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OUR TAKE: On NC State escaping with a win over Notre Dame 85-82

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Notre Dame came in struggling. They were 1-8 in conference and had lost 7 of their last 8. On paper this looked like an easy home win for NC State, but in reality this wasn’t going to be a cakewalk at all.

For one, Notre Dame doesn’t play a true big man. They have Nate Laszewski, who does most of his damage outside. He’s shooting over 40% from long range and wants to pick and pop. The problem for NC State is that DJ Burns is playing 30 minutes a game now, which is a lot of him, and he’s not quick enough to guard a guy like Laszewski that far out.

Putting Burns in action that far out is going to through everything out of whack. ND’s guards are going to get mismatches they can exploit, or they’ll be able to turn the corner if Burns doesn’t hedge and cut them off on ball screens (which he’s not very good at.)

Once those ND guards get in the paint, they can score alright, but they also like to find shooters on the wing, and ND has tall shooters who can knock it down.

On top of that, Terquavion Smith was coming off a pretty bad fall and he might not be 100%.

As it turns out, Burns had trouble guarding the high screen, the ND guards were creating havoc and their shooters were knocking down 3 after 3. Meanwhile, Smith was off all night.

So how did NC State pull this off?

Let’s explore.

Jarkell Joiner stepped in and took control
With Smith not himself, Jarkel Joiner stepped up in a huge way. The senior guard was putting pressure on the defense all night, and did a great job stepping in as the main scoring threat with Smith struggling. Joiner finished with 26pts and 6 boards. He only turned the ball over once. Joiner is your MVP in this one.

Keatts masterful move against the zone
Notre Dame jumped out to their largest lead in the first half when they went into a 2-3 zone. They were backing the back line and extending the top. This left Burns wide open in the middle to take the 15 footer. They were banking on Burns missing that shot, and they bet right. Burns doesn’t shoot that 15 footer as well as one might expect, but he was so open he almost had to take it.

After a few missing, NC State’s offense looked lost and stagnant. Keatts decided to move joiner into the high post and take out Burns. This was a great move, as suddenly that flash to the middle was a wide open jumper for a guy who thrives on mid-range jumpers. After he hit a couple, Notre Dame switched to a 1-3-1 zone, but that was leaving too much room on the wings and the corners for State shooters.

Eventually, the Irish went back to some man, and Burns started to take over.

This was the game within the game that I’m not sure people paid attention to. Keatts made moves that won this game, so give him the credit he deserves.

DJ Burns is such a monster
No one can stop Burns. When he gets it on the block, he scores. But when teams throw double teams at him, he finds the open man. NC State could very easily run their entire offense through DJ Burns if they wanted to. But they choose to use him in spurts, which I think keeps him fresh and keeps defenses on their toes. I mean, they also have one of the best guard tandems in the nation you have to worry about. Burns finished with 14 points, 4 boards and 3 assists.

Casey Morsell deserves more credit
Terquavion Smith, Jarkell Joiner and DJ Burns get the hype, but no one has been more consistent than Casey Morsell. He’s shooting a blistering 44% from long range on the season, is scoring at the bucket and is the teams best defender. Morell isn’t flashy, but he might be the glue that is really putting this NC State run together.

Ebe Dowuona is coming into his own
When Mahorcic went down, State fans were worried. Could Burns handle this big of a load? Could he play 30+ minutes per game? And if he does, could Dowuona spell him? Well, Ebe has quietly been a real surprise for NC State for the past few weeks. He was a key in this game because he was able to guard the ND bigs on the perimeter without fouling. He also has been adding a little offense to his game. He looked like a mini Burns in this one, going 3 for 4 from the field, even showcasing a little lefty hook. He added 3 blocks as well. If Dowuona can become a guy that you drop the ball down to for a bucket, then heck, State might finish the season with 3 viable bigs (something almost no team in the conference has).

Smith was off, but dropped 6 assists in this one, I’d love to see even more!
Thank God the kid is ok. I wasn’t sure he was going to suit up in this one, but I felt as if, if the Dr. cleared him, he’d play. He wore a little back brace in this one, and I’m not sure if that threw him off or not, but he just never could get it going. But, despite his struggle shooting the ball, he was doing a great job of facilitating. He had 6 assists on the night. This is where Smith has really improved. I know he wants to score and keep his average up, but this kid is SO dangerous when he starts attacking and dishing. I’d like to see him start trying to get 10 assists and 12 points per game. Cut down on the long range bombs and instead put pressure on the d with drives and dishes. NBA scouts know Smith can score. There’s not question. But if this kid started throwing up a few double digit assist games and then plop down a 30-piece once in a while, it would certainly move him up the draft boards.

