NC State Basketball
Gameday: Pack Needs To Evolve to Upset #2 UVA
NC State vs #2 UVA
8pm | Raleigh, NC | ACCN
After losing 5 of their last 7, NC State desperately needs a shot in the arm to save their season. Tonight is their chance. The Pack will take on #2 Virginia at home in a game that NC State really needs if they want to make a late run at the NCAA tournament.
Losses to Miami, Wake and Clemson have really hurt the Pack as of late. A team that seemed to be climbing to their peak all of the sudden looked lost. What happened? How did they collapse? And how can they resurrect a once promising season? Let us break that down…
• Teams Got the Blueprint on Lacey and Turner
It became pretty obvious that the loss to UNC laid a blueprint. The Tarheels guarded NC State’s (and at that time the ACC’s) leading scorer with a bigger, more athletic player in JP Tokoto. This took Lacey almost completely out of the game in the early going. No longer was he able to isolate, elevate and shoot over smaller 2 guards, and this is how he had been so successful early in the season. All of the sudden teams were putting the the bigger, slower guys on Lacey and the quicker shorter guys on Turner and chasing him around. This has created havoc for the NC State offense. All of the sudden Lacey is being forced to attack off the dribble and while he can do that well (and he’s still scoring a decent clip), it’s not what makes him elite. Then you have Turner, who early on made a living of running opposing 3s around screen after screen and finding openings. All of the sudden the quicker guys on Turner are staying right with him and not allowing him to get many clean looks at all.
At the end of the day, while Lacey is still scoring and Turner is still getting shots off, teams are forcing these two to do things they don’t really feel all that comfortable doing and that is killing the Wolfpack’s flow. They are basically in the process of reinventing themselves. Before, when they needed a bucket they’d just isolate Lacey or get Turner open, but teams aren’t allowing it to be that easy anymore, so they must rethink their approach.
This is where learning the offense and running it correctly comes into play. We’ve been harping on the small things all season. The patience, the walking your man down on screens before going off of them shoulder to shoulder. The changing of speeds and direction when baiting your man on back cuts. All of these things are areas where State just went through the motions early this season as they constantly were bailed out by Lacey’s jumper and Turner’s 3 ball. All of the sudden they don’t have those to fall back on as easily, so they seem lost. Hopefully this week off will help them retool and put their pieces back together in a way that makes a little more sense for the way the defenses are playing them.
Come Together As One…or else
This week off couldn’t have come at a better time. As we stated earlier, teams are changing the way they are attacking NC State and now the Pack needs to adjust. This team needs to become one unit. They need to trust each other and stop being so sold on ‘getting the hot man the ball.’ While that theory does work, it backfires when the rest of your team simply sits around and watches, because eventually the hot man cools off and you are stuck with a bunch of guys out of the flow of the game.
Case in point, when Abu gets going inside, all of the sudden it becomes – dump it into Abu and clear out every time. Or when Turner hits a 3, all of the sudden the next few plays are Turner running around the baseline like a wild man hunting down any shot he can find. Or when Lacey gets going, it’s ‘clear out and let him attack.’ That all good and can work, but that is not team basketball and right now NC State needs to realize that. They are just playing a bunch of games of 1 on 1 within a game and that is why you see no consistency with this squad.
This team needs to come together. Understand that with Barber clicking, all of the sudden you have all the pieces you need, but putting them together is what Gottfried is tasked with right now. You’ve seen the 8 minute stretches when this team looks like the best group in the country, and then they get their lead and start going rogue. I put that on Gottfried. He needs to make sure his teams keep their course for 40 minutes. If a player decides they want to do it themselves, then that player gets a seat on the bench to think about his mistakes. It’s now or never for this group. They need to buy in fast or they’ll be begging for an NIT invite.
Virginia is big and strong. They’re going to make everything tough for State and try to force them to fall in love with long jumpers, but the Pack actually matches up pretty well with this team. Virginia gets a lot of mismatches by having big, strong, athletic guards, but with their leading scorer and lock down defender Justing Anderson out of this game with a broken finger, the Pack will be able to take advantage. With Brogden, Anderson and Perrantes, they can really lock down and combination of back courts, but without Anderson, Brogden’s role on defense really grows. Can he shut down Lacey (who only had 9 points against the Cavs last time out)? If he does, who guards Barber? If that ends up being Perrantes, that leaves the 6’6 Shayok to chase around Turner. Can he keep up with him and be disciplined enough to follow him around all that off the ball movement?
See, the Pack is going to have their chance tonight. The matchups look a lot more promising with Anderson out. Couple that with the fact that Barber has arrived, they’ve had a full week off and this game is a must win at home, and you have yourself a LOT of ammunition and motivation.
