They Had Time to Prepare
Coach K is probably the best coach…maybe ever. He also has one of the most talented teams in the nation which is currently peaking at the right time. The last time these teams met, State faced a Duke team that was still trying to figure out who they were and how to use their pieces. Last night they faced an entirely new team with a ton of new dimensions. Gottfried pretty much had 12 hours to game plan for an entirely new team that is one of the most talented in the nation. Duke on the other hand had 5 days to focus and game plan for this game and it showed.
They Took Away State’s Strengths
Duke came out in a zone, but this was not your usual sagging 2-3. They pushed up on the guard and left a gaping hole in the middle, allowing Lenard Freeman to catch the ball in space. This was smart. Freeman has been a great addition to the starting lineup, but he’s far from being a factor offensively. When he caught the ball in the middle he was forced to make a decision. He had a wide open jumper (not his game), he could drive into the trees and try to either score or distribute (not his game), or he could kick it back out. The problem with this was that Duke never pressed up or never collapsed on Freeman. They left him wide open. They covered the kick outs and invited him to drive into Okafor. Freeman was rendered useless. Gottfried was much too late in realizing this. He needed someone who could catch and create in the middle, but State really doesn’t have that type of player. Last year TJ Warren would have been dominant in that type of space, but this year who do you go to? Caleb Martin could have been a factor there, or even Washington. By the time State tried this, it was too late, and as soon as they did, Duke went back to man. K basically disarmed State’s most dangerous weapons and made them to play outside of their comfort zone.
Too Much Adrenaline, Not Enough IQ
Instead of pulling back and trying to understand what Duke was doing, State just steamrolled full speed ahead, jacking 3s and taking contested shots. They were trying to make something happen but simply kept running head first into a brick wall. By the time they started to get comfortable it was already a 25 point game and Duke wasn’t taking their foot off the gas. This is where they needed Barber and Lacey to step up and not so much in a scoring role, but more in a leadership role. These guys needed to recognize what Duke was doing, adjust, and attack where Duke was allowing them to. Part of this also falls on Gottfried as they’d need the right personnel in there to get this done.
Defense Was Awful
State’s over compensation, slow rotation and no communication made life easy for Duke. The Blue Devils had 4 guys on the floor that could create off the dribble and that killed the Pack. State had Barber and Lacey who were able to stay in front of their men (at times), but after that it was easy blow by’s for K’s crew. They drove the lane, saw the help coming and quickly found the open man. Ralston was getting beat at will, Freeman had no business guarding Winslow and Okafor demands doubles no matter who he plays. This put State at a huge disadvantage and by the time Gott got a smaller, quicker team on the floor it was much too late.
Throw This Game Away?
You heard the announcers saying you just flush this game because there is nothing to learn from it. That, to me, is a huge mistake. Duke laid the blue print for dominating the Pack. Granted, they have the right matchups to be able to do what they did, but teams everywhere should take note. State needs to be able to adjust quicker, have guys ready to slot in at multiple positions when teams go small, and understand what the opposition is trying to do. Now, do I really think Gott and company aren’t going to examine this tape? No. I think they are going to have some long nights looking over this, but I think what they implement in the next week will be the difference between State losing early in the tournament and them making a nice little run. The best teams in the nation have guys that cause matchup nightmares and they expose those matchups. State needs to be real with themselves and understand where they are vulnerable, then make sure they have a plan in place to find a counter attack.
This was a nice dose of reality for the Wolfpack. This team was riding high after their flawless performance against Pitt. They now have to regroup and get ready for the big dance. No hanging heads, no questioning talent, just pure preparation. On Sunday we find out State’s first matchup and both teams will have the same amount of time to game plan. This gives State an advantage as they are not an easy team to figure out. They will likely see more zone than usual in the tournament, so Gottfried and company should be ready. This means maybe you see less Freeman against zones and more Martins. Or maybe you work on Abu’s ability to attack from the high post. Either way, you have to find a way to pick apart zones. Barber should be fine for the tournament (at least that’s what we’ve heard) so State should be at full force come tourney time.
Key Takeaways from Kevin Keatts’ Preseason Press Conference
NC State head coach Kevin Keatts met with the media for his preseason press conference last week. Here’s the key takeaways from what he had to say.
Point Guard Position
- It’s a lot of competition.
- You got Michael O’Connell, who has played a lot of basketball at Power Five [Stanford Transfer] that can play the point.
- With D.J. Horne [Arizona St. Transfer], he’s in the same situation, but he’s been more of a combo guard his whole life.
