Louisville was the aggressor the whole game except for a handful of runs the Pack mounted to prove that they were more than capable of winning tonight’s game. It just wasn’t a total team effort tonight. NC State played too much “hero ball” as everyone tried to put their own stamp on the game; however, it had the opposite effect which halted the Wolfpack’s opportunity to advance to the Elite 8. The hot topic will be did Kyle Washington get enough minutes? The simple answer is, no he did not. On the night Kyle was 4-5 for 11 points despite the fact he played less than 15 minutes total. I am not sure the logic behind the move other than his ineptitude on the defensive end as he was completely taken advantage of by Harrell, but so were all of our big men.
The two cogs that State had to stop were Rozier and Harrell and both of these guys had monster nights that ultimately lead to the demise of the Pack. Terry Rozier was unbreakable as he found a way to score (17) and tallied a game high 13 rebounds. Montrezl Harrell was equally imposing as he scored 24 points on 9-12 shooting. I had a feeling Harrell would register points but I was disappointed in how easily he scored. Our big men were lazy in allowing him to catch the ball deep inside which allowed him to get easy baskets.
The NCAA Tournament is a trying contest as it demands each team be ready each and every game, unfortunately for NC State they couldn’t over come a poor shooting night to advance. Shooting 38.3 percent from the field is an easy recipe for a loss and combine that with a mediocre at best defensive effort and the Wolfpack were lucky to only lose by 10 points. The Pack must learn how to work for good shots. All to often our guys try and make incredibly difficult shots that are not called for, especially early in the shot clock. Our team is very talented but we sometimes rely too much on our talent and not enough on our system which is in place to put them in the best possible spots. Hopefully in the offseason our guys can learn how the offense is simply a blueprint to put them in the best situations to use their strengths!
It is tough getting tossed from the NCAA but on a brighter note we have many of the same pieces coming back next season. Let’s hope that tonight’s loss leaves bitter taste in their mouths that can be used as a driving force to get better in the offseason. We will have more analysis and breakdown to follow and then look forward to the future.
There is Reason to be Frustrated
If you are an NC State fan, it’s only reasonable that you’re frustrated with the state of the Men’s Basketball program.
Under Kevin Keatts, NC State has gone to the NCAA Tournament twice in 7 seasons. The Wolfpack didn’t win a game in the Big Dance in either of those appearances.
Keatts has led NC State to a 3-5 record in the ACC Tournament, failing to reach the semifinals a single time.
You could make an argument that his first season in Raleigh was his best (I don’t think it was), because the Wolfpack finished 5th in the ACC, which is the highest the team has finished in the conference under his watch.
2017-18 – 5th
2018-19 – 8th
2019-20 – 6th
2020-21 – 9th
2021-22 – 15th
2022-23 – 6th
2023-23 – 9th (currently)
Average finish: 8.3
(For context, in 6 seasons, Mark Gottfried’s average finish was 8.7.)
Over the past 7 seasons, NC State has been ranked in the Top-25 in only 8 polls (2 separate seasons), with the highest being on January 7th, 2019, when the Wolfpack were ranked 15th.
Under Gottfried, NC State was ranked in 13 polls (all one season). With Herb Sendek at the helm, the Wolfpack were ranked in the Top-25 in 5 different seasons, in a total of 35 polls.
Do I think Kevin Keatts is the worst coach at NC State in recent memory? No, that award goes to Sydney Lowe. In all reality, NC State’s record overall and in conference play is nearly identical under Keatts, as it was under Mark Gottfried and Herb Sendek.
Kevin Keatts – 58.3/48.3
Mark Gottfried – 58.9/45.3
Herb Sendek – 59.1/45.0
What’s the difference between Keatts and the other two?
A couple of observations.
Sendek finished his time at NC State with 5 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, and Gottfried started off his tenure with 4 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. The Wolfpack advanced to the 2nd round 3 times, and the Sweet 16 once under Sendek. Under Gottfried, they advanced to the 2nd round twice.
Sendek led NC State to the ACC Championship game 3 times (in 10 years), and the semifinals 4 times. Gottfried led the Wolfpack to the semifinals on 3 occasions. Heck, Sidney Lowe led NC State to the ACC Championship game once, and the semifinals on another occasion.
Is the NC State Men’s Basketball program worse off under Keatts than it was under the previous coaches? If you simply look at total wins and losses, that’s not necessarily the case, but when you look at the Wolfpack’s production in postseason play, there is no other answer besides ‘yes.’
Every now and then you have to be willing to eat crow. Years ago, I was of the opinion that Herb Sendek needed to go. Do I think that Sendek would have brought NC State back to where it was in the 80’s? I didn’t think it then, and I’m not certain my opinion on that has changed, but the past 20 years has proven to me that the grass isn’t always greener.
Call me nostalgic, but from a historical perspective, I believe NC State fans have right to expect their Men’s Basketball program to be successful…to consistently be ranked in the Top-25…to finish in the top half of the ACC…compete for conference championships…and go to the Big Dance on a regular basis.
There is reason to be frustrated.
Madison Hayes Will Be Returning for Her Final Year of Eligibility in 2024-25
Last night NC State Guard Madison Hayes was honored on Senior Night, but she also announced that she would be returning in 2024-25 for her final year of eligibility. She was honored alongside Center River Baldwin and Forward Mimi Collins, who are both out of eligibility after this season.
Hayes is in the midst of a breakout season this year, averaging 11.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, which are both career highs. She ranks 3rd on the team in scoring, behind the other two Guards in the starting lineup, Aziaha James and Saniya Rivers, who will also be back in 2024-25. Even though she is a Guard, Hayes leads the Wolfpack in rebounding. Her 44.1% Field Goal Percentage is the best of any of the Wolfpack Guards, and her Three Point Percentage of 41.7% is the best on the squad.
As a Senior in high school, Hayes was named a McDonald’s All-American in 2020, and she earned a spot on the All SEC Freshman team in 2021 as a member of Mississippi St. In 2021-22, she transferred to NC State, and played in 26 games off the bench, but earned a spot in the starting lineup last season.
Big news for the Wolfpack Women’s Basketball program!