elite, and was an assistant on the greatest Wolfpack team of all-time. He feels NC State can consistently compete at that level and that is what the Wolfpack fans deserve.

"Everett Case, Norm Sloan, Jim Valvano, Press Maravich... all of the coaches there proved that NC State can contend with the best in the country on a consistent basis. We need to consistently do that.

"I think State fans deserve that with the rich tradition and great facilities that we have."

UNC-Asheville Athletics contributed to this report ...

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