NC State used every ounce of their talent to take down the #1 seed Villanova Wildcats. There were countless plays from everyone that saw action tonight that helped seal the deal. Cat Barber was excellent in controlling the pace and hitting clutch free throws down the stretch to keep Villanova behind. NC State found the resiliency needed to withstand a hot hand by Darrun Hillard who poured in a game high 27 points. It seemed on a number of times that State would have a stress free last few minutes but Hillard was absolutely amazing in making deep three pointers that kept this game interesting, but State came away with the answer each and every time! Trevor Lacey was outstanding as he hit tough shot after tough shot in some of the biggest moments in the game. This game was a great example of why it is critical to have a player of his caliber that is capable of creating his own shot. Lacey ended the first half with a behind the back step back three at the buzzer to silence a run by the Wildcats. Then in the second half he hit a big time “and one” layup and a couple of tough mid-range jumpers that took the air out of the Wildcat’s sails!
All in all this is a great example of how a team that plays together can accomplish much more than a team full of individuals. I have said it all year long that this team is comprised of a great group of guys who compliment each other seamlessly. I want to point out just how special Dez Lee has been for this team, he has sacrificed a lot of minutes this season as Gottfried and his staff have chosen to give Caleb Martin more minutes which should benefit the program moving forward; however, Dez has not pouted one bit and he has stayed ready. Tonight his number was called again to be a spark and he was more than ready to contribute. He was all over the court defensively and took it to the hoop with power and converted a couple of big baskets for the Pack. Also not to be overshadowed Caleb Martin made the most of his limited minutes as he hit a big three pointer as he was fouled and finished the seldom seen four point play.
At the beginning of the season and even late in the season our big men have been seen as a weakness, but tonight they were terrific. Abu has gotten better and better as his role has expanded offensively. Tonight Abu worked his tail off and finished the evening with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Lennard Freeman showed off his versatility defensively as he was asked to guard on the perimeter as Villanova went with a four guard lineup and held his own. Freeman also had a double-double as he tallied 11 points and 12 rebounds. The hero of last game BeeJay Anya had a quiet night in the stat book but was a big time presence underneath as he altered many attempts. He also hedged beautifully on ball screens and contested shooters all night. It is a great testament to our staff for the improvement of our big men throughout the season.
I am completely ecstatic about the experience this team is about to have being in the sweet sixteen. My junior year I was lucky enough to make it to the sweet sixteen and it is an atmosphere like none other. Looking ahead I like our chances against Louisville or Northern Iowa. If we can continue to play with a quiet confidence and as one unit there is no reason why this team cannot continue to advance. Tonight was a great display of what it takes to win! Our players had one goal tonight and that was to leave that arena with a victory and they accomplished the task at hand!!! NC State now finds itself as the headline as they are the darlings of the tournament…but will they be satisfied? I don’t think so, but we will have to wait and see.
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.