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WOLFERETTI: 5 things NC State needs to fix if they’re going to knock off #16 Duke



1. Dig down for a little more grit and toughness
Since NC State lost Dusan Mahorcic and the team has gone somewhat soft. Mahorcic was a big piece of this team, averaging 8pts and 6 boards per game, but his real value to this team was that he brought the toughness. He loved mixing it up, and getting physical in the paint. That type of basketball was contagious, but since he got injured, it’s been nowhere to be found. Instead, State has turned into a team seemingly scared of contact, settling for contested jumper after contested jumper. When we do see some attitude it’s usually reactionary chippiness, which is a lot different than the grittiness born out of confidence that Mahorcic brought to the table.  If they’re going to turn things around they’re going to need to find it again.

2. Take better shots!!
Terquavion Smith is the best scorer NC State has had in a long time, but the kid is taking far too many long, contested, step-back 3s. NC State has the talent to play simple, team basketball and win in the ACC. They don’t need Smith to be torching teams from 10 feet beyond the arc. They do however need Smith to read what the defense is giving him and exploit it (which he is capable of doing and will go a lot further with NBA scouts than contested bombs from deep). Teams can’t guard him one on one, so you’re seeing teams double him off screens and make him give it up. The Pack should be carving up teams that decide to do that, but instead, they’ve failed to capitalize.

Smith is getting frustrated with the extra attention and is settling for long, sometimes contested 3s, and he’s been missing them. He’s shooting just 31% from 3-point range vs. ACC opponents, and while that not be THAT awful, Smith is way too good a shooter to be hitting at that low of a clip. For this team to be at their best he needs to be hitting about 38% from long range, which he’s certainly capable of doing if he focuses on taking good open 3s.

And it’s not just Smith. As the team struggles, they are more and more opting for quick, contested shots. Part of that is on them rushing, but part of that is on the system. I’ve begged for a long time for Keatts to revisit his system on both ends of the floor, but we haven’t seen it happen. There is very little movement away from the ball. No one ever cuts with any urgency and ‘the offense’ rarely gets this team an easy bucket. Most buckets are made by the players taking things into their own hands which is how the system is designed.

All but one of NC State’s losses have been by 3 possession or less. In ACC play, it’s a game of possessions, and every long, contested 3 you take, every quick, forced shot you take is as good as a turnover. It’s the difference between winning a losing in many cases, and until the Pack cleans this up, we’re going to continue to see the results we’ve been seeing. Taking good shots is going to be paramount against a deep and talented Duke team.

3. Have a little situational strategy on the offensive end
The poor shots aren’t just costing possessions, they are costing this team momentum. Every time State gets up by 6 or 8, they get loose on offense and start taking quick, wild shots. This is exactly the opposite of what you want to do and I’m going to put this one on Jarkell Joiner. He’s the senior, so he’s got to be the one to take guys aside and get in their face when they jack up a transition 3 when you’re up 8.

You have your opponents on the ropes. Instead of taking your foot off their throat, you need to clamp down even harder to make sure they never get up. Meaning, you drain the shot clock, working to find a good shot, making your defenders stay in a stance, and then put another 2 on them (or get to the line). This is how you keep a lead. Playing fast pace for 40 minutes and ignoring situational strategy is really NC State’s worst offensive flaw this season.

Joiner needs to take control of this basketball team and be the coach on the floor. When you get up, you keep attacking, but you attack in a different, more calculated way.

Look, no lead you’ll get will ever be safe if you’re just dedicated to playing the volume game (getting up as many shots as you can). If you do that, you’re 20-point leads can start getting eaten into, with barely any time off the clock, then momentum switches, and the wheels can fall off quickly.

When the Pack gets leads it should be DJ Burns time, or they should penetrate and pitch to the corners until they find an open lane or a wide-open 3. Good shots should be traded in for great shots and the extra pass should be made every time. Instead, they play the same whether they’re up 20 or down 2o, and to me, it’s insane to think you’re going to consistently win that way.

4. NC State needs to find answers on the defensive end (and that might mean a system tweak)
NC State ranks last in the ACC, allowing 75.6 pts per game. Offensively, they are scoring 73 ppg, good for 6th in the ACC. However, that margin of -2.6 is 13th in the ACC. And sadly this is a trend during the Keatts era.

NC State is almost always top 5 or 6 in offense (in the ACC), but the defense has always been so bad that it doesn’t really matter much. If you can’t stop your opponent, you can’t win and that is the story so far for Keatts. It’s why I’ve been so vocal about their need to change their defensive identity and strategy. I wrote an entire piece about this almost a month ago, and I feel the same way today.

