Let me say this right at the outset, because I am every bit as guilty as anyone else at getting caught up within the results of any one game: I was angry about the outcome on Wednesday, and it felt like Mark Gottfried’s tenure was suddenly over, on top of the world just completely collapsing on top of itself***.
(***Didn’t say my emotions derive anything from facts.)
***That’s how I work, and it’s not fair, but I deal as best I can. I like Mark Gottfried. I think the players like Mark Gottfried. I have really, really wanted Mark Gottfried to work out well in Raleigh because I think he is a fantastic antagonist to the dullards in Chapel Hill and Durham. I appreciate that Gottfried understands both the rivalry and State’s place within it, and further I love the role of playing the butt-slapping foil on any given night.
Gottfried is absolutely perfect for this job, but it isn’t working. He’s so great for this job, I can ignore a lot about his flaws, which is partially what hurts so much about this season—man, I love Gott as defiance, he wears that well, and that should always be State’s identity. The Pack is the resistance, and we should embrace that always.
But eventually that identity either works spectacularly or it wears you down and becomes counter-productive.
When Dennis Smith threw down a huge dunk in Durham after time expired, we could see the vague premise of NC State basketball in the 21st century, and Gottfried deserves some credit for helping to establish it. Going from premise to concrete reality is the tough part. Nobody’s going to care about that, though. Nor should they, not now.