NC State ran into a buzzsaw at Cameron Indoor on Saturday afternoon as the Blue Devils absolutely dominated nearly every facet of the game, working over NC State 95-60.
From the get-go you could tell that the Wolfpack wasn’t ready. Duke’s pressure defense was causing State to rush and take quick, poor shots. On the other end it seemed as if State was working extremely hard on defense, only to give up an uncontested layup, or a wide open 3 with the shot clock winding down. You knew that NC State could only withstand this type of play for a short period of time before this game broke open, and eventually in the second half, it did.
Jabari Parker, who came into this game struggling in ACC play, absolutely killed NC State inside and out. The talented freshman went for 23 points, 7 boards and 3 steals. He was everywhere. For NC State, there was no answer. They tried to go inside early and Kyle Washington found some success, but Duke shut that down soon after. TJ Warren was the only consistant on the Wolfpack team once again, scoring 23 points and grabbing 8 boards.
The problem isn’t Warren, it’s the supporting cast. They’re young, they get flustered and they don’t play the game smart. Not yet at least. Against Duke, and especially in Cameron in door, you have to match their toughness and physicality. You can’t shy away when they get up on you, start bumping and grabbing. You have to give it right back to them. State looked scared today and Duke could smell the blood in the water.
They Devils defense swarmed all game. They exposed NC State’s lack of strength and focus. As they got more aggressive State got more careless. The Wolfpack turned it over 23 times. 4 for Anthony Barber. 4 for Dez Lee. 4 for Kyle Washington.
At the end of the day, the Pack realized that there is a ton more work to be done. Here are a few things we think need improvement:
1) The number one most important thing to focus on going forward is toughness. Both mentally and physically this team is weak. They are young, so it’s not abnormal for a team full of freshmen and sophomores to have this problem, but it’s something that has to slowly fade in time. They need to show hunger, desire, and an unquenchable thirst for domination if they want to make waves in this league at some point.
2) This team does not cherish the basketball or their possessions. Have you ever seen those movies where a coach makes his players bring the ball around everywhere he goes. He has to sleep with it, bring it to class with him, and keep it at the table during dinner? Well, that might be a start for the Wolfpack guards. This team has become careless with the ball. Sure their turnovers have been kept to a minimum against teams that don’t apply pressure, but throw a little physicality at these guys and they’ve been coughing it up. 23 in this one, 16 against UVA, it has to be fixed. Which bring us to the next point…
3) This team is having point guard problems and it’s spiraling downward from there. Barber is young and is still learning how to compete at this level. He shows flashes of greatness and will obviously be a key piece for the program going forward, but as you saw tonight, he’s not ready yet. He’s still turning the ball over, getting himself in bad situations and hasn’t figured out how to control the pace and tempo of a basketball game. Barber could have definitely used a mentor, or someone to ease him into this role. The problem is, the guy who should have been helping with that, became competitive over those minutes, lost his starting role and now has lost all confidence. Tyler Lewis used to walk in with bullet-proof confidence. He knew what he wanted to do and he was able to do it. Call it sheer will or mental domination, but Lewis used his sub-par athleticism and speed to really control games in the ACC last season. Since being relieved of starting duties by Gottfried, Lewis has been a shell of his former self. He’s not only having trouble controlling a game, he’s struggling even bringing the ball up against pressure and it showed vs. Duke.
So where does NC State turn? I think you have to keep doing what you’re doing. I think Gottfried has been good lately about tightening the reigns on Barber. He makes a mistake, he puts him on the bench. That’s the only way he’s going to learn how to be perfect, which is what every PG should strive for.
