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BTP Group Chat 2019 Basketball Season Previewganza!

It’s almost time!!

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at N.C. State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

We thought the football bye week would be a great opportunity to chat about the upcoming basketball season. PirateWolf wasn’t able to make this one, but we’ll get him back next week, so me and JEOHankins2 go one on one. By this time next week we’ll be watching an actual regular season ACC game, commence hype!

TheRealEssad: Let’s roll

JEOHankins2: So its weird to think basketball season is right here...that we already have an ACC game in a week annnd already things to get us excited and worried about at the same time

TheRealEssad: I know! The ACC Network hasn’t exactly scored with everyone, but it has at least positively affected the basketball season

We get a league game to start the season, not to mention more in conf games

JEOHankins2: It was a win-win for the league in basketball more so than football...having the recent national champs as well as other blue bloods allow them to really sell their programming

TheRealEssad: Yup

JEOHankins2: Clemson being the only ACC football team with a pulse has really made the Network look minor league

TheRealEssad: The Coastal with the circle of horrible-ness

JEOHankins2: Saw you were live posting game reactions from the exhibition against Mount Olive...what were your biggest takeaways?

TheRealEssad: It’s hard to really take much of anything away from an exhibition. What I’m looking for there are the intangibles

In too many of the cupcake games last year, we saw the team start slow, then eventually wear the other team down and blow them out

So looking back it looks like we blew through that non-conf season, but it should have been a red flag in hindsight

JEOHankins2: Thats an interesting point

TheRealEssad: Against Mount Olive, the team came out firing defensively, forcing turnovers and not even giving them a chance to get in rhythm

JEOHankins2: They definitely appeared to be locked in defensively for 3/4 of the game...maybe it is a residual of missing the NCAAs or Keatts finally adding players with not just the skill set but mentality to play in the system

TheRealEssad: I’m looking for who’s bringing energy. Who looks like their shot has improved (Hellems), and who looks like they will be kind of the same (Daniels)

I do hope the team took it personally they missed the tournament

JEOHankins2: On that note, especially considering intangibles...who was somebody you saw or see that we need to make a leap whether it is in leadership, hustle or in scoring, rebounded etc?

TheRealEssad: For returning players, either Bryce or Daniels

MJ needs a reliable #2

Andree and Manny Bates look to be great additions, and will help contribute for sure

But teams will focus defense on Markell, there needs to be a second go-to option

JEOHankins2: I thought Bryce showed a sense of urgency and ownership on the court as you spoke of...maybe a realization that his role is going to be massive...especially if he has to play some PG with Seabron out (curse you to hell Demon of Injury)

TheRealEssad: It seemed like Bryce was pressing a bit, but I’m not going to read too much into that

I was really looking forward to seeing Seabron. Mostly because there has been so little film out there of him playing actual basketball

I keep hearing bits and pieces of his athleticism and supposed handles, but I need to see it

JEOHankins2: Yeah I as well...a 6’6” PG is hard to find...and a potential long-term weapon thatis going to need the chance to develop some

TheRealEssad: Yeah he’s like slow cooked BBQ, just leave him in the oven. By year 2 or 3 he might be really good

JEOHankins2: Gotta have the patience to see...I am most intrigued by Hellems this season...I think its cool he got the start and he seemed like a kid who was extremely coach-able and a great teammate...I think we will need a large contribution from him on a little bit of everything, to have some success this year

TheRealEssad: Yeah, if the team is to approach the true Keatts system, we need the whole floor full of shooters

We did not have that last year at all

So that means Bryce, DD, Bev, and Hellems need to be more reliable

JEOHankins2: The hope is all four could make a leap...b/c if they have not...I still think we are a tourney team...just maybe back to a double digit seed again

Which brings me to another question...recognizing how much we LOVE numbers in the BTP community...if you could choose a stat that you’d like to see us as a leader that you think would correspond to high level of success for this 2019-2020 team what would it be (besides of course wins)?

TheRealEssad: Hm, good question

I would say free throw attempts

Obviously ft % would be great, but we need to get to the line more

Being only a jump shooting team won’t make that happen, and games are won at the line


JEOHankins2: I agree with that FTA would show a level of aggression some guys have lacked in the past...

