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Beyond The Obvious, Why I Hope State Wins Tonight

February 23, 2011

Beyond the obvious reasons of the rivalry and emotion shared between these two schools, and the simple fact a win is better than a loss, I really hope State wins tonight for one person and one person alone: Sidney Lowe.

The writing is on the wall for Lowe, at this point. Barring a miracle ACC title run in four games during the tournament, State will not be playing in the postseason this year. Not the NCAA's, nor the NIT…God help us if we are offered and accept a CBI or whathaveyou invitation—I'd rather the season end mercifully than play in anything other than the NCAA Tournament or NIT.

And with missing the postseason, Sidney's job at State will almost certainly come to a conclusion along with the season.

That makes tonight the last time Sidney will get to face Carolina at home (a shot at UNC in the ACC Tournament is still feasible). He won his first matchup against Carolina as coach in 2007, and four as a player from 79-83, but the losses against the Tar Heels in uniform and as coach have been more frequent than any would like to admit. A win tonight wouldn't erase or balance out those losses, but it would bookend the Sidney Lowe playing and coaching era against the Heels nicely.

Roy certainly won't be in the mood for charity; he hates State more than any Carolina fan I've ever met. You would think Norm Sloan had kicked his dog off an overpass and taunted him with a "That's how I roll."

But if there's any fight left in the tank with this young (and at times disjointed) team, I hope they expend every drop of it for coach Lowe tonight. The talented young trio he recruited in part to secure his employment has frankly not lived up to their end of the bargain with sporadic effort and some poor decision making at times. A bounce pass or two-handed rebound and put-back work better for me (and Lowe) than a no-look turnover or a missed one-handed put-back dunk attempt.

Make no mistake, however. They are here because of Sidney Lowe, and were it not for the long term relationships he built with these young phenoms, they wouldn't be in the red and white. For a guy who never recruited a day in his life at the college level prior to taking the job, Lowe proved to be quite good at evaluating talent at an early age and using his warm personality to his advantage. If winning at the highest levels of college basketball were simply about recruiting accumen, Sidney would be a budding star.

But sadly it's not, so this will be the last time the Red Blazer is donned for a regular-season game, and after the ACC Tournament, it will likely be retired for good. My hope is when Lowe hangs it in his closet tonight, he'll be able to smile and give it loving pat or two, as if to say "job well done."

He deserves another chance at a moment like that.

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