4 min read

Hello. My Name is... NC State Basketball

Who is NC State basketball now? What should NC State basketball be?
Hello. My Name is... NC State Basketball
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Evan's Note: Red White Pod is open to any fan that wants to voice a coherent well-thought out opinion. Loyal pod listener David, gives us our second guest editorial column. If you're interested in writing, submit it to RedandWhitePodcast at Gmail.

I’ve found that sometimes its easier to humanize a thing to make it more accessible. For instance, I would argue every city can be boiled down to a caricature that more or less encapsulates that city’s “soul”.

NC has a family of cities. The 52 year old father who’s convinced he’s not as old as he is, but is popular with most of the family friends (Raleigh).

His grandfather lives in a mobile home after he lost his much nicer house back in the 80s and he smokes too much (Winston Salem). That’s not to mention his hipster daughter who got really famous for her make-up YouTube channel (Charlotte) and his 30 year old son who has a law degree, but recently has gotten TOO into edibles (Asheville).

The same logic applies to all sorts of things, but its fun with sports. Especially in condensed markets like North Carolina, where you have 4 ACC schools within a 100 mile circle and everyone is generally familiar with each other.

It makes you chuckle to imagine the Big Four siblings running around in the yard. Little Wake running around with a stick trying so hard to poke one of his taller brothers, but never being able to land a good hit. Duke over in the driveway hyper focused on playing basketball and ONLY basketball when they can help it. Carolina finding each brother, taking their ball to “show them how to do it”, not being very good at it, and deciding that they didn’t want to play that game anyway.

But who is NC State?  Where do they fit in the group?

As State fans, especially those of us born and bred in North Carolina, there is a certain little brother syndrome that we must admit exists. We don’t like being picked on and we constantly feel undervalued and underappreciated.

This always gets worse during basketball season. It has for as long as I’ve followed NC State sports and I’m sure things would be different if it weren’t for where we came from.

In a lot of ways, UNC and Duke inherited Tobacco Road basketball from NC State. Reynolds hosted the first 13 ACC tournaments and for the first 30 years, NC State was the class of the ACC. The Pack won 30% of all ACC Tournaments from 1954-1987.

Even after an almost 40-year drought, NC State has the 3rd most ACC championships behind, you guessed it, Duke at 1 and Carolina at 2. We all know the story and there's no need to reiterate the details. The NC State basketball program was taken out back in 1990 and Old Yeller’d. The tendrils of that decision reached out and touched all aspects of athletics.

But that was over 30 years ago. Who is NC State basketball now? If you asked Coach Keatts that question, he would probably say that we are a fast, well-conditioned team that plays hard defense and is decent from outside the arc. But that would be what the team is, not who the team is. No clear culture, no clear soul, and zero relevancy.

A city with no real identity is doomed to languish in obscurity and be identified by a city close by that actually has an identity (People from Cary will tell most people they are from Raleigh…). Wolfpack basketball is currently stuck in the mire of being identified as the “other basketball team in the Triangle”. Nationally, we are best known for NOT being UNC or Duke.

It’s tiresome, but, if we were being honest, it’s fair. Our basketball program is broken. Something’s not working. You can’t argue that at all and if you do, you haven’t been paying attention for decades.

So where do we start? Fans can complain and bicker, but leadership has to be honest with themselves and us.

Before any firing or hiring is done and before we even start planning for the future, we have to answer these simple questions.

Who is NC State basketball?

Who do we want to be?

Are we happy with who we are and who we want to be?

It’s time for those questions to have clear answers that we, the fans, have access to and can get behind. You want NIL money? Give me the vision. Give me an identity. Give us a coach who breathes life into the corpse of Wolfpack hoops and goes beyond feeding the most passionate fans in college sports platitudes about “playing hard” and “making shots”. If Keatts is truly our guy, then great (personally I don't see it, but who am I but an observer...). If its not, that's fine too. But regardless, be better.

Because, frankly, a lot of long time “friends” of NC State basketball are tired of waiting for him to turn his life around after all this time of living on their couch and feeding him all the time. He’s a guy who has all the talent and ability there is to have, and there’s no reason he can’t go be a CEO somewhere. But there he sits on the couch, watching TV, and the jury is still out on whether he has any ambition at all.

Post Wake Forest Edit - Wake occasionally lands a decent hit to one of its bigger brothers, but lets not kid ourselves and act like they have become a "really good basketball program" under Forbes. They have many of the same issues we have as far as having zero identity. They are still trying to find theirs and the fact that we have regressed to THAT mean is proving that something has to be done.