NC State topped Presbyterian 86-68 on Thursday night, but that score doesn’t even start to tell the real story of this basketball game.
Fatigue tested them. They passed.
When some of Gottfried’s teams would play a few games in a week and people would talk about fatigue being an issue, I never bought it. Those teams weren’t playing hard enough to have 18 years olds unable to recover in a 48-hour timespan.
This year’s Keatts led Wolfpack? Yeah, I’m 100% buying it. These guys are gassed. They have played full court, high intensity, no breaks basketball 4 out of the last 7 days. They most definitely are having a little bit of the ‘jelly legs.’
It’s no surprise that the Pack came out flat and ended up down 8 over the first 20 minutes. They were a step slow. They were going for steals but having trouble recovering. They were just on a little bit of a delay.
Shooting-wise it showed as well. The Pack shot a miserable 1-13 (13%) from beyond the arc only two days after going 3-18 (17%). Part of this was fatigue, but not all of it. If this team has a weakness it’s going to be 3pt shooting. Freeman is going to consistently hover around 37% from deep, but Sam Hunt in the early going has looked streaky. Braxton Beverly can shoot it, but you can already see that at 6’0 (and that’s being generous), it’s not going to be easy to get off a lot of clean looks.
At the end of the day, I don’t think anyone can argue that fatigue was an issue in this one. This is the most games this team is ever going to play in a week. They went through the gauntlet and survived to tell about it.
NC State only forced 6 turnovers in the first half and what do you know, they were down by 8. In the second half, they upped the pressure and finished with 22 takeaways.
All the talk at the beginning of the season about what Keatts system will look like, or what this team’s identity will be. All of that is answered. This team thrives off of turnovers. This team will win when they can turn people over.
What we’ve already witnessed is an accomplishment. Four games in and they’ve turned their opponent over 20 + times in each outing. The last time an NC State team even had 4 games in a whole season of 20+ was in 2009-10.
NC State was and still is #1 in TO% in the Power 5 conferences, but they’re actually now #2 in all of the NCAA. Yes, it’s early. Yes, these teams aren’t great, but almost every team is playing a cupcake schedule up to this point. What Keatts has them doing is pretty special.
It’s time to start taking Lennard Freeman seriously
Lennard Freeman is a perfect example of how hard work pays off. He wasn’t projected to be much on offense and he was an undersized rebounder who was out there to basically eat minutes.
I guess he wasn’t happy with that. Freeman has transformed his body. He’s put on (good) weight and his shoulders are massive. He’s moving people around in the paint and he’s actually got really nice touch around the basket.
Honestly, I’m not sure how to project him right now. He’s scored 20+ in his last two games, but as State starts facing bigger, stronger guys, how will he make out?
He absolutely ruined Prysbetarian in the paint. They tried muscling-up against him. They lost. They tried bothering him with smaller guys. They lost. They even tried flopping a few times to see if they could draw the charge. They lost.
Freeman is going to have some big games when he faces a guy his height. My fear is that he’s still going to struggle some offensively when he faces a taller front line. Richard Howell had the same problem when he was in Raleigh. Neither Howell nor Freeman are tall or have long wingspans, and creating space with your shoulders only buys you so many inches. It’s something to watch for when State takes on Arizona next week (a team with two 7 footers).
A win is a win. Starting out with 4 games in 7 days when you play at this pace is crazy. These guys haven’t been in Keatts system long enough to have conditioned themselves for that type of abuse, but they handled it well and found a way to win.
Things that stuck out were the fact that they shot poorly from outside yet still put up 86 points. They played a really bad first half defensively and still came out with over 20 forced TOs. But the thing that was most impessive was their poise and their ability to focus.
Keatts hasn’t just whipped these kid’s bodies into shape, he’s conditioned them mentally. This team has a different type of confidence. They know they are working harder than their opponent, so they expect to win. They expect to come back when they get down. He’s preaching trust and belief in the system and he’s getting buy-in.
I don’t know where this team ends up, but I know that Keatts is teaching a championship style of basketball and if he can catch a few breaks and get his shooters clicking, then NC State is going to shock a lot of people.
NC State Makes Top-10 for Graduate Transfer Guard Justin Kier
George Mason Graduate Transfer Guard Justin Kier (6’4″/197) included NC State in his list of Final 10 schools.
— Andrew Slater (@Andrew__Slater) April 13, 2020
Kier was granted a fifth year of eligibility after missing all but 9 games last season due to injury. He was expected to arguably be George Mason’s best returning player next year, averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, earning All-Atlantic 10 2nd Team honors.
NC State Reaches Out to UAB Transfer Makhtar Guyer
According to Rivals’ Corey Evans, NC State has reached out to UAB Transfer Forward Makhtar Guyer (6’10″/210), after he announced he was transferring on Friday.
Virginia Tech has offered UAB transfer Makhtar Guyer, he tells @RivalsPortal.
Georgetown, Miami, Mississippi State, NC State and San Diego State have reached out since his transfer yesterday. @Hokie_Haven
— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) April 11, 2020
— Makhtar Gueye (@Thelionkilla) April 11, 2020
Guyer has one year of eligibility remaining. Last year as a Junior at UAB, Guyer averaged 6.8 points and 5.1 rebounds, starting in 27 of 31 games.
NC State Accepts Recommendation to Move Case to IARP
NC State has accepted the recommendation to move their violation’s case from the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.
“We’ve stated throughout this process that NC State will accept accountability for any shortcomings and defend ourselves aggressively where we feel it is appropriate and necessary to do so,” Woodson wrote in a statement released by the school on Wednesday. “As our response to the Referral Petition demonstrates, we do not think NC State can receive an objective or fair hearing before the Committee on Infractions in this matter. We believe the only remaining option is that our case be moved to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.
“NC State has a long history of working cooperatively with the NCAA, and we remain committed to working collaboratively through the IARP to address concerns and to resolve this matter as fairly and efficiently as possible.” (WRAL)
The IARP is made up of decision makers that are investigators and legal advocates that are independent of any NCAA teams.
The difference between the traditional process, and the IARP, is that the latter’s decision is final, unable to be appealed.
Vote For NC State Men’s Basketball Fans in Fox College Hoops 64-Team Bracket
In the absence of the NCAA Tournament, Fox College Hoops has created a 64-team bracket to determine the best fanbase of Men’s Basketball teams.
They determined 60 of the contestants based of the Men’s Basketball teams with the most Twitter followers. The final four were determined by the highest rated teams not yet selected according to the NET Rankings.
You: So how does this #FOXFanVote thing work?
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) April 5, 2020
The winner of each matchup is determined by fan vote, obviously.
NC State’s Men’s Basketball fans were given a #8 seed in the East Bracket.
The winner of the bracket, will earn quite a gift. Fox College Hoops will place a billboard of that team in close proximity to their rival.
Go ahead and vote for NC State to beat Alabama in the 1st round right now.