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NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts: "They're A Really, Really Good Basketball Team"

March 17, 2023

 NC State head coach Kevin Keatts met with the media one final time before facing Creighton in the NCAA Tournament.

Opening Statement...
Well, we're really glad to be in the great city of Denver. When I got here and just walked into this arena, there was a certain calmness about it. When I look up there and I see David Thompson's jersey retired and hanging up, I feel good about it.

Excited. Our guys are really proud to be here. It's been a lot of work that went into this year, and we're pumped about it. We're going to play against a very good Creighton team that has great tradition, has done a good job, good coaching. But our guys are excited for the opportunity.

Coach, you mentioned David Thompson, a favorite. This is obviously the 40th anniversary of kind of the moment that raised the profile of this whole tournament. For those of us who don't spend a lot of time around your program, how is that honored on a day-to-day basis? Pictures, trophies, do you talk about that, that kind of thing?
Well, David is obviously a part of the '74, and obviously we talk about that a lot. We did honor the '83 team, our athletic director Boo Corrigan did a great job getting those guys back to campus and we got everybody that was still living come to campus and had a great time with it.

Tradition is huge at NC State. We do not hide from it. We understand that we're one of few schools that have two national champions. Both of those teams were so special to us. I'll talk about the '83 team since we're talking about the 40th anniversary.

They came out of nowhere, worked extremely hard, and obviously came away with a National Championship.

It was great moments where they were on campus. We were able to have those guys talk to our players and exchange numbers, and I thought it was a greatest thing in the world.

Our guys embraced it. It's important to know where your culture and some of the former players came from and how they won championships.

That was a really unique thing for us.

Ryan Kalkbrenner shoots lay-ups and dunks and there's not a whole lot else. How do they scheme him to get those shots when that's pretty much all you're going to see and you kind of know that going in against them?
Man, he is really good. You look at it -- I don't know that I've ever had a guy or seen a guy who shoots 70 percent. And I'm sorry, I don't want to discredit him, 71 plus percent from the field. They do a great job. They run plays to get him the ball in the post. He's a great rim run guy, a big target, so he's able to be able to rim run and be able to get some shots by doing that.

He does a great job offensive rebounding. He's a talented player.

When you see and you get a chance to play against players, you always wonder where they came from. We had a kid on our team, Jericole Hellems from St. Louis -- and I remember trying to recruit this young man, and we didn't get far with it. Creighton did a great job with him. What a special talent he is, and he will be a handful for us. We've got to do a great job with him. I don't know if he's the type of guy you can guard with one guy. We've got to dig and possibly look to trap him at times.

Kevin, on the other end, Kalkbrenner is obviously one of the better defenders in the country. After a week of film, have you seen any similarities in him maybe that you saw to anyone in the ACC or how different is he as a defender and what challenge does that pose?
Yeah, that's a great question because you always try to look and say, all right, have we played against someone similar to him. I would say the closest one to him would be the young man from Boston College, Quinten Post, who was the most improved player in our league, talented, seven-foot, that can shoot it.

But he's tough. I know we concentrate a lot on his offensive end, which he's really, really talented. But when you look at what he does, two-time Big East Player of the Year; defensively, he changes shots. They do a great job with the drop coverage and making him shoot over you. He's tough. Like he may be the most all-around big guy that we've seen the entire season.

We spoke with Jarkel and T about playing a team that loves to get up and down the court. What challenges does Creighton present for you? This obviously is going to be a strength on strength game.
Yeah, we played two teams in our conference that I think Creighton is very similar to. Miami, who's got great guards, who can really get up and down, and then Duke, who's probably playing as good a basketball as anybody in our league. One of the biggest challenges is we've got to do a great job of getting back in transition defense. I mean, they're elite in transition. They really shoot the basketball.

Very seldom do you have five guys on any night capable of scoring in double figures. They have a great inside-out game. They do a good job of moving the ball around. They attack you off ball screens. It's a really good team.

Honestly, to be quite honest with you, I think they're better than a 6 seed. They're a really, really good basketball team. The times that they've struggled, they had some guys out, but when you look and they're playing their best basketball, it'll be a really big challenge for us.

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