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NC State Basketball

Wolferetti: Ok, nothing is working. Can we finally see what Breon Pass can do?

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NC State is doing everything they can do. But, they just keep on losing.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to pinpoint where the blame needs to land, because there are just too many variables right now. Recruiting, injuries, offense, defense, etc. They can all be explained to some extent, which is why you need to give Keatts another year, at least.

His recruiting has been hampered by the NCAA sanctions that were potentially hanging over his head. Those are gone. He’s had a bunch of injuries that have depleted his roster (Bates, Gant, Ross) that have turned his frontcourt into a ghost town. The play on the floor can be explained by these injuries.

Offensively NC State is a one-dimensional team. Their only real option is to rely on their guards to drive and make plays. There isn’t a big man you can play off of. Dowuona and Gibson are big bodies, but neither can score reliably from the block. Because of this, dumping it down to them doesn’t demand any attention from help side. And even if that help side came, neither are very good passers. But you have to have them on the floor to at least attempt to defend the opposing team’s big men.

So what do you do? Well, you pretty much do what NC State has been doing. Give it to Seabron and let him rip. At least he demands the defense to shift and help when he attacks. You can give it to Smith and see if he can get hot from 3. Aside from that, you don’t have much going for you.

Hellems has had a few good games, but with frontcourt focused on him, he hasn’t had success inside. He also hasn’t been as reliable a shooter as he was a year ago (he’s down 5% from the floor from last season). Morsell has been good, but he’s not a guy who’s going to create off the bounce. He needs teammates setting him up. Meanwhile, Cam Hayes can’t get anything to fall and continues to have momentum busting misses or turnovers.

Defensively, these guys have spent their entire careers at NC State being taught to play tight to the ball, and jump passes. They want to create chaos, but when you go for deflections and steals, you get out of position. This was a risk worth taking when you had the ACC’s best shot blocker waiting in the paint. Without Bates, all of those blowbys end up in baskets.

So last night, Keatts tried something I wanted to see a couple of weeks ago. In fact, I made the point in my postgame piece after the Carolina loss. Here’s what I said…

“The truth is, between ‘switching everything’ and picking up full court, the staff is putting these guys in vulnerable positions very often. Every position depends on guys picking up full court, then switching multiple times, while trying to remain ready to help if need be. That’s asking too much and it’s just not working in the ACC. If NC State was forcing 15 to 20 turnovers per game, then fine, but you’re taxing your kids with the press and the guys are always on their heels defensively, trying to keep up with the switches and help side. This is a defense that needs to not only have the perfect personnel, but it needs a deep bench and a veteran team used to playing with each other. This specific team has NONE of those. It’s time to scrap it. Go zone. Or stay man and hedge and recover on screens like most teams do. I’ve seen enough.”

Keatts finally went zone and you know what? It worked alright. He used a zone press and dropped back into zone for a majority of the game. NC State forced 12 turnovers using that defense. Over the 5 previous games, they averaged 11.6 turnovers forced. So, really you didn’t lose anything by going zone. You completely eliminated Jake LaRavia from the game. Wake’s second-leading scorer who came in averaging over 15 points, only scored 6, and Alonzo Williams, who is leading the ACC in scoring and assists only finished the first half with 2 points. Things unraveled in the second half, but he threw a wrinkle in, and gave State a chance. Problem is, the Pack shot just 32% from the floor and a miserable 13.6% from 3 point range. That said, NC State was tied with 2nd place Wake Forest with 9 minutes to play and was within a single bucket at the 5:13 mark.

Keatts has tried just about everything with this team. He’s moved Seabron to the point. He’s tried going small without a big. And now he’s changed his entire defensive strategy for a game. And while some things have worked at times, nothing is sticking. I’d never think I’d say this, but he’s almost run out of options.

With that being the case, I think it’s time to just hand PG duties over to Breon Pass for a game and see what happens. Go with Pass, Smith, Morsell, Seabron, and Gibson/Dowuona. Bring Hellems off the bench and play for next season.