Switching every screen, and pressing a majority of the game, it’s not going to work in the ACC. Don’t listen to me, just look at the defensive stats during the Keatts era. It was his signature at UNCW, a long team of tweeners that could switch every screen and would turn up the heat for 40 minutes with presses and traps. This type of defense obliterates teams with small, weak backcourts who can’t throw over the top and whose forwards can barely handle the rock. But in the ACC it doesn’t fly. Guards are too big and forwards can flash the middle and alleviate pressure. It’s a waste of energy to continuously run it and it’s hard to blame guys for lapsing of defense when they’re dead tired and being asked to go full throttle all the time. Meanwhile, Keatts is really only playing 5 or 6 guys’ significant minutes. It’s not like he has 9 or 10 guys rotating in and out.

You’d think, given the circumstances, given the outcomes, and given the years of trend lines that you’d see some kind of adjustment in strategy, but nope. No real noticeable wrinkles, like throwing off the opponent’s pace with a couple of possession of zone looks or dropping back in a zone, waiting for them to set up their zone offense then springing back into a man. But we haven’t seen it.

In my opinion, NC State has been too easy to gameplan against. There is no element of surprise, there is no chess match going on. It’s just “This is what we do. Try and stop it.” however everyone who tries seemingly succeeds.

5. Take it personal
This is a rivalry game. You’re playing for your season and potentially your coach’s career. You’re playing for your teammates and you’re playing for your school. This a ton to play for here, so it shouldn’t be hard for the Pack to get up for this one. And to be honest, Keatts does always have his guys hyped to play. There is rarely a game where NC State comes out and doesn’t work hard. They go 100% all the time, but for me, I’d like to see a little more ‘chip on the shoulder’ vibe coming from this team. A little more aggression and hunger. A little more taking things personally.

(That is the one thing I hate about switching every screen on defense. You lose that game within the game one-on-one matchup where you look up at the scoreboard to see how many points your man has. If he’s torching you, then there’s no one to blame but yourself, and if he’s being held down, you’re the one holding him down. Instead, you’re guarding multiple guys on every possession and when a guy has 20 points, you can blame switch offs and other teammates for it.)

If State is going to beat Duke we’re going to need to start seeing guys not just physically going 100%, but we’re going to need to see that lock-in of focus. That mental toughness that goes to 100. Pairing physical effort and mental effort is going to be what gets this team back on track.


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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2 months ago

Nailed it! All around. And I’ve felt the same about Smith this whole time and wholeheartedly agree. He needs to play smart, slow down just a tad, let the game come to him and stop jacking up 3s like he’s Curry. Honestly, if he does the first three, he’ll make it rain with points (could be one of our most prolific scorers) and… be in position make 38% of those ridiculously looooooooong 3s. I know he can do it and so want him to be that player. I think back to Warren, and how productive and how smart a player… Read more »

2 months ago

“Keatts always has his guys hyped to play.” But he rarely has them properly prepared to play ACC opponents. No strategy. No discipline. No defensive wrinkles.

2 months ago

In addition to those items listed above, I’d give up on the full court / 3/4 court defense. If we’re last in the league defensively, it’s not working. So why wear out your shooters’ legs when the only chance you’ve got is if they shoot well? Play half court.

2 months ago

I’d hoped that the new assistant coach’s influence would be more evident on the court this season. But, as Joey said, same old same old.
If KK is not learning from either his assistant coaches or his failures, that’s why he’s not going to survive.

2 months ago
Reply to  Papajohn

I repeat myself but….if we start 1-7 in ACC Keats should resign, or be replaced. Any of his assistants could do a better job.

NC State Basketball

NC State’s Terquavion Smith Will Forgo His Remaining College Eligibility & Declare for NBA Draft



Well, it’s official. NC State Sophomore Terquavion Smith will forgo his remaining two years of college eligibility and officially declare for the 2023 NBA Draft.

Here’s what Smith had to say to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony regarding his decision.

“I’m forgoing my college eligibility and going all the way in,” Smith said. “I’m thankful for everything the NC State coaching staff and fans have done for me. This is the right decision for me to take care of my family.”

“I showed a lot of different things this year,” Smith said. “Teams wanted to see me be more of a point guard, making the right play, making the right decisions. They wanted to see me improve my finishing, and I increased that. I showed I can be a leader.”

“I improved my grades. I’m a year closer to getting my degree now. You only get one chance to be a college student and get that college vibe. There was no rush for me. I’m ready to contribute to an NBA team now.”

“I’m feeling good about everything now,” Smith said. “I came back to do what I needed to do. I feel like I did everything the right way. I know what’s coming now in the pre-draft process because I’ve been there already and know what to expect. I’ll be a lot more confident in myself now. It’s going to be a straight grind.” (ESPN)

Smith earned 2nd Team All-ACC honors this year, averaging 17.9 points and 4.1 assists per game.

He currently ranks 30th on ESPN’s Top-100 2023 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings. In most NBA Mock Drafts, Smith is projected as a late first round pick.

