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NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts: "Everybody's Got To Continue To Work"

January 23, 2021

NC State head coach Kevin Keatts met with the media via Zoom following the Wolfpack’s 86-76 road loss to North Carolina Saturday afternoon.

NOTE: Click on the video in the player above to watch Keatts’ press conference.

Opening statement…

"Well, I thought our guys fought hard. When you look at it, I thought we played a really good, hard, inspiring game. When you look at it, I thought the difference in the game was probably the last three or four minutes in the first half. It kind of got away from us a little bit. You look at the two guys who really hurt us today on the offensive glass was Armando Bacot who played well, not so much on the offensive glass but scored inside, and also Day’Ron Sharpe. Both of those guys played extremely hard, extremely well, and made big differences in the game. I thought our guys are playing well. One of the things I told my guys in the locker room just now is, ‘Man, you’re playing well. You’re competing. This will be, whenever we get back to practice, the first time in about 15 or 16 days that we’ve had the entire team in there. We have to go in there and get ready for the next game, and everybody’s got to get on the same page. Everybody’s got to continue to work. We’ve got to get back in shape and figure everything out. Give Carolina credit; it’s a good win on their home floor.”

Braxton Beverly played well today. How important is his play moving forward?

“It’s good because we need some of our better players to get reps together and be able to play together. Braxton’s had a couple of good days in practice. I had a good conversation with our sports medicine department. We were just playing him on gameday, and that was tough because he’s a guy who needs to play in practice to get a little bit of rhythm, and I think that’s really affect the way he’s played early on. Because he was able to get more reps leading up to this game, I knew he would play better than he’s played in the last few games. It’s tough because it’s a great balancing act with him whether you save him for just the games or what I’ve asked for: ‘Let me get him for 15-20 reps in practice so he’ll be prepared for when the game starts.’ It was good to see him play well.”

The team was only 6-for-18 from three tonight. Do you feel like you passed on a few threes during the course of the game?

“Yeah, I do. I I thought Cam Hayes had one in the corner where he was called for a travel. I thought it was a combination with Jericole [Hellems] who had a couple of threes that he could have taken that he drove the ball. A lot of it was rhythm and timing and all of that stuff. We didn’t particularly make a bunch of threes, but I thought we passed on a bunch that we could have taken.”

Is there a number going into a game that you’d like to shoot in terms of attempts?

“I don’t. I want them to go with the flow of the game to get shots. I don’t have a number saying, ‘Hey, I need them to make at least 20 or make at least 10.’ We just try to take it in the flow of the game.”

Could you pinpoint any instances where you felt the detriment of the team’s layoff?

“I think it was more so rhythm, timing, and the guys being on the floor playing together. Not only were we on a pause, that’s the tough thing about it, and certainly everybody’s going through this, but we were out Manny Bates. Honestly, I played him a lot more minutes than I ever expected. Yesterday was his first time having contact since he sprained his ankle at the end of the Miami game. Pauses hurt, and here’s the crazy thing: Coaches love to have control, but we can’t control what happens with this virus. It’s unfortunate because we may have another one. We could have one in the next couple of days. It’s no excuse, but every coach in the country is going to go through this. Your team is just not the same team when you don’t have a chance to practice as much as you can, and you have to live with it. You’ve got to get better, and you’ve got to live it and try to figure it out.”

What did you think the biggest difference was for D.J. Funderburk in the second half?

“We challenged him. I didn’t think he played well at all in the first half, but I’ve got the stat sheet. When you’re in the course of the game, you don’t see everything, but I was pissed off a little bit at the stat sheet that I got in the first half because I just didn’t think he affected the game. He got in foul trouble. He played 9:30 in the first half and didn’t affect the game. We talked to him. I got his teammates to talk to him, and I thought he came out and responded. We’ve got a good basketball team. A lot of people will say, ‘Well, man, you’re 2-4 in the league.’ There’s a lot of basketball to be played. I’ve got to get my best guys back on the floor together to try to practice. I’ve got to try and figure out how to keep COVID away from our program if we can which I know is going to be a major challenge. I like our pieces. I’m not disappointed in the way my guys competed. We just came up a little bit short.”

How are the guys feeling after this one?

“Well, they’re disappointed. Think about this, and I know this sounds crazy: We were doing something that most NC State programs or players haven’t done. We were going for a sweep in the series, and we talked about it. Not only were we playing Carolina, but I didn’t realize it was 2002 since NC State’s won twice against Carolina. We had that opportunity, and I thought our guys understood.”

What’s your assessment on the defense today? What has to improve moving forward in ACC play defensively?

“Our offense has been well the last few games. I think our biggest problem is they came in and worked on pounding the ball inside as much as we can. When you look at those guys, they shot 4-for-11 from three and 8-for 18 from the free-throw line. I think the difference is that they were shooting around the basket. Give Bacot and Sharpe a lot of credit. They were very effective around the basket. When you’ve got guys shooting two-footers and three-footers around the basket, the percentages are going to be good. I thought we did a good job against a Carolina team that the last time we played, even though we won the game, we gave up 19 points in transition. Obviously, we know that’s one of the things that they’ve done. We were able to take away the transition, but we couldn’t keep them off the glass because we gave up 14 offensive rebounds, and that’s something we’ve got to work on."

Was there something that Shakeel Moore was dealing with that kept him off the court?

“He didn’t practice well. I’m one of those guys that rewards guys who practice well. He’s going to be fine. He’s a freshman. He’s going to play great in our program, but honestly, those guys haven’t practiced well. We’ve talked about being competitive in practice, and we had a stretch in practice last week where one team won 16 games in a two-day period, and they were short games, and the other team won five. The way I gauge whether you’re ready to play in the game is how hard you’ve competed in practice and if you’re prepared to play. That’s nothing against him. Leading up to the Carolina game before, he had great practices. I went with guys who gave us the best chance to win."

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