Speaking of next season, if everyone comes back (Seabron, Smith, Bates) you’ll have a pretty talented core. But you still don’t have a true PG. Seabron has been your best option because he puts the most pressure on the defense, but it’s only because Hayes has gone missing and Pass was just a freshman. Next season, with Ross back, he’ll have the option of keeping Seabron at point. If he can develop a shot, then it’ll probably work out. If not, then NC State is going to be right back where they are this year.

That’s why it’s time to get Breon Pass ready. Hayes needs an offseason to find himself, and you hope he does, but you can’t bet on it. Pass is a true PG (something that Seabron and Hayes are not), was a 4-star recruit, and certainly has some upside. If you continue to play him like you are (1 minute vs. Wake) you’re stunting his growth. And what’s the point in doing that when he’s going to be a piece you’re forced to rely on next season no matter how you slice it.

In ACC play, Pass is shooting 40% from the floor. For the season, of the NC State guards, only Seabron and Terquavion Smith are shooting higher at 51% and 40.7% respectively.  Pass is also shooting 38% from 3 during ACC play. For the season, Casey Morsell is hitting 40% and Hellems is hitting 39%. So if Pass were given real minutes going forward, and the trend continued, he’d be amongst the better shooters on the team. Now couple that with the fact that during conference play he has a team-leading 2:1 assist to turnover ratio, and hey, you might have yourself a decent freshman PG.

This team isn’t making the NCAA tournament unless they go on a historic run and win the ACC Tournament. And I can’t see that happening with the current rotation. Maybe they squeak into the NIT, but even that is a long shot at this point. What isn’t a question, is the fact that Keatts will be on the hot seat next season and he’s going to have to produce.

It’s time to prep for next year, and as hard a pill that is to swallow, it’s beneficial to the returning players and to Keatts himself.

Start Pass at PG and give him 30+ minutes. See how he reacts. See what he can learn. Groom him, because if you don’t you’re betting your job on Seabron’s jumper and Cam Hayes’s confidence, two things that have been missing in action all year long.

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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travelwolf
travelwolf
9 months ago

Keatts needs to sit these guys down and watch the Golden State Warriors play (and obviously go over the plays). They play 4 guards and a big who can’t shoot nor is he a major blocker. It’s all about screening, screening, moving to the basket, and passing. Yes, we can’t shoot the 3’s as well as any of the Warriors, but this would be playing for next year. Get that system down, and with less injuries and a little better shooting, we can win more games. I absolutely love watching the Warriors play – it’s like a ballet. For a… Read more »

Dof87
Dof87
9 months ago

With Hellems and Smith shooting 20%, I don’t see playing a true freshman PG as a solution. I have no issue giving Pass more minutes (which he’s seen over the last few games), but KK also needs Hayes to figure things out. KK gets his freshman ready to play, when they do come in they generally do good, and then you hear the inevitable ‘should have been playing him already’ response. I watched Ross evolve, and I see Pass improving as well. You don’t need a lot of minutes as a freshman to improve significantly, you just need enough to… Read more »

Papajohn
Papajohn
9 months ago
Reply to  Dof87

I think you hit it on the head. The freshmen start getting minutes and doing well, and everyone assumes that Keatts is too dumb to realize they should have been on the floor sooner. When in fact, they finally are earning minutes based on their performance in practice. Everyone assumes they are smarter than the coaches, and everyone assumes they hate losing more than the coaches. In most cases, neither are true. However, the season is a total disaster, so why not give Pass a lot more minutes? Despite the stats (8 minutes a game, and some when the game… Read more »

Antbrown11
Antbrown11
9 months ago

That is one of the main problems I have had with Keatts. He always seems reluctant to even remotely rely on freshmen. He sparingly used Ross when it was apparent to everyone else he should have been playing more than Gibson and Dowuona. He has inexplicably not played Pass in several games missing the opportunity to give the young point guard a chance to experience in game conference situations. That results in second year players who are just as green as they were the year before. He did the same thing with Bates when he was younger and Keatts was… Read more »

