NC State @ Miami
4:30pm | Miami, Fl | TV: RSN
NC State travels down to the sunshine state to take on the Miami Hurricanes to kick off the ACC season. Mark Gottfried will need his group of young players to up their play to escape Miami with a victory. Game time is at 4:30 and can be seen on RSN. What are the keys to the game for the Wolfpack?
NC State must be patient offensively in order to solve Miami’s sound defense…
The Hurricanes sport one of the stoutest defenses in the country as they are ranked 8th nationally, giving up 58.6 PPG. NC State will have to display discipline when attacking the basket. Miami has plenty of size in both the backcourt and frontcourt which allows them to alter teams shots. NC State will need to seek out contact when attacking the paint and not worry about getting blocked. Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven should be able to outplay Miami’s frontcourt if they are patient instead of rushing shots. Wolfpack guards will need to be strong and challenge Miami defenders off the dribble with penetration. If Dennis Smith and company can get into the paint Miami will be in full scramble mode, which will lead to easy buckets. NC State cannot settle for contested jump shots.
Turn Ja’Quan Newton into a passer…
Newton can score in a variety of ways, including off the dribble, pull-up jumpers, and floaters. Three-point shooting has not been a strength for Newton. Thus far Newton is only shooting 33% from the arc; however, he has only attempted 18 on the season. NC State must take advantage of this knowledge! Dennis Smith and Terry Henderson must stay on their feet and not bite on shot fakes from the perimeter when matched up with Newton. Ja’Quan wants to attack the paint where he is most effective. Newton has struggled with turnovers he has registered 39 in 12 games. It will take a team defensive effort to force Newton into passing versus scoring. NC State has to like their chances if they limit Newton’s shot attempts forcing the ball out of his hands.
NC State needs to keep playing unselfishly and for each other…
The Pack is averaging 22 APG over the last four games. Dennis Smith has spearheaded the attack for NC State leading the charge in assists. The Hurricanes have one of the best defenses in the country but even the best defenses break down after a couple of rotations. NC State needs to keep playing with movement and not revert to hero ball this Saturday. Keeping the ball moving will go a long way towards winning this Saturday.
Timing will be critical for NC State…
Mark Gottfried’s team cannot afford to be lackadaisical in running their offense. Dennis Smith needs to take control by getting into their sets quickly. Miami’s defense is too good to allow them the extra defender known as the shot clock. It will be imperative that the Pack cuts hard off the ball to get open to initiate the offense near the three-point line. Malik Abu must work with his feet and not his hands to avoid senselessly offensive fouls. NC State will win if they run their sets efficiently and in the optimal range (not so far away from the three-point line).
Saturday will be exciting for NC State as they kick off their ACC season on New Year’s Eve. It will also be refreshing to play a talented team with a shot to make the NCAA Tournament. The Wolfpack has a chance to end 2016 with a road ACC win!
Here is the 2024 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament Bracket
The bracket for the 2024 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament is here. The 10th ranked NC State is the #2 seed in the tournament, and their first game will be on Friday at 5pm on ACC Network.
The Wolfpack will play the winner of the Duke (7 seed) vs. Georgia Tech (10 seed)/Pitt (15 seed).
NC State defeated Pitt 83-47 on February 11th, and they defeated Georgia Tech 86-85 on February 18th.
The Wolfpack lost to Duke 58-69 on February 25th. NC State entered the game as 1.5-point favorites, but ended up losing in enemy territory.
Georgia Tech defeated Pitt 68-58 on January 7th. Duke defeated both Georgia Tech and Pitt this season, defeating the Yellow Jackets 84-46 on January 14th, and the Panthers on 69-38 on February 1st.
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!