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5 Takeaways from PrimeTime With The Pack

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‘Primetime with the Pack’ Box Score

1.) Tyler Lewis is going to be a superstar, a team leader, and the engine of this Wolfpack team

Unbelievable game by Tyler Lewis. The official boxscore has him down for 16 points and 5 assists (in 20 minutes, mind you) but I’m pretty sure they’re on the low end with that assist total. Lewis put on the best red/white game performance I’ve ever seen. He was in control, he was getting his teammates involved, he was dictating, not only what his players would be doing, but what the defenders would be doing as well. For example: Lewis and Vandenberg were pushing the pace on the break, but it was a 2 on 3. They didnt have  numbers and the three defenders were very aware of Vandenberg streaking down the floor. It seemed as if Lewis had no where to go. To his left was a trailing Ralston Turner. Lewis drove in, but when Vandy was covered and he had a man in front of him, he turned out like he was going to pull it back out and kick it to Turner. Out of the corner of his eye he watched the defenders drift out just a bit and relax when Lewis turned his back to them…that’s when Tyler shot a quick behind the head pass to Vandenberg for a dunk.

There are few players like Tyler Lewis in college basketball today that can control the flow, the spacing, and the pace like he can. It’s that coupled by the fact that he just looks like your everyday high school player at the YMCA that really throw defenders off. You could tell that Cat Barber was visibly frustrated at times when guarding Lewis. He was really ratcheting up the defense only to see Lewis use a hesitation move to turn the corner and knock down a floater. You could almost see it in Cat’s body language. He’s a McDonald’s All-American and he’s made a name for himself by thrashing kids like this, but Lewis is a different animal altogether. This isn’t at all a knock on Barber. It’s a compliment to Lewis.  As long as his body can withstand the rigors of a full season of 37 minutes per game, this kid is going to lead this team further than many think possible.
2. TJ Warren has trimmed up and has advanced aspects of his game

We all knew TJ was going to be a leading scorer in this one ( he lead his team with 13 points) but if you really watched Warren you saw a different player. He was quicker, more active on defense and more physical in the paint. Warren didn’t dominate the boards or anything (he had 2 rebounds), but he did a little of everything. He finished with 3 steals and 2 blocks in 20 minutes. These are the things that State needs out of Warren. The scoring is his bread and butter, but this team also needs him to be an all-around star. The knock last year was that he was uninterested in those aspects of the game, but tonight he showed differently. He was active on defense, he threw around his weight, and he defended the goal well (with 2 blocks). On offense it was more of the same. His crafty scoring is back and he hit some amazing little floaters, including one where he adjusted his body in the air to get it over Vandenberg. He also took a page out of Paul Pierce’s book when he hit a step back fade away from the elbow over his defender. Warren seems to have taken the necessary steps to become a true All-ACC player.
3. Jordan Vandenberg might finally be coming around

Now, I’m not trying to be  negative, but I’ve just been burned by writing columns like this in the past and hyping the Big V, but I feel like I shouldn’t be this excited about the big time game Vandy put up last night. First off, I’m a huge Jordan Vandenberg fan. The reason is that I think there is some massive potential in the kid. I think if he really start realizing his role of defender, rebounder, and cleanup man around the rim, then NC State might strike gold during his senior year. The question is, when will he get serious and take what he wants?

Maybe that time is now. Last night Vandenberg was a man amongst boys, and although that is both figurative and literal Vandy was overall impressive. He finished with 12 points and 7 boards and completely overshadowed his competition for playing time, Beejay Anya.

Vandenberg can be a huge factor for NC State if he performs like he did last night. He played pretty decent defense, he was very aggressive and physical on the boards and he ran the floor well with Tyler Lewis and got a slew of his famous Australian power dunks. I think he’s going to carve out some real playing time for himself if he can keep that up. Anya simply isn’t ready physically or mentally just yet, so now is the time for Jordan to step up.
4. Dez Lee is going to be a bigtime player

This was my first time seeing Lee play live and upon first glance he was a little smaller than I initially thought he’d be. That being said, this kid has major game. His handle, his speed, his confidence and his physicality would have you believe he’s been an ACC star for a while, when in fact he hasn’t even tasted the league yet. Dez has everything a coach wants out of a 2 guard. He attacks the rim with hunger and reckless abandon (he’s going to draw a lot of fouls going to the hoop this season). He knows when to pull up and can knock down the jumper and most importantly he wanted the ball in his hands with the time winding down. With the game close at the end it was Lee, not Warren who was intent on taking the big shots. Lee knocked down a contested 3 to tie the game with 20 seconds left and then after 2 free throws by Tyler Lewis, it was him who went right at the basket, took the contact and got to the free throw line. Having Lewis, Warren and Lee who are willing to take and make big shots is going to be big during ACC play this year.

