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NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts: "We're Trying To Get On The Court"

January 18, 2021

NC State has once again run into COVID-19 related issues. Following a positive test after last week’s Florida State game, the team has seen two more games postponed with last Saturday’s against Georgia Tech and Wednesday’s against Virginia. 

Kevin Keatts spoke to the media as part of the ACC coaches teleconference Monday about the issues facing his team, here’s a full breakdown of everything he had to say:

What’s the current status of your team? What’s the update?

We’re trying to get on the court. It’s been a challenge. When we got back from Florida State on that Thursday, the next morning, we had a Tier-1 person who was positive call in and say he had some symptoms. Obviously we automatically got him tested and unfortunately that test came back as positive. Obviously we’ve been testing for the last three or four days in a row just to make sure that it wouldn’t change, and unfortunately for us, a couple days after that we had one of our party also test positive.

We tested this morning, we’re going to test tomorrow, we’re going to test Wednesday. Hopefully we try to figure out. Right now, I have at least five people in our Tier-1 that are quarantined or a part of COVID-19. That’s the toughest part for us, it’s been a little frustrating. But who am I to get frustrated with what we have going on around the country. I pray for everybody that’s going through some of this stuff. 

Do you have any updates on Manny Bates and Braxton Beverly? Do you suspect they’ll be ready to play when you guys return? 

I hope so. Both of those guys are pretty banged up, and obviously Braxton’s is because he’s been playing for four years and he’s always played hurt. He’s a tough dude. It’s hard for him to even sit out games. He won’t tell you. That’s the problem. We have to pry it out of him when something’s wrong. He won’t step up and say ‘Hey, coach, I’m hurt.’ He’s just not built that way.

I’m hopeful both of those guys [can play]. I would say Braxton’s a little bit more ahead than Manny. When we’ll have both of those guys on the court, I don’t know. Our intentions, obviously because we missed the Georgia Tech game and now Virginia because of this, we have full intentions of trying to be ready to go on Saturday, but of course a lot of that’s going to come down to whatever happens with contact tracing and the virus. It won’t be because of a guy out because of injury. It’ll definitely be whether we play or not because of the virus.

What’s your confidence level of those games being rescheduled? 

My confidence level is high. What does that mean? I don’t know that. The unfortunate thing is in certain situations, you may have to lose a game against somebody to make up a game against somebody else. I think the biggest question is, if there is a chance for the tournament to be pushed back a little bit, it gives everybody the opportunity to make up a bunch of games. Now, I don’t even know if that’s an option. 

I’m confident that we’ll make the games up or try our best to make the games up. In our situation, we’ve lost three really good conference games, Louisville, Georgia Tech and now Virginia. We want to play those games. I think every coach in the league wants to be able to play those games, whether they happen or not. I think it would help everybody out if the tournament was pushed back, but I don’t think any of us are in control of that.

What have you learned and shared with other coaches about dealing with COVID? 

It’s weird because I don’t know that anybody has the answer to it. When you look at Florida State’s situation, and by the way that day I thought they could have beat the Lakers the way they played against us. They were tremendous. But, we don’t know and you don’t know everybody’s program and who has to pause. Are they being able to practice? Are there quarantine days? 

So, I think everybody falls under a different category. In Florida State’s situation, I think they had a good amount of days where they could practice. They were prepared for that because they play 10 guys, so you’ve got 10-12 guys. In [Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton]’s mind, you have two different sets of starters. Those guys’ competition in practice is doggone good, where they get a chance to compete against each other. I don’t think there’s any formula. I’ve seen a couple guys come off and be really good. One is Florida State who we played against. Early in the year Gonzaga did it. But most teams, I would say most teams that I’ve seen have struggled after having a layoff. 

What’s your team’s status in terms of practicing? 

We’ve been very limited. After we had our positive after Florida State, we were obviously going to practice because we had two days in between before Georgia Tech. We had to take a day off, and then we got back in with limited amounts of guys to be able to get some shots up. I’m scheduled to go at some point today, but obviously I’m still trying to figure out who can go and who can not go. I think that’s the biggest challenge. 

One of our biggest issues with the virus is the contact tracing piece. Certainly if someone else turns positive, just trying to figure out who has to sit and who has to play. The other part is that we’ve asked our guys to try and protect the entire program. If you have symptoms during the day or the night, please let us know and we’re going to be very cautious about not letting that person around anybody else in the program. To go back to your original question, it’s very limited. We don’t have a full team as of now. Some of that is because a couple guys were holding out because of injury, but we’re trying to get back to a full-strength team. 

How is the team holding up with everything? 

I’ve asked these guys to be ready to adapt. It’s going to be different. We’re all facing something that we’ve never seen before. Obviously games are going to be played and there’s going to be cancelations. There are going to be some makeup games. For the most part, I think our guys are understanding. Right now, my main focus for them is trying to get them prepared to go tomorrow to start the second semester academically. Obviously, we want to be ready whenever we get the opportunity to get back on the court. Whenever that presents itself, we’ll be ready to play.

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