NC State found a way to walk out of Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time since 1995 with a win. The Pack gave full effort refusing to lose when things got tough and proved they are making some progress. Let’s take a look at last night’s win.
Dennis Smith Jr had an outstanding game, his best in Red & White to date.
NC State needed a monumental effort out of Smith if they were going to win at Duke and he answered the call. Duke could not stop Smith as he torched them to the tune of 32 points. Many of Smith’s baskets came in critical junctures of the game that allowed the Pack to stay in striking distance. The close of the first half appeared to be going in Duke’s favor; however, Smith went on a personal 6-0 run to cut a 12 point deficit to just 6 before the half.
In the second half, Smith continued his stellar play by getting his teammates involved. He recorded all 6 of his assists in the second half leading NC State to shoot 55% from the field to overcome the 6 point halftime hole. It wasn’t just about Smith’s stat line last night. It was about his swagger and desire to do whatever was necessary to win. Dennis Smith Jr has that “it” factor. His competitiveness and desire to win willed his team to victory. His attitude was contagious as each player left it all on the court!
Ted Kapita gave NC State toughness and energy off the bench.
Mark Gottfried said, “have a hunch bet a bunch.” He had a gut feeling that Kapita needed to be the first player off the bench and it paid off! Kapita finished the game with 14 points (6-7 from field) and 10 rebounds! NC State fed off of Kapita’s energy by playing harder which allowed the Pack to survive Duke’s runs. Duke did not have an answer for Ted’s effort as the freshman wanted the basketball more than anyone else on the court. That is why NC State needs him to play more because he brings an edge to the Pack that no one else does. With Ted in the game, NC State plays harder. Kapita should be rewarded with more playing time as he appeared to be a good fit alongside Abu.
NC State showed progress as they found a way to win.
Duke had a couple of opportunities to put the game way; however, NC State refused to quit. The Pack found ways to get stops when they needed to by protecting the paint better in the second half. They did not allow Duke to have uncontested layups. Defensively, they did a much better job at not fouling, as the Blue Devils attempted 21 free-throws on the night.
Offensively the Wolfpack found ways to score when the game was in question. Smith was not alone in making big shots as Maverick Rowan hit tough shots down the stretch. Rowan also came up with clutch free-throws to keep NC State ahead. Malik Abu avoided foul trouble and scored 19 points on 8-12 shooting. It wasn’t about X’s and O’s last night it was the will to win. NC State wanted this game more than Duke, period.
Defensively NC State accepted the challenge but still needs to communicate better.
Overall NC State defended better as they improved in keeping their man out of the paint. NC State players accepted the challenge of taking away the paint off the dribble. Individually, they decided they were not going to allow uncontested layups as they protected the rim. Jayson Tatum missed several layups down the stretch because NC State refused to give up on the play. They recovered and contested well.
Communication still needs improvement, especially on ball screens. NC State guards need to be better at fighting through screens to prevent big men from having to hedge so much. Post players need to communicate frequently to guards to let them know where the screener is coming from as early as possible. Guards will have more time to adjust and fight over the impending screen. Sometimes communication is too late, which puts the Pack in a bad situation where the guard is not aware of the screen, resulting in an advantage for the offense. Last night NC State got lucky that Duke did not hit some open shots.
Coach Gottfried is still figuring his group out.
Mark Gottfried was open about how he is still trying to figure out which lineup combinations work best for his team. Last night BeeJay Anya played just 3 minutes as Ted Kapita captured his usual minutes as a result of his strong play. Kapita gave NC State more energy and versatility because he is capable of playing out of the high post as well as the block. With Kapita and Abu in the game, NC State has two guys that provide spacing under the basket. That space helps Smith when he looks to attack the rim by not having a help-side defender in his pocket.
NC State believes in each other. Their belief in each other is why they still have an opportunity to finish the season strong. I cannot tell you which team will come out on Sunday at Louisville, but I do know that NC State just beat Duke and that is something to enjoy.
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.
NC State Guard MJ Rice Will Be Returning Soon After Stepping Away for a Period of Time
NC State Guard MJ Rice (6’5″/215) announced yesterday that due to personal reasons, he had to step away from the basketball program, but was excited to be back with his teammates soon. He was clear that his commitment to NC State hasn’t wavered.
