Mark Gottfried may have to think twice about his lenient team policies regulating social media use in-season.
The N.C. State head coach became the scapegoat for one prominent player’s post-game lash following the team’s 86-84 loss on Tuesday night at Wake Forest, a game in which the Wolfpack squandered a 16-point lead and committed several miscues—both mental and physical—down the stretch. T.J. Warren, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds, was behind the sling. The freshman forward resorted to finger-pointing by way of a retweet to voice his displeasure.
Warren retweeted a comment on Twitter bluntly critical of the coach’s in-game coaching ability. The tweet has since been removed. Thomas De Thaey, who crafted the original tweet, left the N.C. State program in November to return to his native Belgium and pursue a professional career closer to his ailing father.
Considering the validity thereof, the scathing remark must hit Gottfried close to home. The ex-Crimson Tide head coach was a praiseworthy recruiter during his 11-year tenure at Alabama, but his career in Tuscaloosa slowly unraveled due to suspect tactical coaching and disorderly conduct that happened under his watch. After a successful first several years at Alabama, Gottfried’s time at the school quickly wore out.
Gottfried has endured similar culture problems through his first year-and-a-half in Raleigh. Despite a lofty preseason ranking and the distinction of ACC preseason favorite, the Wolfpack are still suffering from little brother syndrome. Few clues reveal a program unprepared to embrace a winning culture better than the buck passing currently going on at N.C. State.
This is a delicate situation Gottfried and his staff must handle, one that will go a long way in establishing the direction of the program, for better or worse. On one hand, Gottfried needs to set a punitive precedent to dissuade repeat offenses. On the other hand, Warren is the lone formidable presence on N.C. State’s diluted bench, so Gottfried is handcuffed in terms of how strictly he can discipline the freshman.
N.C. State must juggle the short-term gain of playing Warren—which may be especially tempting given the team’s two-game losing skid—with the long-term benefit of making an example out of him.
According to Warren himself, the team may not have the proper guy in place to make the right call.