I was considering turnovers forced

TheRealEssad: Yeah, turnovers forced would be great

That plus points off turnovers

JEOHankins2: If we can lead the ACC in Opponent TO % that shows that Keatts system is in full play at this point

TheRealEssad: The idea of getting the “full Keatts” system really intrigues me

We’ve never had this before with a coach. I never felt any sort of true direction with Gottfried

Or Lowe

JEOHankins2: Absolutely not just that its like nothing we’ve really seen in this league as a whole...

TheRealEssad: Herb had his system and took a long time to instill

The one corollary is UNC, to be honest

They run a fast break offense by design

But not with this level of defensive pressure

JEOHankins2: We’ve had aggressive defenses and lock down half court teams...but a Nolan Richardson 40 Minutes of Hell hybrid hasn’t really be the norm in the ACC

Right Chapel Hill is it...

TheRealEssad: We have seen flashes of the full system, but the players hadn’t been refined, it wasn’t all in control. I would like to see them fully in control of the pace

I keep thinking how missing out on having Bates last year was a missed opportunity

Because just having him to help protect the rim when the press gets broken makes all the difference

JEOHankins2: Bates is the prototypical C for this system...

TheRealEssad: Yup

JEOHankins2: BUT he has got to stay healthy...which brings me to another point...although minor, the bruises and bumps by multiple guys feels like the football team all over again

TheRealEssad: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves

Basketball is a much longer season

By most accounts Keatts was being precautionary

It’s troubling that Seabron was in a walking boot, though

But Hellems it seems going out was just to play it safe

That’s what walk-ons are for in that kind of game

JEOHankins2: Unannounced, unexpected Seabron injury...Hellems being taken out...Bev Funderburk being out...Bates has injury history, Markell has missed multiple games every season (for different reasons)’re right that its way to early to have any concern, to worry...just something to keep an eye on

TheRealEssad: We’ll monitor it

Speaking of DJ, I think he’ll miss the first two games then be back

JEOHankins2: Yeah that sounds only concern is his complete lack of presence right now...he wasn’t on the bench was he?

TheRealEssad: He’s suspended

Not allowed to participate with the team

JEOHankins2: Right that I know

TheRealEssad: KK don’t play

JEOHankins2: But my point is even if he is back in two games, he wouldn’t have practiced with the team or even been around them for, what is it, weeks?

TheRealEssad: It’s as if he’s not on the team until he’s back, basically

Yeah, same as when Markell had his legal trouble

He’ll be behind on conditioning and game speed

JEOHankins2: It might be 4 or 5 games in before DJF clicks with the team...especially a ton of new faces

It’ll be curious to see

TheRealEssad: And he’ll get the chance to ramp up

We have a string of small cakes after the first two before Memphis

Yeah, I agree with you, but I think he won’t be needed to be a primary option

JEOHankins2: Which is great to have him prep for

TheRealEssad: Plus we won’t know if he’s solved his fouling habit

JEOHankins2: Hopefully with more depth behind him, Keatts can stagger his minutes more to keep him available to play aggressively late in the game...

TheRealEssad: Yeah, if Bates stays healthy I’m not sweating it

JEOHankins2: So that brings us to this, what would constitute a good season, a bad season and a great season realistically in your opinion?

TheRealEssad: Good/great season:

Top 4-5 in the league (would love a double bye in the ACCT),

No bubble talk at all, just be solidly in the tournament

Sweet 16

Bad season:

Injury bug/offense doesn’t click, leads to .500 or just under finish in the ACC

Another NIT appearance

Realistically it’s down the middle:

I see a #6 finish in the league

Second round loss in tournament

JEOHankins2: I am in a similar boat...a great season would be a Double Bye in ACCT, Top 6 seed in NCAAs and with all our veteran guards + depth I think an Elite 8 depending on matchups

TheRealEssad: 6 seed or higher would be outstanding given how we haven’t seen that apart from once with Herb

JEOHankins2: Bad season: Injuries/suspensions as well, Andree/Bev shooting remains mediocre, Markell forces the issue to much to look towards the NBA...might be ignorant but I can’t see an NIT season but could definitely see 8/9 game in ACCT and a First Four game in NCAAs

