Tonight at 7pm at the PNC Arena Wolfpack fans will get their first glimpse of their 2013-2014 NC State basketball team. They will have player intros, a skills competition and finish off with a scrimmage. Admission is free and we’ll be there covering it live for you (via tweet). Now, here are a few things we think you should focus on:
1) Has Tyler Lewis taken the reins?
When the Wolfpack recruited Lewis they knew he was a natural born leader, but I don’t think they envisioned handing over the keys to a sophomore. With that said, I don’t think the team could be in better hands. NC State hasn’t had a real ‘take-charge’ vocal leader since Engin Atsur was at the point during Sidney Lowe’s first season. Lewis has put on considerable size. Now, he’s not going to come out with some bulging biceps or anything, but he’s put on some good weight. He’s broadened his shoulders and thickened up with muscle. These are things we harped on last season and we knew that Lewis needed to put on muscle if he wanted to be a 40 minute per game guy.
Really watch how he controls the team. He’s hopefully going to be vocal and seem like an extension of Gottfried on the floor. All the talk has been about how great he has been as a leader, so it will be interesting to see this live tonight.
2) Is Warren ready to be elite?
TJ was good last year. He was real good, but that’s not going to be good enough this season. Warren needs to take the next step. Take note during the scrimmage at his attack points. How is he focusing on scoring? From what I’ve heard, he’s become more versatile off the dribble. He’s shed his baby fat and trimmed up a good bit which will certainly add to his quickness and explosiveness. But with less mass does he lose his ability to make space in traffic? I don’t know, and these are things to really watch closely tonight. Don’t just focus on how many point TJ puts up, but how he’s attempting to do it. Watching that will give you a good idea on how Gottfried and the staff has been coaching him to become their go-to scorer.
Another thing I’m interested to see is how Warren reacts to his role. State isn’t going to win if TJ needs to be a volume scorer, shooting the ball every time he touches it. They need him to be efficient and use his teammates to create opportunities for himself. We’ve seen the “You’re the go-to guy” media attention go to players heads and really hurt them, by making them think they need to force it and force it until they score. I think Warren is smarter than this, but it will be something to watch.
3) Is Ralston Turner really that good?
I’m going to be honest. I’ve only seen Ralston play live on one occasion and I wasn’t all that impressed. He came from LSU where he was scoring at a pretty good clip, but also taking a ton of shots. I know he loves to pull up and settle for jumpers and I know he’s got a great frame. What I wasn’t so sure about where his shot mechanics and his ability to use his frame to attack the basket. Again, I’m basing this off of about a half hour of watching the guy play, but I’m just letting you know my initial opinion.
With that said, every single time TJ and Tyler have been interviewed this preseason, they’ve mentioned Ralston when asked about ‘Who is going to step up? or ‘Who can become another scorer for this team?’ They watch him play everyday so I’d be much more willing to take their word for it. So really, one of the biggest things I’m looking for tonight is ‘How good can Turner be?’ Is this guy a scorer, is he versatile, does he lock down on defense? or is he just a shooter? I’ll be watching closely tonight.
4. Are the freshmen ACC ready?
The answer to this question can go a long way in predicting just how good the Pack can be this season. Kyle Washington, Cat Barber, Beejay Anya and Lennard Freeman are going to be relied upon, some for major minutes. So what can we expect from them?
I think the key here is the bigs. Although Barber is State’s prize recruit, I think the Wolfpack’s major weakness is going to be inside. Losing Leslie and Howell is not easy to replace. Can Washington step in and give State what Leslie was giving them? Not right off the bat, but I know Washington will bring a much more disciplined, much more hungry brand of basketball to the table. And will Anya be in shape? I know he reported to Raleigh a little bigger than expected, and with Gott’s love for fast basketball I wonder how Anya fits in. Rebounding wise, this guy is going to own the boards. I don’t see how he can’t,. But can he produce on offense and is he quick enough and smart enough on defense to stay out of foul trouble while still making it hard on opposing bigs? Again, I don’t know. For Anya, watch his positioning and his conditioning. For Washington, watch his demeanor. Does he look nervous or does he look ready to contribute? And what about Freeman? Is he even ACC ready? I have no real expectations for him, so he has the real ability to surprise some people tonight.
Then you have Cat Barber. This is the guy NC State fans are really excited for. I’m sure (if he plays #concussion) that you’ll be able to see his quicks and his speed. I know he has that, but what about his ability to lead? What about his interaction with his teammates on the court? Is he going to step in as the ‘I’m the McDonald’s All-American, I need to get mine.’ type attitude or is he going to come in and really get his teammates involved and try to really find his role. How do he and Lewis coincide? Does Barber become more of a 2 guy? Do they switch off PG duties? It will be interesting to see because it’s obvious Lewis is at his best when he’s handling the ball a majority of the time. However, we might not get to see this because Gott might have them on different sides in the scrimmage.
