NC State is 4-0. They beat Elon. But this one wasn’t pretty.
First off, Elon played a lot of zone vs. NC State, making it the first time NC State saw a team well-versed in zone, sit back and make the Pack shoot them out of it. Unfortunately, the Pack didn’t shoot all that great, and it kept the game close throughout. Is this a sign of things to come, or a great learning experience? Let’s take a closer look.
Here is ‘our take’…
– You might look at NC State’s first 4 games and see cupcakes, and you’re not wrong, but really I’d like to applaud Keatts for the type of cupcakes he scheduled. Austin Peay was kind of a “Hey, let’s slaughter someone and get off on the right foot with this new roster.” Then you had Campbell, which is a local team who had this game scheduled and was invested in trying to knock off the Pack. So you get a less talented but motivated and feisty team, who just so happens to play a 5-out offense that gives you a look you likely won’t see during the regular season, but may run into in the post season. FIU was team that was going to play as physical as they can and not back down, and finally Elon, another local team that was going to be focused on knocking you off, but also going to throw a zone at you, a defense you might end up seeing a lot of this season. These were 4 winnable games that State won. No one is going to hold a parade for this run, but it was well structured, gave the new Pack roster a lot of variety to play against, and had them going up against a couple of pretty hungry teams. Well done, staff.
– NC State tried to shoot Elon out of the zone. Unfortunately, Smith, Joiner, and company weren’t hitting enough to do that and that is going to be the case at times this season. The Pack has shooters, but playing against a zone doesn’t mean you should just be hacking it up. Players shoot a much higher percentage when catching a pass coming from inside, with their shoulder squared to the basket. After settling down they did a better job of getting Jack Clark and Dusan Mahorcic involved, which allowed them to hold off Elon. This is something that Keatts will focus on. This team likes to play fast, but against a zone you need patience and to work the ball inside before settling for an outside shot. You need to flatten out that zone and allow your shooters some space. State was only 11-33 from 3pt range.
– NC State’s defense didn’t look great. I know they held Elon to the lowest % shooting of any team they’ve played this season at 38.3%. That said, NC State had more talent, length, and athleticism at every position, but they aren’t really able to exploit that because as a team they don’t lock down and play position defense. Like I’ve said a million times, this team gambles too much and goes for too many steals. It hurts them against these weaker teams, but at times it kills them against better opponents. I get that they want to create turnovers, but picking your spots to gamble yourself out of position is extremely important and this team seems to just throw caution to the wind and jumps everything.
– NC State really needs Terquavion Smith to sure up his off-the-ball defense. And by sure up I mean learn how it even works. This is an absolutely glaring problem with his game. Run back the game and just watch Smith on defense. When he is in help-side he completely locks in on the ball and loses his man. This cost NC State 8 to 1o points in the second half alone. Almost all of those absolutely wide open buckets on the block that Elon was getting, most of the time those were on Smith. This kid is the best offensive weapon NC State has had in years. He’s a good on the ball defender. But, this type of stuff has to be cleaned up if State is going to be competitive. And for those of you at home wondering what I’m talking about. Remember when your coach told you to “see man and ball!” when you’re playing off the ball defense. This means keeping both in your peripheral view at all times. Positioning yourself so you can see both AT ALL TIMES. And if there is a off-the-ball switch, make sure it’s communicated LOUD. It’s not that hard. If you’re not doing it it’s because you don’t want to. It’s that simple.
-Jack Clark showed a little aggressiveness. He was 9-18 shooting and added 9 boards. Clark needed a game like this, but he still shot just 3-10 from 3pt range. He finished with 21 points. It was good to see Clark being a little more aggressive offensively. He’s a big piece to this team’s offense, but we haven’t really seen him push the issue lately. The shots will fall for him eventually, so he needs to keep shooting. But what was bigger was the fact that he was successful in playing in the middle of this zone.
– DJ Burns didn’t have a great game, and he’s just struggling right now, but usually, he’d be the type of guy who can fill some gaps in the zone and attack them from inside. They’ll need him if they’re going to beat Kansas, so you gotta hope the increase in competition kicks him into gear.
– Ross, Pass, and LJ Thomas didn’t look great against the zone. Again, seeing this team play a zone was concerning. They looked sloppy and out of control and it didn’t allow them much depth. These guys didn’t look great against the zone, and if I’m playing NC State this year, this is something I key in on.
