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PLAYER PREVIEW: Ian Steere looks to bring physicality to the Wolfpack front court

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Ian Steere was probably the most hyped freshman in this year’s class thanks to the monstrous dunks that went viral amongst NC State fans.

However, just because you have a savage highlight reel, it doesn’t mean your skills are going to translate to ACC basketball right away. Ian Steere is finding that out in his early practices with the Pack.

“The pace of the game is much faster, especially the guards. And the bigs, you have to get out and switch, especially in the ACC, they can shoot and dribble. So, I need to move my feet and increase my lateral quickness. It’s been helping a lot.”

With grad senior Wyatt Walker and transfer DJ Funderburk on the roster and coming in with varying levels of experience, Steere isn’t going to be relied upon to shoulder the frontcourt load, he will, however, certainly have a role on this team.

Keatts explained in his preseason press conference that replacing Omer Yurtseven wouldn’t be easy but that he had a 3-headed monster that was up for the challenge Those 3 guys are all very different bigs that bring different skills to the table and are working well together so far this offseason.

“We’re gelling great. We get along on the court and each bringing a different piece to this team. Whatever Keatts needs, one of us can bring it on the court.”

So what does Steere think he’ll bring that is unique to the others?

“I’m trying to bring some physicality. I’m trying to get in there and dirty up the game a little bit. Get on the floor for loose balls, rebounds, whatever I can to help and my offensive will come around, I’m not worried about that.”

There is no question that Steere will succeed in bringing that physicality to the team. He’s built like a brick wall and plays very aggressively in the paint. This type of guy will always have a role on a basketball team, and as he gets more experience he’ll begin to add more pieces to his game. Steere talked about the areas he needs to improve…

“Adding a lot more post moves. Getting faster, being able to guard every position if I have to switch. Definitely moving my feet more and post moves (are what I’m working on the most.)”

The transition for Steere is like that of any freshman. It’s usually a little tough at the beginning, but by midseason, you start to see things click. In a Keatts-system, however, there’s an added wrinkle. Not only do you need to adjust to the speed of the college game, you need to completely change your workout habits and transform your body into a machine.

“(laughs) I”m in the best shape of my life, but I’m not in Keatts-shape yet, so I’m working on it. I’m getting there.”

NC State Basketball

PRESS CONFERENCE: Kevin Keatts talks after win over Duke

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Kevin Keatts talks about his team’s win over #6 ranked Duke. He applauded the energy of his entire team, but specifically the play of Devon Daniels, Markell Johnson, and DJ Funderburk. See the full comments above.

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Game Preview: NC State faces a must win vs. #6 Duke

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NC State Wolfpack Vs. #6 Duke Blue Devils
Time:
9pm (2/19)
Location: 
Raleigh, NC
TV: 
ESPN
Line: Duke -5.5

If NC State wants to play in the NCAA Tournament their ticket will be either punched or ruined in the next four days. With #6 Duke and #8 FSU coming to Raleigh, After devastating losses to Georgia Tech (twice), UNC and now Boston College, the Wolfpack has their share of bad losses. Now they need to start stacking up some good wins. That starts tonight vs. Duke.

Duke has won 7 in a row. NC State has lost 4 of their last 6. Momentum is with Duke, but NC State is playing for their life. Will that make a difference?

What you’ll need to see for NC State to win

– NC State will need to shoot the ball well. The Pack shot an embarrassing 10% from 3pt range against Boston College. If they want to beat Duke they’ll need to sit at over 40%.

– They will have to play GREAT interior defense and out-rebound Duke. Manny Bates and Funderburk have been bright spots, but against Duke these guys will need to bring their A games. Vernon Carey Jr is a monster inside. Stopping him could throw Duke off kilter. However, many teams have tried and few have succeeded.

– They need Markell to hit shots. In a perfect world, Markell Johnson would be slicing and dicing up defenses, getting in the lane and creating havoc for opposing defenses. He’d be picking his spots to score, knocking down 3’s and making the defense pick their poison. Instead, Markell has looked a bit lost. At times he’s been timid. Scared to shoot. Scared to turn the ball over. Unsure of when to turn on ‘score mode.’ What NC State is a confident, assured Markell. One that understands that this team is going to live by him and die by him. No use in playing it safe. Without a dominant Markell Johnson, NC State isn’t going anywhere.

