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Nothing to Lose: Wolfpack already defied odds in first season under Keatts

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When Kevin Keatts was hired last March, NC State knew they’d be without Dennis Smith Jr and senior Beejay Anya.

They found out later that Terry Henderson, for some reason, was denied his medical hardship waiver and he too wouldn’t be around. Then Keatts got the news that Maverick Rowan was going to Europe and Ted Kapita was going to try his hand in the draft.

That left Kevin Keatts with Markell Johnson, Torin Dorn, Malik Abu, Omer Yurtseven, Lennard Freeman, Shawn Kirk and Darius Hicks. Let’s put it this way, NC State was losing 62% of their scoring from a team that finished tied with Pitt for 13th in the conference with a 4-12 record. And here’s the kicker; Gottfried’s lone incoming recruit decommitted after his firing.

The cupboard wasn’t completely bare when Kevin Keatts got here, but it sure was sparse. Not only did he barely have enough guys to field a team, but he was also adamant about implementing a new system right away.

That system would rely heavily on defensive pressure and 3 point shooting. The only problem was that his returners had shot a pretty miserable 30% from 3pt range last season and only Torin Dorn and Markell Johnson were known as capable defenders.

Had anyone told you, at that point, that NC State would finish tied for 3rd in the ACC with an 11-7 conference record and 21 wins overall, you’d have literally called them delusional and swore they knew nothing about college basketball.

Thinking back to where we were less than one year ago makes this run by the Wolfpack even that much more amazing. Keatts did go out and add some key pieces in grad-transfers Al Freeman and Sam Hunt. He flipped 2 4-star recruits and got them committed to the Pack at the last minute (Beverly and Batts). Seeing as how late to the game he was in getting involved, it’s incredible the type of talent he was able to add. But still, no one in their right mind believed that was enough to compete in the ACC.

Keatts, however, did believe it.

In one season he transformed the culture around the program. He turned Markell Johnson into the ACC’s best assist man and helped Omer Yurtseven realize his potential as a go-to scorer. He took Dorn from a tweener who struggled to find his role last season, into one of the league’s biggest mismatches, He stuck by his decision to allow Al Freeman to have an always-on green light even when he couldn’t find his confidence and he kept on plugging in Sam Hunt despite his early season shooting woes.

The expectation you have for this team, they weren’t here before Keatts arrived, he created them. He created them with wins over #2 Arizona, #2 Duke, #10 UNC, #18 Clemson, and #25 FSU. This team expects to win and in turn, so now does the fanbase.

But, none of those wins means this team isn’t flawed. The losses to Georgia Tech and Boston College showed that. They are running a system suited for a team that goes ten deep. A system that wants to be able to switch nearly every screen and have multiple guys that can guard multiple positions. A system that relies on speed and athleticism. This team isn’t really a true fit for this system, yet they are succeeding.

You always want more, of course you do, but 11 wins in the ACC, 21 overall, 5 wins over top 25 teams and a near lock for the NCAA Tournament, when you’re honest with yourself, is way more than you were ever expecting. That is not saying that this team should be content. They shouldn’t. They should wear the badge of ‘world-beaters’ from here on out because while the wins have come in bundles, respect has not followed.

The Pack didn’t grace the Top-25 once this season. Not one player from this team made 1st or 2nd team all-ACC and Kevin Keatts didn’t finish in the top two for ACC Coach of the Year. No one believed in them at the beginning, and despite their success, no one wants to believe in them now. But that’s just fine with the Wolfpack because March is where underdogs get their final say.

So as we move into the final days of the season, realize that this team is playing with house money. Most people thought this group would be fighting to stay out of the basement of the ACC. Now they are set to enter the field of 64 with absolutely, positively nothing to lose, and that makes them a very dangerous opponent.

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NC State Ranks 15th in 1st 2018-19 Fall Standings for the Director’s Cup

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NC State’s Cross Country teams strong finish have the Wolfpack sitting at 15th in the first 2018-19 Fall Standings for the Directors’ Cup.

