Bonnie McNeill did not mind the rough winds that made her plane rock as her charter flight descended in St. Louis this morning.
“Maybe the weather’s a good sign,” she said. “We had snow in ’83.”
McNeill was referring to her trip to see the Wolfpack play in the Sweet 16 in Ogden, Utah, before making it to the Final Four the next week. She went on to watch NC State beat Houston for an NCAA title in Albuquerque, N.M., and points to that night as the last time she’s been as excited as she is about tonight’s match-up with Kansas.
In fact, she admits she was a little too excited that night. “You want me to tell you?” she asks when questioned about her reaction to Lorenzo Charles’ last-second shot in 1983. “I wet my pants.”
She thinks NC State’s current coach shows flashes of Jim Valvano.
“[Mark] Gottfried has done the same thing Valvano did,” McNeill says. “He believed in the guys and got them to believe in themselves.”
McNeill used to follow the Wolfpack around during tournament time in the 1980s with her husband, a graduate of NC State in the 1960s who has since died. She went on to serve as the chairwoman of the Guilford County Wolfpack Club for more than 10 years. And she made the trip to St. Louis today because of the belief her husband had in the team in 1983, when it looked like Valvano’s squad wouldn’t even make the tournament.
“My husband had that feeling,” she says. “I’ve got that feeling now. …State will find a way to win despite a Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, 72-70.”