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NC State Basketball

Kevin Keatts: "The Game Speaks For Itself"

February 9, 2021

NC State head coach Kevin Keatts met with the media via Zoom following the Wolfpack's 77-68 loss to Syracuse Tuesday evening.

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

Opening Statement

“First of all, I’m going to talk about something not related to the basketball on the court. I want to thank all of you guys who sent texts and prayers for Devon [Daniels] and his surgery. Just to give you a little follow-up, I know I released a statement about it, but everything went well. The doctors felt like everything was exactly what he felt when he got in there, and we expect a full recovery for him. Keep praying for him. It’s very frustrating for him. I don’t know that I’ve been around another guy who’s as passionate about getting into the gym and working out as he is. Continue with the prayers for him, and I appreciate all that you guys have done with that.

As far as the game, the game speaks for itself. What’s a little frustrating is we turned the ball over 20 times which is really not characteristic of us. I know we’ve had a few issues this year turning the ball over, but it wasn’t a good night in that area. Two things that really beat us tonight was we gave up 14 offensive rebounds. Typically, when you pick up a stat sheet, we typically have more shot attempts than the other teams because we force guys into turnovers and because of our ability to rebound offensively. They got 15 more shots than we did. They got 60, and we got 45 because of the turnovers and also because of the offensive rebounds. Not only are turnovers bad by themselves, but the issue with it was we turned it over for ’touchdowns,’ and they were able to score and not have to play against a set defense. Our effort was there. Our guys were playing hard. It was one of those games where it’s going to be hard to beat a good team, I don’t care where you play them, with that many turnovers and offensive rebounds. A lot of those rebounds came in the second half. I thought, in the first half, we turned it over 13 times and then seven in the second half. It wasn’t good enough. We have to get better in that area. We’ve got to value the basketball. I wish I could point to one or two guys and say, ‘You’ve got to better with ball security,’ but when you look at it, you see four, four, three, two, two, three, and two. It’s just not good enough for our team. We’ve got to get better in that area."

What did you see in terms of indecisiveness on the court?

“I think the biggest thing is we try to hit the same play every time instead of mixing it up. When you look at the first game, we were good. We’d get an interior bounce pass to Manny [Bates] for a dunk. We’d hit the guy that sprinted to the corner. We would make a skip pass. When we got the ball in areas, we’d hit the same area every time. For example, Manny catches it in the short corner on the first play of the game. He skips it, and we skip it for one more. It’s a good shot, but he tried the same play every time. In the zone, the zone puts you in spots where you have to be able to make plays from the short corner in the middle. In this game, you almost have to evoke because what happens is that your bigs become your point guards because of the fact that they give you, if you can get to the middle, the option to get it to the short corner. The other big thing about it is this is where we miss having a bigger guard. When you look out there, their size is a problem because we’ve got two guys right around six-foot at the guard spots right now, and that’s a tough deal. You have to have those guys on the floor because those are the guys that can make shots. Those are the guys who can shoot the three."

What are your thoughts on Thomas Allen’s performance tonight?

“He played well, and he needed it. He needed to see the ball go in the hole. What I told the team is that I want to get a night where Thomas is playing well, Braxton [Beverly] is playing well, and all of our bigs are playing well. We just haven’t been consistent enough. We’re starting to get one guard playing well each game. When I say playing, I mean being able to shoot the basketball. We haven’t had it where we’ve had some of those guys play along with our bigs. It was good. It was good for [Allen]. He’s been struggling. I don’t know if he would say that, but he hasn’t been able to see the ball go in the hole. It happened for him tonight."

At halftime, you were shooting 53 percent from the field, but you had 13 turnovers and were only down one. Did you feel frustrated at the half that maybe you should have had the lead rather than trailing?

“I felt fortunate at the half that we were only down one and we’d committed 13 turnovers. It could have been a lot worse because of the way we were turning the ball over. This is where you don’t have an experienced, senior guard who’s really a point guard playing that position and everybody has to handle the basketball, but that’s not who we are. We have turned the ball over a little bit more this year than we’ve had in the past. That’s because we don’t have that leadership in that area. At the end of the day, we have to have better ball security. I don’t care who you’re playing. When you turn it over 20 times, you guys have covered us for the last three or four years; that’s what we do. We turn people over, and when you look at it, we lost the turnover battle. That’s not good for us, and that’s not good for the way we play.”

The Wolfpack is +83 in the first half and -15 in the second half. Are there any recurring themes as to why that is?

“I don’t think there are any themes. At the end of the game, sometimes when you’ve got to make plays, and you’ve got younger guys out there who happen to make plays that haven’t been in that situation, that could be it. I don’t have one particular thing I can say is the issue in that part of it. What I will say is I am glad that we’re coming out playing well in the first half. What we’re having to do with this team is try to figure out how to be consistent for 30 to 35, to 36 [minutes] and then add a minute or two every game where we’re playing the entire game."

What was the difference tonight in the second half?

“I just thought we missed shots. I think the biggest difference, if you ask me, in the second half is that they got to the offensive glass. I thought we were solid. When you look at it, most of the offensive rebounds came in the second half. We got out-rebounded, 22-12. That was a big difference right there."

As a coach, how do you approach preparing your team for the Syracuse zone?

“This is a weird year for us. Honestly, we’ve had a lot of success in my prior three years. This is the first year we’ve lost against the zone. We’ve played well against it. This is probably the best zone that we’re going to face all year because they play it for 40 minutes, and they play it year-round. That’s what they are. You’ve got to find cracks in it, and if you can find cracks in it, you can make shots. You can be successful. When you think about the past, we’ve always had a guy like Al Freeman who’s six-three or C.J. Bryce or Devon Daniels: a bigger guard who’s able to see over it and also pass over it. We just don’t really have that. You have to have a guy of size that can see over but also be able to shoot against it. We don’t have that guy on our roster. The closest guy is [Dereon] Seabron. He can see over it, but shooting threes isn’t the strength of his game right now."

Going into the game, you had three straight games where you out-rebounded your opponent. What do you think you guys got away from that allowed Syracuse to out-rebound you in the second half?

“I just think they beat us to basketballs. They just went and got it. They beat us to basketballs. There was one time where we gave up three offensive rebounds, and I had my biggest lineup in the game. We had Jericole [Hellems] at the three, D.J. [Funderburk] at the four, and Manny at the five. During that segment, we gave up three offensive rebounds. They beat us to the basketball. We’ve got to get better. We have to. We emphasize rebounding, and we'd done a good job in the last few games of rebounding. They beat us to the basketball in the second half, and that’s something we have to address."

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