Sidney Lowe celebrated two wins Sunday one by his current team, the NBAs Utah Jazz, and one by his former team, N.C. State.
Before the Jazz beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Lowe an assistant coach now with Utah after a five-year stint as the Wolfpacks head coach watched the end of N.C. States 66-63 NCAA tournament win against Georgetown to advance to the Sweet 16.
Im very happy for them, Lowe said Monday during a phone interview. Thats what I always wanted for those players, and my school. I said that group would do something special for N.C. State, and they did.
Lowe, the starting point guard on the Wolfpacks 1983 national championship team, wanted to be the head coach to return the program to national prominence. After an 86-78 record in five seasons that featured no trips to the NCAA tournament, he resigned last March. N.C. State athletics director Debbie Yow hired Mark Gottfried the following month to replace Lowe.
Lowe remains disappointed, and somewhat frustrated, about how his tenure at N.C. State ended, but he said hes not bitter. In November, he returned to the NBA, where he worked for 16 seasons before replacing Herb Sendek in April 2006, and joined Tyrone Corbins staff with the Jazz. Utah had a 23-22 record after Sundays win and began Monday a half-game out of the playoffs.
Its never easy when you leave a job, but things worked out, Lowe said. Its good all the way around. They are good there, and Mark and the staff have done a great job, and Im happy here.
That doesnt mean Lowe doesnt think about what was or what could have been. Even after a 15-16 finish in the 2010-11 season, he felt N.C. States program had the talent to turn the corner.
The final two recruiting classes he landed included starters Richard Howell and Scott Wood, both juniors, and current sophomores Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie, a McDonalds All-American.
Lowe also signed Oak Hill (Va.) guard Tyler Lewis, who made this years McDonalds All-American game and who will be a freshman next season.
Before the start of Lowes last season, he tried to alleviate any extra pressure on his trio of freshmen Brown, Leslie and guard Ryan Harrow, who transferred to Kentucky after Gottfried was hired but he often said the class would be special for N.C. State.
Its normal as a coach to look back, Lowe said. You know your players are going to get better with experience, and thats what we felt when we recruited them, but its part of the business.
Lowe recalled how Wolfpack coach Norm Sloan recruited his class at N.C. State and then left for Florida. Jim Valvano won the 1983 title with Lowe, Dereck Whittenburg and Thurl Bailey.
Lowe hopes history can repeat for the Wolfpack. Hes already happy his school has some bragging rights with Sundays win in the Midwest Regional over Georgetown. Lowe chirped at Detroit Pistons forward Greg Monroe on Sunday, when he saw the former Georgetown star at the Staples Center. He had some words for former Wake Forest guard Chris Paul, too.
The Jazz will play the Denver Nuggets on Friday, at the same time as N.C. States regional semifinal game with Kansas, but Lowe will be keeping tabs on the Wolfpack.
Ill be rooting for them, Lowe said. I just want whats best for them.