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WATCH: Moore, James & Baldwin Press Conference After Elite Eight Win (transcript)

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NC State’s Wes Moore, Aziaha James and River Baldwin met with the media for their postgame press conference after the Wolfpack defeated Texas in the Elite Eight, advancing to the Final Four for the first time since 1998. The video is below with the transcript underneath.

Wes Moore

Well, I’m just so proud of these young ladies. Again, it’s a long season. We had a little stretch, in February, where we lost a couple of road games, and I think everybody thought we were going to fall apart or whatever. And these players just kept working, stuck together. I mean, they’re chemistry’s so good. They really pull for each other. And when you get in a situation like this, that really pays off. And I would like to also say congrats to Coach Schaefer and his team. To lose a player like he did with Harmon at their Point Guard early in the year and to still make it this deep in the tournament says a lot about Vic and his players. But, like I said, I couldn’t be prouder of this group. We’ve had somebody step up, it seems like every game, different people. Aziaha stepped up big time in both these games. And, of course, River’s been a rock in there for us all year. So proud of both of these players.

Just a flood of emotions and thoughts. I think of Kay Yow, 34 years at NC State, and took this program to a Final Four in ’98. I think the of the players 2 years ago that were a double-overtime game away from being in this exact spot. So I think of them. And then I think of these players, again, overcoming all the doubts and questions and just…Final Four, y’all. I mean, this is my 35th year as a head coach, and it’s amazing. Very emotional, on Easter Sunday. Unbelievable.

I’m used to seeing kids develop, and Aziaha is an unbelievable example. Her Freshman year, great player out of high school. I mean, big-time player. But Freshman year, kind of had to work her way in. Last year she got more time, probably should have got even more, if I hadn’t have been so adamant about playing veterans. And now here she is, reaping the benefits. Yeah, it’s really awesome. She’s worked so hard over the summer. And like I said, her confidence. She used to maybe hang her head if things didn’t go well, if a shot didn’t go in, if I got on her. But now she is a woman. And she handles adversity and keeps coming back.

It’s tough on Freshmen. Really, our depth with our Freshmen class. And so, again, when you get in this situation, sometimes you go with the veterans that have been there a little bit more. But, they’ve kept great attitudes. Like I said, they really cheer for each other, pull for each other, happy for each other when they have success. And that’s pretty remarkable trait to have. And it’s made it work. You know, if they were totally into themselves and upset with their role, we wouldn’t be here right now. And, again, we’re excited about that class, and hopefully they’re going to grow with us and keep this tradition going like Aziaha did.

The (3-Point) line on the Texas bench’s end was correct. The line on our end was probably a little bit short. And at first Vic was hesitant about it, and then he finally said, you know, ‘I didn’t want to wait an hour or something to play the game.’ I was ready to get going. But Vic probably figured out, ‘You know what? This line down here is what we’re used to. That line down there isn’t.’ And if you’ll look, I think we shot the ball better on the other end both games, because that’s the normal line. But I’m not going to blame it on that. I mean, these kids, like I said, they shoot so far behind it sometimes nowadays, who knows where the line is? You know, it is an unusual situation. But, like I said, I don’t know that it was an advantage or disadvantage, either way. We both played a half on each end.

When you lose a game in double overtime as a coach, you 2nd-guess everything you did for that 50 minutes of that game. And you look back and think, if I just would have done this, we’d have gone to the Final Four. And I didn’t know if I’d ever get another chance, you know? I know I’m fairly young, but, you know, it’s tough to get there. And so it’s just amazing, you know, it really is. I mean, that’s your goal. That’s every player’s goal, every coach’s goal. When they start their career, when they start every season, is to ultimately get to the Final Four. And I don’t think we’ll be satisfied. I think we’ll still be hungry. But, you know, we’re going to really enjoy this plane ride home.

I knew Texas was going to make some runs. Obviously, they whittled it down there some. But, again, when you’ve got guards that can handle it, can get downhill and attack, it makes it really hard for people to try to pressure you and catch up. I noticed they didn’t really press us as much as they normally do, and I think that says a lot about our guards. And they just felt like they didn’t want to speed us up even more. Obviously, the Stanford game, we were down 10 at halftime. This game they made a run in the 2nd half. But these kids just like to play, and hopefully we can continue to take care of the ball. I think we’ve done a better job of that. And when you do that, it’s hard for people to make runs.

