NC State head coach Kevin Keatts met with the media today leading up to tomorrow’s matchup against #16 Duke in PNC Arena at 7pm on ACC Network. You can watch it here, or check out a bulleted breakdown below.
- They’ve got great size. They’re long. They’re athletic.
- They can defend you. That’s the biggest concern going into it. They’ve got great size.
- We’re not going to play against many teams whose front court has a 6’7″ small forward and 2 7-footers at the 4 and 5. It just doesn’t happen that way
- They do a good job.
- They’re playing a lot of people.
- They have great depth.
- They have a 2-headed monster at the 5 position, and they can go 2-deep at every position.
- They’ve got veteran guys playing with the young guys.
- On some given nights, the young guys are better because they’re young and don’t know what they’re not supposed to know, but thus far, the older guys have been carrying them a lot.
- It’s a good team.
- They can get out in transition.
- I think he [Jon Scheyer] runs a little bit more sets [than Coach K], but I haven’t played against him.
- It’s still the same talent, and that’s what makes the difference.
- They have one of the most talented rosters in the country, and you’ll see a lot of those guys playing soon in the NBA.
- With some guys being out, they’ve been able to experiment with a lot of different lineups, and it’s actually worked for them.
- It’s gotten a lot of guys a lot of experience in different situations.
- We don’t know who’s going to start. We just know that, at some point, they’re going to play 9 or 10 guys.
- When you look at what he [Jaylen Blakes] did against Wake Forest, him making shots completely changes them.
- It gives them 2 guards, obviously, Jeremy Roach has been around for a long time and done a great job, but when you add him beside him and the way he’s playing, it gives them another dimension.
Loss of Dusan Mahorcic
- We thought we had it figured out. We were fortunate enough to play 2 centers, 2 completely different guys.
- Dusan was a guy who, I think, averaged 9 points and 7 rebounds, and we never ran a play for him.
- He was a guy who would just run the floor, set great screens, rim run and get offensive rebounds.
- Then we would bring DJ [Burns] in who was more of a half-court natural scorer.
- Completely changed our team when he [Dusan] went out because DJ was playing about 18 minutes a game with Dusan at 22.
- Then, we had to figure out how to adjust, and DJ ended up playing a lot more minutes than we would have liked.
DJ & Ebe Dowuona at Clemson
- The biggest adjustment is that, even though DJ got into foul trouble at Clemson, it allowed Ebe Dowuona to have a chance to play a few more minutes.
- If we can get him [Ebe] playing 15-20 minutes and playing more of the Dusan Mahorcic role, I think that’ll help us.
- I need Ernest Ross, Ebe Dowuona, and those guys to step up and play the role of Dusan.
- We’re going to rely on Ebe, and he and I talked.
- He started 27 games last year, and he got to the point where he just played hard.
- We want to get him to play that role, and it’s hard to get that role in today’s time, because everybody’s thinking more about scoring the basketball.
- When you look at Dusan, he’s a throwback. He’s an older guy. He doesn’t need the basketball to be successful.
- If we can get a guy like Ebe to play that role, I think it’ll help our team.
- I think what happened with Jack [Clark] is that we all, including myself, came into the season thinking he was going to shoot 40% from 3, and that’s unrealistic when you look at his career, the way he’s shot three-pointers, and his percentages.
- I would say he’s doing everything we want him to do.
- He’s leading us in rebounding.
- He’s getting out and getting steals.
- He’s playing hard.
- We wish he was shooting it a little bit better, but I think that’ll come later on in the year.
- Right now, I’m getting everything that I need from him until his shots start going behind the three-point line.
- You know I don’t doubt him.
- We’ve talked about what’s a good shot for him and what we need for the team.
- I don’t think he played well against Clemson, as we all know, and it was one of those games where, ‘I’m going to figure out how to play well.’
- For the most part, I think he’s had an incredible year.
- His assist-to-turnover ratio is 2-to-1.
- He’s really playing good basketball.
- I hope we can just remove that game where he went 5-for-21, but I think it was more who he was playing against opposed to him trying to be selfish.
Heading into Duke
- I think we’re in a good headspace. Our guys have worked the last couple of days. Obviously, these are ACC games. It’s a home opportunity.
- It’s a little different than when I coached 4 or 5 years ago. Every team has a Quad attached to them.
- We used to always say, ‘If you go .500 in the ACC, it’s a lock to get into the tournament.’
- Wake Forest won 13 games, and it didn’t happen.
- Now, it’s about Quad opportunities.
- We have a good Duke team coming in that’s a Quad 1 opportunity, and so our guys are looking forward to that and embracing the opportunity of playing an ACC team at home with a Quad 1 opportunity.