Afterglow
Afterglow
9 months ago
Reply to  Antbrown11

I respect that viewpoint if that is your opinion, but Keatts plays players who are ready to play. He has played Gibson and Dowuona out of necessity. A lot of crap went down this year. At this point in the season, I don’t see us going anywhere and as the article (which is solution oriented) suggest, Coach Keatts may as well play for next year, barring a magical run in the ACC Tournament. I’m with Wolferetti on this one, let’s see how he does next season when he has a full lineup, a stocked bench and no cloudy day NCAA… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by Afterglow
Hoosierwolf
Hoosierwolf
9 months ago
Reply to  Afterglow

I agree that a lot has went wrong this year. But will we have a stocked bench next year? Or will we have players who aren’t ready for P5 level basketball, or worse, guys who never will be? Gibson will never be ready. Ebe is marginally better, but he isn’t good enough to defend elite post players. I don’t see the 2 freshmen being able to contribute much next year either. And then how many guys will transfer? It’s not a question of if, but who? There will be transfers, and there will be more than one. That leaves only… Read more »

Papajohn
Papajohn
9 months ago
Reply to  Hoosierwolf

Agree that Gibson and Ebe are not going to be starting P5 players, maybe I’m wrong, but I haven’t seen anything to make me think they are ‘just some experience and/or practice away.’ Keatts has had his successes using the portal, Al Freeman, DJ Funderburk, Devon Daniels, CJ Bryce come to mind. But there have been as many misses. Wake Forest is proving this season that you can transform a crap team in one year using the portal, if you get lucky. It’s funny you mentioning not expecting the freshmen to bring much next season (and I agree with you),… Read more »

NC State Basketball

Men’s Basketball: NC State is a 22-Point Favorite Over Coppin St

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NC State (7-2) will host Coppin St (4-6) tonight in Reynolds Coliseum, and the Wolfpack are 22-point favorites. The Total is sitting at 157.5.

  • Coppin State is 6-4 Against the Spread this year.
    • The Total has gone Over in 7 games, Under in 2, and Pushed in 1.
  • NC State is 5-3-1 Against the Spread this year.
    • The Total has gone Over in 6 games, and Under in 3.

Tipoff is at 7pm, and the game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.

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NC State Basketball

Men’s Basketball: NC State Ranked 55th in First NET Rankings of 2022-23

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The first NET Rankings of the 2022-23 Men’s College Basketball season are out, and NC State is ranked 55th after their first 9 games (7-2).

(NET)

This marks the 5th season in which the NET Rankings have been used to as the NCAA’s primary tool for evaluating teams, especially when it comes to NCAA Tournament selection time.

The NET includes more components than just winning percentage. It takes into account game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses.

The number of Quadrant 1 wins and Quadrant 3/4 losses will be incredibly important when it comes time for NCAA tournament selection and seeding. (how many years was isaiah written before jesus)

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NC State Basketball

NC State to Wear Throwback Jerseys Tomorrow Night in Heritage Game to Honor 1983 Championship Team

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The NC State Men’s Basketball team will wear vintage throwback jerseys tomorrow night when they take on Coppin State in the 2022 Heritage Game, paying homage to the 1983 National Championship team.

I know it’s just my opinion, but I wish they would simply play in these jerseys all year!

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NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts Postgame Press Conference After Pitt: BULLETED

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NC State Head Coach Kevin Keatts met with the media in his postgame press conference after the Wolfpack lost their ACC opener to Pitt at home 60-68. You can watch it here, or check out a BULLETED breakdown below.

