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OUR TAKE: On NC State’s 4 OT win over Nebraska



NC State played 60 minutes of basketball on Wednesday night, eventually outlasting the Cornhuskers 104-100 in a 4OT thriller. Here is our take on the hard-fought win…

  • Dereon Seabron, our savior
    What a performance for the 6’7 sophomore guard. Just when you think you’ve seen is all from this kid, he comes out and puts up a 39 point, 18 rebound showing. Without Seabron, this game isn’t close. He was 11-22 from the field and 17-20 from the line. And the crazy thing is that they knew what he was going to do. Seabron didn’t hit a single outside shot in this game. Nebraska sat back and dared him to shoot, but he kept on pressing the issue, driving to the hoop, attacking the rim, and finishing with either hand.

    You really can’t say enough about how much improvement this kid has shown in just 2 seasons. When he committed, we made a bold prediction that his ceiling was becoming Julius Hodge 2.0, and it’s looking like he’s already approaching that level. He’s knocking down FTs at a 76% clip, so his shot is coming along. If he can start knocking down open jumpers then he becomes an All-ACC level talent and a sure-fire pro prospect. NC State needed all 39 points from him in this one and they’ll be relying on him heavily going forward.

  • Dowuona showing consistent improvement
    Game by game, Dowuona is slowly becoming a force in the middle for NC State. 3 games ago he opened eyes with 7 rebounds. Then 2 games ago he went for 10 points on 5 of 5 shooting and tallied 6 blocks. Then last night he put up 7 boards and 8 blocks. As you can see, he’s starting to fill out the stat sheet, and that’s on top of all of the shots he’s altering and not getting stats for. Nebraska’s big man, Walker, is no slouch, and although he had 12 points in almost 50 minutes of play, he wasn’t really a big factor in their offense. Mostly that was because Dowuona was manning the middle and forcing him to pass out. If the sophomore big can keep this up, NC State may be able to compete against teams with quality bigs, and that was thought to be impossible when Bates went down in game 1.
  • What’s going on with Thomas Allen?
    Allen was suspended in game 1 for playing in an unsanctioned summer league game, he then was held out of game 2, but played 22 minutes against both Central Connecticut and Texas Southern, which sandwiched a game where he played just 12 minutes vs OK State. In this one, he was noticeably absent for the entire game until the 3rd OT when Hellems fouled out. What gives?

    Well, Keatts said in the post-game that he is dealing with some foot issues, but do we really buy that? Or is he falling out of favor with the coaching staff? Who knows, but with Breon Pass struggling as the backup PG, and Cam Hayes not meeting expectations as a PG, Allen should be playing a bigger role on this team. In his 8 minutes last night, he finished with 5 points and 3 rebounds on 1 of 1 shooting. It’s obvious that Pass and Smith (both freshmen) need some time to get acclimated to college basketball, and as they do, this team should be relying a little more on Allen who could potentially be one of their better perimeter scorers if he’s locked in.

    I will say that he looked a little apathetic when coming in after sitting almost the whole game, so I’m guessing we don’t have the whole story here. However, he’s a senior and Keatts needs some veterans if he’s going to win games in the ACC. We hope to see more of Allen going forward.


  • The press is biting the Pack
    We all know that Keatts loves to press, it’s in the DNA of his entire approach, but man does it come back to bite this team from time to time. Too many times, if a team breaks the press, they are getting easy buckets on the other end and putting Dowuona in a bad position of having to defend a 2 on 1 break. Then with NC State up 1 and 4 seconds on the clock, Keatts decided to press up. Terquavion Smith was forced to switch on a screen, putting him in a bad position to stop a streaking McGowan, who he ended up fouling. This could have and should have cost NC State the game. But why?

    Why not pick up 3 quarter court, allow a full-court heave, or give you guys a chance to stay in front of guards who no doubt are going to be coming down the court full speed? This was obvious and we were criticizing the decision when State came out of the timeout and set up. Of course, it ended up biting them, and they almost lost the game.

    Keatts had some blunders in this one, but the overuse of the press is something that has been happening all season and something he remains committed to no matter the situation. We don’t criticize Keatts much, but we will do just that on this call. Know your personal and be able to adjust. It worked out in this one, but hopefully it’s a learning experience for this staff going forward.

