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OUR TAKE: On NC State’s loss to #8 Duke and what adjustments we’d like to see moving forward

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Early in the season, as we looked ahead to the ACC schedule, the one game that, no matter how we looked at it, was going to be a problem, were the matchups with Duke.

Duke just has so many weapons. Whether it’s Wendell Moore Jr, Paolo Bancharo, or Mark Williams, NC State was going to have bad matchups. All of our concerns played out, and while NC State kept it sort of close for a big portion of the game, the final result never seemed to be in question. Duke was just better.

Here is ‘Our Take’ on the loss…

Dowuona played decently but was no match for Williams
NC State’s interior defense and interior lack of offense continues to be a problem. Dowuona started strong with three follow dunks, and he finished with a good line of 10 points and 9 boards, but the stat line didn’t tell the story. Duke’s Mark Williams absolutely dominated this game. He finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 8 blocks. NC State had no answer. They tried and tried to get to the rim, but when they did, Williams was there to deny them. On offense, he was there to clean up misses, and really impacted the game on every front. NC State simply can’t beat teams with solid bigs.

Cam Hayes continues to struggle
Hayes was supposed to be one of NC State’s top players coming into the season, but the sophomore guard is looking worse and worse as the season wears on. This was a game where the Pack needed his height and ball handling, but Keatts wasn’t even able to keep him on the floor. He’s playing rushed, he’s making bad decisions and he simply seems to have lost all confidence. Hayes played just 8 minutes and had 3 turnovers. Two of those were soft, sloppy passes and one was where he simply dribbled off his own foot at the top of the key. He also had two or three other questionable passes that could have resulted in turnovers. He’s struggling to make simple point to point passes at this point, and it’s forcing Keatts to keep him on the bench.

So what’s wrong?

Hayes isn’t a bad player. In fact, he’s actually a very skilled, big guard, who could be an impact player for the Pack. We believe the problem is that he’s playing out of position on this current roster. Hayes is at his best when he’s able to drive to the lane, pull up, and hit jumpers. He’s never been very efficient at creating for those around him. Last season, and early this season, he was a guy who had a very low turnover rate, mostly because he wasn’t taking many risks. He likes to either make point-to-point passes from the top and run the offense, or attack and shoot. He is not very effective at breaking down his man, getting in the lane, and finding the open shooter. However, with the current roster, NC State needs a point man who can create havoc, get into the lane and find open guys. This has put Hayes in a position where he’s really not comfortable, and it’s showing. He has tried to be that guy, but as you can see, it’s not working out. The turnovers are mounting up and his confidence is fading. As we’ve stated before, Keatts needs to change the way he’s being used. The problem is, Hayes isn’t shooting it well either. He’s shooting just 33% from the floor and just 22.9% from long range. Until he can regroup and make adjustments, Keatts is going to be forced to look elsewhere for production.

Breon Pass may be ready to enter the rotation
With Hayes struggling and NC State needing a PG, Keatts has turned to Dereon Seabron. It’s not the perfect solution, but at the time it was the best option. Putting the ball in Seabron’s hands at the top of the key gave the Pack a guy who was dangerous. He could get to the rack, get into the lane and either score or find open shooters. However, the ACC is catching on.

Both Duke and Louisville guarded Seabron with smaller guards, pressuring him out top and making it hard for him to get his full head of steam he likes to get when he starts his drive. They also started to double him off the high ball screen and totally disregard Dowuona. This is working. Seabron shot just 7-17 vs Duke and only had 9 shot attempts vs. Louisville. With Seabron not able to completely dominate the game, State is forced to rely on Smith and Hellems for more production. And while those guys are doing all they can, it’s not enough.

Enter Breon Pass. For the first time this season, Pass played more minutes than Cam Hayes at the point. This allowed Seabron to move back off the ball, and forced Duke to guard him with a bigger defender. If teams are going to continue to use smaller guards on Seabron, and Pass seems ready, it might be time to slot in Pass at the point to get the matchups you want.

Pass played just 10 minutes, but had 5 points, 2 assists, and zero turnovers. Expect to see Pass start to get more minutes moving forward as Keatts continues to try to figure out ways to get Seabron the matchups he can dominate.

Ernest Ross being out didn’t help
Ross was coming off the best game of his career and was poised to start getting some major minutes for NC State. However, an ankle injury popped up and held him out of this one. That was unfortunate for both the budding freshman and for the Wolfapck.

Ross gives NC State a bouncy athlete, who is at least an option on offense. Ross is also a better shot blocker than Dowuona thanks to his timing and his quick-off-the-floor athleticism. Having him not available in a game like this, really hurt.