4) The bigs aren’t getting it done. I really liked Kyle Washington’s confidence, intensity and toughness against Duke. It really seemed like he was the only one that was ready to mix it up and go toe to toe with the Devils’ physicality. Outside of that I thought State look lost. Remember, Freeman was out with an ankle injury so I”m basically talking about Vandenberg and Anya. Neither one of those guys were even remotely ready to compete against a team like this. For Anya it’s excusable. The kid really hasn’t seen a game like this before, but for Vandenberg I just don’t know what to say. Zero points, 3 boards and no blocks in 15 minutes. This was in a game where, at 7’1, 245lbs, he is competing against a guy (Amile Jefferson) that is 6’9, 210 or at worst Josh Hairston at 6’8 235lbs. What happened? It seemed like when it gets to ACC play, things just move to fast for Jordan. He’s playing at almost a second delay to everything and that one second is the difference between grabbing a rebound or not. Anya has his own problem with getting in position. The freshman is still working into shape but isn’t quite there yet. He’s still a little too slow to go up against a team like Duke who uses smaller, quicker bigs to take advantage. Just as a note…the smaller Blue Devils out-rebounded NC State 35-32.
5.) These guys are simply firing blanks. They can’t hit a shot outside the arc to save their life. Part of it is that this team just doesn’t have great shooters, but one things that is compounding that is the fact that they aren’t getting many clean looks from 3. The reason for that is that when someone drives to the lane it’s head down, tunnel vision. Barber and Lee both have the ability to get to the lane and draw the D. When it collapses they should be looking for the open man, usually opposite around the arc. You saw Duke do it all day today, simply shredding the Pack with drives and dishes for 3. Today was another awful day from beyond the arc for State. They went 2-8 while Duke went 11-24. That in itself is a 27 point difference.
NC State Guard MJ Rice Will Be Returning Soon After Stepping Away for a Period of Time
NC State Guard MJ Rice (6’5″/215) announced yesterday that due to personal reasons, he had to step away from the basketball program, but was excited to be back with his teammates soon. He was clear that his commitment to NC State hasn’t wavered.
Life is much bigger than sports. These young men are human beings first and foremost, and as we all know, this life is never simple and easy.
Rice transferred to NC State this offseason from Kansas with three years of eligibility remaining. The former High School McDonald’s All-American didn’t get a lot of playing time in his Freshman season at Kansas, averaging 7.6 minutes per game in only 23 games played.
Coming out of Prolific Prep in California, Rice averaged 20.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a Senior. Rivals ranked him as a 5-star prospect, ON3 ranked him 24th nationally, and ESPN ranked him as the #1 player in the state of North Carolina.
Whatever Rice is working through, we value him as a person more than we do a player.
NC State Announces Hiring of Larry Dixon as NC State Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach
RALEIGH – NC State men’s basketball head coach Kevin Keatts announced Wednesday that Larry Dixon has joined his staff as an assistant coach.
Dixon comes to NC State after spending the last five seasons as an assistant coach at South Florida.
The NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted in January to allow two more assistant coaches on men’s basketball staffs. Dixon, will serve as one of the Pack’s two new assistant coaches that can engage in coaching activities but may not recruit off campus.
“I think Larry is a great addition to our staff,” Keatts said. “He’s a North Carolina native that has dedicated himself to a coaching career since graduating from college. He started at the high school level in North Carolina and eventually moved up to college and now has been a Division I assistant coach for almost 20 years. I think his experience is going to be a great asset for me and our coaching staff, as well as the young men in our program as we develop them on and off the court.”
Larry Dixon joined the USF coaching staff as assistant coach on May 12, 2018.
In just his second season with the team in 2018-19, Dixon helped USF to the top win turnaround in the NCAA during the 2018-19 season, as the Bulls won 14 more games than the previous season. In addition, USF turned in a 24-14 overall record to set a new single-season school record for wins. The Bulls would go on to win the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) championship and claim the program’s first postseason title since 1990.
Dixon also played an instrumental role in the development of 2019 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Laquincy Rideau and 2019 American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year Alexis Yetna.
Dixon helped USF become one of the top defensive teams in the NCAA during the 2019-20 season, finishing the year ranked 20th in scoring defense by allowing only 62.7 points per game. The Bulls limited eight teams to fewer than 60 points during the season and held 27 of their 31 opponents under their scoring average at the time of play. The Bulls also ranked 44th in the nation in turnovers forced with 15.6 per game, and stood 65th in the NCAA in steals with 7.5 thefts per game.
