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LOVED IT, HATED IT: From NC State’s loss to FSU

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Here we go again! I’m back with another installment of “Loved it, Hated it” where I go off on the 3 things I loved and the 3 things that got my panties in a wad.  That said, let’s get into it.

3 Things I LOVED about NC State’s loss to FSU

1. Keatts changing up the lineup and going with Seabron as PG
Does Keatts read my columns? This was exactly what I proposed prior to the game and some of you took to Twitter to criticize my take. That group since has gone pretty silent. Cam Hayes played 14 minutes in this one, and Seabron spent a majority of the game at point. How did that play out? Well, Seabron did exactly what I told you he’d do. He dominated the ball, got into the lane, and made plays, finishing with 32 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. You can argue that NC State wins this game if Keatts didn’t switch back to Cam at point about 7 minutes into the game. Seabron took back over at point later in the first half and never looked back. The changing of the guard has literally taken place, and NC State suddenly looks a lot more dangerous because of it.

 

2. Terquavion Smith continues scoring at an insane rate
The freshman was at it again, this time scoring 23 points on 8-15 shooting and 7-13 from 3 point range. Smith is now averaging 19 ppg over the past 7 contests. He’s shooting 41% from 3 over that span (note that Scott Wood shot 41% for his career.) In this one, he set a new record for himself with those 7 3s. A lot of that was thanks to getting open looks due to Seabron driving, drawing and dishing to Smith who was spotting up on the corners and from the wing all night long. Smith continues his pace to become the top freshman scorer for NC State over the past 20 years.

 

3. Thomas Allen carving out minutes + Pass getting it going
Allen was MIA for the first portion of the season. Maybe it was because he was passed over by the freshman Smith for minutes. Who knows, but with Hayes and Morsell struggling and Seabron moving to the point, Allen now is going to get his chance. In this one, he showed that he’s ready for the moment. Allen looked good, scoring 9 points in 32 minutes and only turned the ball over once.

Meanwhile, the same situation has also opened up minutes for the freshman Breon Pass. Pass was an elite scorer in high school, but hasn’t been able to showcase that ability at this level. Slowly but surely, he’s coming around. Pass played just 9 minutes, but he maximized that time with 5 points, 1 assist and 4 rebounds (with just 1 turnover).

 

 

3 Things I HATED about NC State’s loss to FSU

1. Kevin Keatts taking a timeout with 8 seconds left and Seabron streaking
C’mon Keatts! I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt and the rest of the guys at PI have unanimously backed you up over the past few seasons, but we can’t overlook this blunder.

State was down by 2 with 11 seconds left. FSU’s Matthew Cleveland was shooting his second free throw. I turned to my buddy and said, if he misses this, you get it to Seabron and you let him fly down the court and get to the rim. Look, it doesn’t take a genius to see that was your best chance to tie the game up. But for some reason, Keatts wasn’t on the same page.

Cleveland missed the FT and State got the ball to Seabron. He took off and had a full head of steam as he approached halfcourt. Florida State was scrambling on defense, and it looked like we had the situation we wanted. Then Keatts calls a timeout.

What? Why? First off, State has been piss poor at inbounding the basketball this season in pressure situations. They also have had a trend of coming out of timeouts with subpar results. So why in the world is Keatts going to walk us right into this situation?

I mean, what play are you going to call? You’re going to get it to Seabron, clear it out and let him make a play? But, we already had that happening. I could understand if someone else had the ball and Keatts wanted to make sure the final shot was taken by Seabron, but Seabron already HAD THE BALL and the defense wasn’t set.

This was just a blunder and a mistake. Hindsight is 20/20, so you had to bet Keatts was going to admit to the mistake in the post-game. No way he’d stand by that decision, right?

Wrong.

I know some people believe Florida State was back, and if you freeze-frame it you can make that argument, but watch it in real-time.

Seabron has a guy on his hip and the defender waiting is back peddling. But regardless, the timeout was being called well before he hit half-court. I don’t care how you spin it, the guy is 12-14, has 32 points, and you only have 8 seconds left. Trust your guy. Don’tt try to over-coach in this situation. You won’t convince me otherwise. This was a big-time coaching blunder.

 

2. Defense is active, but poor
This team plays hard, no doubt. They are always giving effort on the defensive end. The problem is, they aren’t very smart defensively. The guards, outside of Morsell, are constantly getting beat off the bounce, and the interior defense just doesn’t exist.

I know, I know. Bates would change everything. But he’s not here and we have who we have. You can not let guys get into the lane. Dowuona is a decent shot blocker, but against a team as big and long as FSU, he can’t do much. He doesn’t have elite timing like Bates, and he has no one backing him up, so he can’t get into foul trouble.

FSU shot 50% from the floor. That comes on the heels of Miami shooting 55% against us. You just aren’t going to win many games when your opponent is shooting at or over 50%. This is on the guards who need to stop reaching, get down in a stance and stay between their man and the rim. Go back and watch Casey Morsell’s on the ball defense. That’s how it’s done. He’s not quicker or faster than the rest of the guards, he just is more disciplined on the defensive end and understands positioning. It’s fixable, so when will it be fixed?

3. Hellems still not himself. 
What happened to Jericole? The guy was such a dependable scorer last year, and he’s had games where he’s shown glimpses of that player this year, but it’s a crap shoot with him this year. He looked great vs. Miami, scoring 24 points. But vs. FSU, he played 24 minutes and only scored 8 points. Heck, he only shot 4 shots. I know Seabron was dominating the ball and was super efficient in doing so, but Hellems had his opportunities. He just doesn’t seem like himself in 1/2 the games. This has to change. Hellems has got to be State’s 2nd or 3rd best scoring option. If he’s not, this team is sunk.

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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Rev
Rev
1 year ago

Rebounding and fouls are killing us. This was true all game, not just the last few minutes or seconds.

Afterglow
Afterglow
1 year ago

Agree. Also felt like offensive rebounds were abysmal as well. How many times would FSU’s ball rim, only to be rebounded by FSU, only to rim out again, be rebounded by FSU yet again, and finally on the third shot, FSU makes a basket.

Rev
Rev
1 year ago
Reply to  Afterglow

Great to hear from you buddy! Ok you too Joey.
I am gonna have to move to Colorado or another state with legal weed if I am going to watch much more Bball this year. Anyone know why Ross got zero minutes?

Pack Insider Staff
Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  Rev

No answer on Ross. At this point, we feel it’s time to move on from Gibson. Ross has big upside and it’s hard to understand why he’s not first off the bench behind Dowuona.

Afterglow
Afterglow
1 year ago
Reply to  Rev

Good to hear from you too. Both of you.

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)

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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.

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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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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.

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

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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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