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NC State Basketball

Loss to UVA Must Signal Change for NC State

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The game could have gone completely different. The refs could have looked past Caleb Martin running into a UVA player after a basket and not called a flagrant 1. Trevor Lacey could have hit a near uncontested layup in the closing minute to tie the game. Ralston Turner could have hit just one of his six 3 point attempts. Those things didn’t happen, and the Pack once again fought hard but squandered a chance at solidifying their tournament resume, losing 51-47 on Wednesday night.

This was their latest best chance. UVA’s leading scorer and best defender, Justin Anderson, was out with a broken finger and UVA only shot 37% from the floor, but State couldn’t capitalize.

Really, that’s been the story all season. State plays hard, but lacks the mental toughness to kick it into that final gear and push over the top. That final gear is where winners live. That is that realm where focus, hunger and talent merge. There is no mercy to be found there. It’s a place of unwavering confidence where an unquenchable thirst to watch your opponent suffer exists. When you’re there they can see the obsession in your eyes and the lengths you’ll go to get what you want. It’s a place for takers.

Sound crazy? sick? psychopathic?

It is, but that is what champions are. They’re a  little crazy in the length they’ll go to get what they want. They have a sickness that only winning can cure. They have a narrow, laser-guided focus and won’t let up until the buzzer sounds. They are finishers.

NC State isn’t there yet. Maybe they are too young. Maybe they haven’t been taught or they haven’t bought into this level of insanity. It’s hard to say, but it’s just obvious that this is not a championship caliber team right now and as the season winds down you have to wonder if they are ever going to get there. If that switch is ever going to flip.

Virginia has the NCAA’s best defense, but without Anderson they are certainly not as dangerous. They were not able to make the type of offensive runs that they usually do with Anderson leading the way. They simply played smart, position defense and took NC State’s most dangerous weapons out of the game. It was a good gameplan, but NC State were the ones who allowed them to execute it. The Pack played Virginia basketball last night, and have been allowing opponents to dictate their style of play far too often this season. The Wolfpack needs a change if they are going to come back to life this season. Here is where we hope/expect to see it…


LACEY MUST BECOME EVEN MORE TO THIS TEAM

As we have stated lately and pointed out in our pregame article, Lacey has trouble being an elite level scorer when he can’t pull-up at will. Lacey, who leads the NCAA in isolation scoring is best off the dribble with the ball in his hands. He likes to shake, create space and pull up. His elevation and high release allow him to shoot over smaller guards, even with a hand in his face. However, when you get a bigger, equally as strong guard on him, he really struggles to get going. Lacey still had a productive game (14pts on 6-13 shooting) but right now State needs Lacey to be getting off nearly 20-25 shots per game. I know that sounds like a lot, but if they continue to play this one on one style of basketball and their offense is not going to create any open looks near the bucket, it’s going to have to be Lacey doing some serious volume scoring.

 

TURNER’S STRUGGLES AREN’T ENDING…TIME TO GO BIG

Gottfried needs that off the ball moving, high energy, spot up shooter in his offense. So many of his plays revolve around getting Turner open on the baseline or on the wing. The problem is that Turner has become way too easy to guard. He’s shooting 21% from 3 over his last four games and he’s taken 28 of them. That is absolutely killing the Pack right now. If Turner isn’t going to knock down the 3, then he’s too one dimensional on offense to be out there. Now look, I know that’s harsh and very ‘what have you done for me lately’ because he’s a senior that has done so much for this team, but this is crunch time.

So what is the alternative? Well, you’d like to have a guy like Caleb Martin in there who can shoot, drive and defend, but that’s not really working out perfectly. Martin did provide 9 boards and made a lot of great hustle plays, but he too is not providing the Pack with everything they need…mainly offense. So what do you do when you have no one to turn to on the bench to fill that gaping hole?

You get creative and solve problems a little differently.

What State could do, and really should do is go big. A lineup of Barber, Lacey, Washington, Abu and Anya. Sure this would slow State down and limit driving lanes, but they’re not exactly killing it in transition and outside of Barber, who even drives? You could also argue that Abu and Washington run the floor as well as Turner.

This lineup would cure a lot of ills. It would help tremendously on the boards, but more importantly it would free up Lacey. Having 3 bigs in the game would mean that you couldn’t switch as easily on ball screens against Lacey. They would also be forced to guard bigs with bigs. They couldn’t interchange Lacey and Turner’s men, going bigger on Lacey to stop the pull up and smaller on Turner to aggravate him and deny him the ball. While opponents might try to take their quickness advantage at the 3, good luck driving into that forest of Washington, Abu and Anya. All that is nice and fine, but the real advantage to this in the end is making them guard Lacey with a normal 2 guard, in most cases this would give Lacey his advantage back.

