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NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts: "We Answered A Lot Of Questions"

January 31, 2021

NC State head coach Kevin Keatts met with the media via Zoom following the Wolfpack's 76-73 road loss versus Syracuse Sunday evening.

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

Opening Statement

“I’m disappointed that we lost, but I’m proud of these guys. When you look at the fight that this team has and the adversity that we’ve had to go through in the last four or five days and to come out and put ourselves in a position to win on the road in the ACC, I’m proud of our guys. We’ve went from having an older team to where a lot of young guys have to make plays. Our younger guys will get better. I thought our guys played well. When you look at our veteran guys, I couldn’t have asked for more from Jericole [Hellems] who had a career high and Manny [Bates] with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Those guys gave me everything they could, and guys like Braxton Beverly and Thomas Allen, even though it doesn’t reflect on the score sheet as much, played. We’re young. When you look at the fact that we’ve got to play meaningful minutes from Cam Hayes, Shakeel Moore, and Dereon Seabron, all of whom are freshmen, I’m happy with where we’re at. We’ve got to go and continue to get better. We haven’t had time really to adjust without playing with Devon [Daniels], so today was our first opportunity to see how these guys would respond, and I thought we answered a lot of questions. Now, we’ve got to get back, and we’ve got to build on it.”

Were there any adjustments that Syracuse made in the second half on defense? What’s your assessment on your team’s offense in the second half?

“I just think we missed shots. When you play against Syracuse zone, you’re either going to make them, or you’re not. We got some of the same looks. I just thought we didn’t make those shots. Every shot that we took, I’m glad that my guys took it. I don’t think it was anything they did. We did a good job. Jericole did a good job in the middle of it, facilitating and making some plays. I know we had some turnovers that we normally wouldn’t have. The shots just didn’t go down.”

What was the gameplan without the top two leading scorers?

“I thought we did a great job. We were able to get the ball into the middle of the zone. What happens when you play Syracuse, you have to have a great guy who’s a play-maker in the middle. I thought Jericole Hellems did a great job of hitting Manny. He found some guys in the corner for some shots. We’ve been able to move the basketball around. It’s unfortunate that we came out on the shorter end because I thought our guys played their butts off. With our circumstances, I don’t think anybody outside our locker room would have predicted that this would have been a really good game to the stretch. Our guys believe, and these guys are going to get better.”

It felt like, at times, Syracuse’s length on the wing gave you some issues when they really needed a basket. Is that an area where you think Seabron can help you going forward?

“Yeah. These guys need playing time. Devon was playing a lot of minutes. Devon was a really good basketball player. We’re going to miss him. There’s no reason for me to sit up here and say we won’t miss him in every area. Those guys aren’t Devon Daniels. They haven’t played four years of college basketball. It’s going to take them some time, but they’re going to be good basketball players. The unfortunate thing for us is that they’re getting thrown more in the mix right in ACC play as opposed to getting those opportunities when we would have been playing non-conference. Their length is always great. They recruit length. They recruit length to their zone, and they do a great job. It’s the best zone you’re going to play against.”

Are you going to have D.J. Funderburk for the Virginia game on Wednesday?

“I don’t know the answer to that. There’s no timeline. We’re going to get back to school and deal with a couple of situations. That’s all I can say about that.”

Was that something that you knew in advance when you went up there?

“I found out once we left. That’s all I’m going to comment on it.”

What did the team have trouble defending with Kadary Richmond’s size?

“I thought he did a great job. When you look at the other guys, they’re more jump shooters, and he’s a paint-touch guy. I thought he did a really good job of putting his head down and getting to the paint, and he made some tough shots. I thought he did some good things. Our guys, for the most part, defended pretty well in this game. We had a couple of breakdowns that certainly, if we’d gotten back, it could be a different game. He had 14 points. That’s a big lift for those guys.”

How impressed are you with Bates’ play tonight?

“He was great. One of the things that we talked about with Manny was that I wanted to be able to rebound the basketball. I’ve been dying for one of these games where he has over 10 rebounds. I know we’re going to look at the score sheet and say, ‘He’s 7-for-9 for 17 points.’ I’ve seen that, and I know that he can do that. The next step in his development is to be an outstanding rebounder, and I thought he took a big step. I bragged the entire time about this young man getting better, and he is getting better when you look at the numbers that he posted: 17 points and 14 rebounds. I thought he played well, so I’m excited to see his transformation and how he continues to grow.”

You said you felt like the young guys answered a lot of questions for you tonight. What were some of those questions?

“When you look at Syracuse, their last couple of games have been pretty lopsided here. They’ve played well. I look back at the Virginia Tech game. They played a tremendous game there. I didn’t know what I didn’t know coming in. Knowing that we would have to play those three guys as many minutes and how they would respond under the situation. Would they fold, or would they play? When you look at their stats, their stats aren’t certainly going to pop out at you. I thought all three of those guys gave us great minutes. Did they make mistakes? Absolutely. Are they going to make mistakes? Absolutely. They’ve got to grow up, and they’ve got to grow up fast. I thought test one was good for us."

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