Smith’s career scoring average of 17.1 ranks 8th in school history. He made 187 three point shots in two seasons, ranking 8th all-time in NC State history. His 96 made three-pointers last year are the most ever by a Freshman in school history, and his 91 made three-pointers made this year are the most ever by a Sophomore.

If Smith goes on to be taken in the 1st round of the 2023 NBA Draft, it will be the first person to do so from NC State since Dennis Smith Jr. was taken 9th overall in 2017. If Smith is taken in the first round, the would become the 17th player in school history to do so.

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NC State Basketball

NC State’s Men’s Basketball 2022-23 Season: BY THE NUMBERS



NC State’s Men’s Basketball 2022-23 season has come and gone, and I thought we should take a moment to look back on this season BY THE NUMBERS.

  • NC State finished the season with a 23-11 overall record.
    • The 23 wins are the 2nd most of the Kevin Keatts era.
      • In 2018-19, the Wolfpack had 24 wins (2 in the NIT)
  • The Wolfpack had 22 regular season wins.
    • This was the most regular season wins since 2012-13.
  • NC State had 12 ACC regular season wins.
    • This is the most conference wins since they increased the slate of conference games to 20 in 2019-20.
    • It’s the most conference wins since 1973-74, when the Wolfpack was 12-0 in ACC play. Obviously this stat is not representative of the best conference performance by NC State since 1973-74, because they played significantly more conference games than years past.
  • The Wolfpack’s winning percentage in ACC play was 60%, which is the 2nd highest winning percentage in conference play under Kevin Keatts.
    • In his first season in 2017-18, the Wolfpack’s ACC winning percentage was 61.1%.
  • NC State shot 45% from the field this season;.
    • This is the 2nd to worst shooting season under Kevin Keatts, trailing only 41.3% last year.
  • The Wolfpack shot 34.7% from three-point range.
    • That number is the 4th best in 6 seasons under Kevin Keatts.
  • NC State shot 72.2% from the free-throw line.
    • This is the 2nd best number under Kevin Keatts (72.5% last year was the best year).
  • For the first time since 2018-19, NC State won the rebounding margin over their opponents on the year.
    • It was the 2nd highest rebounding margin under Kevin Keatts, with +1.7 margin. (In 2018-19, the margin was +4.3)
  • NC State averaged 77.7 points per game, which is the third highest number under Kevin Keatts, but the highest since 2018-19.
  • The Wolfpack forced 477 turnovers, which is the 3rd highest total under Kevin Keatts, and the most since 2018-19.
    • NC State only committed 320 turnovers, which is the lowest total under Keatts (328 in 2020-21, which was a shortened season, was the lowest before.)
  • NC State held opponents to a 44.5% field goal percentage, which is the lowest since 2019-20, and the third lowest under Keatts.
  • The Wolfpack held opponents to 31.6% from three, which is tied for the 2nd lowest percentage under Keatts.
  • NC State had 434 assists, which is tied for the 3rd most in a season under Keatts.
  • The Wolfpack had 152 blocks, which is the most in a single season under Keatts.
  • NC State finished ranked 51 in KenPom’s

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NC State Basketball

UNC Transfer Dontrez Styles Expected to Visit NC State Soon



UNC Guard/Forward Transfer Dontrez Styles (6’6″/210) is expected to be visiting NC State soon. According to a source, he was expected to take an unofficial visit tomorrow, but it has been rescheduled to Monday.

Styles entered the Transfer Portal on March 17th.

Over the past two seasons, Styles has seen limited action for the Tar Heels, averaging 5.9 minutes in 45 total games (15 this season).

Styles is no stranger to NC State. He played high school for Kinston (Kinston, NC), and was offered by Kevin Keatts. Styles was a consensus 4-Star prospect coming out of High School. 247Sports ranked him as the #62 overall player nationally in the 2021 recruiting class, and the #2 player in the state of North Carolina.

ON3 ranks Styles as the #21 player currently in the Transfer Portal.

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NC State Basketball

All-AAC Temple Transfer Damian Dunn Visiting NC State this Weekend



According to a source, Temple All-AAC Transfer Shooting Guard Damian Dunn (6’5″/195) was expected to be at NC State today on an unofficial visit.

Dunn entered the Transfer Portal on March 20th.

Dunn averaged 15.3 points per game this season, earning 3rd Team All-AAC honors. He shot 41.1% from the field this season, and 34.8% from three-point land.

In 2021-22, he led the Owls in scoring (14.9), and earned 2nd Team All-AAC honors.

Dunn originally is from Kinston, North Carolina, but played his Senior season of High School for Meadowcreek in Georgia, finishing his high school career as a 3-star prospect.

With the almost guaranteed loss of Terquavion Smith, NC State will be in need for a dynamic scorer, and Dunn has proven that he can do just that at the collegiate level.

Currently, Dunn is the 16th ranked player in the Transfer Portal according to ON3.

Dunn is a Redshirt Sophomore this season, with 2 years of eligibility remaining.


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