This would switch State into much more of a attack-first basketball team. It would get them more offensive rebounds which lead to easy put backs, it would get them to the line more and allow them to protect leads better. Look, as a team shooting 36% from 3 (5th best in the ACC) I don’t think you want to live and die from beyond the arc. This team needs to attack, and by playing 3 guards (2 of which don’t like to attack the basket), you are really putting your team in a box.

Adapt or die.

 

NOW OR NEVER

At 14-11 NC State is on the outside looking in as far as the NCAA Tournament goes. They have 6 regular season games left, 4 of which are on the road and 2 of those are against top 15 ranked teams. To say that things need to change drastically and quickly is not an understatement. Expecting this team to simply start clicking at a level that could run off 6 straight wins and two huge upsets isn’t very smart. They can still improve, and they certainly have the talent to do it, but Gottfried needs to start tinkering more, he needs to get a little gimmicky and start changing things up.

Virginia did not have more talent on the floor than NC State last night (especially with Justin Anderson out), but they were more organized, more focused and just a lot more mentally tough than the Wolfpack. Some of that falls on the players, but at this point, some of that is going to have to be shouldered by Gottfried. State has today and tomorrow to figure out what needs to change as they head to #9 Louisville, but just hoping Ralston Turner starts hitting 3s again is not going to be the correct answer.

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Wolfer96
Wolfer96
9 years ago

wtaylor082671 Wolfer96 You’re more generous than I am. I don’t need 5 seasons to know that Gott is not the guy. Not to say that he’s horrible but definitely not above average considering the level of talent he has had the last 4 seasons.

I do agree that the team is NOT young. 2 fifth year seniors, 1 fourth year junior, and 4 sophomores is not young in the age of 1 and dones and frequent transfers. So no more of that excuse.

wtaylor082671
wtaylor082671
9 years ago

Wolfer96 wtaylor082671 We have made some good runs trying to catch up this year using the press so not sure I buy in there. What I will say is we are not where we should be, and I think it will be Gott’s last year next year if this team doesn’t show a lot more maturity and improvement.  Having everyone back with all the 4/5 star players (whether deserved or not) and not having a great year will be pretty evident that the wrong person is at the helm. I will say I have not liked him stating publicly how young… Read more »

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
9 years ago

wtaylor082671 Wolfer96 I get what you are trying to achieve but you don’t implement a full court pressing style defense this late in the season. Especially with a bunch of guys that are undisciplined. That kind of defense requires a lot of practice and buy-in from the players to do so for a full 40 minutes. I just don’t see any changes to the system or rotation helping much after watching all the games this season. We are missing a true PG. We have athletes but not skilled bigs. We have talent at the wings but not enough to overcome a… Read more »

wtaylor082671
wtaylor082671
9 years ago

Wolfer96 wtaylor082671 The point of the exercise is “What would we do different”…  Wishing for a different point guard or a thinner center is counter productive to the realities of the roster at hand.  The point of my response was not so much more minutes for Anya, but rather creating a more active portion of the roster that can come in and press and change tempo- a’la Kentucky or the Arkansas days under Nolan Richardson.  Anya fits the traditional starting 5 mold where the latter 5- Lenard, Martins, Dez, and Abu can come in and give the team a big burst of… Read more »

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
9 years ago

wtaylor082671 I’m not sure if you’ve been watching the same games as me but Anya is not the solution. On offense he is only effective at the rim and we don’t have a PG that can provide that. And extended minutes for Anya has caused him to pick up 3 fouls before the half.  Until he drops another 40 lbs and works on his strength, Anya is not deserving of more than 10 minutes a game. At this late stage in the season, I just don’t see any changes in the lineup that will give the results that we want.… Read more »

THEOKEEP
THEOKEEP
9 years ago

@wtaylor082671 you make a great point. If you aren’t a great scoring team even though they could be, then you would need to play your best defensive players and generate offense from your defense…the team State has could be a top 15 team if he used his depth.

wtaylor082671
wtaylor082671
9 years ago

We have depth but don’t use it. Why not start Anya over Abu- a more traditional starting five. Then, say once or twice a half, come in with an athletiv and pressing five rotation of Martin twins, Abu, Dez, and Lenard. This change of pace could give the team a boost. The lack of a true point and scorer should be offset by the quick spurts and the expected turnover leading fast breaks.