And really, is it even fair to ask more or Markell? If NC State is going to make noise in the NCAA the answer has to be yes, but his shooting sruggles have dampened what actually has been a pretty good season for him. His shooting percentages are down across the board, but he is averaging a career-high (tied) 12.6 ppg, career-high 6.5 assists per game, a career-high 4.5 rebounds, and a career-high 1.9 steals per game. Aside from shooting, this is the senior’s best season of his career offensively. Fix the shooting and you fix NC State? Possibly yes.

By the numbers…

PPG
Duke; 83
NC State: 74.3

FG %
Duke; 48.4
NC State: 44.7

3-pt%
Duke; 35.5
NC State: 31.7

Rebounds
Duke; 39.8
NC State: 35.8

Assists:
Duke; 16.3
NC State: 13.4

Turnovers
Duke: 13.5
NC State: 12

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FULL HIGHLIGHTS: NC State takes down Syracuse 79-74

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NC State moved to 16-8 and 7-6 in the conference (5th place) with last night’s road win over Syracuse. Check out the full condensed game here, thanks to ACCDN.


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IN-DEPTH PREVIEW: NC State needs a win at Syracuse tonight (7pm, ESPN2)

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NC State Wolfpack @ Syracuse Orange
Time: 7
pm (2/11)
Location:
Syracuse, NY
TV: 
ESPN2
Line: Syracuse -5.5

What to expect from Syracuse
In some ways, The Orange is a pretty predictable team, but in some ways, they have been a little streaky. Let me explain.

You know what Syracuse is going to do defensively. They are going to roll out a long lineup and play that extended 2-3 zone that has been the trademark of Jim Boeheim. Their starting lineup is all over 6’5 except freshman point guard Joseph Girard. As usual, they’re pretty long, but they’re really not as athletic as they have been in the past. With Girard, Buddy Boeheim and Marek Dolezaj in the lineup, they really will count on knocking down shots and winning the battle of the boards. That is, aside from counting on a big night form their super star Elijah Hughes. Hughes is a 6’6 junior forward who really does it all for the Orange. He’s averaging 19.4 points per game, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and shooting a very solid 42.4% from the floor. From beyond the arc, he’s just above average, knocking down 35.7%.

What to expect from NC State
The Pack is actually pretty bad against the zone, but the Syracuse zone might not bother them quite as much. The Pack is certainly more athletic than the Orange and I’d argue a lot more physical, but I think the question will be how far Syracuse extends their zone. They’d be making a big mistake to stretch it out like they normally like to do. They’ve always been ok letting that long 2 be a shot opponents can live and die on. However, that might not work against the Pack. CJ Bryce is one of the best in the conference at knocking down that free-throw line jumper and will most definitely be flashing to that spot all night long.

Matchup wise, I think NC State actually matches up real well against Syracuse. Funderburk and Bates are able to match up with Sidibe (6’10 Jr) and Dolezaj (6’10 Jr). Markell has the upper hand against freshman Joseph Girard. Daniels should be able to slow down 6’6 Buddy Boeheim and that leaves Bryce (6’5) matched up against the 6’6 Hughes.

I like all of those matchups for NC State, even Bryce vs Hughes. Hughes is a great scorer, but he’s a little soft and doesn’t like contact. He is a very good shooter, especially inside the arc, but he will be frustrated by long and physical defender like Bryce.

Recent Trends
Syracuse is not playing its best basketball as of late. After a 5 game winning streak (where they upset Virginia and then won 4 games they should have won) they went on to lose two in a row. First, a close one at Notre Dame and then they’re were blown out against Duke at home. While they did defeat last place Wake Forest last time out, it was a tight game that they only won by two.

Meanwhile, NC State won 3, then lost 3 and then most recently went down to Miami and won by 11. If you’re looking at who is trending, I’d probably give the nod to NC State. While their only sign of late-life has been a road win over a lowly Miami team, they do seem to be getting healthy and having all of their pieces back playing at a high level. Bryce had a good 2nd half against Louisville and a very good game at Miami, while Manny Bates finally got back in the mix and was a major factor on both ends of the floor against Miami.

By the numbers…

PPG
Syracuse; 74
NC State: 74.3

FG %
Syracuse; 43.8
NC State: 44.5

3-pt%
Syracuse; 34.7
NC State: 31.9

Rebounds
Syracuse; 35.8
NC State: 36

Assists:
Syracuse; 14.9
NC State: 13.3

Turnovers
Syracuse: 11.3
NC State: 11.5

 

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