By the Numbers vs UVA
Simple fact. NC State MUST own the boards tonight against UVA. Last time out they were outrebounded 39-30. Anderson had 9 of those in a dominant performance, but again, he’s out for this one. Aside from him, the Pack let up 8 boards to Atkins and 7 more to Gill. You can put that on the State bigs who just were out muscled. But that was without the Abu we know now. Adding him to the mix could help down there significantly.
Back to Anderson real fast, he put up 16pts, 9 boards, and 3 assists last time out against the Pack. They lost him in the second half of the game against Louisville. That was the first time all season they had to play without their emotional, scoring and defensive leading senior. What happened in that half? Well, they let up 34 points and only scored 28. While they still won, they weren’t themselves without Anderson. That was only 4 days ago, so that means they’ve had 3 days to prepare a gameplan without him. I don’t put anything past Tony Bennett, but replacing your senior team leader might seem doable in practice, but this will be their first time really attempting to do it in a game. This is a huge break for the Wolfpack.
Ok, back to the numbers. Without Anderson (who was shooting an insane 48% from beyond the arc) Virginia really doesn’t have a go to shooter. Brogden is hitting 36% from deep, but thats really not his game. After that no one with a significant amount of attempts is shooting above 32%.
FTs will also be big. Last time out against the Cavs, State shot a piss poor 22% from the line. Virginia hit 90%. If State can control the boards, play as a team and knock down their FTs, they can get the season changing win they desperately need.
NC State Basketball
UNC Transfer Dontrez Styles Expected to Visit NC State Soon
UNC Guard/Forward Transfer Dontrez Styles (6’6″/210) is expected to be visiting NC State soon. According to a source, he was expected to take an unofficial visit tomorrow, but it has been rescheduled to Monday.
Styles entered the Transfer Portal on March 17th.
Over the past two seasons, Styles has seen limited action for the Tar Heels, averaging 5.9 minutes in 45 total games (15 this season).
Styles is no stranger to NC State. He played high school for Kinston (Kinston, NC), and was offered by Kevin Keatts. Styles was a consensus 4-Star prospect coming out of High School. 247Sports ranked him as the #62 overall player nationally in the 2021 recruiting class, and the #2 player in the state of North Carolina.
ON3 ranks Styles as the #21 player currently in the Transfer Portal.
NC State Basketball
All-AAC Temple Transfer Damian Dunn Visiting NC State this Weekend
According to a source, Temple All-AAC Transfer Shooting Guard Damian Dunn (6’5″/195) was expected to be at NC State today on an unofficial visit.
Dunn entered the Transfer Portal on March 20th.
— Damian Dunn 🇦🇸 (@Dam1anKD) March 20, 2023
Dunn averaged 15.3 points per game this season, earning 3rd Team All-AAC honors. He shot 41.1% from the field this season, and 34.8% from three-point land.
In 2021-22, he led the Owls in scoring (14.9), and earned 2nd Team All-AAC honors.
Dunn originally is from Kinston, North Carolina, but played his Senior season of High School for Meadowcreek in Georgia, finishing his high school career as a 3-star prospect.
With the almost guaranteed loss of Terquavion Smith, NC State will be in need for a dynamic scorer, and Dunn has proven that he can do just that at the collegiate level.
Currently, Dunn is the 16th ranked player in the Transfer Portal according to ON3.
Dunn is a Redshirt Sophomore this season, with 2 years of eligibility remaining.
NC State Basketball
NC State’s Jack Clark Enters Transfer Portal
NC State Forward Jack Clark has entered the Transfer Portal.
NC State G Jack Clark has entered the transfer portal. Grad transfer. https://t.co/NQ6vpv4XPL
— Verbal Commits (@VerbalCommits) March 24, 2023
I heard from a source that it was close to 50/50 whether Clark would return to NC State next year for his final year of eligibility.
Clark started in 17 of the 23 games that he played in for the Wolfpack this season, averaging 9.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Clark led the Wolfpack on rebounding in 22-23.
When it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t be shocked to see NC State pull in 6 players from the Transfer Portal when all the dust settles.
Brace yourself for the ride.
NC State Basketball
A few Point Guards we think NC State will target in the transfer portal
As stated yesterday, NC State lost Ebe Dowuona and might lose a couple more guys to the portal eventually. They also are very likely to keep their core guys aside from Terquavion Smith who is almost surely headed to the NBA.