Again, her (James) confidence, it’s like a coming-out party. I think she, right now, probably the goal looks a little bigger. And, obviously, we’re going to her. I think all these players. River, over in the Virgin Islands, we told her, you’re it. We’re going to get you the ball. We’re going to ride you. And then with Aziaha, Saniya, we just have stressed, ‘We’re going to put you in situations where you can make plays.’ And, dang, they made plays.

You know, it’s funny because then River Baldwin kind of took over in the 4th quarter there. And so I just think it’s a matter of the matchups and who’s hot. Again, Aziaha was coming off the big 2nd half against Stanford, and that probably gave her a lot of confidence. She probably really likes this arena. I know I do. But, obviously, the other team knows she scored 20-something, whatever, in the 1st half. And so I’m sure they made adjustments and tried to make it a little bit harder on her.

Yeah, I wish I hadn’t had known (about the three point line discrepancy), to be honest with you. It was a tough call because it is a little bit of difference. But you’re also, like I said, looking at over an hour delay before they could get here. You’re also losing probably the ABC window. That’s a big deal to be on ABC. We’ve been fortunate to be on it a couple of times the last couple of years. But it’s a big deal. Like I said, I think players are used to shooting pretty far behind the line anyway. And so, yeah, but, definitely, it did take you out of your routine a little bit. And I was kind of late being where I was supposed to be with the players and all. But it worked out, so everything’s good. I was worried about if our players were going to have to wait an hour to play. I like the fact we could jump out there and play the game. And, again, I don’t think it affected the game, the outcome. Both teams played on it for a half. If it would have gone to overtime, we might have a complaint. But as it was, it was equal for both teams. These kids have handled different stuff all year. So, hey, they’re good.

It gives you a little bit of confidence (having played South Carolina in a home-and-home in the recent past). We were able to split with them. You know, they’re a great, great team. Obviously, the best team in the country. But you’re not playing a four-out-of-seven series. You’re playing one game, okay? So we’ve just got to find a way to win one game against them, and it’s going to be a big challenge. Obviously, I’ve seen them on TV quite a bit. I’m sure when I get on that plane in a little while, I’ll probably exhale for a minute or two. But we’ve got a pretty long flight. So at some point I’ll be watching them and trying to get ready. But, hey, right now, you know, you could tell me we’re playing the Trail Blazers, and I’d feel okay. We’re in the Final Four. Bring them on.

Of course, we knew Zoe (Brooks) was really good coming out of high school. I look at our stat sheet. Even with Aziaha going off and with River having an unbelievable 4th quarter, we’ve got 5 people in double figures, and that’s what’s been our strength all year long. So Zoe makes a big difference when she can come in and provide us…I mean, that gives you 3 guards that can really get downhill, you know? Maddie Cox, she’s from Texas, so I’m sure this was kind of special for her. But, you know, all other Freshmen. Again, we’ve kind of tightened our rotation up. But it’s a good group. And hopefully they’ll be patient and be ready when their time comes.

River Baldwin 

Super frustrated in the 1st half when they called that 2nd foul in the 1st quarter. Having to sit for so long, knowing my team needed me in the 2nd half to close out the game and just being that inside presence whenever they shut down the perimeter. You can’t guard all five of us when we all average double figures.

It’s just an honor to be part of a legacy that is NC State Women’s basketball. I didn’t start here, but I feel like I’ve been here my whole career. I really found a home here. So to be a part of the first Final Four for Coach Moore, I thank him for taking a chance on me and taking me into this program. I’ve loved every second of it.

I think whenever you get in early foul trouble like that, it’s easy to check out. So just staying locked in mentally and knowing that when your time comes and you hit the court again, you need to step up for your teammates and not be caught up in whatever’s going on in your own head.

I think this is part of what I was trying to achieve entering the Portal and just looking for a competitive program. Just looking to play competitive basketball with teammates that support me and coaches that trust me.

I’ve seen a lot of growth in Zaza since even the beginning of the year. She’s really stepped up as a leader. And we feed off of her energy. So just the growth in taking smart shots and being a reliable defender has been great to see throughout the season. As y’all saw this weekend, she is that girl.

I think a lot of it just comes having teammates that trust you and coaches that have confidence in you (becoming a scorer). And just feeding off their energy, they have given me confidence in myself.

Aziaha James

I just keep my head up, you know? You never know what can happen. I just kept going. My confidence was going as the shots were going in. So later in the game, they just kept hitting for me. So I just kept shooting.

