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One Word: NC State Men’s Basketball Thoughts

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The time is now for State’s men’s team and Coach Keatts. With the season about to tip-off, Vonwolf and Wolferetti break down what they think will happen.

 

Who is your breakout candidate of the year?

Vonwolf: Cam Hayes

Was going to say Hellems, but I think he’s more on people’s radars than Hayes. Cam has the opportunity to really take a massive step forward this season. He showed glimpses last year of being special, particularly towards the end of the season against Notre Dame and UVA. The problem was inconsistent scoring. Part cold streaks of shooting, part just the physical toll that it takes to play a season in the ACC.

Hayes has added muscle and a different mindset this year. I’d expect for him to elevate not only his shooting percentage but his assists per game. If we can get 10 pts | 8 ast | 8 boards out of our true point guard, we’ll be in a good spot.

 

Wolferetti: Terquavion Smith

When I’m projecting players, I’m always heavy on the intangibles and that’s why I’m going with the freshman shooting guard on this one. I know it’s risky to go with a freshman as a breakout candidate, but this kid is just built differently. He’s got elite-level confidence and feels like he’s ACC-ready. With his ability to score it, NC State’s need for scoring, I think Keatts has found the match made in heaven. I’m looking for Smith to average around 12 ppg this season

Who is going to struggle this year?

Vonwolf: Dereon Seabron

I don’t think he’ll play bad this year, but there are going to be too many “fine” games from a guy we need big minutes from. He’s rebounding vastly improved as the season went on, and without Fundy, he’ll be leaned on even more. But if he ends up floating around 7 pts | 7 boards a game, it’s just not going to cut it. Especially with more guys on this roster that fit into the “athletic length” category, need for him to be a solid player.

 

Wolferetti: Ernest Ross & Greg Gantt

I know this is a bummer, since these guys struggling means NC State has zero front-court depth, but I’m just calling it like I see it. Both of these guys are new to the ACC and both are long, versatile bigs who have good stretch skills but are unproven in the ACC. Look, if you watch enough ACC basketball you know that you either are an elite shooter, or you struggle to transition to the ACC. What that means is that if your shot is good enough that you don’t have to deal with physical play of the ACC, then you can skirt by. But if you are forced to mix it up in the middle, it almost always takes guys a while to get used to the physical play that the refs allow in this conference. Both Ross and Gantt have decent shots, but neither are good enough to live off of them. They’ll be forced to mix it up in the middle and I think there is going to be some growing pains there for sure.

 

Biggest game(s) this year?

Vonwolf: Back-to-back road games versus Louisville (1/12) and Duke (1/15)

By this point in the season, we’ll know if this team has what it takes or not. We’ll also either be on our 15th article about the future of Keatts or praising the swagger of this young squad. If they play well and consistent that first two months, these games become the springboard to make a run at securing tickets to the big dance. If the first two months are a struggle? These games become make or break for resume purposes. Even without a tip-off of the season, feels as though State needs to grab at least one of these.

Plus it’s our last game, maybe…who knows, against Coach K…would like to send him home with a nice L.

 

Wolferetti: Purdue (12/12 @ Brooklyn, NY)

Go ahead, hate me for not picking an ACC game, but this Purdue game, to me, will decide a lot. It’s going to NC State’s first matchup vs a ranked opponent most likely (they are #7 to start the season) and it’s going to dictate their season outlook. See, young teams aren’t really sure who they are. They only really are able to gauge themselves by what they are able to accomplish. That could be a good or a bad thing.

For NC state, I think it’ll be a good thing. They have some leadership to guide them (Hellems, Bates) but they also have a slew of confident freshmen who probably think they are going to be able to walk right into this conference and win every game they play, and guess what, early on in the season they probably will. But Purdue is that buzzsaw game. If State can beat upset Purdue, it will do all sorts of things for the confidence of this team rolling into ACC play. If they lose, then you have to hope the veterans are able to patch up the wound quickly, before they take on Miami just a week and a half later. Another loss to Miami, then this will be a team of shaken confidence early in the ACC schedule.

A lot rides on this Purdue game whether you like it or not.

 

What does State end up doing this season?