  • The Jericole Hellems roller coaster ride continues
    Hellems finished with 15 points, 7 boards and, 4 assists. With that stat line, you’d think he had a great game. However, if you watched, this is a guy who is still struggling in a big way. He was 5-17 from the floor (29%) and 2-8 from 3pt range (25%). This is the guy who was supposed to be the team’s leader and the guy we could count on to pace the Pack in scoring. So far, he’s been extremely inconsistent. He’s had some great games and then some games where he just looks completely void of confidence offensively. We think he’ll eventually find his footing, but man, this team can’t afford Hellems to shoot sub 40% from the floor.
  • Cam Hayes continues to look unsure of his role
    State needs Hayes to be the court leader, their PG, and one of their consistent scorers. So far he’s struggled to be any of those things. He did have 13 points and 4 rebounds but also didn’t have a single assist. He was 5-13 from the field and 0-5 from 3pt range. He’s just a sophomore, but he’s way too talented to be struggling like he is. He’s averaging just 2.4 assist per game, which as your lead guard, isn’t going to cut it. If he was hitting his shots from outside it would be easy to dismiss some of these shortcomings and accept him for what he is, but he’s only shooting 19% from out there this season.

    Hayes has the talent to be a factor for this team, but at this point, it seems like he’s simply out of position to take advantage of his skill set. He was recruited as a PG and he’s playing PG for this team, but to call a spade, a spade, he’s not a PG. He’s a shooting guard.

    He’s been trying to drive and play through contact, but you can tell he’s just not comfortable doing that. He gets tunnel vision on the drives, draws defenders, and then tosses up a short runner or jumper over multiple defenders. His body control going to the hoop has always been an issue, as he plays way too straight up for a PG. The dribble is too high, the posture is too high, and it’s keeping him from being able to get inside, absorb contact, and then assess the situation (shoot or dish). I’m not sure what the answer is here. Keatts doesn’t have a true PG he can count on, and Cam, I guess, is the best option. However, moving Seabron to the 1 and Cam to the 2 with Morsell at the 3, may end up being the best option for this ball club as ACC play begins.

  • Effort and fight were there all night long
    For all the flack people give Keatts, and for all the criticism we put on this team at times, there is no doubt that Keatts’ guys show up to play and fight all game long. This is an area where you have to give the head coach credit. Getting 19-year-olds to put it all on the line, night in and night out isn’t easy, but Keatts has done it throughout his time at NC State. This is one reason we’re bullish on Keatts’ future. We believe he’ll eventually adjust his style of play to fit this level of basketball, and when he does, it will couple with the grit and effort his teams are known for. This is when NC State will be able to finally get over the hump. These guys are conditioned and it shows. They played 60 minutes of basketball last night, most of which was played by just 6 or 7 guys, and there wasn’t a time during the game where I thought they were taking breaks. Credit Keatts on this.
  • Hey, they’re 6-1 heading into their first ACC Matchup
    Bates or no Bates, no one would have been mad at this team being 6-1, 7 games into the season. The Colgate win was a good win. The OK State loss likely won’t hurt them too bad, and the Nebraska win will hold up alright. Now onto the meat of the schedule. Over the next 3 games, State will have 2 tough tests. One vs. Louisville on Saturday in the ACC opener. State will likely be picked to win this one, but it’s not going to be easy. The Cardinals recently took #22 Michigan State to the wire before losing. Then they have a cupcake, but then it’s off to play #2 Purdue, who is a potential Final 4 team. We’ll learn a lot over the next week, but if State can come out of this stretch 2-1, then they’ll be set up to make some waves as ACC play really kicks in.

A pasta eatin', Wolfpack lovin' loudmouth from Raleigh by way of New Jersey. Jimmy V and Chuck Amato fanboy. All opinions are my own and you're gonna hear'em.

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1 year ago

Morsell’s ankle might toss a wrench in the plans. Hard to imagine a guy on crutches Wednesday will be a contributor Saturday.

NC State Basketball

Wolferetti: Feed me my crow. NC State lost to Creighton and I’m here to break it down (and admit I was wrong)



I was wrong.

I thought this matchup was a good one for NC State. I watched a lot of Creighton this year and to me, they looked like a team that NC State could roll over. Let me explain why.

I knew a few things. I knew Nembhard was a PG that could get a little out of control if sped up. I knew with a little defense and physicality, Sheierman could be made uncomfortable. I knew Kalkbrenner was a good defender but was going to sink on the pick-and-roll to protect the basket.

