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PLAYER PREVIEW: Torin Dorn ready to emerge as leader of the Pack

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It’s amazing to think that Torin Dorn has been at NC State longer than anyone else on this year’s roster. It seems like just yesterday Dorn was transferring from UNC Charlotte to NC State, touting a conference rookie of the year award, and possibly slotting in as a shooting guard or a stretch forward.

A lot has changed since then.

Not only did he get a new coach in Kevin Keatts, but he also has found success playing at the 4.

It’s not like Dorn has turned into some back to the basket big. He’s still just 6’5, 210lbs, but he’s been plugged into a system where a guy with his skill set can become a matchup nightmare.Last year Dorn went from averaging 9.5 points and 4.6 boards two years ago to 14 points and 6.4 boards last year. While his stats took a big jump, he also started to emerge as a leader. His physicality and tenacity were contagious. When he was on the floor, NC State was a tougher, more gritty basketball team.

Now a senior, Dorn is being looked to as a guy who can not only lead by example but also mentor the younger guys and let them know what NC State basketball under Kevin Keatts is all about.

“This is my 4th year here, 5th year in college. I definitely feel like a vet, but still feel young and rejuvenated.” Said Dorn. “Being the guy that has been at State the longest. Being able to show these guys what it takes to play in the ACC, especially some of the younger guys. Using the things that I’ve learned, to help them is the biggest thing for me.”

Part of that mentoring will be trying to get them up to speed on how much faster and more physical the ACC is. He’ll also have to get them used to playing for Keatts, which means being expected to be in the best shape of their lives.

Having seniors that can take underclassmen under their wing is a foundational pillar of building a great program and so far Keatts smees to have his veterans evangelizing for him.

“With Coach Keatts, you have to be prepared to run,” Dorn told us. “Play an up-tempo style of game. I think he’s a coach that prides himself on hard work and we pride our team on hard work.”

Dorn has always been talented, but the level of success he reached last year was partly a product of Keatts system. The idea that basketball has changed and playing small, fast, versatile and positionless is the hallmark of this new-look Wolfpack gameplan. Last year Keatts and company gave NC State fans a taste of what the future may look like, but according to Dorn, this year they’re taking that to the next level.

“We’ve got a lot of interchangeable pieces. A lot of guys who can play multiple positions,” said Dorn. “I think it will make us hard to scout, I think it will make us a versatile team. A team that can do a lot of different things. We might be able to put a big line up out, or a small lineup. You’ll never know what you’re going to see with us.”

Making this possible a stable of guys who have wide-ranging skill sets, Dorn being one of them. Some of them are freshmen, but most of them have played college basketball before and have even gotten a year to mature while sitting out and watching. Two of those are guys that Dorn thinks could make big impacts this season.

“Both our transfers that sat out last season are really good players. CJ Bryce and Devon Daniels are both are hungry and itching. I remember those days when I was sitting out. I see that same fire in them and how they work, so it should be really good for us this year.”

While a lot of talk has been surrounding these transfers, the incoming freshmen, and Kevin Keatts, Torin Dorn remains as one of the most important pieces of this NC State team. He may not be flashy. He may not be the most athletic or most skilled guy on the court, but Dorn is exactly the type of player that Kevin Keatts wants and needs as he builds this program into a contender.

NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts’ Postgame Press Conference After UNCG: BULLETED

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Head Coach Kevin Keatts met with the media for his postgame press conference this afternoon, after NC State beat UNCG 80-77 in dramatic fashion today on a half court buzzer beating shot from Senior Point Guard Markell Johnson. You can watch it here, or check out a bulleted breakdown below.