Time to make room for Casey Morsell
Go rewatch the game. Casey Morsell was locked in defensively when he was on the floor. He is NC State’s best defender, and when he gets back in the flow, is not a bad scorer. Problem is, since his ankle injury, he’s struggled to knock down shots. We understand that this is a team in need of offense, but given some more rope, we think Morsell will provide it. His effort on defense and his understanding of positioning is needed on this basketball team. He only logged 11 minutes in this one, but we think he should be a guy getting at least 20 minutes per game. He’s also, believe it or not, NC State’s 3rd best 3 point shooter at 34.8 %. At this point, what do you have to lose by getting him more burn?

Time to shake things up, and settle on a lineup
We are about 1/3 of the way through conference play and NC State still looks like a team in flux. Keatts is still tinkering with lineups and trying to find the right combination. This isn’t all on Keatts. He lost Manny Bates, he has a bunch of freshmen and a transfer that are acclimating to the league, so it’s a fluid situation. However, we think things have somewhat settled to a point where the rotation can be set movring forward. We’d like to see a starting rotation of…

G- Dereon Seabron
G- Terquavion Smith
G- Casey Morsell
F- Jericole Hellems
F- Ernest Ross

We think that five gives NC State their best chance to win basketball games. It would allow them to play big, it puts their best defensive team on the floor, and it’s their most physical lineup. You are trading a shooter in Thomas Allen for a bigger, stronger defender in Casey Morsell. But we believe Morsell’s offense is starting to come back around.

Keatts has been going with Allen over Morsell, which at the time was warranted. Allen was/is hitting shots, and Morsell was struggling coming off of his injury. However, this was turning NC State into a team reliant on 3s, and as we’ve seen, this roster is more likely to die by the 3, than live by it. Allen certainly has a role, but State needs to transition to a team that is more well-rounded. A team that has shooters on the wings, but also guys who can get to the basket and invite some contact. Morsell can do this, and he can also provide you a defensive stopper and eventually a leader on the floor.  Morsell is also 3 of his last 7 from beyond the arc (Last 3 games), so it’s not like he’s a poor shooter from long range (he’s shooting 35% from 3 this year). Allen is actually shooting a lower percentage from 3 (31.4 %) although over the past 5 games he’s shooting 38% from 3, which is likely why Keatts has gone with him.

As for Ross and Dowuona, they probably should be splitting minutes at this point (once Ross is healthy). Ross is still figuring things out, but has shown enough promise to start earning more minutes. He’s more explosive and gives you an option on the block. he’s also able to contribute on both ends in transition. Dowuona isn’t playing awful, but you’re 7 games into conference play and he’s yet to prove he’s able to really impact the interior against bigger, stronger athletes.

We believe the substitution pattern should be dictated by the situation. If Seabron is being bothered by a smaller guard and you want to move him off the ball, as we noted, Keatts should start looking to Pass to take over the lead guard duties. Moving Seabron to the 3, and Morsell to the bench.

If Seabron is having no troubles getting to the lane, but defenses are collapsing down, then you can go with Allen in spurts over Morsell, or to give Smith a breather.

I know many will question the Morsell move and the Ross move, but you’re 18 games into the season and 7 games into ACC play. Postseason hopes are slipping away game by game, and the longer you wait to adjust, the harder it’s going to be to make a run. There’s nothing to lose now. it’s time to play your youth and stop tinkering, hoping the guys who are struggling will turn it around. You also, have to be realistic and look at next season. You’re going to be relying on Ross big time (with Hellems gone) and if Seabron bolts to the NBA, and Hayes still is struggling, Breon Pass is going to have to be ready.

Again. What do you have to lose?

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Antbrown11
Antbrown11
10 months ago

Who is the transfer trying to figure out the league? Morsell? He should have done that at UVa don’t ya think? I agree with the notion of looking towards next year by letting Ross and Pass play more. I think you should always be doing that. Freshman should be put in situations as often as possible so they can be more seasoned Sophomores not 2nd year Freshmen. I also predict that Hayes will be transferring next season. He is mentally checked out.

Afterglow
Afterglow
10 months ago

Hayes definitely seems to be struggling. Sophomore slump maybe? I always love his pull up jumper, but he tends to be a liability at this point in other ways. Hope he can get back into working order.

Biscuit
Biscuit
10 months ago

is Gantt ever going to play this season?

Papajohn
Papajohn
10 months ago
Reply to  Biscuit

Unlikely.
KK told us last week Gantt is “badly out of shape .” Probably not enough time left in the season to get him in shape, and get him ready to contribute. He’s just too far behind.

Biscuit
Biscuit
10 months ago
Reply to  Papajohn

THANKS. maybe next year….

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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NC State Basketball

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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