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NC State Basketball

Terquvaion Smith just took his game to a new level (and you probably didn’t notice)

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Will you look at that!? NC State got themselves a win!

After almost a month of losses, the Wolfpack put together an amazing first half to propel them to a 76-61 win. Usually here at PI, we have our 4 authors each send in a bulleted list of quick thoughts, and from that, we decide what to include in our “Our Take” column. However, everyone’s take revolved around the elite play, and new wrinkles, shown by Terquavion Smith. So today’s ‘Our Take’ is going to simply be a breakdown of what Smith did so well.

Lemme get into it.

When you look at the line, you’ll see that the freshman Smith had 26 points and 8 rebounds. That’s an amazing line by itself, and one we’ve seen before, but watch a little closer and you’d have seen that this was a version of Smith we hadn’t yet seen.

Smith only played 24 minutes in this game. With State up big and the freshman having 4 fouls, he sat for a majority of the 2nd half. Now go back and look at those numbers. 26 points, 8 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal, 9-13 from the floor, 6-8 from 3 point range. All of that in a little more than a half of play. 

And that’s not all. Go back and rewatch the first half. Smith was playing differently. He was adding a wrinkle to his game we haven’t really seen much of. That’s what I want to focus on in this piece. The emergence of Terquavion Smith as a distributor.

Instead of shot hunting early on, he was looking to make plays with his passes. He hit Dowuona on the pick and roll for the game’s first basket. This is something we haven’t seen much from NC State, and you know what, I get it. Neither, Dowuona nor Gibson have the most reliable hands, and neither is a great finisher in traffic, but Smith decided that what they’ve been doing all season hasn’t been working, so why not start pressuring the bigs to make plays. Look…

[Image 1] You see the high screen is set. Smith is a threat to go left, and he’s quick, so his defender is reluctant to hedge too far up over the screen. Because of this, Dowuona’s guy has to slide over to stop the drive if he goes over top of the screen.

[Image 2] Smith opts to go over top of the screen. His defender is caught up for a second on Dowuona’s pick. Smith starts turning the corner, now in front of his man. Dowuona’s guy has to step up and block the drive. Dowuona begins to roll.

[Image 3] Hellem’s man now has to make a decision. Does he cut off Ebe completely and allow Hellems to sit wide open for 3? Or does he hedge to the middle, hope to dissuade Smith from making the pass, and get back to Hellems as Ebe’s guy recovers?

Spoiler alert. He chose the latter. Hellem’s man hedges a bit, but it’s just a show. He’s just trying to bait Smith to not make the pass. However, Smith doesn’t fall for it and delivers a great pass to Ebe for the easy layup.

Let’s do another one…

[Image 1] Here is Smith on a straight-line drive. He beats his man off the bounce. Ebe’s man starts to realize he needs to help, so he turns focus to Smith.

[Image 2] Smith has his guy on his shoulder and without help will have an easy lefty layup. This forces Ebe’s man to come over and provide help.

[Image 3] Usually, Smith lofts up a high left layup off the glass. However, this time he takes off as if he’s going to attack, but drops the pass off to Dowuona who now is wide open underneath.

The pass is perfect, but Ebe rushes up a shot, which he misses. Eventually, the ball pops back out to Smith who hits the 3. But that’s not the point of showing you this. The point of showing you this is to help you understand NC State’s struggles and how Smith is trying something different.

Risk vs. Reward on trusting your bigs.

The question is this: Is passing it down to your bigs, who don’t have great hands or footwork and aren’t great finishers in traffic, getting you a higher probability shot? Or are you better off taking a contested jumper/floater?

Most of this season, with Bates hurt, NC State has decided that forcing it down to their bigs is too risky, and the higher probability shot is a contested jumper or floater. I don’t know how that equation ends up working out, but I do know that NC State was 10-16 coming into this game using that theory.

The thing that has made this tricky is that neither Seabron nor Hayes (the guys usually using the high screen) have great vision or are highly skilled passers. Seabron is more focused on getting to the rack, and Hayes usually has his interior passes tipped and stolen.

These are the reasons you complain about NC State’s offense. But as you can see, from Smith’s performance vs. Georgia Tech, the ‘high screen and roll’ is absolutely deadly if you have the right pieces in place. Up until this point, Smith was mostly shot hunting when he came off the pick. However, it seems as if he’s working on becoming more of an overall threat.

