NC State Basketball

Keatts: "We Are Going To Play The Way We Play... We Won't Change"

January 7, 2019

NC State head coach Kevin Keatts met with the media today to discuss the upcoming game against rival North Carolina.

NOTE: Click the video above to watch the press conference.

We can talk strategy, but what are you wearing tomorrow?
I have no idea.

It’s a game-time decision, just like if we win a road game, we never determine where we’re going to get ice cream before we win so I have no idea.

What have you seen out of UNC? They are team that can get out and run.
When you look at them, they’re a really good basketball team. I think [they’re] a better basketball team than they were last year.

What stands out about Carolina as I’ve watched tape on them the last couple of days is, as always, they’re tremendous in transition. They do a great job of scoring in transition.

They’re one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. They get a lot of their possessions back, and then they’re shooting the ball well from three at certain positions.

You have to do a tremendous job getting back on those guys or they’ll score easy baskets all night long, and we’ve got to find a way to keep them off the glass.

Last year, one of their players said one of your guys talked trash to Luke Maye.  He said he was unathletic and he couldn’t play.  He then had 27 of his 33 points in the second half. Do you need to review with your guys to not talk trash about Luke Maye?
I don’t know who that guy was, but hopefully he’s not with us now.

Luke had two tremendous games against us last year, and I thought he was very good.

He’s having a very good season this year. He’s a good player. I’ve got a lot of respect for him because he’s a guy who came in more as a walk-on and has established himself as a really good ACC player.

We respect his game, and hopefully our guys are up for the challenge.

How have you guys without a traditional post player been able to rebound successfully?
Well, it takes a team. I’ve got a bunch of guys who are 6-4, 6-5, 6-6. We have to rebound as a team, and give them a lot of credit, they’ve done a tremendous job.

Led by Torin Dorn. He’s one of the better rebounders in the country at his size, but throughout different games, Devon Daniels has rebounded the ball, C.J. Bryce, and we’re starting to get Wyatt. What he did last game was very encouraging, having eight offensive rebounds, and D.J. Funderburk’s rebounding also.

It’s more of a collective effort for us because we don’t have that one guy that can average 10 rebounds a game.

You’re shooting 52% as a team, third-best in the country. How is that and why is that?
I’ve said this all along: if you’re going to be a great shooting team, you have to be a great passing team. Though we’ve turned the ball over a little bit lately more than I would like to, I think we’ve done a great job of making sure that we’re passing the ball to the shooters in the right spots, and we’ve been able to make some shots.

How different are the expectations this year for you as a Top 15 team?
I don’t think the expectations have changed at all. Every game we go into we’re expecting to win, and we would love to win. It doesn’t change for me or the team at all. The next opponent is who we’ve got to concentrate on.

When you talk about playing ten players, what makes that work?  You see coaches shorten rotations; you’ve stuck with ten.  How is it working?
Those guys have given me confidence in practice. I think every coach in the country plays the guys that they feel comfortable with.

When you look at our 10 guys, I don’t think there’s a lot of separation from the five guys that I start and the five guys I bring off the bench. Each one of those guys has done something in practice that’s made me feel good about playing them in the games.

We played against Miami, and we only played nine because Blake Harris was out. Certainly, he’ll be back and ready to go hopefully for tomorrow, and we should go back to our 10-man rotation.

Did you have a question when you started the year... were you sure you could do it?
When I build a roster, I thought we had nine or ten guys capable of playing. Obviously we lost one guy to transfer and didn’t know Manny Bates would be out for the year, but I knew we could play ten and possibly 11.

What does it say about Markell that he can elevate his game in the second half?
It says he’s maturing as a point guard. 

When you have the experience of playing three years in the ACC,  you should be a better player.  I’ve challenged Markell in many ways because we need his leadership.  Last year he led the ACC in assists but this year we don’t necessarily need him to do that, we need him to score.

He’s had some moments where he can take over a game, and we need him to be that guy.

Storming of the court in PNC Arena. How neat would that be?
I'm not into the storming of the courts.  I think if you win the game, be excited and act like you've been there before.

I can't control what the students do... but I want these guys to get where they are used to winning the games.

TD has a good relationship with Luke.  Will that help him in their matchup?
I hope it helps him where he can tell his teammates how good he was last year.

Out of the guys who played Luke last year, the post guys, none of them are back. Hopefully DJ Funderburk and Wyatt Walker don't know anything about Luke's success.

He spends a lot of time, I know he starts at the four, they spend a lot of time with him at five and Johnson at the four. I think he'll play both positions and TD will guard him at times. Hopefully his experience pays off.

Can you press them?
We are going to play the way we play. We won't change. We've been successful doing that, and we're going to play our game.

Why is it tougher to find leadership?
I think it's a different age. I think young men now are more consumed about themselves or scoring.  A lot of guys determine how they play by how they score.

When I played you had to do what you had to do to get on the floor, even if that was being scrappy, playing defense, and/or being a leader.

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Keatts: "We Are Going To Play The Way We Play... We Won't Change"

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