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TRANSCRIPT: Kevin Keatts & Markell Johnson’s Presser After NC State Fell to UVA

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Head Coach Kevin Keatts and Junior Point Guard Markell Johnson met with the media in their postgame press conference after NC State fell to Virginia 79-59 in the Quarterfinals of the 2019 ACC Tournament. Below is the transcript.

KEVIN KEATTS: Guys, obviously we played a very good team today in Virginia. I can see obviously why they’re going to be a No. 1 seed. I thought Kyle Guy was tremendous. You know, the shots that he made were back-breakers. He played extremely well. I thought everybody kind of fed off of him, and he just made shots. When you look at his numbers, that’s incredible the way he played. He’s 10 for 13 from the field and 7 for 9 from three. A lot of those we were right there. He just raised up and made some shots.
Proud of my team that we have fought. Good win for us yesterday to get into this game, and I thought we played very well up until halftime, and then obviously they made some plays, and it kind of got away from us.
Questions?

Q. Coach, ideally you guys will be going to the NCAA Tournament. How do you get your guys in April mode? We’re going for April now. How do you switch to that mindset?

KEVIN KEATTS: Well, I think what we talked about in the locker room is at this time of year, players make plays. As coaches, we give you a game plan, we put you in the right situation, the right spots. Example, Tony is a hell of a coach and he does a tremendous job, but Kyle Guy was special today, and he made everybody look good.

You know, we talked about that. Markell was the same way yesterday, where we needed a play, he did a tremendous job of making plays for us, and so when you get to this time of year, it’s more of a mentality. You don’t care who does it, just as long as one of your teammates do it, and you start more concentrating on playing for the name on the front of the jersey.

Q. I know you would have preferred the game ended at halftime today, but you guys did put in a lot of scrap and effort. What was your strategy in deploying the back court pressure for most of the
game?

KEVIN KEATTS: Well, obviously I think it’s no secret that Virginia does a tremendous job of controlling tempo. You know, probably the best in the country. Any time we had a chance to be able to get into some pressure we wanted to, we wanted to get those guys to play a little faster. At our place in the second half, we were able to speed them up. They took some shots that were a little questionable for Tony’s system. Tonight they didn’t. They stayed the course. They ran their stuff, and obviously they came away with a good win.

Q. Funderburk really carried the fair share of the offense in the first half, didn’t get many touches in the second half. Was that an adjustment Virginia made in the second half?

KEVIN KEATTS: I think it was a little bit of both. Not so much of oversight. I thought they made adjustments because he hurt them. I thought D.J. floated around a little more in the second half on the perimeter than he did inside. But it’s just — we tried to get the ball to guys that when it’s in their situation and they have a favorable — but I thought they made some adjustments and kind of took him away.

Q. Coach, you were leading in the second half, and then all of a sudden a three-point play by Salt, another three-point play by Salt, a four-point play by Guy, you missed a bunch of free throws and D.J. got poked in the eye. How difficult was all that adversity to deal with?

KEVIN KEATTS: Well, I don’t know if you stared at me, but it was tough. It’s a lot of things that happened in a short amount of time that kind of blew the game open. When you look at the game, we were right there, and then I remember getting to 10, then I thought it got to 12 and then we cut it again. We made some unfortunate plays. You know, they got some and-ones that obviously they converted, and then I didn’t think we made our free throws. When you look at it, it was a pivotal stretch that I thought we missed five free throws in a row where the score was about 11, should have been a six-point game.

Q. As well as you played defense against them in the first half, did you think maybe you wasted an opportunity by not being up more at halftime, and then how much in the second half maybe did legs kind of start to come into play?

KEVIN KEATTS: Yeah, I don’t think we wasted an opportunity because I don’t think we played that much greater than them in the first half. You know, we talked about trying to win the game at whatever pace we had to. You know, it’s hard. I thought both teams played equal in the first half. They just played better than us. They made plays. They got and-ones. They made their free throws, and for us in the second half, we didn’t get those breaks.