  • We didn’t play well or sharp offensively.
    • You can look at the numbers, and I think, at times because the ball wasn’t going in the hole for us, it affected us on the defensive end.
    • It was one of those gritty games where you’ve got to figure out how to win the game, especially when the ball isn’t going in.
    • Terquavion Smith carried us early in the game, but a couple of our guys never really got into a flow, and offensively we struggled.
    • When we struggled, I thought we gave up some easy baskets on the other end.
    • Obviously, today’s kids, when the ball is not going in offensively, sometimes it affects you on the defensive end.
    • It wasn’t our night offensively tonight.
  • When you look at our team, what’s made us special this year is that we’ve been consistent and have 4 guys in double figures, and tonight we didn’t have that.
  • We had some good play from DJ Burns. He came in and did a good job.
  • We’ve gotta get back in the gym and get better. We’ll work on some things.
  • I have to stand up, take accountability, and get us better on the offensive end, and we’ll figure out how to make some shots.
  • Not to take away from Pitt’s defense, I thought we missed shots.
    • Surely, give them credit because they won the game, and I thought it was a slugfest, and they won the game that way, but I just thought we missed a lot of easy shots that we normally would make.
  • I remember looking out there at the game as we played, and some of the shots that he [Joiner] normally would make, even his drives to the rim, he didn’t finish.
  • They [Pitt] did a good job getting back in transition. A lot of Casey’s [Morsell] shots have come with him running the floor and getting out in transition.
    • They stayed at home. When you’re shooting the ball as well as he is, they did a good job of staying at home.
    • The reason we got so many open looks to our post guys as we rolled, was because they stayed with our shooters a lot.
  • No [they didn’t take too many three’s], that’s who we are.
    • For example, I thought Jack Clark got some great looks.
      • None of them looked good as they came off.
    • Certainly, Terquavion was hot early from 3 and made some shots.
    • It was a weird night for us offensively, and we weren’t clicking as much as I’d hoped we would be.
    • Like I said, we’ve got to get back in the gym, and we’ve got to get some shots up.
  • We’ve got no choice. We’ve got to move on.
    • The great thing about this is that, while unfortunately we lost our ACC opener, we’ve got 19 more of them to play.
    • We’ve got to figure out how to get it back on the other end.
    • It doesn’t define us. It was a good game. Give Pitt credit.
    • We’ve just got to go to work and get ready for our next game and then our next one after that.
  • We hope we play better than we have been playing offensively.
    • You feel bad for our guys, because everything had gone well for them offensively this season.
    • We’ve had great numbers against great teams, when you talk about playing against Kansas, Butler, and Dayton, and tonight, for whatever reason, we didn’t shoot the ball well. We have to make each shot.
  • If you look back on all of Jarkel’s shots, he has taken those all year long.
    • He just missed some, and he is normally pretty good with his pull-up.
      • He didn’t make those, and typically, he would make it to the free-throw line, but he didn’t have many opportunities there.
      • He missed his three-point shots.
    • I know him, and many guys will get to the gym later on. It’s not a mandatory thing, but I know those guys, and they will be working on their shot.
  • We’ve got to flush it.
    • We have to figure out what we did offensively and get better defensively.
    • We have to get back to work and get ready for Coppin State.
  • Our home opener [ACC] here, we wanted to win it.
    • It’s an ACC game, and you know how important these are, but at the end of the day, you can’t put your head down.
    • We’ve got a lot more basketball to play. We have had a really great start to our season, and as I have told the guys in the locker room, don’t let one loss define us.
    • We didn’t let the Kansas loss define us. We moved on, and we’ve got to do the same thing with this one.
  • We’re very encouraging.
    • One thing about guys that miss shots that normally make them, they’re not trying to miss, and so we are trying to give them as much confidence as we can.
    • We’re asking them to do other things to affect the game.
    • One thing I told Jack [Clark], because he has been our best rebounder, was ‘go in there and get you an easy basket, or go in there and get you an offensive rebound.’
    • It’s something to get you going. It’s amazing how it works.
      • You get an easy basket, and then get to the free-throw line to make a shot. All of a sudden, you’ve got your shots going on.
    • I’m telling those guys to do a couple of other things to impact the game.

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