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Rev
Rev
1 year ago

I have not watched a single Wake game. Their record ain’t bad. They were lucky to play FSU and BC early, split with Clemson and beat Duke. We need this road game to keep ahead of them for one of those NCAAT spots.

Papajohn
Papajohn
1 year ago

Twitter buzz that Jack Clark will play Saturday. Great news!

Papajohn
Papajohn
1 year ago

Wake almost pulled off the upset at Pitt last night, lost by two. They’re going to want to erase that bad taste on Saturday. We’re going to need to be at our best to pull off this one. Hope Terquavion’s shot is back, it’ll be critical this week.

Papajohn
Papajohn
1 year ago

Could not agree more on Smith backing off on the really long 3PT shots. He’s actually defeating his own purpose, lowering his shooting percentage and scoring by taking more difficult shots. As he gets closer to the arc, he gets better. Last season he shot 40% from the arc during ACC play by shooting far fewer bombs. Also, you mentioned Keatts’ strategy. I don’t think he gets enough credit for that. The players haven’t always executed it well, but he’s adjusting as the games progress. The older players are implementing better. Morsell is finally living up to what Keatts expected… Read more »

Rev
Rev
1 year ago
Reply to  Papajohn

Keatts main issues with his detractors, and I think they are somewhat justified, are lack of discipline (long 3’s from Terq) and poor execution of plays called after timeouts or critical situations. Our defense has covered up a lot of our weaknesses. A little more efficiency on offense is all we need to get over the hump. A win AT Wake would go a long way towards our goal of getting t9 the DANCE.

NC State Basketball

NC State Men’s Basketball 2024-25 Scholarship Breakdown

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With the announcement of the addition of Forward Ismael Diouf yesterday, and news breaking that MJ Rice and Ernest Ross are no longer with the team this morning, here’s a look at the Scholarship Breakdown for the Men’s Basketball Team for the 2024-25 season.

Senior (1 Year of Eligibility)

Forward/Center Brandon Huntley-Hatfield
Forward/Center Ben Middlebrooks
Forward Guard Dontrez Styles
Guard/Forward Jayden Taylor
Guard Michael O’Connell
Guard Marcus Hill
Guard Breon Pass

Junior (2 Years of Eligibility)

Forward/Center Ismael Diouf
Guard Mike James

Sophomore ( 3 Years of Eligibility)

Guard/Forward Dennis Parker Jr.

Freshman (4 Years of Eligibility)

Guard/Forward Paul McNeil Jr.
Guard Trey Parker

NC State now has 1 scholarship available for the 2024-25 season. 

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Ernest Ross is No Longer on NC State’s Roster

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According to a source, Senior Forward Ernest Ross is no longer on NC State’s roster.

On April 17th, Ross entered the Transfer Portal. On May 10th, Ross verbally committed to UTSA. Then on May 15th, Ross announced that he would in fact be returning to NC State for his final year of eligibility.

Ross played in 14 games this past season, averaging 3.4 minutes per contest. After playing in 34 games last season, averaging 11.4 minutes per contest, Ross saw his participation dip to a career low this season, but that didn’t for a second break his infectious personality.

Ross was a consensus 4-star player in NC State’s 2021 recruiting class, with 247Sports ranking him as the #60 overall player nationally. ESPN ranked him as the #5 overall player in the state of Florida.

According to a source, Ross is leaving the program for personal reasons, that are non-basketball related.

Ross has 1 year of eligibility remaining.

 

 

 

 

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MJ Rice is No Longer on NC State’s Roster

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According to a source, Sophomore Guard MJ Rice is no longer on NC State’s roster.

Rice transferred to NC State last offseason from Kansas, and only played in 9 games for the Wolfpack this past season, averaging 4.1 points in 8.8 minutes per game.

On January 24th, it NC State announced that Rice would be sitting out the remainder of the season, and that they would be submitting a waiver for the season to count as a Redshirt year.

Prior to the beginning of the  season, Rice stepped away from the program for personal reasons, and missed the first 7 games, before joining the Wolfpack against Maryland Eastern-Shore.

The Kansas transfer played in 23 games for the Jayhawks as a Freshman, averaging 2.2 points in 7.6 minutes per game. ON3 ranked Rice as the #24 overall player nationally in the 2022 recruiting class. They also ranked him as the #2 overall player in the Transfer Portal.

It was always ‘iffy’ whether or not Rice would be on next years roster, but he didn’t enter the Transfer Portal, and remained with the team on their magical run, and even after.

According to a source, Rice is leaving the program for personal reasons, that are non-basketball related.

Rice has 3 years of eligibility remaining.

 

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NC State Commit Ismael Diouf: VIDEO VAULT

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NC State just landed a MASSIVE commitment from Canadian Forward Ismael Diouf (6’9″/215). Here’s a VIDEO VAULT of the new NC State big man.

 

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