In 2021-22, Dixon helped develop Russel Tchewa and Corey Walker Jr. into one of the best frontcourt tandems in the league. The Bulls were again among the top defensive teams in the country, ranking 45th in the NCAA in scoring defense (64.9 ppg).
Dixon came to Tampa after five seasons as an assistant at Georgia Southern under head coach Mark Byington. Prior to his stint with the Eagles, Dixon had collegiate assistant coaching jobs at Winthrop (2007-12), East Carolina (2005-07), South Carolina State (2003-05) and St. Andrews College (2002-03).
In his final season at Georgia Southern, Dixon helped lead the Eagles to a 21-12 record, including an 11-7 mark in the Sun Belt. In 2016-17, he helped Georgia Southern reach the postseason for the first time since 2006, playing in the College Basketball Invitational.
Prior to arriving at Georgia Southern, Dixon spent the 2012-13 season as head coach at York Comprehensive High School in York, S.C.
During his five seasons (2007-12) on the coaching staff at Winthrop under head coach Randy Peele, Dixon was recognized as the top assistant coach in the Big South by Fox Sports.
Before entering the college game, Dixon served as the head coach at Garinger High School in Charlotte, N.C. for three seasons. In 2001, he led Garinger to a North Carolina High School sectional championship and earned Mecklenburg County Coach of the Year honors from the Charlotte Observer. Dixon also spent one season as an assistant at Carver High School in Winston-Salem, N.C. and one season at South Rowan High School in his hometown of Salisbury, N.C.
Dixon graduated from Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte, N.C) in 1996, where he was a four-year letterman as a player. He was named the team’s most improved player following his junior season and the top defensive player after his senior season. He helped the Golden Bulls to a pair of CIAA Southern Division titles and a championship game appearance as a sophomore.
A native of Salisbury, N.C., Dixon has two children, Devin and Leah.
NC State Releases 2023-24 Men’s Basketball Non-Conference Schedule
NC State released their 2023-24 Men’s Basketball Non-Conference Schedule today.
Below is a look at each teams 2022-23 record, postseason play results, followed by their final rankings according to the NET and KenPom.
The Citadel – 2022-23 Record – 10-22. NET Ranking: 330/KenPom: 327
Abilene Christian – 2022-23 Record – 13-17. NET Ranking: 204/KenPom: 193
Charleston Southern – 2022-23 Record – 10-21. NET Ranking: 304/KenPom: 302
(Vegas Showdown) Vanderbilt – 2022-23 Record – 22-15. NET Ranking: 81/KenPom: 81 (Won 2 games in the NIT)
(Vegas Showdown) Arizona St. – 23-13. NET Ranking: 61/KenPom: 55 (Lost in 2nd Round of NCAA Tournament)
(Vegas Showdown) BYU – 2022-23 Record – 19-15. NET Ranking: 84/KenPom: 77
@ Ole Miss – 2022-23 Record – 12-21. NET Ranking: 129/KenPom: 122
Maryland Eastern Shore – 2022-23 Record – 18-13. KenPom: 251
UT Martin – 2022-23 Record – 19-14. NET Ranking: 251/KenPom: 273
(Hall of Fame San Antonio) Tennessee – 2022-23 Record – 25-11. NET Ranking: 5/KenPom: 6 (Lost in Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament)
Saint Louis – 2022-23 Record – 21-12. NET Ranking: 97/96
Detroit – 2022-23 Record – 14-19. NET Ranking: 212/KenPom: 200
NC State Men’s Basketball to Play Vanderbilt in Opening Round of Vegas Showdown
The bracket for the Vegas Showdown on November 23-24 has been released, and NC State will play Vanderbilt in the opening round on ESPN2. They will either play Arizona State or BYU the following day, depending on how it shakes out.
Vegas matchup is set 👀
— NC State Men's Basketball (@PackMensBball) August 8, 2023
Vanderbilt finished the regular season last year with a record of 22-15, and were ranked 81st according to KenPom. Arizona St. finished the regular season with a record of 23-13, and were ranked 55th according to KenPom. BYU finished the regular season with a record of 19-15, and were ranked 77th according to KenPom.