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Wolferetti: A closer look at Cam Hayes struggles, and why I think a late season breakout is possible.

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Cam Hayes was supposed to be one of Kevin Keatts’ main pieces coming into his sophomore season. He was expected to improve on his freshman season which saw him post 7.8 ppg, 3.1 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and 38.6% from the field (36.4% from 3).

Instead, Hayes has struggled badly, posting 7.4ppg, 2.4 assists, 2.3 rebounds, and 32.2% from the field (20.5% from 3).

Hayes added some muscle in the offseason, but it seems as if he hadn’t quite learned how to use it yet. He was still shying away from contact, still pulling up for contested jumpers in the lane, and still being forced outside the lane on drives and settling for pseudo-floaters from the block.

Hayes seemingly hit rock bottom in the scoring department during the stretch of games between 1/19 and 2/2. He was held scoreless in 4 of those 5 games, shooting just 5-23 from the field (21.7%) and 0-8 from 3 point range. In fact, since 12-29 (when full-time ACC play started) Hayes has not hit a single 3 in the rhythm of the game.

His 3 vs. Notre Dame this past weekend was forced with the shot clock down to 4. His 3 vs. Louisville was an off-balance 3 with hands in his face as the shot clock expired. And his 3 against Clemson was another off-balance 3 with hands in his face as the clock expired on the first half. That’s it. That’s all of the 3s he’s made since late December.

However, there have been some signs of improvement overall. During that span he started to show a willingness to attack the basket with a little more physicality. He was coming off the ball screens harder and forcing his way into the lane. While he still forced a few bad shots, he was also starting to find his teammates as the defense reacted to his drives.

Hayes had 12 assists and 6 turnovers (4 of which came in the first game vs. Notre Dame). That 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio isn’t bad and is something Keatts can live with from his young guard. In fact, during that span, it was the best ratio on the team.

Now, if only Hayes could start hitting a few shots, he might be able to start chipping away at reclaiming his starting PG role, a role that Keatts was forced to give to Dereon Seabron due to Hayes’ struggles.

Against Notre Dame this past weekend, Hayes showed a few glimpses of his offense coming back online. He started slow but eventually got things going. He finished with 11 points on 5-13 shooting. He also hit his first 3 since January 12th (although he was only 1-5 from 3 pt range.)

Hayes went on a little run between the 16 minutes mark of the second half until the 11:54 mark, where he hit his 3, corralled a defensive rebound, got to the lane for a layup, missed a 3, missed a jumper, got an offensive rebound and hit another jumper. During that approximately 4 minute span, Hayes scored 7 points on 3-5 shooting and brought in 2 rebounds. And while that’s really not especially crazy, it was a nice sign for a kid who had been struggling so badly in so many aspects of the game.

It’s obvious that Hayes is having confidence problems, but they didn’t just arise out of nowhere. He’s been struggling with his shot all season and those struggles have been bleeding into other parts of his game. It’s not like he’s been way off, either. He’s had a number of shots go in and out, mostly 3s. This tells you that something is just slightly off with his shot.

Usually, when a shooter is just slightly off like this, it’s an issue with the arms. Shooters will sometimes guide the ball too much, throwing their release off just a tad. So what is causing him to get arm-y with his shot? Usually, for shooters, this is a product of not having enough legs in your shot, forcing your arms to get more involved.

I went back to take a look to see what I’d find.

What I saw was interesting. Last season Hayes would always catch the ball in a deeper crouch, almost as if he was seated. His butt and legs made an acute angle. (For all you 8th-grade math wizards out there, that’s less than 90 degrees). He’d be in that crouch as he brought the ball up to near his face. However, on most of his 3s this season, you can see that he’s not very deep in his crouch when he’s initiating his shot. His butt and legs are making an obtuse angle (greater than 90 degrees.)

If you aren’t a shooter, then this probably doesn’t seem like it makes a big difference. However, any small alteration to a shooter’s stance matters in a big way. Hayes is getting less lift from his glutes, quads and hamstrings (big muscles), and forcing his calves and arms to take on the load.

Now, if you go back this season, you can also see times when Hayes will cock the ball back early (it looks like a small hitch in his shot). It’s noticeable and it’s been a miss every time he’s done it. Because of that, YouTube doesn’t have any video to examine (ACC Network only shows made shots on their highlights). However, most of the time when a shooter does that, it’s to get a little extra effort onto his shot (using his arms, and compensating for lack of legs).