Joiner’s pull up just wouldn’t fall

I figured that Joiner, the pull-up king would be taking that DJ Burns screen, getting to the middle, and pulling up as Kalkbrenner sank. I figured Smith would exploit this as well. Well, turns out Joiner was off and couldn’t get his pull-up game going and Smith, well yeah Smith did exploit this pretty well.

Burns didn’t look like Burns

The other thing I’d figure would happen is that I thought DJ Burns would really frustrate Kalkbrenner. If you’ve looked at games where Kalkbrenner had to face a really good, physical back-to-the-basket big man, those bigs usually had pretty good games in the scoring column.  I honestly don’t understand what happened to Burns in this one. Sure he got a few stupid early fouls, but before he even picked up a foul he looked out of it. With no double teams coming, Burns is usually calculated, slowly backing you down and hitting you with a flurry of head fakes, pump fakes or spins. If the big doesn’t bite, Burns can fade away, go with a contested hook shot, or pass out.

In this game, Burns looked sped up for some reason. The first time he got the ball he quickly backed in and threw up a hook that rattled out. Not awful, but usually you see him probe a little more. Then the next time he didn’t even look for contact, instead, he threw up a little floater that didn’t fall. While neither were awful shots, both were uncharacteristic of Burns. On top of those things, he looked absolutely gassed within minutes of coming in. My guess is that it was the altitude, but either way, it took a toll on him.

Whatever it was, it had him frustrated and he had two really bad fouls where he just shoved Kalkbrenner (he also had a phantom foul that was ridiculous). That said, it just wasn’t his night and this made NC State a lot more one-dimensional.

Casey Morsell came to play, but this NC State roster just wasn’t built to get a guy like him going, which is a shame. Jarkel Joiner was a huge reason why NC State got to where they got. His scoring ability, his speed and his toughness and leadership skill were huge. But Joiner is a scoring guard, and great basketball teams need POINT guards.

What is a point guard, and why can’t we have one?

A point guard isn’t just a guy who dribbles it down. It’s a guy who understands the games within the games. Guys who dictate pace, call plays (sets) and are essentially coaches on the floor. NC State and Kevin Keatts never had that this season, and while you can get a long way with scoring guards and good big men, you’ll never compete for anything of worth until you prioritize the skill set of a true point guard. I think that has been NC State’s problem for years, and I find it kind of insane that coach after coach falls into this idea of having a scoring guard play as a PG for more offense to get on the court.

This is no shot at Jarkel, either. The guy was one of my favorite players to watch on this team, but it just is what it is. He is a scoring guard who happens to be slotting in at PG. When you see Keatts bring in a guy whose priority is getting his guys open and dictating pace, then you can start to believe that this program may be close to arriving. Until then, sneaking into the tournament and hoping guys get hot hands is as good as it gets.

Look at Kihei Clark (Virginia’s PG). I know it’s not a great time to be talking about Clark, whose errant pass ended up losing the game for Virginia on Thursday, but look at Clark’s build.5’10, 170lbs. Look at his stats. Mid-30s shooting % from 3. Hight 70s from the FT line. The guy is nothing special when it comes to the numbers, but he’s a leader and he distributes the basketball to the right guys at the right time. Tony Bennett has started Clark for 4 years despite the fact that he’s coaching a team that is always in the running to win the ACC and won a national championship less than 5 years ago.  He could replace Clark with an elite, tall, athlete at any moment. But he doesn’t. Why? Because he understands what I’m talking about. It’s a puzzle that coaches need to put together, and one piece of that puzzle is a guy like this.

I was wrong about this game. I thought things would play out differently. They didn’t. I’m not blaming anyone in particular, but the makeup of this team vs. the makeup of teams that play deep into March are different. Maybe this is step one to getting there. We’ll have to see how the roster shapes up next season.

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NC State Basketball

VIDEO: NC State falls to Creighton 72-63 in first round of NCAA Tournament | Extended Highlights & Box Score

NC State came out flat, DJ Burns looked gassed, and for the most part, the Pack looked shell-shocked vs. Creighton from the opening tip. However, Terquavion Smith is excluded from all of that. He was amazing and in what was likely his final game at NC State, he kept the Pack afloat, dropping 32 points on 12-25 shooting. In the end, it wasn’t enough as their big man, 7’1 Ryan Kalkbrenner went for 31.