Life is much bigger than sports. These young men are human beings first and foremost, and as we all know, this life is never simple and easy.
Rice transferred to NC State this offseason from Kansas with three years of eligibility remaining. The former High School McDonald’s All-American didn’t get a lot of playing time in his Freshman season at Kansas, averaging 7.6 minutes per game in only 23 games played.
Coming out of Prolific Prep in California, Rice averaged 20.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a Senior. Rivals ranked him as a 5-star prospect, ON3 ranked him 24th nationally, and ESPN ranked him as the #1 player in the state of North Carolina.
Whatever Rice is working through, we value him as a person more than we do a player.
NC State Announces Hiring of Larry Dixon as NC State Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach
RALEIGH – NC State men’s basketball head coach Kevin Keatts announced Wednesday that Larry Dixon has joined his staff as an assistant coach.
Dixon comes to NC State after spending the last five seasons as an assistant coach at South Florida.
The NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted in January to allow two more assistant coaches on men’s basketball staffs. Dixon, will serve as one of the Pack’s two new assistant coaches that can engage in coaching activities but may not recruit off campus.
“I think Larry is a great addition to our staff,” Keatts said. “He’s a North Carolina native that has dedicated himself to a coaching career since graduating from college. He started at the high school level in North Carolina and eventually moved up to college and now has been a Division I assistant coach for almost 20 years. I think his experience is going to be a great asset for me and our coaching staff, as well as the young men in our program as we develop them on and off the court.”
Larry Dixon joined the USF coaching staff as assistant coach on May 12, 2018.
In just his second season with the team in 2018-19, Dixon helped USF to the top win turnaround in the NCAA during the 2018-19 season, as the Bulls won 14 more games than the previous season. In addition, USF turned in a 24-14 overall record to set a new single-season school record for wins. The Bulls would go on to win the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) championship and claim the program’s first postseason title since 1990.
Dixon also played an instrumental role in the development of 2019 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Laquincy Rideau and 2019 American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year Alexis Yetna.
Dixon helped USF become one of the top defensive teams in the NCAA during the 2019-20 season, finishing the year ranked 20th in scoring defense by allowing only 62.7 points per game. The Bulls limited eight teams to fewer than 60 points during the season and held 27 of their 31 opponents under their scoring average at the time of play. The Bulls also ranked 44th in the nation in turnovers forced with 15.6 per game, and stood 65th in the NCAA in steals with 7.5 thefts per game.
In 2021-22, Dixon helped develop Russel Tchewa and Corey Walker Jr. into one of the best frontcourt tandems in the league. The Bulls were again among the top defensive teams in the country, ranking 45th in the NCAA in scoring defense (64.9 ppg).
Dixon came to Tampa after five seasons as an assistant at Georgia Southern under head coach Mark Byington. Prior to his stint with the Eagles, Dixon had collegiate assistant coaching jobs at Winthrop (2007-12), East Carolina (2005-07), South Carolina State (2003-05) and St. Andrews College (2002-03).
In his final season at Georgia Southern, Dixon helped lead the Eagles to a 21-12 record, including an 11-7 mark in the Sun Belt. In 2016-17, he helped Georgia Southern reach the postseason for the first time since 2006, playing in the College Basketball Invitational.
Prior to arriving at Georgia Southern, Dixon spent the 2012-13 season as head coach at York Comprehensive High School in York, S.C.
During his five seasons (2007-12) on the coaching staff at Winthrop under head coach Randy Peele, Dixon was recognized as the top assistant coach in the Big South by Fox Sports.
Before entering the college game, Dixon served as the head coach at Garinger High School in Charlotte, N.C. for three seasons. In 2001, he led Garinger to a North Carolina High School sectional championship and earned Mecklenburg County Coach of the Year honors from the Charlotte Observer. Dixon also spent one season as an assistant at Carver High School in Winston-Salem, N.C. and one season at South Rowan High School in his hometown of Salisbury, N.C.
Dixon graduated from Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte, N.C) in 1996, where he was a four-year letterman as a player. He was named the team’s most improved player following his junior season and the top defensive player after his senior season. He helped the Golden Bulls to a pair of CIAA Southern Division titles and a championship game appearance as a sophomore.
A native of Salisbury, N.C., Dixon has two children, Devin and Leah.