- It’s always great to get a young man to come back home [he played at Trinity Christian in Raleigh].
- He’s here, he’s been positive, and he’s been great.
- He’s older…a great older guy to have in the locker room, let alone his ability to score the basketball.
- He will put you a little bit in the mindset of Terquavion and Jarkel, because he’s a really offensive-minded player.
- Then, you’ve got 2 guys who completely had to play against Jarkel Joiner and Terquavion Smith in Breon Pass and L.J. Thomas.
- We’ve got a lot of options. I don’t know who we will go with ultimately at the end.
Power Forward Position
- Power forward, we’ve got a lot of options.
- We could play big.
- We could go back to when we had D.J. Funderburk and Manny Bates playing, because I love what Mohamed Diarra [Missouri Transfer] is bringing.
- I love what Ben Middlebrooks [Clemson Transfer] brings, and then you’ve got Dennis Parker [Freshman], and then you’ll have the opportunity to play M.J. Rice [Kansas Transfer] at some of those positions also.
- We have possibly 10 guys that we can put in the game.
- I won’t make hockey substitutions where we go five in and five out, but I do think for the first time in a long time, we have 2 point guards, 2 shooting guards, 2 small forwards, 2 power forwards, and 2 centers.
- Then we’ve got a lot of interchangeable parts that can play different positions.
- He’s going to be mayor of this city one day. He is. He is what he is.
- I’m going to have the best back-to-the-basket post guy.
- He’s tough. He’s lefty. He can score it in different ways.
- You don’t get any assists off of him because he’ll catch it and dribble 4 or 5 times to be able to score the basketball.
D.J. in Foul Trouble
- Because his hands are so good, he reaches a lot.
- Even on ball screens, he’s always thinking he can pick somebody.
- What we’ve said is, “Hey, man, you can’t do that. You’ve got to wall off. You’ve got to do a good job. You can’t reach. You’ve got to stay in the game. You have to do your work early on the defensive end.
- A lot of his fouls don’t come off the guy he’s guarding.
- It’s our guards getting blown by, and he’s reaching and not rolling up or jumping when he’s in a restricted area.
- Part of that, as we’ve talked about, our guards have to guard the basketball…and then, D.J., when they do come in, you can’t give up stupid fouls.
D.J. Getting Fouled
- I think he gets clobbered. He plays through it.
- The biggest conversation that we’ve had [with officials], is that when he catches the ball almost close to the 3-point line, you shouldn’t be able to have a closed elbow.
- When he starts there, technically, he’s a perimeter player that time.
- Once he gets close to the block is when you can use your elbow.
- I see him as a passer.
- His assist to turnover ratio is not great. But, think about this now…he makes every big pass and big play that you need to.
- We’ll run the offense through him at times where he can become a passer and all that stuff.
- We will run some things where he’ll be able to make some plays out of the post by passing the ball.
- He’s going to get all type of double teams and everything else because he has all year long.
True Freshman Dennis Parker Jr.
- What makes Dennis Parker really, really unique is that he plays hard.
- One thing I’ve always said is that the hardest-playing team typically gives us the best chance to win, and when you look at Dennis, he won’t put you in the mindset of a Freshman.
- He runs the floor. He’s athletic. He can play multiple positions. He can guard more than one position.
- I’m really excited about him as a Freshman.
- He’s going to play some Small Forward for us. Also when we play small ball, I think he can play that ‘Torin Dorn role’, being able to play some 4 for us.
Kam Woods Availability to Play [North Carolina A&T Transfer]
- Well, we had those conversations up front. We talked about the opportunities here.
- “We would have to file a waiver for you to be eligible under the current situation, but if the waiver doesn’t go through, then, if you’re going to come to NC State, you’ll have to accept the fact that you’re going to have to sit out a year, like it used to be.”
- He was completely fine with that.
- I tried to set the expectation where it was and make sure that we both understood this as what it could be.
- We should be filing a waiver for him soon, and we’ll live with whatever the results are.
- He’s good. You don’t average 17 points in Division I, no matter what level, unless you can really score the basketball.
- He’s gotten a lot stronger. He’s shooting the ball a little bit more consistently at this level.
- He would be a great addition to our roster.
- Once again, I’ll go back and say it…I don’t know if he’s going to be eligible or not, but if he is, I think he could help us.
- He’s been our most complete player from the summer until now. He’s been really good.
- He’s talented. He rebounds the basketball. He can step out and shoot it.
- He handles the ball on a break.
- He thinks he’s a point guard. I know he’s not, but he thinks he is.
- He’s been really good. I’ve been impressed with him.
