The Wolfpack men’s basketball team in 1946 consisted mostly of freshmen. They faced a 28-game schedule that included a new approach — taking a six-game Midwestern trip before Christmas. And they were adjusting to a new brand of ball, with offensive fastbreaks and defensive presses that had not been seen in the Southeast.
Those innovations came from Indiana with the man who would bring a tradition of excellence to Wolfpack basketball for the next 18 years. On this day in 1946, the university hired Everett Case as the head men’s basketball coach. He compiled a 377-134 record and won 10 conference championships during his tenure in Raleigh.
Case, who was nicknamed “the Old Gray Fox,” came here wanting to change the culture of basketball at NC State.
“He wanted them to dream bigger,” Bethany Bradsher said in an interview with NC State magazine last winter. Bradsher’s book, The Classic: How Everett Case and His Tournament Brought Big-Time Basketball to the South, chronicles how Case used the Dixie Classic to put NC State at the center of the college basketball world.
“He wanted NC State to see they could be a national powerhouse,” she said. “He made sure there was a basketball goal in every boy’s driveway in North Carolina.”
As Bradsher points out in her book, Case just didn’t change basketball with a new style and lots of victories. He found creative ways to promote basketball, even going so far as to have his players warm up before games wearing red capes.
“He also introduced the now-ubiquitous traditions like dimming the lights during pregame player introductions and cutting down nets after a big win,” she writes.
Case died in 1966, two years after he left NC State, from a battle with cancer. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in 1982.