GREENSBORO – The red jacket has left the building.
If N.C. State’s 75-67 loss to Maryland Thursday night in the opening round of the ACC tournament was the final game in Sidney Lowe’s time coaching his alma mater, it ended the way so much of this season went.
The Wolfpack played itself into a 12-2 hole almost immediately, changing the feel of a game they had to win. But that’s one of the recurring themes with the Wolfpack – it makes life hard on itself.
N.C. State can’t win on skill alone, which means its margin for error is slender, even against a Maryland team that right now seems less than the sum of its parts.
The Wolfpack hung around, close enough to imagine a storybook comeback but never near enough that it seemed likely. There was never a sense – okay, maybe a there was flicker when it was a six-point game with 53 seconds remaining -- that something special was about to happen.
That’s pretty much the way the season – and Lowe’s tenure – has gone, too.
It ended with five losses in the last six games and there was no real high point.
Look at the 15 wins and find the big one. Looks like it was an eight-point win over Clemson in February. Nothing against the Tigers, who are pretty good but when that’s the best N.C. State can offer, it speaks to a program spinning its wheels.
Earlier this week, Lowe said he believed in the magic of the ACC tournament and why not? He’s provided part of that magic over the years.
But there was no magic Thursday night, not for the Wolfpack.
It wasn’t the first time.
For Lowe, it may have been the last time.