The Pack has a few glaring needs for next season. They need a starting PG, they need a starting SG and they need a 4/5 guy that can be the bruiser option at the 4 against bigger, stronger teams, and also a guy who can slot in as a backup behind Burns if Mahorcic’s knee doesn’t get back to full strength. Those are the direct needs at this moment, however, based on what guys on the current roster do, there might end up being other needs. That said, we’d going to focus on the needs of today.
There is always the case that transfers can via the portal with no prior connection to the team. That means they aren’t local kids and they don’t have a prior relationship with the coaching staff. While that is possible, it’s not usually how this plays out. What usually happens is a kid wants to come closer to home, or they have some prior relationship with the staff (sometimes both).
So right now we’re going to limit our focus to a few guys that are in the portal and either local or have a prior relationship with the staff. We’re also going to limit the discussion in this piece to just Point Guards.
What is a ‘Keatts’ Point Guard?
NC State runs their offense off of an initial high pick and roll, like many college teams today. That means they need a playmaking PG. Now, a playmaking PG doesn’t mean a guy who just puts up a ton of points (although that is what Joiner was for the Pack last season), but it could also mean a guy who can score but also get his team involved.
Remember, the high pick and roll is not designed to get a PG open shots. Sure, that is one option, but if you have a good PG coming off that high screen, they have 3 real options. Shoot it, pass to the roll guy/pop guy, or draw help and kick out to the corners. If you have a guy who can do all of these things well, then the high pick and roll is nearly unguardable. However, if you have a guy who only does one of those things, the high pick-and-roll looks pretty stagnant and one-dimensional.
Right now, Keatts is constantly criticized for his offensive system, and based on his personnel and how the offense ran last season, I get it. But with a pass-first PG (who can also score), this offense could be really efficient. I think for the sake of the team and the sake of his job, Keatts would be smart to prioritize a PG who is a little more pass-oriented and creates a little more havoc off that screen (meaning he keeps his dribble alive on the drive and probes, not to score necessarily, but to bait the defense to get out of position.)
So, what would you say Keatts’ ideal PG looks like?
Well, we don’t really know. His first two recruited were Lavar Batts and Braxton Beverly, both taken in his first year and both kind of out of desperation. Then he landed Jalen Lecque, who was a 6’4 elite athlete PG, who opted to skip college and go to the NBA. Then he brought on Cam Hayes and Shakeel Moore. Moore was a late addition, who I believe was taken to entice teammate Josh Hall to come to NC State (Hall also skipped college to go to the NBA after committing to State). Hayes, however, was a Keatts guy and Hayes was a 6’2, 185lb combo guard who was known as a shooter and good defender (he ended up being not much of either at NC State unfortunately). Then he brought on Breon Pass, a 6-foot guard who has given State some good minutes the past couple of years, but doesn’t look quite ready to take over as a starter. Pass was known as a good scorer at a smaller NC school, and a very good defender. So far his defense has panned out but not as much scoring as we expected. Next there was LJ Thomas last year. He’s a bigger 6’2 190lb PG. Not quite as quick but more physical. Not as much of a playmaker, but more of a scorer. Then Keatts brought in Joiner this year, a 6’1 scoring threat who never averaged more than 2.3 assists per game before coming to Raleigh.
So, to us, this is Keatts biggest flaw during his NC State tenure. He has an offense built around having an elite PG, and he really hasn’t decided what an elite PG in his system looks like. The best he’s brought in was Joiner, but the offense ended up being a lot of isolation and one on one play. To really reach the next level, Keatts needs to find a PG who is a playmaker and passer, one who can defend and then pair him with an elite scoring guard.
Who is out there right now that we should keep an eye on?
Northern Arizona | 5’11, 175lbs | 18ppg, 2.5 assists, 40% from 3pt range | From Walkerton, NC
Cone started his career off at Virginia Tech. He was a 3 star kid who was super quick, and more of a scorer than a playmaker. He had offers from VT, Tennessee and Baylor, but that was really it. NC State was involved a little bit here but never given an offer.
He had decent stats at VT, but really came into his own when he transferred to Northern Arizona. Obviously, this is weaker conference, but he had 20pts, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists against Michigan State, 17 points and 6 boards against Arizona State. He did get shut down against Texas, scoring just 6 points and turning the ball over 5 times, but this is a guy who had games of 45pts, 38 pts, and 29pts. He’s super quick and really a good shooter. He’s a less physical version of Jarkell Joiner if you ask me. So maybe Keatts sees this as a decent fit, but in my opinion, you need to target a guy who is more interested in getting his teammates involved (but I guess that depends on your ability to lock down an elite scoring 2 guard). I’m also concerned about his 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. You want your lead guard to be better than that.