THEOKEEP
THEOKEEP
9 years ago

DESMOND LEE BRINGS GREAT DEFENSIVE INTENSITY TO THE COURT AND KNOWS HOW TO GET TO THE RIM HE NEEDS MORE PLAYING TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THEOKEEP
THEOKEEP
9 years ago

They have exhausted every option except for giving Desmond Lee a chance. He guarded the number one scorer on every team last averaged double figures with very limited shots until the coach put him on the bench for what. He’s a senior give him a chance to play like he’s supposed to, what do you have to lose? To me the three guards Cat, Lacey, and Lee should have been the starters. With Turner being the 6th man then the twins.

THEOKEEP
THEOKEEP
9 years ago

They have exhausted every option besides giving Desmond Lee a chance…He is a senior and deserves a chance. Why would you recruit a scorer but not let him even attempt to score. With limited shots last year he averaged almost double figures and those pts came from off the dribble penetration to the lane and shooting free throws some of what they’re saying would help the team along with his defense. Last year he checked the number 1 scorer every game to me it makes no sense! What can you lose in playing him now?

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
9 years ago

I would agree with the bigger lineup with the exception of Anya. I mean that guy is a walking turnover if he receives the ball anywhere not 2 feet from the basket. Sure Anya has his blocks and everyone likes to talk about that but for every block he has he also matches with a stupid head-scratcher of a turnover or missed assignment on defense. I’ve never seen anyone get the ball knocked out of his hands so many times and not learn from it. I think we need to be realistic here. The season is beyond saving. So what… Read more »

Real_Pack_Man
Real_Pack_Man
9 years ago

PackInsider Staff  Completely agree.  Your point about Turner is a little concerning.  Don’t get me wrong… I agree with you.  My concern is that Turner has taken a few ill-advised shots when the pressure ramps up (completely understandable considering the circumstances) and I’m not sure if he’s ready to be “that guy”.  He NEEDS to be “that guy”, but is he ready?  Can he be transformed into “that guy” in a matter of weeks?  I certainly hope so…

PackInsider Staff
9 years ago

Real_Pack_Man Its certainly not a long term fix, but if you’ve watched the past 6 games, you’ll know this team is running out of options.

Real_Pack_Man
Real_Pack_Man
9 years ago

The thing I like the most about going big is that it gives us a way to mask our inexperience/youth.  The beauty of having a Ralston is that he is a bit more experienced and, in theory, can keep a shooting game clicking even when things start going south.  If Ralston isn’t getting it done, then we can’t expect the rest of the team to mentally grow-up over the course of a month to compensate.  Go big, let the youngin’s bang it out with our opponents, and just try to defend against the 3 as much as humanly possible.

NC State Basketball

Jersey Numbers for 2024-25 NC State Men’s Basketball Team Revealed

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The NC State Men’s Basketball team revealed the Jersey Numbers for their 2024-25 team yesterday.

Image

Numbers that are Staying the Same

Michael O’Connell – #12

Ben Middlebrooks – #34

Dennis Parker Jr. – #11

KJ Keatts – #13

Jordan Snell – #22

Numbers that have Changed

Jayden Taylor – #1 –> #8

Breon Pass – #10 –> #4

Numbers of New Players

Mike James – #0 (He wore #0 at Louisville last year)

Brandon Huntley-Hatfield – #1 (He wore #5 at Louisville last year)

Paul McNeil – #2 (He wore #2 in High School last year)

Dontrez Styles – #3 (He wore #0 at Georgetown last year)

Trey Parker – #5 (He wore #5 in High School last year)

Marcus Hill – #10 (He wore #0 at Bowling Green last year)

We don’t know what number Ismael Diouf will be wearing at NC State next year yet. 

 

 

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Kareem Richardson Promoted To Associate Head Coach at NC State

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RALEIGH, N.C. – NC State men’s basketball head coach Kevin Keatts announced Wednesday that assistant coach Kareem Richardson has been promoted to associate head coach effective immediately.

“I’m proud to promote Kareem to associate head coach,” Keatts said. “He is a valuable member of my staff and has really enhanced NC State both in his relationship with our players and staff, but also his ability to teach, scout and game plan. He is a well-rounded coach that has an impact on every facet of our program, and I feel fortunate to have him as part of my staff.”

The upcoming 2024-25 season will be Richardson’s third at NC State. The Pack has earned bids to the NCAA Tournament in both seasons Richardson has been on staff, including last season when NC State won the ACC Championship and advanced to the Final Four.

NC State has had three different guards (DJ Horne, Jarkel Joiner and Terquavion Smith) earn All-ACC honors under Richardson’s tutelage.

