This isn't a knock on Lou one bit, but much of the "ground up" part of the equation actually happened prior to Lou's arrival. He had a pretty good talent base to start with by the time he got here. The team was slowly drafting pieces and improving from year-to-year before Lou was hired. In a lot of ways, we're lucky that McMullen was as patient with Lou as he was, because the team did kind of spin its wheels for the first 6 years or so of Lou's tenure (even though Lou was continuing to add quality players to the core, and moving some of his inherited core for other players). I'll always believe Lemaire working out as well as did saved Lou's job. I don't know if McMullen would've given him another chance to hire a new head coach otherwise.
It's been long known that there were moves going on behind the scenes to bring in a replacement until they went on the run in 94 and then it got shelved. The rest is history as they say.