- I think we’re playing good basketball.
- We were one of those teams that were fortunate enough to have 11 wins going into Christmas break, and there weren’t many teams in the country that way.
- We’ve done some really good stuff, and now we’re concentrating on all conference games.
- We’re locked into opponents that we know and opponents that know us pretty well.
- I think we’re playing decent. We’re like every team. There are a lot of things we can improve on, but I’ve got to be honest…I’m really happy with our guys and where we’re at now.
- I’d like to have a different ACC record, but it’s a long year.
- We have 16 games left, and we’ve figured out how to get to 11 wins. We’ve just got to build on the ACC schedule.
NC State’s NET Ranking After Defeating Maryland Eastern Shore
NC State defeated Maryland Eastern Shore 93-61 last night, improving to 6-2 on the season. Ironically, they fell one spot in the NET Rankings, from 51st to 52nd.
NC State’s two losses were against #1 BYU (!) and Ole Miss (#89). BYU was a Quad 1 loss, and Ole Miss was a Quad 2 loss.
The Wolfpack currently rank 7th in the ACC.
ACC Teams in NET Rankings
52) NC State
71) Virginia Tech
91) Boston College
105) Wake Forest
107) Florida St.
159) Georgia Tech
212) Notre Dame
For a refresher on how the NET Rankings are calculated:
Using the quadrant system, which was in its fourth season in 2020-21, the quality of wins and losses will be organized based on game location and the opponent’s NET ranking.
Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353
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. (NCAA)
Kansas Transfer MJ Rice Makes Quite the Impression in his NC State Debut
We’ve seen a lot of new faces on the NC State Men’s Basketball team this season, but one face we haven’t seen yet is Kansas Transfer Guard/Forward M.J. Rice (6’5″/215)…until tonight.
Rice stepped away from the program for personal reasons earlier this Fall, and when he returned, he had a little catching up to do. It wasn’t until today during shoot around that Rice and Keatts both knew that tonight would be his debut.
“He’d been practicing for the last couple of weeks, and you know, I was just trying to figure out when he was ready. He and I, we talked a little bit after shoot around today and I said ‘MJ you ready to go tonight?'” said Kevin Keatts. “and he had this big huge smile on his face. He’s like ‘You sure you ready?’ He’s like ‘Ask me some plays.’ So he and I sit over there on the scores table at the Dale and we went over plays and I was like ‘You know what, you are ready to play.'”
Out of all the transfers Keatts brought in this offseason, Rice might have the highest ceiling. Rice was a 5-Star prospect in the 2022 recruiting class, and ON3 ranked him as the #24 overall prospect nationally. He committed to Kansas, where he played in 23 games for the Jayhawks as a Freshman in 2022, averaging 2.2 points in 7.6 minutes per game. Rice was a huge pickup in the Transfer Portal, ranked as the #2 player in the Portal, with three years of eligibility remaining.
Rice also isn’t new to the area either, playing high school ball at Durham Academy, before heading off to Oak Hill Academy and Prolific Prep.
In a short sample size, Rice gave us a glimpse of what the hype is all about tonight. He scored 11 points in 11 minutes of play, also grabbing 6 boards. Rice was 5-6 from the field, and hit the only three he took. In the most electrifying play of the night, Rice took it coast-to-coast, finishing with a soaring dunk.
“He gives us another dimension. We’ve been playing with six of our new dudes. Now we added the seventh and I’m happy for him. He’s going to help us. He’s going to be really good for us.” said Keatts. “I said this on the radio just now…we’ve got some older guys, but two really good young players in Dennis Parker Jr. and also MJ Rice. It was good for MJ to see the ball going in. I think he played 10 minutes had 11 points. He made a three. He had a big time dunk, so I was excited for him.”
“He gives us the ability to play a little bit more small ball. If we have to, we can play him and Dennis Parker both at the three and four. Really good defender at that position and can rebound the basketball,” said Keatts. “It’s going to take time. I’m trying to figure out how to kind of put him into the rotation, and now we’ve added another really good exciting piece to it, but it was good to have him back out there.”
Welcome to the Pack MJ! We’re glad you’ve arrived!
NC State 93 UMES 61: BOX SCORE
Pack Insider’s Highlight Reel of NC State’s Win Over BC
Ready to watch NC State’s Men’s Basketball team play in the ‘old barn’ tonight against Maryland Eastern-Shore? Well, until 7pm, go ahead and get yourself hype by watching Pack Insider’s Highlight Reel of the Wolfpack’s ACC opening win over BC this past Saturday. Check it out above.