By: Nolan Evans
In April 2011, Athletics Director Debbie Yow hired men's head basketball coach Mark Gottfried in an attempt to re-vamp a faltering N.C. State men's basketball program. But Gottfried's first task wasn't to recruit players to the Wolfpack, nor was it to immediately begin hosting practice with the current roster.
Gottfried's tasks as head coach began by recruiting a coaching staff with the ability to turn N.C. State into a winning program. Thanks to his efforts, Gottfried has put together a top-tier coaching staff. Each has their own impressive history and, interestingly enough, many of their pasts are intertwined.
Assistant coach Orlando Early was Gottfried's first hire in Raleigh, but this wasn't the first time to pair teamed up. Early was also an assistant under Gottfried from 2001-05 at Alabama and helped lead the Crimson Tide to an 88-41 record during that span, a trip to the Elite Eight and a No. 1 ranking in the nation.
Prior to Early arriving at Alabama, he was an assistant coach at UNC-Charlotte. He knew little about the UCLA system Gottfried had run, but was attracted to the Tide's program by Gottfried himself.
"It wasn't so much his system that attracted me to the program," Early said. "He explained to me the goals of the program and the goals he had set for his staff. And those things fell in line with my personal goals and where I wanted to go with my career. That's why I took the job at Alabama."
When Early was at Charlotte, he served under then head coach Bobby Lutz. Shortly after Early was picked up by State, Lutz was also hired as an assistant and was promoted to associate head coach prior to the start of the current season.
Lutz, a Catawba native, was the head coach at his alma mater, UNC-Charlotte, for 12 seasons, from 1999 to 2010. During that span, he led the 49ers to five 20-win seasons, three Conference USA titles, four top-20 national recruiting classes, five wins over top-10 opponents and five NCAA tournament appearances. His 218-158 record is the best in UNCC history.
After serving a season as an assistant coach at Iowa State, where he helped the Cyclones to its best record since the 2005-06 season, Lutz made his way to Raleigh, joining his former assistant, Early. He admits that the move wasn't necessarily one made for professional reasons, but it was a rather personal decision.
"Honestly, primarily, family [was the main reason]," Lutz said. "I grew up in this state and it was an opportunity to come back for my family. My daughter is a senior here now."
Assistant coach Rob Moxley, Director of Operations Jeff Dunlap and Director of Player Development Larry Farmer also joined Gottfried's staff.
Moxley is well-connected with Lutz and Early. He was hired at Charlotte as an assistant coach, serving for seven years, from 1999 to 2005, before accepting an assistant position at Maryland for one season. He then returned to UNCC as the associate head coach for five more seasons under Lutz.
Dunlap, a former player at UCLA, has had an expansive coaching career, serving as an assistant at schools such as Western Michigan, Loyola-Chicago, Georgia and Alabama. Gottfried was the head coach at Alabama during Dunlap's stint under the same title that he now holds at NCSU.
Farmer is the Pack's most recent coaching hire. Farmer was the head coach at UCLA, his alma mater, from 1981 to 1984, finishing with a .726 winning percentage and winning a Pac-10 title. During this time, he recruited Dunlap to play for the Bruins. He has also served as head coach for Loyola-Chicago, where he teamed up with Dunlap once again.
With Farmer and Dunlap on staff, a pair of former UCLA players, it's clear that Gottfried, a former UCLA assistant, wants to inject the UCLA system into N.C. State's program. He backs his reasoning up with a few words of wisdom from one of basketball's most legendary figures.
"John Wooden once told me, 'Know what you teach and teach what you know,'" Gottfried said. "That's what I know, so that's what I want to teach."
Gottfried speaks with pride about his staff and it seems apparent that he is pleased with what he has put together.
"I like my staff and I'm confident in my staff," he said. "I think it's as good as anybody's in the country."