- His work ethic has completely changed since he got here.
- He wasn’t into it as much, but now he’s found some success through practice.
- He’s kind of taken off to another level.
- He’ll play some 4 and 5 for us.
- He won’t play Small Forward, like he may think, but he’ll help us out a lot.
- We talked about the opportunity to play.
- We don’t have a starting Power Forward.
- There’s opportunities to play minutes at the 5. There’s opportunity to play minutes at the 4.
- There’s opportunities to play.
- Ben just wanted a different role. He was stuck behind a really good basketball player in P.J. Hall, and he wanted the opportunity to play some Power Forward, and that’s why he’s here.
Best on-the-ball defender
- “I like Jayden Taylor.
- Last year I said that Casey Morsell would be on the all-defensive team.
- Casey didn’t listen to me enough.
- He’s a really good defensive player.
- I would say Jayden or Casey could play that role more than anything. More so Jayden than Casey.
NC State’s 2023-23 Men’s Basketball Schedule Has Arrived
NC State’s 2023-24 Men’s Basketball schedule has arrived!
NC State to Honor David Thompson with Statue Outside Reynolds Coliseum
RALEIGH – NC State University will pay tribute to three-time All-American David Thompson with a statue sculpted in his honor that will be placed outside of Reynolds Coliseum.
The unveiling will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, the day of the Wolfpack men’s basketball team’s annual Heritage Game at Reynolds Coliseum, and will be open to the public.
“This is such a deserved honor for the greatest basketball player to ever wear an NC State jersey,” NC State Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan said. “He is one of the most iconic players to ever play in the ACC and our hope is that this statue will ensure that generations of NC State students and fans will always remember the legacy and contributions of David Thompson.”
Thompson is widely recognized as one of the greatest players in college basketball history. A 2008 ESPN story ranked him as one of the ten best college basketball players of all-time, and he is regarded as one of greatest athletes in Atlantic Coast Conference history.
The Boiling Spring, N.C., native played three seasons at NC State from 1972-75 and was a unanimous first-team All-American at the conclusion of all three seasons. He was also named the ACC Player of the Year all three seasons.
He was named the Associated Press National Player of the Year in 1974 and 1975 and remains one of just five players in college basketball history to win multiple AP National Player of the Year honors.
Thompson immediately made his mark on the Pack, helping lead NC State to an undefeated season (27-0) in 1973. The Pack dominated the 1972-73 season and was at the top or near the top of the polls all season as Thompson averaged 24.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Thompson returned in the 1973-74 season and led the Wolfpack to a 30-1 record and the school’s first NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball National Title.
In the Final Four, Thompson and the Wolfpack met up with UCLA, the seven-time reigning National Champions and the only team to have defeated NC State that season. The Pack trailed 74-67 in the second overtime when Thompson’s heroics helped lead NC State back. Thompson pulled down a defensive rebound and made the go-ahead basket with under one minute remaining and then made two free throws with 38 seconds to go to give the Pack a 78-75 double overtime win in a game that is still considered one of the greatest Final Four games ever played.
Thompson finished the game with 28 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Bill Walton and the Bruins.
Two nights later, the Pack won the National Title over Marquette, 76-64, behind 21 points from Thompson. Thompson was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
To make it into the NCAA Tournament, the Pack defeated fourth-ranked Maryland, 103-100, in overtime in the 1974 ACC Championship, in a game that is routinely considered one of the best games in college basketball history.
As a senior, Thompson averaged 29.9 points, still the highest single season average in NC State history. He scored an NC State and ACC record 57 points in an early season win over Buffalo State. The Pack started the season ranked No. 1 in the nation and never fell out of the top-10, but lost in the ACC Championship game to end its season. The Pack finished the season ranked seventh in the nation but because the NCAA Tournament at that time only allowed the conference champion into the tournament its season was over.
Thompson closed his career with 2,309 points in 86 career games. He led the ACC in scoring all three seasons and was NC State and the ACC’s career scoring leader when he graduated.
Former NC State Basketball Player Torin Dorn Joins Coaching Staff of G-League SLC Stars
Former NC State basketball player Torin Dorn has joined the staff of the Salt Lake City Stars, the G-League team for the Utah Jazz. Dorn’s title is Player Development Associate/Assistant Coach.
After playing 3 seasons at NC State, Dorn went on to play professionally overseas in Poland and Czech Republic, before joining the Wolfpack coaching staff last season as a Graduate Manager.
Dorn will be working under newly appointed head coach Steve Wojciechowski (former Duke PG), who was the head coach at Marquette the past 7 seasons.