5) Who and what is Dez Lee?
State hasn’t brought on a JUCO in quite some time, but the choice to go after Lee, in my opinion, scared off Purvis. The staff loves Lee. Julius Hodge loves Lee. Tyler Lewis and TJ Warren love Lee’s game. So how good is this guy? I’m seeing the hype and his highlight reel looks nice, but I’ve learned not to trust that anymore (i.e. Trevor Ferguson). Lee is going to be very important for NC State. I hear he can really score in transition, but what about against ACC level talent? Can he guard bigger, stronger guards? He’s going to need to because he’s the biggest guard they have. He’s got an ACC frame and he’s built like a football player, but he really needs to have a defensive mind about him this season. Will he, or is he still raw on the defensive end? It’s going to be interesting to see how his game looks live.
bonus: Can we expect much from Jordan Vandenberg?
I haven’t seen big V play all summer, but I really hope he put in work. This is a guy who really could be a factor for the Pack if he could get his confidence back and focus on defense and rebounding. I know that nobody wants to improve more than Jordan (we see and hear it on Twitter), but has he put in the effort this offseason? Is he more vocal and more of a leader? I desperately want him to become a factor this season and State desperately needs that. I’ll be watching him closely tonight to see where he’s at.
Now sure, it might seem like I should just give these guys the benefit of the doubt and write all the great things you should watch them do, but as State fans we’ve been burned in the past by just about every scenario you can imagine. I’m just listing the possibilities here and listing some honest things that I’m going to be focusing hard on. I hope you will do the same! We will have a write-up that reviews these things after the game and I’ll have my opinions of what I saw late tonight or tomorrow morning after the game.
Kevin Keatts Postgame Press Conference After Coppin State: BULLETED
NC State Head Coach Kevin Keatts met with the media after the Wolfpack’s 94-72 victory over Coppin State tonight. You can watch the press conference here, or check out a BULLETED breakdown below.
- First of all we’re going to continue to pray for Dusan Mahorcic.
- I do not have an update at this point. He’s with our medical doctors and our trainers and I will know more hopefully in the next 24 hours.
- We will give you some type of an update when we get one.
- I just wanted to keep him calm. It’s tough and you guys look at them as my players. I look at them as my kids.
- It is hard to see any of your kids or any of those guys in that situation.
- I was there just to calm him down and let him know we are with him. I am obviously praying for him.
- Our guards were really special tonight.
- There were 3 great guards on the floor because Sam Sessoms [of Coppin State] was pretty good also.
- It was really good to see Jarkel Joiner bounce back after not having a great game against Pitt.
- Terquavion Smith was a pro’s pro tonight.
- He did a little bit of everything, he defended, he scored the basketball, he passed the basketball.
- We didn’t feel like we played well in the Pitt game and we wanted to come in here, have a better showing, and play both ends of the floor.
- I’ll get a thousand questions about Reynolds Coliseum and we should play every game in here, but don’t send those questions to me, send them to somebody else, but it’s a great venue and it was a great night.
- I’m really appreciative of our fans for showing up.
- It was an electric night. I thought the energy was great. We had a lot of fun.
- The ‘STATE’ jerseys looked great, I thought they were outstanding.
- Hopefully we can see them again, maybe they’re not just a 1-game deal.
- During the game, I thought we had a good 1st half, but we didn’t close the 1st half the way I wanted to.
- We came out, and I thought we were playing a lot better in the 2nd half, and then unfortunately with Dusan Mahorcic’s situation it took the air out of us a bit, but we closed the game.
- I’m happy the way Ernest Ross played today.
- They [Coppin State] did a good job getting back in transition.
- A lot of Casey Morsell’s shots have come when he was running the floor and getting out in transition.
- They stayed at home.
- The reason we got so many open looks to our post guys when we rolled was because they stayed with our shooters a lot.
- I’ll take them [Joiner & Smith]. I don’t want to trade them, so I’ve got to say I’ll take them. I’m keeping them. I’m not throwing them in, so I’m keeping those guys.
- They are good and tonight they were electric. They were really good.
- Every run that Coppin made they were there to answer it.
- Here is what we do in practice with those guys.
- I need them to play against each other because they challenge each other to become better, but I also have to develop some type of chemistry with them.
- So early on in the season, it was those 2 guarding each other, and they made each other better.
- In the end, I have now switched it so they have to play together, so they have a better understanding and feel on how to play together.
- Coppin is a team that is really dangerous. People from the other side won’t have name recognition, but you look at the Power Five and the bigger schools they have played, that is what has been great.