Vonwolf: 8th in ACC, Second Round NCAA

If this same team were competing against the ACC of last season, I’d have a lot more confidence. There are going to be games that are absolutely fun to watch, with speed, strength and energy. There are also going to be games where nobody is hitting, there’s zero inside presence and they get blown out. The reliance on Bates to stay health is scary, but it’s offset a bit by just how awesomely athletic this forward and guard group is. They’ll be a bubble team this year, sneak in and then survive a weird first round NCAAT game before closing out the season.

 

Wolferetti: 5th place ACC, Second Round NCAA

This team will figure it out. I think they have enough talent, depth, and size to really cause problems in the conference. I also think they’ll be able to shoot the ball a lot better than most think. With that and their length on defense, I think they really surprise some people. For this to happen, they’ll need someone to step up behind Manny Bates. It’s really important since the one area I do think this team has trouble is with rebounding.

That said, I think they shock people, finish 5th and then get hot in the first round of the NCAAs before being ousted by a big, physical group of veterans in round 2.

 

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NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts Postgame Press Conference After Coppin State: BULLETED

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NC State Head Coach Kevin Keatts met with the media after the Wolfpack’s 94-72 victory over Coppin State tonight. You can watch the press conference here, or check out a BULLETED breakdown below.

  • First of all we’re going to continue to pray for Dusan Mahorcic.
    • I do not have an update at this point. He’s with our medical doctors and our trainers and I will know more hopefully in the next 24 hours.
    • We will  give you some type of an update when we get one.
    • I just wanted to keep him calm. It’s tough and you guys look at them as my players. I look at them as my  kids.
    • It is hard to see any of your kids or any of those guys in that situation.
    • I was there just to calm him down and let him know we are with him. I am obviously praying for him.
  • Our guards were really special  tonight.
    • There were 3 great guards on the floor because Sam Sessoms [of Coppin State] was pretty good  also.
    • It was really good to see Jarkel Joiner bounce back after not having a great game against Pitt.
    • Terquavion Smith was a pro’s pro tonight.
      • He did a little bit of everything, he defended, he scored  the basketball, he passed the basketball.
  • We didn’t feel like we played well in the Pitt game and we wanted to come in here, have a better showing, and play both ends of the floor.
  • I’ll get a thousand  questions about Reynolds Coliseum and we should play every game in here, but don’t send those  questions to me, send them to somebody else, but it’s a great venue and it was a great night.
    • I’m really appreciative of our fans for showing up.
    • It was an electric night. I thought the energy was great. We had a lot of fun.
  • The ‘STATE’ jerseys looked great, I thought they were  outstanding.
    • Hopefully we can see them again, maybe they’re not just a 1-game deal.
  • During the game, I thought we had a good 1st half, but we didn’t close the 1st half the way I wanted to.
  • We came out, and I  thought we were playing a lot better in the 2nd half, and then unfortunately with Dusan Mahorcic’s  situation it took the air out of us a bit, but we closed the game.
  • I’m happy the way Ernest Ross played today.
  • They [Coppin State] did a good job getting back in transition.
    • A lot of Casey Morsell’s shots have come when he was running the floor and getting out in transition.
    • They stayed at home.
    • The reason we got so many open looks to our post guys when we rolled was because they stayed with our shooters a lot.
  • I’ll take them [Joiner & Smith]. I don’t want to trade them, so I’ve got to say I’ll take them. I’m keeping them. I’m not  throwing them in, so I’m keeping those guys.
    • They are good and tonight they were electric. They were really good.
    • Every run that Coppin made they were there to answer it.
    • Here is what we do in practice with those guys.
      • I need them to play against each other because they challenge each other to become  better, but I also have to develop some type of chemistry with them.
      • So early on in the season, it was those 2 guarding each other, and they made each other better.
      • In the end, I have now switched it so they have to play together, so they have a better understanding and feel on how to play together.
  • Coppin is a team that is really dangerous. People from the other side won’t have name recognition, but you look at the Power Five and the bigger schools they have played, that is what has been great.
    • Georgetown was an overtime game, maybe multiple overtime games, and the Maryland game was tough.
    • He [Juan Dixon] has done that against all competition. I am happy for Juan.
      • I remember him back when I was at Hargrave. I sent Lonnie Baxter to Maryland who played with Juan and I have seen him since he was a really young kid.
  • One of the best kids I could have ever recruited [Joiner], especially the point guard position.
    • He didn’t have to tell me. I don’t know if he went  home that night [After Pitt].
    • Obviously, he probably went in and took 2,000 shots that night or more.
  • The #1 thing these kids are here for is their education.
    • Today was the last day of class, meaning we are going into exams, so we have to figure out a good balance of when to practice.
    • Right now our priorities shifted to make sure the guys finish out the semester strong, and take care of their academics. It is a great balancing act.
  • You gotta let me get past tonight, they’re [Miami] good, very talented.
    • I haven’t watched Miami at all, but I do know name recognition.
      • I know Isaiah Wong seems like he’s been around for 7 years, and he’s played great.
      • I’ll get a chance to watch them starting late tonight and early tomorrow.
      • They’re  talented.
      • Jim Larrañaga has done a great job with his team, it’ll be a tough road game for us, as all of them are.
  • Our guards did a great job of controlling the game, thats the maturity that I’m looking for.
    • I’ve got a Senior that’s been around a long time, in Jarkel.
    • I’ve also got a guy that is an elite scorer, who a lot of the conversations I’ve had with him are: ‘control the game, finish the game, be efficient down the  stretch, and don’t settle.’
      • He did a great job of not just taking deep 3’s, even though he took the last one.
      • He drove the basketball and we got to the free throw line.
  • Amazing. It’s not just NC State, you could almost make an argument that it’s America’s team, the ‘83 run was great.
    • It feels like every time you see something about them, I have to stop what I am doing just to read. It gets your heart beating a little bit.
    • It’s a great team with great folks, it was a great coach.
    • We’re excited…we’re gonna bring them back.
      • I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you that, but I think they’re supposed to come back in February to honor those guys and I think that’s the right thing to do…and if we can bring them back every week we should.
      • I think there were a few here tonight, and I’m glad our guys played well enough where our guys respect what those guys did.
  • You know he’s played so well and other people will say, you know, well he’s only averaged 16 points per game, you know the NBA scouts, they know he can score the basketball.
    • They wanted to see him pass the basketball, so I think he’s doing a really good job.
      • He’s either 1st or 2nd in the ACC in assists.
      • We’re seeing a young man grow up, and by the way, he’s saying to you guys: ‘Hey I can score if I need to, I just wanna show you I got a little bit more in my bag.’
      • But he’s really matured, you know he’s a kid.
        • And you know one of the reasons why he’s back is because he’s a kid and he enjoys his teammates.
      • You know when you saw Dusan go down, you know, I think he was affected more than anybody.

