Real Games start this week, and the potential for ACC embarrassment is keen
from the beginning. After two wretched performances in exhibition play,
Maryland opens with Hampton, a team which upset somebody in the NCAA's a few years
ago (Iowa State?), and which could beat the Maryland team which has shown up
lately. But to be honest, given their performance so far, just about anyone could.
On Friday, State hosts Wofford - thanks Herb! - a game that would have been a
snooze under Sendek with about 3,000 fans attending, but which could be a
nailbiter, as State's lack of ballhandlers gets an early test against a team
that likes to press.
Saturday, Wake's rehab takes a baby step with James Madison visiting
Joel. Losing that would be a nasty blow. And Sunday, Clemson hosts
dangerous Old Dominion, a team which is coached by a former Mike Montgomery
assistant who has had significant success but for some reason had minimal
interest from bigger schools.
It would be nice if the conference won all those games, but our guess is it
As Sidney Lowe settles
in at State and begins what promises to be a challenging ACC season, he has
at least one considerable asset to bank on: his personality. Everyone
points to Jim Valvano as the guy who everyone has to live up to, but the reality
is that State has always favored coaches with flair. Everett Case was the
original role model, and Norm Sloan's willingness to publicly hate Dean Smith
and to be highly combative, and to have a somewhat flashy style, won him throngs
Sidney Lowe lacks Norm Sloan's mean streak, but he understands Valvano's
charisma, and he has some of the good will Everett Case engendered, although
Case won his because he largely created ACC basketball and has a unique role in the history of the
conference. But no matter how you look at it, El Sid has some of the moxy
his three charismatic predecessors had. But does he have the coaching
chops? We'll know more soon.