I shot well, but I don’t want to say ‘Give me the ball,’ because all my teammates can score. I just allow the game to come to me. It did well for me.

I wouldn’t pick any other coach to play with. It’s been 26 years since the Wolfpack brought it home. So it’s good to light it up for Hillsborough.

We’re unstoppable when it comes to transition, as Coach Moore says. So that was our go-to every time, and it was just working good for us.

It feels so good to be a part of that since my Freshman year. It shows a lot about the Wolfpack. Just shows a lot about myself, just never giving up. People didn’t know my name my Freshman year, but you know my name now, so you see how I’ve grown.

I saw this program reaching. The sky is the limit for this program. We’re going to keep going. Since high school, they were doing good. So I felt like I could be a part of this program and make it better.

Oh, we came all the way out here and you see Wolfpack fans came out here, so just imagine what’s about to happen next. We just love the Wolfpack fans and how much love they show us. It’s our family. It’s our friends. It’s about to be big for us.

It feels amazing. You know, people doubted us (picked to finish 8th), and we didn’t care what the media had to say. We didn’t care what anybody had to say. We showed up on the court every time, and we proved who we were. But, yeah, it means a lot.

Matthew is Co-Owner of Pack Insider. He writes for all sports, with a focus on football and recruiting, and is in charge of business strategy. He is an NC State alum who majored in business. Matthew is also the lead pastor of The Point Church in Cary, NC.

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WATCH: Pack Insider’s DJ Burns 2024 ACC Tournament Highlight Reel

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There would be no ACC Championship if it weren’t for Senior DJ Burns.

Burns averaged 15.2 points per game over the 5 games, shooting an absurd 62.7% from the field, going on to win the 2024 ACC Tournament MVP Award.

Check out Pack Insider’s DJ Burns 2024 ACC Tournament Highlight Reel.





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NC State Basketball

NC State vs. Duke in the Elite Eight was the Most Watched Game of the Men’s NCAA Tournament

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The 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has come and gone, but it’s still remarkable to note that the Elite Eight matchup between NC State and Duke was the most watched game of the entire tournament.

Elite 8: Duke/NC State: 15.1 million
Finals: UConn/Purdue: 14.8 million
Final 4: UConn/Alabama: 14.1 million
Final 4: NC State/Purdue: 11.45 million
Elite 8: Purdue/Tennessee: 10.39 million

The game between the two ACC crosstown rivals was the most watched Elite Eight game in the past 5 years. The 15.1 million viewers was more than all but 5 college football games last season.

Sunday’s NC State-Duke NCAA men’s basketball tournament regional final averaged a 6.4 rating and 15.14 million viewers on CBS, marking the most-watched Elite Eight game since Michigan State-Duke in 2019 (16.20M) and the most-watched basketball game of any kind, including the Final Four and NBA Finals, since the 2022 national championship (Kansas-North Carolina: 17.05M)

Since the wave of cancellations and postponements that decimated the industry four years ago, the Wolfpack’s win ranks fifth among basketball games behind the aforementioned 2022 title game, North Carolina-Duke in that year’s Final Four (17.66M), the 2021 national championship (Baylor-Gonzaga: 17.08M) and Gonzaga-UCLA in that year’s Final Four (15.39M). (Link)

(The above information was before the Women’s Championship Game between Iowa and South Carolina beat all of those with 18.89 million.)

 

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NC State Basketball

NC State Reaches Out to High Point Transfer Guard Duke Miles

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NC State has reached out to High Point Transfer Guard Duke Miles (6’3″/182).

Miles was 1st Team All-Big South this year, averaging 17.5 points and 3.6 assists, shooting 52.8% from the field and 36.1% from beyond the arc.

Miles spent his first 3 seasons at Troy, before transferring to High Point. He has 2 years of eligibility remaining because of the Covid year and a Medical Redshirt for the 2022-23 season, when he only played 6 games.

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NC State Basketball

NC State is 7th in the Final Winter Directors’ Cup Standings

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The Final Winter Standings for the Directors’ Cup were released today, and NC State is currently ranked 7th! In the Final Fall Standings, the Wolfpack ranked 19th.

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NC State finished the 2022-23 athletic year ranked 19th in the Directors’ Cup Standings, marking the 3rd consecutive year the Wolfpack has finished in the Top-25.

Overall

Conference

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