Lail: Rally 'round the Family

Of all the items of interest that came out in the hours and days after Sidney Lowe was introduced as N.C. State's new men's basketball coach, one underlying theme stood out above the rest.

No, it wasn't the idea that Lowe was the best choice for the job.

Nor was it the thought that the Wolfpack players could now have some fun. (Anyone who watched enough State games over the years could tell that having fun wasn't near as big a part of the equation as, say, chopping wood.)

What seemed to resonate the most, especially from former Wolfpack players, was this idea that there is an opportunity for State Basketball to be a family again.

"The fact that he was a part of the State family, that he was a big-time player and won a national championship ... you respect him big time," rising senior guard Engin Atsur told the News & Observer.

The funny thing is, former coach Herb Sendek – Atsur's former coach – paid a lot of lip service to the idea of the doors of the Wolfpack Basketball Family house always being open to former players. But other than a few notables, rarely were former players spotted near the State bench or even at the RBC Center. In fact, toward the end of Sendek's tenure, even some former players seemed ready to make a change.

This rift in the family appears to be a thing of the past, for now.

"We now feel that we are a family again," former State player Cozell McQueen told the Durham Herald-Sun.

True, a number of those praising the new atmosphere were former teammates of the new coach. But one couldn't help but feel like the whole event has been a family reunion, with members of the new coaching staff going back to three of the past four head coaches: Norm Sloan, Jim Valvano and Sendek. (Absent, at the moment, is a link to Les Robinson's NCSU staffs or teams. Somehow I don't think Robinson really minds.)

The good news is Lowe does have some connections to Sendek's staff in assistant coach Larry Harris and administrative assistant Levi Watkins, a former player for Sendek.

It is vital that Lowe & Co. follow through and make family members feel welcome. It is important for the unity of the Nation to see not only the David Thompsons and Chris Corchianis of the family to be at Lowe's side, but also the Mark Davises, Jeremy Hyatts and Danny Strongs.

"Somebody in the family has taken over the helm," McQueen said on the day of the press conference. "Now I feel a part of stuff, now I feel like I can be more observant in terms of being a part of everything. I can be more involved.

"This is a great day."

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