Gottfried selling Pack's program

Staff WriterSeptember 29, 2011 

Mark Gottfried is selling. Selling, selling, selling. He's selling himself. He's selling his program. He's selling an idea. He's selling a product he cannot yet deliver.

The new N.C. State basketball coach isn't shy about admitting what many Wolfpack fans already know: The program isn't in great shape right now. That's why he's here, and Sidney Lowe is gone.

So when Gottfried stood up in front of about 200 members of the Raleigh Sports Club on Wednesday, he did the same thing with them that he does with recruits: He tried to sell them on what N.C. State basketball once was, and what N.C. State basketball can be again.

"I'd love to stand up in front of every group and say we're going to be a top-10 team," Gottfried said afterward. "We're not there yet."

In about 30 minutes of remarks and Q&A, Gottfried talked at length about his relationship with John Wooden and the coaches in his family.

He gave a brief sketch of the last-minute recruits coming in for this season, point-guard transfer Alex Johnson and Belgian forward Thomas de Thaey.

He raved about his staff, offering highlights from their resumes. He assessed the talent on the team this season as "not great" and "not terrible."

He outlined the changes in scheduling, mentioning that he was close to sealing a home-and-home deal with Kansas.

He talked about changing the mentality of the program. He talked about his recruiting philosophy. He even took a shot at Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who recently mocked Greensboro as an ACC tournament site.

"Jim Boeheim popping off up there that he thinks it needs to be in New York. He needs to get in the league first, before he starts making demands on the league," Gottfried said, to cheers and applause.

Gottfried talked for more than 18 minutes before he mentioned the name of a single returning player - and only then in response to a question from the audience.

This is the state of the program. This is the starting point. Sell the past. Sell the future.

"It's not tiresome," Gottfried said. "It's a challenge that I enjoy, understanding where we are, being realistic and honest with where we are. That's No. 1. And then, where we want to be.

"We want to be an NCAA tournament team every year. We want to be a team that can compete for national championships. To get from where we are to that point, there's a lot of things that have to happen in between."

Gottfried has shown he's willing to do just about anything to pump up the program's tires, including his aborted parachute jump into Carter-Finley Stadium. While the crowd Wednesday was a willing one, he still won it over quickly.

That's the easy part. Top recruit Rodney Purvis, who is considering N.C. State, is planning to make his college choice Friday. We'll have a better idea then if recruits are buying what Gottfried is selling., or 919-829-8947

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