Today in NC State History: Valvano’s first game for Pack

November 29, 2012
By Bill Krueger

PrintThe Norm Sloan era was over. The Jim Valvano era was about to begin.

NC State hired Valvano, the coach at Iona, as its head basketball coach in 1980 after Sloan resigned to take the head coaching position at the University of Florida.

Valvano brought a different style to NC State, both on and off the court. It all began on this day in 1980, when Valvano coached his first game for the Wolfpack.

The game was against UNC-Wilmington. NC State was led in scoring by sophomore Dereck Whittenburg (24 points) and in assists by sophomore Sidney Lowe (8). NC State easily won the game, 83-59.

The team went on to finish the year 14-13, but Wolfpack fans were encouraged by what they had seen. This is what the 1981 Agromeck had to say about Valvano:

“He is the man who upon his arrival in March of 1980, danced the usual illusions of grandeur in front of State followers’ eyes.

“He is the man, who with his rich Italian brogue and witty one-liners spoke his mind with the media during post-game interviews.

valvano-19801“He is the man who transfused life back into a basketball program that under Stormin’ Norman was turning as stale as a six-week old loaf of bread.

“He is the man who said he didn’t mind his players drinking beer and having a good time as long as they didn’t disgrace the name N.C. State and who professed that basketball was just a game.

“He is the man that took the bridles off the horses and let them run.

“He is the man that at the end of his first ACC season said: ‘I think the quote where the philosopher said ‘Expectations are greater than realization’ never coached in the ACC.’

“He is James T. Valvano — alias coach Valvano or quite simply Coach V — and he was Wolfpack basketball in 1980-81.”

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