The Wolfpack Women’s Cross Country team won their 3rd straight ACC Championship (24th overall), and the Men’s team finished 3rd. In the NCAA Championships, the Men finished 11th, and the Women finished 13th, marking the first time both teams finished in the Top-15 since 2003.

NC State doesn’t have a Field Hockey team.

The Wolfpack finished the 7th in the final Fall Directors’ Cup standings last year, which was the highest Fall finish in school history.

Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Football and Women’s Volleyball will be added to the Final Fall Standings to be released in January.

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NC State Cross Country Secures Pair of Top-15 Finishes at NCAA Championships

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MADISON, Wis. – The NC State men’s and women’s cross country teams closed out the 2018 season with a pair of top-15 finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships Saturday.

Racing in snowy conditions at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course, the Pack men placed 11th with 342 points and the Wolfpack women finished 13th with 367 points. It marked the first time since 2003 that both of NC State’s squads finished in the top 15 at the national meet.

MEN’S RACE RECAP:
The Pack men entered the NCAA Championships ranked No. 16 in the nation and came away with a finish five spots higher at No. 11. NC State and BYU tied for 10th with 342 points, and the head-to-head comparison of the five scorers broke the tie and pushed the Wolfpack to 11th place in the championship 10K.

The Wolfpack’s performance was its best since the 2011 season when it finished 10th overall at the national meet.

Ian Shanklin led the way with the highest NCAA Championships finish of his career, crossing the finish line 54th in 30:10.9.

The rest of NC State’s scorers on the men’s side finished within four seconds of one another. Joe Bistritz clocked a 30:32.9 10K to place 88th and was followed by an 89th-place finish from Gavin Gaynor, who finished in 30:33.0.

Elijah Moskowitz was the next Pack finisher, placing 96th in 30:35.6, and Edwin Rutto rounded out the scoring for the NC State men with a 98th-place finish in 30:36.5.

Patrick Sheehan (180th, 31:22.7) and Ben Barrett (228th, 32:23.4) completed the Wolfpack’s seven-man lineup at the NCAA Championships.

WOMEN’S RACE RECAP:
NC State’s women secured a top-15 finish for the fourth season in a row as they finished 13th in the 6K final.

Elly Henes was the Pack’s top finisher with an impressive 16th-place performance. She crossed the finish line in 20:11.6 for the best national finish of her collegiate career.

Nell Crosby was the next to score for the Wolfpack, as she placed a personal-best 54th overall in 20:44.6, and Dominique Clairmonte also secured a spot among the top 100 runners as she finished 62nd with a time of 20:46.6.

Heather Holt continued to build on her solid freshman campaign as NC State’s fourth scorer. She crossed the finish line in 21:25.3 for 146th place, and Nevada Mareno followed by placing 172nd in 21:36.6 to round out the scoring.

Isabel Zimmermann (179th, 21:40.5) and Savannah Shaw (231st, 22:22.0) were also in action for the Pack at the national meet.

HENES REPEATS AS ALL-AMERICAN: 
Henes gained All-American status for the second season in a row with her 16th-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Championships. After becoming an All-American for the first time during the 2017 cross country season, Henes has garnered All-America honors at the past four national meets across cross country and track and field.

The nod made Henes the first Wolfpack cross country runner since Joanna Thompson in 2013 and 2014 to repeat as an All-American.

UP NEXT:
The NCAA Championships marks the conclusion of the 2018 cross country season. NC State’s distance athletes will gear up for the start of the indoor track and field season, which is scheduled to open Dec. 1 with the JDL College Kickoff and the BU Season Opener.

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NC State Women’s Volleyball Sweeps UNC For 1st Time Since 1991

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RALEIGH, N.C. – For the first time since 1991, the NC State volleyball team defeated UNC-Chapel Hill in straight sets, 3-0 (25-22, 26-24, 25-16), Wednesday night inside James T. Valvano Arena at William Neal Reynolds Coliseum.