- Georgetown was an overtime game, maybe multiple overtime games, and the Maryland game was tough.
- He [Juan Dixon] has done that against all competition. I am happy for Juan.
- I remember him back when I was at Hargrave. I sent Lonnie Baxter to Maryland who played with Juan and I have seen him since he was a really young kid.
- One of the best kids I could have ever recruited [Joiner], especially the point guard position.
- He didn’t have to tell me. I don’t know if he went home that night [After Pitt].
- Obviously, he probably went in and took 2,000 shots that night or more.
- The #1 thing these kids are here for is their education.
- Today was the last day of class, meaning we are going into exams, so we have to figure out a good balance of when to practice.
- Right now our priorities shifted to make sure the guys finish out the semester strong, and take care of their academics. It is a great balancing act.
- You gotta let me get past tonight, they’re [Miami] good, very talented.
- I haven’t watched Miami at all, but I do know name recognition.
- I know Isaiah Wong seems like he’s been around for 7 years, and he’s played great.
- I’ll get a chance to watch them starting late tonight and early tomorrow.
- They’re talented.
- Jim Larrañaga has done a great job with his team, it’ll be a tough road game for us, as all of them are.
- I haven’t watched Miami at all, but I do know name recognition.
- Our guards did a great job of controlling the game, thats the maturity that I’m looking for.
- I’ve got a Senior that’s been around a long time, in Jarkel.
- I’ve also got a guy that is an elite scorer, who a lot of the conversations I’ve had with him are: ‘control the game, finish the game, be efficient down the stretch, and don’t settle.’
- He did a great job of not just taking deep 3’s, even though he took the last one.
- He drove the basketball and we got to the free throw line.
- Amazing. It’s not just NC State, you could almost make an argument that it’s America’s team, the ‘83 run was great.
- It feels like every time you see something about them, I have to stop what I am doing just to read. It gets your heart beating a little bit.
- It’s a great team with great folks, it was a great coach.
- We’re excited…we’re gonna bring them back.
- I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you that, but I think they’re supposed to come back in February to honor those guys and I think that’s the right thing to do…and if we can bring them back every week we should.
- I think there were a few here tonight, and I’m glad our guys played well enough where our guys respect what those guys did.
- You know he’s played so well and other people will say, you know, well he’s only averaged 16 points per game, you know the NBA scouts, they know he can score the basketball.
- They wanted to see him pass the basketball, so I think he’s doing a really good job.
- He’s either 1st or 2nd in the ACC in assists.
- We’re seeing a young man grow up, and by the way, he’s saying to you guys: ‘Hey I can score if I need to, I just wanna show you I got a little bit more in my bag.’
- But he’s really matured, you know he’s a kid.
- And you know one of the reasons why he’s back is because he’s a kid and he enjoys his teammates.
- You know when you saw Dusan go down, you know, I think he was affected more than anybody.
- They wanted to see him pass the basketball, so I think he’s doing a really good job.
NC State’s Dusan Mahorcic Suffers Knee Injury vs. Coppin State
NC State Center Dusan Mahorcic suffered a gruesome looking knee injury tonight in the Wolfpack’s 94-72 victory over Coppin State in Reynolds Coliseum.
Play has stopped after this Dusan Mahorcic injury. pic.twitter.com/luXKQa4eVW
— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) December 7, 2022
From what I’ve heard, Mahorcic suffered an injury to his kneecap, but the severity of his injury is unknown at this time. A kneecap injury can visually be a disturbing sight, and the NC State squad, especially Terquavion Smith, who had a good look at it, were emotionally moved in concern.
We will have to wait to see how long Mahorcic is out, but the need for DJ Burns to be able to play more minutes just became much more important. Also, Ernest Ross, who has always had a high ceiling, is going to need to grow up fast if Mahorcic is out for an extended period of time.
We are praying for you Dusan! Get well soon Big Fella!
Men’s Basketball’s: NC State 94 Coppin State 72: Highlight Reel & Condensed Game
Men’s Basketball: NC State 94 Coppin State 72: BOX SCORE
NC State improved to 8-2 on the year, defeating Coppin State 94-72 tonight in Reynolds Coliseum.
Only 2 Wolfpack players scored in double figures, and it was none other than the dangerous tandem of Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner.
Smith led the team in points and assists, with 33 & 7 respectively. Smith wax clicking tonight, shooting 12-21 from the field, and 6 of 12 from three.
Joiner bounced back from a poor shooting performance against Pitt, scoring 29 points, shooting 11-21 from the field, and a blazing 5-7 from three.
Jack Clark had a poor shooting night, hitting only 1 of 7, but he managed to impact the game in every other way. Clark had 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.