NC State came out flat, DJ Burns looked gassed, and for the most part, the Pack looked shell-shocked vs. Creighton from the opening tip. However, Terquavion Smith is excluded from all of that. He was amazing and in what was likely his final game at NC State, he kept the Pack afloat, dropping 32 points on 12-25 shooting. In the end, it wasn’t enough as their big man, 7’1 Ryan Kalkbrenner went for 31.

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NC State Basketball

VIDEO: Smith, Joiner and Keatts talk in postgame press conference

Terquavion Smith, Jarkel Joiner and Kevin Keatts meet with the media after 72-63 loss to Creighton in the NCAA Tournament.



Terquavion Smith, Jarkel Joiner and Kevin Keatts meet with the media after 72-63 loss to Creighton in the NCAA Tournament.

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NC State Basketball

Wolferetti: 3 reasons why NC State is going to win today



God bless these guys over here at PI. I submitted this article to them this morning and got this back.

“Joey, this is a good piece, but are you sure you want to come out and say that NC State is going to win? Why not just do a ‘keys to the game.’ or something? Hedge your bets. Why are you always wanting to put your reputation on the line?”

To that I say, “Nah, I’m good. I want my reputation on the line. What fun is this if I’m not callin’ it like I see it?”

Look, they’ve been worried about me stating outlandish opinions before. Like when I said after game #1, after I first laid eye on this team, that it was going to be a team that will flirt with or get into the Top 25? I got hammered for that, but was I right? And today I’m back on my prediction tip, telling you that NC State will survive and advance. And here are my 3 reasons why.

1. Creighton hasn’t fared well against teams with great Turnover Margins.

If Creighton has a glaring weakness, it’s turnover margin.

NC State’s turnover margin ranks 16th in the NCAA. Creighton’s is a miserable 291st. This means Creighton turns the ball over a lot and doesn’t create many turnovers. Meanwhile, NC State is the exact opposite. They create a lot of turnovers and really protect the basketball. This statistic right here is going to play a major role. The Creighton guards, especially Nembhard, can get sped up, and when they do, they can get sloppy and out of control. Meanwhile, Joiner and Smith flourish at top speed.

Let’s look at the one team that Creighton lost to every time they played them (and played them multiple times). That team is Marquette.

What do Marquette and NC State have in common? Well, they are both Top 20 in the nation in Turnover Margin. Marquette ranks #3 in the NCAA while the Pack is 16th. Creighton turned it over 18 times in their first meeting at Marquette. The second time these two teams met, Creighton turned it over 15 times.

The other teams they faced in the Top 50 of Turnover Margin in the nation?

#39 Arizona State
#10 Texas

That’s it. And guess what, Creighton lost every single one of those games. They have yet to beat a team in the Top 50 in Turnover Margin.

Reminder. NC State ranks 16th.

2. Large, back-to-the-basket bigs have fared well against Creighton

6’9, 245lb, Adama Sanogo from UConn dropped 17 against them in a win.

6’9, 215lb, Oso Ighodaro from Marquette dropped 16 on them in their first meeting, and then 18 in their second.

6’7, 220lb, Bryce Hopkins from Providence scored 20 on them in both meetings. One of which was a win.

All of these guys are big, strong, back-to-the-basket bigs and all of them bullied their way to huge games again Creighton.

In all 3 instances, Creighton refused to double-team on most possessions and the big men ate. So how will they deal with a big that is bigger than any of these guys?

DJ Burns is 6’9, 275lbs and he’s going to be a focal point for NC State in this game. If Creighton opts to play Burns straight up, history says they are going to have a long night and Burn is going to have a big game.

3. Creighton hasn’t seen guards like Joiner and Smith

Sure Creighton has quick guards. Nembhard, the 6’0 PG rarely gets a matchup where he doesn’t have a quickness advantage. Today, against Joiner, he won’t have one. There is so much talk about Creighton’s guards bottling up their opponents, but watch them play and you’ll see that they simply haven’t had to face guys like Joiner or Smith. Creighton will allow the floor to be spread and will not fight against playing this game at a fast pace, and those are the types of games we’ve seen the NC State guards feast.

Creighton is a very good team. They have some very good pieces, but I just think they’ve found themselves in a matchup that isn’t very good for them despite being data-darlings. I could be wrong, but to me, this looks like a game where people are reading off statistics and making assumptions without watching film. Without looking at each team’s Achilles heel. And without really breaking down the matchups.

I think this is a really good matchup for the Pack and I think I’ll be back talking to you in about 24 hours looking at who the guys will play on Sunday.

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