– State looked disinterested. Honestly aside from Morsell, Mahorcic, and at times Clark, State looked like they didn’t really feel like playing. Sure, it was kind of a trap game. Easy opponent before the big Kansas matchup. Opponent then lulled you to sleep using a zone. Made you frustrated and started forcing stuff. I get it. And at the end of the day, you walk away with the win. But you definitely hope these things are cleaned up soon, because good opponents will exploit them.
NC State to Honor David Thompson with Statue Outside Reynolds Coliseum
RALEIGH – NC State University will pay tribute to three-time All-American David Thompson with a statue sculpted in his honor that will be placed outside of Reynolds Coliseum.
The unveiling will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, the day of the Wolfpack men’s basketball team’s annual Heritage Game at Reynolds Coliseum, and will be open to the public.
“This is such a deserved honor for the greatest basketball player to ever wear an NC State jersey,” NC State Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan said. “He is one of the most iconic players to ever play in the ACC and our hope is that this statue will ensure that generations of NC State students and fans will always remember the legacy and contributions of David Thompson.”
Thompson is widely recognized as one of the greatest players in college basketball history. A 2008 ESPN story ranked him as one of the ten best college basketball players of all-time, and he is regarded as one of greatest athletes in Atlantic Coast Conference history.
The Boiling Spring, N.C., native played three seasons at NC State from 1972-75 and was a unanimous first-team All-American at the conclusion of all three seasons. He was also named the ACC Player of the Year all three seasons.
He was named the Associated Press National Player of the Year in 1974 and 1975 and remains one of just five players in college basketball history to win multiple AP National Player of the Year honors.
Thompson immediately made his mark on the Pack, helping lead NC State to an undefeated season (27-0) in 1973. The Pack dominated the 1972-73 season and was at the top or near the top of the polls all season as Thompson averaged 24.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Thompson returned in the 1973-74 season and led the Wolfpack to a 30-1 record and the school’s first NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball National Title.
In the Final Four, Thompson and the Wolfpack met up with UCLA, the seven-time reigning National Champions and the only team to have defeated NC State that season. The Pack trailed 74-67 in the second overtime when Thompson’s heroics helped lead NC State back. Thompson pulled down a defensive rebound and made the go-ahead basket with under one minute remaining and then made two free throws with 38 seconds to go to give the Pack a 78-75 double overtime win in a game that is still considered one of the greatest Final Four games ever played.
Thompson finished the game with 28 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Bill Walton and the Bruins.
Two nights later, the Pack won the National Title over Marquette, 76-64, behind 21 points from Thompson. Thompson was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
To make it into the NCAA Tournament, the Pack defeated fourth-ranked Maryland, 103-100, in overtime in the 1974 ACC Championship, in a game that is routinely considered one of the best games in college basketball history.
As a senior, Thompson averaged 29.9 points, still the highest single season average in NC State history. He scored an NC State and ACC record 57 points in an early season win over Buffalo State. The Pack started the season ranked No. 1 in the nation and never fell out of the top-10, but lost in the ACC Championship game to end its season. The Pack finished the season ranked seventh in the nation but because the NCAA Tournament at that time only allowed the conference champion into the tournament its season was over.
Thompson closed his career with 2,309 points in 86 career games. He led the ACC in scoring all three seasons and was NC State and the ACC’s career scoring leader when he graduated.
Former NC State Basketball Player Torin Dorn Joins Coaching Staff of G-League SLC Stars
Former NC State basketball player Torin Dorn has joined the staff of the Salt Lake City Stars, the G-League team for the Utah Jazz. Dorn’s title is Player Development Associate/Assistant Coach.
After playing 3 seasons at NC State, Dorn went on to play professionally overseas in Poland and Czech Republic, before joining the Wolfpack coaching staff last season as a Graduate Manager.
Dorn will be working under newly appointed head coach Steve Wojciechowski (former Duke PG), who was the head coach at Marquette the past 7 seasons.
NC State Guard MJ Rice Will Be Returning Soon After Stepping Away for a Period of Time
NC State Guard MJ Rice (6’5″/215) announced yesterday that due to personal reasons, he had to step away from the basketball program, but was excited to be back with his teammates soon. He was clear that his commitment to NC State hasn’t wavered.