All of the shots I’m showing are makes. Which shows you that even when Hayes is making shots this season, he’s not getting into the position he got in last season. Could that explain the 20% shooting from beyond the arc? Absolutely.

I’m sure this is something he’s working on, but if Hayes can start scoring, he’ll certainly raise his confidence. And if he raises his confidence, I think we start seeing the player we were hoping to see.

The past few games have shown that he’s learning to attack with more strength and looking to find the open man. If he becomes the shooter he was last season, NC State immediately adds an impact player that they’ve been missing all season long.

Now, fixing your shot doesn’t just happen in a single gym session. You might fix it, come back the next day, and muscle memory takes you back to creating the same flaws you’ve had all season. But constant gym work over the course of a week can get you there. Hayes surely has been in the gym working on his shot all season long, and the elevation and release are fine, so maybe it’s the legs. Maybe it’s that he just needs to see the ball go in the hoop a few more times.

Whatever it is, there have been more and more glimpses of Hayes starting to turn the corner, and while he hasn’t quite put it all together yet, I’m going to bet that sometime soon we see the breakout game we, and he, has been waiting for.

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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Biscuit
Biscuit
9 months ago

I just dont see improvement. sorry

Papajohn
Papajohn
9 months ago

Cam’s ‘disappearance’ is just another component of this season’s disaster.
Had he improved as expected, coupled with a healthy team, the results might have been extraordinary.

NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts’ Postgame Press Conference After Butler Win: BULLETED

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Head Coach Kevin Keatts met with the media for his postgame press conference after NC State’s 76-61 win over Butler last night. You can watch it here, or check out a BULLETED breakdown below.

  • First of all, let’s talk about Butler a little bit.
    • Thad [Matta] has done a really good job everywhere he’s been.
    • We beat a good Butler team. They’re going to continue to grow. They’re going to continue to get better.
  • We played extremely hard, and I only say that because that’s part of our culture, but we were able to do that on Day 3, and that says a lot about this team.
  • Our young guys came in, played well, and gave us great minutes in Breon Pass, LJ Thomas, and Ernest Ross, and then I thought our veterans put us over the hump.
    • Dusan Mahorcic and Jack Clark were really, really good.
  • We’ve been led all weekend, really all year, by Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner, and when they didn’t have a huge scoring night, they found other ways to affect the game.
    • When you look at Terquavion, he had 5 assists and 1 turnover, and they all played on the defensive end.
  • I’m proud of my team. It’s a great tournament. It always has been.
    • You’re fortunate if you can get out of here with one win. Two is great, and then three is over the top.
    • I’m excited about our team as we continue to grow, and we’ll continue to get better.
  • I love our team. I try not to look too far head. We’re just going to continue to work.
    • My job with these guys is to get them locked into the next game.
    • I’ve learned just to lock in, be positive, and take it one game at a time, and that’s what we’ll do.
  • Well, everybody’s dangerous. What sparked me was that I watched Dayton and BYU, and it was a 23-point lead, and the lead was erased.
    • We’re all playing on tired legs, and if you can find a way to get through this, one of the blessings, even though we didn’t want to lose to Kansas, one of the good things about it was that we were able to play a 10 o’clock game tonight.
    • We got a little rest. It’s a great tournament because it prepares you for ACC, and it prepares you for the conference tournament, but it’s tough because you’ve got to play 3 great teams back-to-back-to-back.
  • I’m proud of Manny [Bates]. Manny’s a tremendous kid.
    • Obviously at NC State, he had some unfortunate injuries that slowed him down a little bit, but he’s a great kid and a really good basketball player.
  • I love the team that we put together. We hit it really good with the transfer portal, and we got good people that have connected off the court.
    • One of the things that helped us was taking a trip to the Bahamas in August. We were able to grow as a team.
    • Every coach’s challenge when you have so many transfers is trying to figure out how to develop chemistry early.
    • We’re a little ahead of the curve. We still have a long way to go in a lot of areas, but we’ve grown over the last 2 weeks.
  • You play Kansas, the defending National Champions, tough enough to win, and you don’t win the game, will there be a letdown over the next couple of days?
    • I don’t think we did. I thought we bounced back and beat 2 good teams, 2 good programs, by double-digits.
    • I learned a lot about my guys in how we respond.
    • Sometimes, it’s better to learn a lesson through a win. We learned a couple of lessons through the loss to Kansas, and we built on it.
  • We also have 2 very efficient post guys.
    • When you look up their stats, they can score the ball. D.J. Burns has had a good 2 days where he was unstoppable in the post. I thought he did some really good things.
    • Late in games, I wanted to play through our post guys. We talked about getting more paint touches instead of settling for 3’s.
    • When you look at tonight, we typically take anywhere from 25 to 35 three-pointers, and we only took 15, and a lot of that was because we wanted to establish our post guys.
    • Our post guys tonight took 21 shots.
  • I’m grateful he [Jack Clark] made the shot [big 3 to end scoring drought].
    • I thought the willingness to make the pass is the biggest one, because the tendency during scoring droughts is to step up and make the big shot.
    • The pass was just as good as the shot, but it was very important at the time.
    • I wouldn’t say we got tight, but we relied on our defense a little bit.
    • We got a little reckless with the basketball, but once we got our composure, we were able to make some plays.
  • We conducted ourselves as professionals.
    • We can make the argument that we played hard for 3 straight nights, and that’s hard to do.
    • I love what our guys are building. They’re starting to coach each other. They’re starting to reward each other. I think that’s big.
      • It’s going to help because you know you’re capable of doing it.
    • We used our bench a little bit more tonight than we did in the 1st couple of games, and I thought those guys really came in and made a positive impact for us.
  • We can have balanced scoring. I think everyone knows that we’ve got a really good set of guards, and I include Casey Morsell in that, that have led us in scoring all year long, but we’ve got some bigs that can really score the ball.
    • Our guys are really starting to understand that and get them in positions. It took a while for us to realize that, even though we love to run a lot of ball screens, we’ve got to roll this guys into the post and make sure we play off of them.
    • Also, the bigs are willing passers. You look at DJ, he made a couple of backdoor passes.
    • Dusan was very effective.
    • It’s really, really balanced when you have guard scoring and your post guys can score also.