Kansas | 6’1, 190lbs | 2 ppg, 1.3 assists, 30% from 3pt range | From Durham, NC
Pettiford is a stout, physical guard who can defend, but really hasn’t shown much on the offensive end. That said, he’s had a case of the injury bug during his two years at Kansas. He started with an ankle injury and then had an abdominal injury, both really slowed him down. When he committed to Kansas (after decommitting from Louisville) Bill Self really thought Pettiford was going to be a major contibutor to his team saying “We were very fortunate when Bobby opened up his recruitment last month. He became a priority immediately. We feel Bobby has a tremendous future, great upside and will make an immediate impact for us. His work ethic and drive are something I think every program hopes every player has.”
Pettiford is interesting to me. He’s a very physical guard, a good defender, and a good finisher around the rim, but he’s not super athletic, nor is he a great long-range shooter. He also isn’t someone who is explosive in transition. Those seem to be all things Keatts is looking for in a PG, so you’d think Pettiford isn’t going to be a major target for State, but you never know. He has a lot of talent, but I’m not sure he fits great with the pieces NC State currently has in place. However, in HS he was a really good shooter and showed a real scoring ability, so who knows.
ECU | 6’2, 180lbs | 15.8 ppg, 5.6 assists, 33% from 3pt range | From South Bend, IN
Small isn’t a North Carolina prep kid, but his connection to the state is that he’s transferring from ECU. This is a kid who was a 3-star recruit and only had mid-major offers, but has erupted for the Pirates this season. He’s a big, strong PG who shot nearly 40% from the floor and 33.3% from long range. This year Jarkel Joiner shot 42.8% from the field and 35.4% from long range. So he’s not quite the shooter that Joiner was, but he’s not that far off. He also is more of a playmaker than Joiner. He averaged 5.6 assists per game and 3.4 turnovers per game. He was ranked 18th nationally in assist rate when he went down with a knee injury in mid-January. This is a guy that I think Keatts should try to bring in, and it looks like he’s already reached out.
ECU transfer Javon Small has heard from the following schools since entering the transfer portal, he tells @On3sports:
NC State https://t.co/oY8D4CDfHM
— Joe Tipton (@TiptonEdits) March 16, 2023
Check out his highlights…
WKU | 6’1, 195lbs | 16.5 ppg, 5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 34% from 3pt range | From Shelbyville, KY
McKnight is being listed here because NC State has reached out to him. I’m not aware of any connection with the staff, but he definitely fits the Keatts mold. He’s a little bit of a bigger, stronger guard, and honestly is like an undersized James Harden with the way he creates space and attacks the basket (He’s also a lefty). McKnight is going to be a really unique player no matter where he ends up. He’s got a knack for creating space, great footwork, a nice jumper and he really loves drawing contact on his drives to the hoop. I can definitely see why NC State reached out, and if he really does pattern his game after James Harden, then the NC State high screen and roll offense is the perfect system for him. Don’t look at his frame and think he’s slow, either. The kid has speed and while he’s not going to play above the rim, he’ll be a scoring threat no matter where he lands.
Western Kentucky transfer Dayvion McKnight has heard from the following schools since entering the portal, source tells @On3sports:
Mississippi State https://t.co/rPam5GZvdb
— Joe Tipton (@TiptonEdits) March 22, 2023
Here are his highlights…
As more names get added to the portal with NC State connections, we’ll add them here and reshare this article.
It’s not an easy task sitting on the bench all season and then be asked to enter the game a few minutes here and there while producing immediately. This coaching staff has misused Dez Lee and I feel like it’s too late to try and add him to the rotation at this point in the season. Very few players can go from the bench and produce like a starter. So yeah I understand if he looks lost sometimes. I feel really bad for Dez because he could have gone to another school and gotten 30+ minutes a game. Shame on… Read more »
I do agree that when things go cold form outside they could use a lot more of Dez. He can go strong to the hoop and get to the line, however Dez needs to limit his lapses in concentration. I think that is why Gott tends to overlook him when looking down the bench.
I JUST DONT UNDERSTAND HOW DESMOND LEE WENT FROM 24 MPG TO 8 MPG?
LIVE BY THE JUMPER DIE BY THE JUMPER. WHY ARE THEY SHOOTING JUMPERS ALL GAME LIKE THEY HAVE THE “SPLASH BROTHERS” PLAY DESMOND LEE HE WAS A JUCO ALL-AMERICAN AVERAGING 23 PTS!
when you play all guards that shoot jumpers and leave the guards that can drive and create problems for other teams the way DESMOND LEE did against THE TARHEELS last year then you get what you deserve lost after loss. this kid has put in time and he is being done WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
they need to utilize the big guards they have to penetrate like DESMOND LEE instead of holding him on the bench!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!