MARKELL JOHNSON: We conditioned ourselves in practice to go full go every day.

Q. Kevin, obviously Kyle Guy can shoot like that. You guys were able to force them into some bad shots in the first half and kind of showed up with Jerome and Hunter’s numbers, but how do you prepare for Jack Salt to have a game like that?

KEVIN KEATTS: Yeah, I mean, Jack was really good, and I thought we did a really good job on him in the first half. He did a great job. He’s so big, and Jack screens and rolls and rolled to the hole, and our guys did a poor job — the thing that made Jack special tonight was he made his free throws, and that was tough on us because obviously any time you foul him, he hasn’t been a great free-throw shooter, but I thought he played great. I thought Kyle Guy’s performance was as good as I’ve seen this year as far as a guy playing well against us. When you look at his percentages, I don’t care who they play today, if he would have shot 7 for 9, 10 for 13, it was going to be hard to beat them today.

Q. Markell, second half they used Hunter on you for long stretches, and it seemed to get you guys out of sync offensively. How much harder is it dealing with a guy who’s that much bigger and still quick?

MARKELL JOHNSON: It was just really trying to get my guys the ball. When he was like defending me and things like that, it was tough. You know, trying to get the ball inside with the length and things like that.

Q. You guys won the game that a lot of people were saying would have you guys in the tournament, and you fought hard with Virginia. What do you guys see that the selection crew should put you guys in for, your credentials?

KEVIN KEATTS: Well, I kind of look at it like this: If the selection crew, if they value what they’ve said all year long, then there shouldn’t be any issues with us. We’ve always talked about quad 1 and quad 2 wins, where we just played the No. 1 NET team in the country, and we’re 9 and 9 in quad 1 and quad 2 games after today when you look at it. We went into this game with a NET of 32. More than likely probably will go up because we played Virginia even and lost. So I like our guys’ chances. If they value what they have talked about, it shouldn’t be an issue at all.

Q. Kevin, looking at the way you’ve played here in the tournament, some positive plays, a lot of good things happening. What aspects of this can you take with you into postseason play that will benefit you?

KEVIN KEATTS: Yeah, that’s a great question. We talked about mentality. You know, what’s your mentality. I thought in the two games that we played, we played two good halves. When you look at Clemson game, I didn’t think we played well in the first half, and then you take this game, we didn’t play well in the second half, and so what I’m asking these guys is our mentality has to be to put back to back halves. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be 40 minutes, but we’ve got to be able to play 30 to 35 minutes of good basketball.

Yesterday we didn’t play great in the first half, but Markell Johnson, he put us on his back, and we won the game. Today we had a great first half and then we didn’t have a good second.

Q. Kevin, I’m curious how much you’ll pay attention to the discussion over who gets in, who gets left out over the next 72 hours and how much you’ll be paying attention to that and how much you’ll be paying attention to your own team.

KEVIN KEATTS: I will not pay attention to it at all because this is — and I say this, and here’s why I mean it. This is the first year that the selection committee has put value on the NET. I don’t think anybody in this room, I don’t think anybody in the country knows what that means. And so I’m not going to — if you take half of the people they’re going to say certain teams should be in, and others, certain teams shouldn’t be in. But I feel good about us.

NC State Basketball

Markell Johnson is Returning to NC State for his Senior Season

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What I reported last week has been made official…Markell Johnson will be returning to NC State for his Senior Season.

Johnson went through the NBA Draft Evaluation Process, and despite not receiving an invitation to the 2019 NBA Combine, he did workout for the Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets.

This is huge news for the Wolfpack.

Johnson improved in nearly every facet of the game in 2018-19.

  • Field Goal Percentage – 46% –> 48.8%
  • 3-Point Percentage – 40.9% –> 42.2%
  • 2-Point Percentage – 49.1% –> 56.7%
  • Points Peg Game – 8.9 –> 12.6
  • Turnovers – 3.2 –> 2.2

He did see his Assist average go down last season (from an ACC best 7.3 to 4.2), but that was due to the team needing him to be more of a playmaker.