Smith has the ability to shoot it, drive it, and now he’s showing his ability to pass it in traffic. This is the type of player that this high screen action was built for. Now, whether or not Dowuona and Gibson can execute when they get these passes in traffic, is another question. But at this point, you have to trust them. And you have to trust them because the more you are able to show the defense that you’re willing to drop it off to them on the roll, the less likely their big is to show high and cut off the drive.

If you’re confused and don’t speak basketball, you football heads can think of it like this. Maybe you don’t have a great running back, but you can really throw it. Well, you have to establish some sort of run game or the defense is going to sit back and wait for the pass. NC State is that team with a good QB, but zero run game. All season long they’ve just been spreading it out and passing, but you’re seeing here that they are trying to establish a little run game, to open things up.

Get it?

Let’s do it one more time.

[Image 1] At this point, we’re 10 minutes into the game. Smith already has three 3s and 11 points. So obviously that is going to dictate how they play him off this high screen. They go to it again, on the left side. Smith brings his guys way to the left on the drive attempt, and even though he has a half step, he pulls it back, crosses over and uses this screen. This has his defender off-balance, and trailing.

[Image 2] Ebe’s guy sees this, and also realizes Smith is red hot. So he hedges all the way out. Smith draws his momentum out by veering off and not trying to turn the corner. Ebe starts his roll.

[Image 3] Smith now has Ebe’s guy dead-to-rights. He’s committed too much, and his momentum is going away from the basket. There is no way he can recover. Leaving Ebe wide open for the dunk.

See, this is what NC State has been missing all year. Smith showing that he’s capable and willing to distribute, opens the door up so much for NC State. Having a lethal 3-level scorer who can pass is every coach’s dream.

But just how good is Smith’s vision? Well, he’d shown some hints early in the season that he’s got high-level vision, but this is the pass that proves it. (okay, okay, I’m doing one more)

[Image 1] Smith receives a pass and dribbles to the top of the key, making eye contact with Seabron. As Smith was dribbling towards the top, Seabron was coming up from the block, his man is busy watching Smith, making sure he doesn’t need to hedge over and help.

[Image 2] In this frame, you can see Seabron starts to cut backdoor. However, notice the angle. At this moment, Seabron isn’t open at all. However, Smith sees Seabron’s man get caught for a second by the change of direction. His man was walking up, and his momentum was taking him high, likely anticipating Seabron would catch it out top.

[Image 3] Smith reads that he’s off-balance and won’t be able to recover. So he passes Seabron open, anticipating that he’ll have slightly beat his man by the time the pass arrives. Note the red X. That is where the ball was delivered. Now look where Seabron was when the pass was thrown.

This right here is why we think Smith is starting to unlock a new part of his game. Scoring is the most natural part of his game, but you’re seeing a kid who has the total package. Great handle, great shot, elite athlete, and high-level vision.

The next step for Smith will be to understand situations better. He’ll need to learn when to be a distributor and when to be a scorer.

This can be the hardest part of the game. Being able to flip the switch from scorer to distributor. Only the truly elite can do it, but Smith is just a freshman and he’s already starting to show that he’s capable and willing.

I really, really, really hope Smith uses this as a turning point. I hope moving forward that he comes into games realizing he’s not just a scorer for this team, but that this team needs him to command that high-screen action and get his teammates involved.

If he’s able to do this, NC State, who all season has been a one-dimensional team, suddenly becomes multi-dimensional.

—Want to watch the plays we discussed in real-time. View it below. Here are the timestamps—-

0:10 – Pick and Roll to Ebe (1)
0:19 – Drive and dump to Ebe
2:25 – Pick and Roll to Ebe (2)
3:45 – Backdoor to Seabron

 

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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Afterglow
Afterglow
9 months ago

This player has been something special to watch. Enjoy this while you can.

Rev
Rev
9 months ago
Reply to  Afterglow

I have been wondering just how loyal and committed Keatts is to his players. We all worry about good players transferring or going pro. But what about those players that are on scholarship but haven’t developed as rapidly or had the impact we anticipated when they were recruited? Does Keatts have a plan to weed out some players so he can upgrade the talent? Still trying to make sense of Keatts continuing to recruit for 2022 graduates based on how many scholarships are apparently available.

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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