Life is much bigger than sports. These young men are human beings first and foremost, and as we all know, this life is never simple and easy.
Rice transferred to NC State this offseason from Kansas with three years of eligibility remaining. The former High School McDonald’s All-American didn’t get a lot of playing time in his Freshman season at Kansas, averaging 7.6 minutes per game in only 23 games played.
Coming out of Prolific Prep in California, Rice averaged 20.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a Senior. Rivals ranked him as a 5-star prospect, ON3 ranked him 24th nationally, and ESPN ranked him as the #1 player in the state of North Carolina.
Whatever Rice is working through, we value him as a person more than we do a player.
NC State Announces Hiring of Larry Dixon as NC State Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach
RALEIGH – NC State men’s basketball head coach Kevin Keatts announced Wednesday that Larry Dixon has joined his staff as an assistant coach.
Dixon comes to NC State after spending the last five seasons as an assistant coach at South Florida.
The NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted in January to allow two more assistant coaches on men’s basketball staffs. Dixon, will serve as one of the Pack’s two new assistant coaches that can engage in coaching activities but may not recruit off campus.
“I think Larry is a great addition to our staff,” Keatts said. “He’s a North Carolina native that has dedicated himself to a coaching career since graduating from college. He started at the high school level in North Carolina and eventually moved up to college and now has been a Division I assistant coach for almost 20 years. I think his experience is going to be a great asset for me and our coaching staff, as well as the young men in our program as we develop them on and off the court.”
Larry Dixon joined the USF coaching staff as assistant coach on May 12, 2018.
In just his second season with the team in 2018-19, Dixon helped USF to the top win turnaround in the NCAA during the 2018-19 season, as the Bulls won 14 more games than the previous season. In addition, USF turned in a 24-14 overall record to set a new single-season school record for wins. The Bulls would go on to win the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) championship and claim the program’s first postseason title since 1990.
Dixon also played an instrumental role in the development of 2019 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Laquincy Rideau and 2019 American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year Alexis Yetna.
Dixon helped USF become one of the top defensive teams in the NCAA during the 2019-20 season, finishing the year ranked 20th in scoring defense by allowing only 62.7 points per game. The Bulls limited eight teams to fewer than 60 points during the season and held 27 of their 31 opponents under their scoring average at the time of play. The Bulls also ranked 44th in the nation in turnovers forced with 15.6 per game, and stood 65th in the NCAA in steals with 7.5 thefts per game.
In 2021-22, Dixon helped develop Russel Tchewa and Corey Walker Jr. into one of the best frontcourt tandems in the league. The Bulls were again among the top defensive teams in the country, ranking 45th in the NCAA in scoring defense (64.9 ppg).
Dixon came to Tampa after five seasons as an assistant at Georgia Southern under head coach Mark Byington. Prior to his stint with the Eagles, Dixon had collegiate assistant coaching jobs at Winthrop (2007-12), East Carolina (2005-07), South Carolina State (2003-05) and St. Andrews College (2002-03).
In his final season at Georgia Southern, Dixon helped lead the Eagles to a 21-12 record, including an 11-7 mark in the Sun Belt. In 2016-17, he helped Georgia Southern reach the postseason for the first time since 2006, playing in the College Basketball Invitational.
Prior to arriving at Georgia Southern, Dixon spent the 2012-13 season as head coach at York Comprehensive High School in York, S.C.
During his five seasons (2007-12) on the coaching staff at Winthrop under head coach Randy Peele, Dixon was recognized as the top assistant coach in the Big South by Fox Sports.
Before entering the college game, Dixon served as the head coach at Garinger High School in Charlotte, N.C. for three seasons. In 2001, he led Garinger to a North Carolina High School sectional championship and earned Mecklenburg County Coach of the Year honors from the Charlotte Observer. Dixon also spent one season as an assistant at Carver High School in Winston-Salem, N.C. and one season at South Rowan High School in his hometown of Salisbury, N.C.
Dixon graduated from Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte, N.C) in 1996, where he was a four-year letterman as a player. He was named the team’s most improved player following his junior season and the top defensive player after his senior season. He helped the Golden Bulls to a pair of CIAA Southern Division titles and a championship game appearance as a sophomore.
A native of Salisbury, N.C., Dixon has two children, Devin and Leah.