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NC State Basketball

NC State 76 Butler 61: ACCDN Highlight Reel

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NC State’s Men’s Basketball team wrapped up an impressive showing down in the Bahamas last night, defeating Butler 76-61. You can check out the Box Score here. The ACC Digital Network’s Highlight Reel is below.

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NC State Basketball

Men’s Basketball: NC State 76 Butler 61: BOX SCORE

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The NC State Men’s Basketball team defeated Butler 76-61 tonight in the Bahamas, improving to 6-1. Below is the BOX SCORE.

The Wolfpack had 5 players score in double figures.

Once again, Point Guard Jarkel Joiner led the Pack in scoring, with 15 (4-11 FG).

Big fella DJ Burns was the player of the game for the Wolfpack, with 14 points, on 6 of 11 shooting from the field.

NC State’s other big man, Dusan Mahorcic, had 13 points (6-10 FG) and 6 rebounds.

What’s impressive about what Burns and Mahorcic did, is the fact they put up that kind of production against former Wolfpack Center Manny Bates.

Jack Clark chipped in 10 points (4-9 FG/2-4 3PT), and led the team with 8 rebounds and 3 steals.

Terquavion Smith had 10 points on yet another poor shooting night (4-14 FG), but he did lead the team with 5 assists (1 TO), and also snagged 5 rebounds.

The betting line was EVEN on this game, so it’s extremely impressive that NC State took the game by 15 points.

NC State out-rebounded Butler by 1, out shot the Bulldogs (44.6%/41.9%), had more assists (13/10), and scored 21 points off 14 Butler turnovers.

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NC State Basketball

NC State Players Celebrate By Planting Their Flag on UNC Logo and Saying: ‘UNC…What Happened???’

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The NC State Football Players had fun after beating their archrival UNC today, the Wolfpack took to the field with their flag in Chapel Hill.

Ben Finley, the 4th string Quarterback through much of the season, planted that bad boy in Kenan.

Safety Cyrus Fagan, as fiery as ever, was running the field with the flag.

Derrek Pitts, Jordan Houston and Devin Carter planted that flag right on the UNC logo at midfield.

You’ve got to love the sass of Nose Tackle Corey Durden taking a lap around the field waving bye to all the UNC fans.

Then the boys in the locker room trolled the Heels with this…UNC…WHAT HAPPENED?

 

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