Part of Johnson’s issues as a Junior was foul trouble. He averaged 4 less minutes per game.

Johnson has NBA talent, but he will need to grow as a Senior, and stay on the court, and play more aggressively on a consistent basis.

The return of Markell makes NC State a prospective NCAA Tournament team next year.

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RELEASE: NC State Women’s Basketball Coach Wes Moore Receives New 6-Year Contract

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RALEIGH – After guiding the NC State women’s basketball program to back-to-back Sweet Sixteen appearances, Wes Moorehas received a new six-year contract. The contract was approved by the Board of Trustees in April and then by the UNC System Board of Governors this week.

“Wes continues to elevate our women’s basketball program and this new contract reflects our commitment to what he is building,” said Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan. “I look forward to Wes leading NC State women’s basketball for many years to come.”

Moore’s new deal extends him through 2025 and increases his compensation to $750,000 annually.

“I’m grateful to NC State for this commitment and belief in what we’re building,” said Moore. “We’ve made so many significant strides. We have a first-class facility to play in, a wonderful University and city to call home and I’m excited for the future of NC State women’s basketball.”

In six years in Raleigh, Moore has guided the Wolfpack to a 140-58 overall mark, including a 63-33 record in ACC competition. He has led NC State to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including a 28-6 mark this season which culminated with a No. 9 final ranking, the highest final ranking by the Wolfpack since 1998.

Coaching a squad that lost four significant contributors to season-ending injuries, Moore finished as the runner-up for the Associated Press National Coach of the Year honors in 2019.  

Over the last three seasons NC State has gone a combined 77-24 and has turned renovated Reynolds Coliseum into one of the most formidable home court advantages in women’s basketball. NC State is 47-6 in the building since its renovation earned NCAA Tournament host seeds each of the past two seasons, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen out of Raleigh both years.

Over 30 seasons, Moore is among the all-time winningest college coaches with a career mark of 698-227 (.754), including 25 seasons of 20 or more wins.

Moore is the second winningest coach in program history behind the late Kay Yow. 

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NC State Signee Jalen Lecque NBA Mock Draft Update

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NC State 2019 signee Jalen Lecque is going through the NBA Draft Process, and has until June 10th to pull his name out of the hat. Lecque participated in the NBA Combine last week on the first day, but opted out of competition the next day. Everyone assumes that Lecque and his camp were pleased with his performance, and didn’t want to taint that image.

Here’s a rundown of where Lecque sits in the most recent Mock Drafts:

Sports Illustrated – 2nd Round, #41 overall, Atlanta Hawks (Updated 5/20)

NBADraft.net – 2nd Round, #57 overall, New Orleans Pelicans (Updated 5/15 at 2:01pm)

Sporting News – Top 50 – Unlisted (Updated 5/20)

Tankathon – Undrafted

Net Scouts Basketball – Undrafted (Updated 5/15)

While I think the likelihood of Lecque being in Raleigh next year is slim, I still am concerned for his future success in the NBA. Evan Daniels at 247Sports on numerous occasions has spoken to the fact that his game would benefit by a year in college, especially his shot, and inexperience at the point guard position. The NBA is an unforgiving league, and it’s easy to wash out if your not “NBA ready.”

If Lecque were to choose to come to NC State next year at the end of his evaluation process, there are technically no scholarships available, but I have no doubts that one would somehow become available.

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Markell Johnson UPDATE, Working Out for Hornets Today

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NC State Point Guard Markell Johnson is working out for the Charlotte Hornets today.

Johnson worked out for the Hawks on April 30th, after deciding to go through the NBA Draft Process on April 5th.

With one year of eligibility left, Johnson has until May 29th to decide whether he will return for his Senior season.

According to my sources, Johnson is expected to be back next year. In fact, I was told he met with the team last week to inform them of his plans.

With that being said, Johnson is getting the most out of this process. Even though he wasn’t invited to the NBA Combine, these workouts will give him feedback from NBA coaches and scouts that will be formative for his development.

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