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OUR TAKE: On NC State’s weekend loss to Louisville



Terquavion Smith stepped up in a big way
With Morsell Out, we noted on Twitter that T. Smith was going to have to step up for this team to compete. And oh, did he ever. The freshman guard finished with 17 points on 7-11 shooting and 3-5 from long range. He also had 3 boards and 2 blocks. The more he plays, the more comfortable he’s going to feel out there, and the more the Pack will be able to rely on him as a scorer. He’s the best bucket-getter this team has, and it seems like he’s starting to come into his own.

Cam Hayes played great, but still struggling to create for others
Hayes can score it, but as we’ve mentioned, he’s being asked to run the point, where most of his shots are shots he has to create. It would be nice to move Cam off the ball for longer stretches. He finished with 15 points and 3 boards, but only 1 assist. Again, he didn’t turn it over, so he’s really protecting the ball, but that is coming at a cost. He’s playing conservatively as a PG and not pushing the issue on drives and dishes. We’ll continue to say it, but Cam Hayes is going to be a big-time player for this team, it’s just likely not going to be at the PG position.

Breon Pass will play a major role at PG for this team at some point this season
That brings us to our next point. Breon Pass didn’t have much of a stat line (0 points, 0 assists, 3 rebounds in 13 minutes), but watching the game we noticed something. Pass is playing with more confidence game by game. He had a spring in his step vs. Louisville and was looking a lot more confident than he has in previous outings. Once the shots start to fall (and they will, he was a high-end scorer in HS), you’re going to see a new player. Once Pass forces defenders to play up on him and defend the shot, he’s going to be able to get into the lane, find open men, and start to create the havoc that this Wolfpack offense has been missing.

Dereon Seabron continues to dominate all competition
Not much we need to say here. Seabron played great again, and most of his highlights came down the stretch when NC State needed him most. He only finished with 11 points, but he also added 9 rebounds (just missing ANOTHER double-double). You could see that it took him a while to get a feel for a stronger, more prepared defense. Louisville was keying on him every time down, but as the game wore one he started to see windows where he could attack, and that he did. This kid is going to continue to have a big season.

Dowuona’s progression continues
We can’t say enough about Dowuona. He is looking more and more comfortable out there. Sure, he only had 7 points, 3 boards, and 2 blocks, but he altered a ton of shots and even showed signs of some offense on the blocks. This was his first big test, having to guard a veteran big with talent and protect the rim from athletic ACC-level guards. If he can keep this improvement up then the Pack can compete night in and night out against most teams.

Long scoreless stretches plaguing the Pack
State is still going through these long stretches where they can’t score. That’s always going to happen when you have a team that is extremely reliant on jump shots. The problem isn’t the strategy, it’s the personnel. Without Bates, State doesn’t have a ton of confidence in clearing the lane and letting Dowuona work, but if they want to win, they need balance, and if they want balance they’re going to have to get SOMEONE who can at least try to score with their back to the basket. This will slow things down for them, and let them get to the line a little more when shots aren’t falling.

Only 6 turnovers. Amazing for a young team
This is an amazing number. Most of these were first-half turnovers. In fact, we believe only one of those turnovers happened in the second half. This isn’t just a low number for a team full of underclassmen, it’s a low number for any ACC team.

Killed on the boards
As much as we hyped Dowuona, he still only had 3 boards. Seabron again led the team with 9. But this team needs more. They were smoked on the boards 46-30. Without Bates, this is likely to continue to be a problem. Hellems did chip in with 5 which is good, but they need their center to gobble up at least 6 rebounds per game or this will be an outcome that we get used to seeing.

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1 year ago

Cam – I think he’s going to get better as a PG. Last season, with Bates and DJ to pass it to, he had 11 games with 4 or more assists, and 9 against Pitt. I think we’re going to see him get more comfortable with where to pass it, and his assist numbers go up. Breon – totally agree, he’s going to be good. I can’t wait. I worry that the PGs we are bringing in next season, and especially the year after, will push him to the transfer portal. But I hope not, he’s the kind of guy… Read more »

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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