It was also the Wolfpack’s first sweep in ACC play this season. Additionally, NC State recorded consecutive home wins versus UNC-CH for the first time since 1990-91 thanks to its 3-2 victory last season.

NC State moves to 14-12 on the year and 8-8 in conference play, while UNC-Chapel Hill falls to 7-18 and 3-13 against league opponents.

Quoting Hampton-Keith

Overall thoughts…

“We’re obviously thrilled to win at home and sweep UNC-Chapel Hill,” said head coach Linda Hampton-Keith. “It’s a great rivalry match and we have a lot of respect for their program and the rivalry between us.

“It’s always great to win at home and to do it in the fashion we did it, was really exciting.”

Worth Noting

– NC State recorded a team attacking percentage of .290 for the match and limited UNC-CH to a .145 clip.

– The Wolfpack moves to 11-0 on the year when tallying a higher attacking percentage than its opponent.

– Additionally, the Pack is 11-3 this season when holding its opponent to a hitting percentage less than .200.

– NC State ranks second in the ACC in digs per set and tallied more digs than the Heels (54-37) to mark the 17thtime that the Wolfpack has out-dug its opponent.

Match Rewind

– NC State closed out the first set with five consecutive points to win the frame, 25-22, and take a 1-0 lead in the match.

– UNC-Chapel Hill went ahead 23-22 after a kill from Skylar Wine, but a service error followed and sparked a 5-0 run.

– Back-to-back kills from senior Teni Sopitan along with a bad set from the Tar Heels prior to a service ace from Kaylee Frazier powered the Pack to the first-set win.

– The second set featured 10 ties, but it was UNC-CH with a pair of critical attacking errors down the stretch that led to a pair of NC State points to clinch the set.

– NC State pulled ahead 24-22, but the Heels fought off two set-point opportunities to knot the set before the Wolfpack took the set, 26-24.

– A 7-2 run gave the Pack control of the third set, as NCSU grabbed a 15-10 advantage at the media timeout.

– Following a UNC-Chapel Hill service error, Keira Moore and Kylie Pickrell combined on a block to spark a Wolfpack run to close out the set, 25-16, and the match, 3-0.

Top Performers

– Sopitan led all players in the contest with 15 kills on 34 attempts to tally a .324 attacking percentage.

– Freshman Jade Parchment put down 10 kills to go along with 11 digs to notch her sixth double-double of the season.

– Lauryn Terry also turned in a strong offensive performance with nine kills and a match-high .643 attacking percentage, as she did not commit an error on 14 swings.

– Pickrell averaged nearly 14 assists per set, finishing the night with 40 assists in the three-set match and also contributed nine digs.

– Defensively, libero Makenzie Kuchmaner collected a match-high 16 digs.

Up Next

NC State will have a week until its next match, as the Wolfpack will host Syracuse on Wednesday, Nov. 21. First serve is slated for 2 p.m. inside Reynolds Coliseum.

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NC State basketball unveils new-look road uniforms

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NC State showed off their new road uni’s at the ACC Media kick-off event this past week and while it doesn’t look like much has changed, there are a few differences.

First off, the NC State across the chest has the new font Now, I’m glad NC State got their own font, but to be honest, this font isn’t all that versatile. It may have been nice to have in the toolbox, but maybe not the default on everything. Anyways, it’s here now and it’s not going anywhere.

What’s interesting is the fact that NC State across the chest isn’t outlined in black. Almost every road uni we’ve ever seen over red has had the black outline and actually, the number has an outline. You can see the differences here.

Some other notable differences are the wolf logo on the leg and the bands around the bottom of the shorts and the arm openings. For the arm openings, these used to be white and now they are half white and half black. As for the shorts, they used to be just a white band, but now they go white, to black.

Overall, not a drastic change and something a lot of fans may not even notice.

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