         

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NC State Basketball

NC State’s Dusan Mahorcic Suffers Knee Injury vs. Coppin State

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NC State Center Dusan Mahorcic suffered a gruesome looking knee injury tonight in the Wolfpack’s 94-72 victory over Coppin State in Reynolds Coliseum.

From what I’ve heard, Mahorcic suffered an injury to his kneecap, but the severity of his injury is unknown at this time. A kneecap injury can visually be a disturbing sight, and the NC State squad, especially Terquavion Smith, who had a good look at it, were emotionally moved in concern.

We will have to wait to see how long Mahorcic is out, but the need for DJ Burns to be able to play more minutes just became much more important. Also, Ernest Ross, who has always had a high ceiling, is going to need to grow up fast if Mahorcic is out for an extended period of time.

We are praying for you Dusan! Get well soon Big Fella!

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NC State Basketball

Men’s Basketball’s: NC State 94 Coppin State 72: Highlight Reel & Condensed Game

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NC State defeated Coppin State 94-72 in Reynolds Coliseum tonight. You can check out the Box Score here. Below is the Highlight Reel & Condensed Game from the ACC Digital Network.

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Men’s Basketball: NC State 94 Coppin State 72: BOX SCORE

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NC State improved to 8-2 on the year, defeating Coppin State 94-72 tonight in Reynolds Coliseum.

Only 2 Wolfpack players scored in double figures, and it was none other than the dangerous tandem of Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner.

Smith led the team in points and assists, with 33 & 7 respectively. Smith wax clicking tonight, shooting 12-21 from the field, and 6 of 12 from three.

Joiner bounced back from a poor shooting performance against Pitt, scoring 29 points, shooting 11-21 from the field, and a blazing 5-7 from three.

Jack Clark had a poor shooting night, hitting only 1 of 7, but he managed to impact the game in every other way. Clark had 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.

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