 

5. The freshman have talent, but still need some work

Probably the most impressive freshman to me was Lennard Freeman. Yeah, I know, it surprised me too. I was thinking this kid was going to be the least ready of any of the young guys, but Freeman looked the most ready, the least scared and the most polished. He’s got good footwork in the post, a nice touch and he’s very physical. Now, if he wants to really earn PT he’s going to have to learn to knock down FTs (1-7 on the night), but that should come in time. Freeman finished with only 5 points, but he led his team in rebounding and was 2-2 from the floor. He also got to the line 7 times which was a game high. Defensively he was also good. He made things tough for fellow freshman Kyle Washington and wasn’t afraid to mix it up in the paint with anyone.

As for Washington, he is what was expected. He’s a high motor guy who really plays hard on both ends of the floor. He finished with 4 points (2-5) and 7 boards. There’s no doubt that Washington is more versatile than Freeman, but Freeman is obviously the one more comfortable on the block getting physical. This provides Gottfried a nice change of pace based on the competition. If you have a team with a more versatile 4, then Washington is your guy. If you got a team with big bruisers down low then Freeman can slot in. I was impressed with both guys.

Now onto the most talented freshman, Cat Barber. He’s got the speed, he’s got the quickness, but last night Barber just was taken out of his game by Lewis. Barber is going to be really good, so let’s get that out of the way. He’s got everything you want a young PG to have. He just needs to learn the college game. Before everyone jumps all over me here, I’m not saying I was expecting him to be ACC ready in his first scrimmage, but being a McDonald’s All-American and coming in as highly touted as he was, makes you watch him a little closer. I think Barber played outstanding defense and was really, really active on the ball. Lewis is just super crafty and that led to 7 fouls for the freshman. He just couldn’t really stop Tyler and that’s ok, because there might not be a PG in the ACC than can. Barber did let that visibly frustrate him and it took him out of his game. As he grows and continues to compete and learn, he’ll be fine and will be a great 1-2 punch with Lewis.

At the end of the day it actually was a nice game for Barber. He finished with 8 points on 2-4 shooting. He didn’t have an assist and he did commit 7 fouls, but he also was turnover free. Barber didn’t play bad at all, it was just that his competition on this night was just that good.

Oh, I almost forgot about Beejay Anya, which is probably because there really isn’t much to say. Anya is, as expected, a giant. He’s tall, long, and thick, but he just wasn’t able to do much on this night. He finished with 3 points and 3 boards. I think part of it was the fact that Vandenberg was kind of dominant on this night and the other part was that the pace was pretty fast and that doesn’t really lend itself to Anya’s strengths right now. Gottfried is going to have to get Anya to pull a Richard Howell if he wants to be a star, because right now he just didn’t look ready for ACC play (again, not that I was expecting him to, but some of these freshman are going to have to be thrown in the fire).

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6 (bonus observation) – Didn’t get a great read on Ralston Turner

Maybe it was the offseason hype around Turner from Pack fans, or maybe it just wasn’t his game, but I didn’t really get a good read on Turner. I can see that he’s a good shooter, he likes to drift to the 3 point line, and that Gott is running Wood’s old plays with him, but is that what he is? Turner has a great frame and seems semi-athletic, but I didn’t really see him attack the rim at all in this one. I’m going to have to watch him more to see what kind of game he’s really bringing to the table. He finished with 5 points, 3 boards and 2 steals. He was 2-3 from the floor and 1-2 from beyond the arc. As of last night he reminds me a lot of junior year Courtney Fells (which is definitely not a bad thing). A guy who seems like he’d be a dominant all-around player, but he’s mainly just a shooter at this point. I could be wrong, and like I said, I need to see more of him before I can give you a real good rundown of what to expect.

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NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts Postgame Press Conference After Coppin State: BULLETED

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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.
  • 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.

         

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NC State Basketball

NC State’s Dusan Mahorcic Suffers Knee Injury vs. Coppin State

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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.

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!

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NC State Basketball

Men’s Basketball’s: NC State 94 Coppin State 72: Highlight Reel & Condensed Game

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NC State defeated Coppin State 94-72 in Reynolds Coliseum tonight. You can check out the Box Score here. Below is the Highlight Reel & Condensed Game from the ACC Digital Network.

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Men’s Basketball: NC State 94 Coppin State 72: BOX SCORE

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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.

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