Mark Gottfried Was the North Carolina State Wolfpack's Problem

By Michael Roberts
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Gottfried put on a terrible coaching display throughout the 2012-13 season with the North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Having the most talented roster he’s had in his NCAA coaching career, Gottfried allowed a great chance at a national championship completely slip through his fingers.

He was never able to get his team to fully buy-in and play as a team, and he was never able to have them properly motivated before a big game. The only thing the Wolfpack were consistent with this year was inconsistency and the biggest reason was because Gottfried had no clue how to get the most out of his players.

C.J. Leslie was a dominant force on the court at times this year and an absolute train wreck at other moments during the season. Gottfried went so far as to routinely point it out by calling Leslie “Calvin” when he did something right and “C.J.” when he would do something wrong. Routinely making fun of the team’s best player was not the way to properly motivate the junior with maturity issues.

Gottfried had numerous weapons to work with besides Leslie. Lorenzo Brown is one of the best point guards in the nation, capable of playing shut down defense and recording a double-double on offense.  There are few players in the country better than Brown at running a team, as he is more than capable of being a championship team’s floor general.

The coach also had the best three-point shooter in team history in Scott Wood, along with one of the best rebounders in the nation with Richard Howell.

Just with the players mentioned, the Wolfpack possess one of the best guards in the nation, two legitimate double-double threats in the post, and an incredible three-point shooter. With just those four players, N.C. State has more talent than 95% of the country and their two freshmen haven’t even been mentioned yet.

T.J. Warren and Rodney Purvis proved this season they are capable of scoring double-figures while also leading the way offensively on occasion. These two proved they could take tons of pressure off the core of Leslie, Howell, Brown and Wood, yet Gottfried could never find a way to use them effectively enough so that everyone gelled. In the contests one of the freshmen delivered a 20 point or more scoring performance, it was always at the cost of an experience player feeling left out.

Gottfried could never find a way to get everybody involved offensively and gelling as a unit and the Wolfpack became a group of individuals. The team appeared on most nights like they were simply taking turns shooting the ball on offense, with numerous one-on-one battles and very little actual team play or ball movement.

Then began the awful three-point shooting in close games where plays were routinely designed for perimeter play as opposed to pounding things inside with Leslie and Howell.  Gottfried’s play calling came into question on multiple occasions as he would constantly try to beat opponents with the three-ball instead of using mismatches down low.

Given all the talent on the roster, it’s easy to say another coach would have undoubtedly accomplished more with this group. Too many times this season Gottfried displayed the ‘deer in the headlights’ look late in games as he didn’t have any clue how to fix his team’s problems.

This wasn’t a talent issue; the Wolfpack had all the pieces they needed to be successful. However, the man in charge had no idea how to properly use those pieces or prepare them enough so they could reach their potential.

Now Howell and Wood retire as seniors. Leslie likely heads to the draft with Brown potentially joining him. While the dream season filled with disappointment ends after one lackluster NCAA Tournament game.

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