Richardson was previously head coach at UMKC for 2013-19 and has been an assistant coach at power conference programs such as Louisville, Xavier and Clemson in his 25-year coaching career.

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WATCH: Getting to Know NC State’s Dontrez Styles

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NC State Men’s Basketball is releasing videos helping fans get to know the new players on the 2024-25 roster.

Below is the video of Georgetown Transfer Forward Dontrez Styles (6’6″/212), with a transcript underneath.

I’m Dontrez Styles, a transfer from Georgetown University. I knew where I wanted to be. At the end of the day, I knew I wanted to come back home and play for a guy like Keatts. That was the main thing for me.

Being back home is amazing. My family can see me play every game now. An hour from Kinston, North Carolina. It’s a small city. I love it. Just growing there. A lot of great guys. A lot of great basketball players. My family is there. It’s my life.

I grew up in the Brandon Ingram era, so I went to every Kinston High School game. Just seeing him play motivated me to get in the gym and keep working. The grind has paid off.

It’s crazy. I would have never imagined this happening. It’s very rare for someone to go to North Carolina and NC State. Me being one of the first guys to do that, I believe it’s different, but I’m enjoying it so far. I can’t wait to get started.

Coach (Levi) Watkins recruited me when he was at Ole Miss. He’s been with me since my Sophomore year, I believe. Just having that relationship with them makes it easier every day.

Just being back, it’s going to be very fun, especially now. The hype is crazy. I can’t wait to be back home and get started, and hopefully win that National Championship.

_______

Styles was the 2nd leading scorer for Georgetown this past season, averaging 12.8 points per game, while grabbing 5.8 boards. He shot 36.8% from three.

Originally, Sytles was a consensus 4-Star prospect in UNC’s 2021 recruiting class. 247Sports ranked him as the #62 overall player nationally, and the #2 player in the state of North Carolina, playing for Kinston High School.

After two seasons with the Tar Heels, Styles entered the Portal, and took an Official Visit to NC State and Georgetown, and ultimately chose the Hoyas.

Styles will be spending his final year of eligibility with NC State.

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WATCH: Getting to Know NC State’s Mike James

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NC State Men’s Basketball is releasing videos helping fans get to know the new players on the 2024-25 roster.

Below is the video of Louisville Transfer Guard Mike James (6’5″/200), with a transcript underneath.

I last played at the University of Louisville. I spent three years there. Played two. Redshirted my first year because of injury. I enjoyed my time there, but all good things got to come to an end, and I’m here at North Carolina State. 

Entering the Portal is just like going through High School recruitment again. You’re getting your phone blown up every other hour, every single day. You’ve got to get on long phone calls. You’re kind of going through the process again, but this time, you kind of know what you want. You’ve been through College Basketball, so you know what questions to ask, what to expect, and you kind of just get straight to the point. I feel like the process was similar, but different this time. It went a lot quicker, and I knew exactly what I wanted. I want to win at the end of the day. Playing time is earned, and all that stuff. You’ve got to come in here and take care of that. 

Winning is very important, and I haven’t done that so far, but that’s the one thing I want to change about my college career. Seeing y’all go on that run was really appealing to me. 

I like to get to the basket. Draw fouls. Finish at the rim. Knock down shots on the perimeter. Defend 1-4 positions on the other end. 

I want to come in and win. I want to be a leader for our team. I’m an older guy now, so I want to be a leader. I want to come in and win another ACC Championship, and make another NCAA Tournament run. 

_______

This past year, James averaged 12.6 points per game (3rd on the team) and 5 rebounds. He’s extremely physical and aggressive, taking 47% of his field goal attempts at the rim (making 46%). As a result, he draws a lot of fouls, ranking 10th in the ACC in Fouls Drawn, and 4th in Free Throw Rate. James made opponents pay this year when they put him on the line, making 81.8% from the charity stripe, which ranked 15th in the ACC.

James shot the ball better as a Redshirt Freshman, than he did this past season. His Effective Field Goal Percentage in 2022-23 was 55.8%, which ranked 19th in the ACC, and his True Shooting Percentage of 59.6% ranked 14th.

News broke about James entering the Transfer Portal back on March 25th, and NC State was quick to reach out. Kevin Keatts and his staff recruited the former 4-star prospect out of high school heavily, but he ultimately chose the Cardinals.

After redshirting his first year in Louisville due to torn achilles, James has been a starter for the Cardinals the past two years.

He does have the ability to knock down a three, making 34.8% for his career.

James has 2 years of eligibility remaining.

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