  • Wes Miller and UNCG are tough. He’s done a tremendous job here.
    • They believe in one another.
    • It reminds me a lot of my last two teams at UNCW that won 25 games and 29 games.
    • They play very hard.
    • They understand that they have a system that works.
    • I thought it would be a great game for us overall when you look at the end of the season.
    • These guys are going to win a lot of games.
    • Going to compete in their tournament.
    • Chance to be an NCAA team.
    • The atmosphere was great.
    • It will end up being a top-100 win for us, I think.
  • I’m excited about the win.
    • We got a great road win here.
    • We responded.
    • Some big plays down the stretch.
    • Went up 10, they cut the lead.
    • Our guys stayed poised.
    • I was satisfied.
  • 2nd time this year that I’ve drawn up a play for Markell Johnson to make a half court shot, so I’m a heck of a coach for that.
    • I never think those shots are going in, but I saw it midway through the air, and thought ‘Man, this thing has a chance to go in.’ It did. It’s crazy.
  • Markell Johnson was having a great night.
    • He was feeling it.
    • Never really asks for the basketball.
    • He was telling me ‘Run a couple plays for me.’
  • I thought we did a poor job of defending the 3-point line.
    • They were averaging 9 three’s per game.
      • They had 8 in the 1st half.
    • At halftime, we talked about taking away the three’s, and we only gave up 2 in the 2nd half. That certainly helped us win the game.
  • We wanted to make them play fast.
    • Talked before the game about running on makes and misses.
    • UNCG does a tremendous job in their press.
      • It isn’t really designed to turn you over, but it ends up turning you over.
      • It’s designed to slow you down, so they play 17-20 seconds of defense.
    • We tried to push…to get out in front.
    • It helped that we made some three pointers.
  • We have a balanced team offensively.
    • Any guy can leads us in scoring.
    • Been averaging at least 4-5 guys in double figures. That’s what makes us unique.
    • It’s not the team I thought I had at the beginning of the year, when there were 10 or 11 guys I could put in the game.
    • All 8-9guys that I have available, play for each other. That’s important.
    • As we continue to build our culture, we want those guys to be playing for NC State. I think we’re getting there.
  • Whatever happened, Devon Daniels shouldn’t have said anything.
    • I don’t know what he said or when he said it, but that’s not us. He wasn’t even involved in the play.
    • Whatever he said, I’ll find out later, that’s not who we are.
    • It changed it a little bit, because they got going after that, and made some plays.
  • I talked about it after we lost to Memphis, we talked about how we won five straight games before that. We’re always talking about going back on a winning streak. When you look at this stretch, and I know everybody has talked about how our stretch of five games was going to be tough. We’ve found a way now in that stretch of games to win five in a row, with two of them being on the road. It’ll  go a long way. I think our guys will believe. I give these guys a lot of credit. Everytime we made a run, and we went up double digits a couple times, they fought back. For our guys to respond says a lot about us.

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NC State Basketball

NC State 80 UNCG 77: ACCDN Highlight Reel

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NC State beat UNCG 80-77 this afternoon via a half court buzzer beater from Markell Johnson. The ACC Digital Network Highlight Reel is below.

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NC State Basketball

NC State 80 UNCG 77: BOX SCORE

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Markell Johnson’s Half Court Dagger Beats UNCG at the Buzzer, 80-77

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Senior Point Guard Markell Johnson likes half court shots, hitting 2 in the past 3 games.

After sinking one at the buzzer against Wisconsin heading into the half, the Wolfpack took the lead, and would never lose it.

Today, responding to Isaiah Miller’s basket to tie the game at 77, Johnson inbounded the ball with 2.1 seconds left, and heaved the ball from a couple of yards behind the half court line, and the ball touched nothing but net, securing an 80-77 victory for the Wolfpack.

Johnson finished with 19 points and 7 assists, which were both team highs, shooting a clean 8 of 14 from the field. This was another example of “2nd Half Markell”, scoring 14 of his 19 points after the break.

The Wolfpack led every minute of the first half, but they allowed the Spartans to make it a tight game at the break. After leading by 12 points with 6 minutes to go in the half, NC State allowed the home team to make it a 1-point game at the break.

The story was the same in the second half. The Spartans took the lead quickly at the start, leading for the first three minutes (by 5 points at one point), but the Wolfpack quickly grabbed control again, leading by 13 points with 10 minutes left. Unfortunately, they didn’t do what was necessary from keeping the scrappy home team from  creeping back into the game.

NC State didn’t maintain fundamentals, failing to block out UNCG all game long, allowing the Spartans to grab 18  offensive boards, compared to only 2 of their own. UNCG scored 17 second chance points, compared to NC State’s 4.

If it wasn’t for the sharpshooting of the Wolfpack, this could have been a very different game. NC State shot an impressive 57% from the field, 46% from three, and 100% from the charity stripe. UNCG got to the free throw line more, out rebounded the Wolfpack (37/23), and turned the ball over less (12/13).

Redshirt Senior Guard C.J. Bryce quietly did what he’s done all year, scoring 17 points, on 6 of 10 shooting (2-4 3PT).

Graduate Senior Pat Andree had the hot hand at the beginning of each halves, connecting on 5 of his 8 three-point attempts, finishing with a season-high 15 points in his second start of the year.

The Wolfpack improved to 8-2, and will play at #10 undefeated Auburn on Thursday night.

 

 

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