But realistically 6-7 in ACC, 8/9 seed in NCAAs, 1st round loss

TheRealEssad: The thing that makes me (slightly) nervous about a potential repeat NIT appearance

The roster is relatively the same as last year

Yes we’re expecting guys to improve, but we haven’t yet seen guys under Keatts make substantial developmental leaps year over year

And that roster hit a ceiling last year

I’m hoping they’re improved in the right places to avoid that thought

Bates and Andree mostly

JEOHankins2: No doubt...fortunately unlike the Mt. Olive game (no disrespect to them I was cheering for them I had a kid I coached in HS on their team which was awesome to get to see)...we will see some initial answers in an actual game November 5th at home against GT...

Maybe win that convincingly, cruise through the rest...get an early national ranking before playing Memphis?

TheRealEssad: Nice!

It’s definitely possible

That stretch right there is pretty wild

We have tuneup games after GT, then it’s Memphis, Wisconsin, @Wake (ugh), @UNCG (not a gimmie), then @Auburn

Wisconsin being the only home game

ALL those are before January

No sleeping on the basketball team during the fall this year

JEOHankins2: Which is great for us as fans to see some good games...and great for the team to be battle tested in March

TheRealEssad: Totally

JEOHankins2: 4-2 out of those stretch of games is a good sign moving forward

TheRealEssad: Yeah

So what do you think of this supposedly down year for the ACC?

I’m not really buying it, it feels like one of those years where everyone beats up on each other

More league games, more home on homes

JEOHankins2: I think its a bit overblown...comparatively maybe to past years...but whenever folks claim this happens guys like Bennett, Ham and The Tilde find ways to remain competitive

TheRealEssad: Yup

JEOHankins2: It’s cliche, but there are zero easy outs in this league for teams in our range of the pecking order

TheRealEssad: And that right there is where I’m hoping the Keatts influence soaks in in year 3

To avoid that midseason malaise

JEOHankins2: My only worry is making sure our conference-mates do well in the OOC so we don’t have 6 teams dragging down our computer numbers and Quad placements (if that really even means anything)

TheRealEssad: Taking every game seriously

I’m not worried about the strength of schedule

JEOHankins2: Yes absolutely...I hope that with this kind of depth and recruit...if guys are slacking he has replacements to sit folks down if they get lackadaisical

TheRealEssad: If we had won 1-2 games vs ranked teams in conference last year we would have been in

We had so many chances against ranked ACC teams

JEOHankins2: UVA...smh...that was it

that was the one

TheRealEssad: But that’s what I mean when I say I want to avoid bubble talk

UNC, Duke and UVA don’t worry about SOS

JEOHankins2: Most definitely

TheRealEssad: They’re winning too many games

Just win and it’ll resolve itself

JEOHankins2: Just like my guy Al Davis always says

Any final thoughts on this upcoming season?

TheRealEssad: I was trying to keep my excitement muted for the last month or two. But then 1 minute into the exhibition I got wrapped up into it

I really hope fans don’t freak out when we lose some games

We wont go undefeated

And that’s okay

JEOHankins2: Thats a fools errand...the threads will be 200 comments long if we lose a close one to GT or drop the UNCG game

TheRealEssad: The trend is up. Just like football, 2020 is a key year. As long as 1 or 2 more recruits come in, next year could be very good

I am hoping we get a fully bought in Markell Johnson

Keatts has been open about him playing great halves of games, not full games

JEOHankins2: I think he’s going to really push Markell more than MJ has ever been...Bryce too...Keatts knows what this season is and could mean...

TheRealEssad: We need him to fully enter the 36th chamber and unlock his full potential

JEOHankins2: Tell those ACC teams to protect your neck

TheRealEssad: KK aint nothin to mess with

JEOHankins2: Keatts interestingly got his “bad” season out the way early...he’s felt the wrath of the fanbase when losing winnable games, he’s seen the complaints about scheduling...I think he is taking a proactive approach to all of that

TheRealEssad: I think so, it does seem like he systematically looked at what went wrong, and addressed those areas

Need better scheduling, check. Need outside shooting, got Andree. Need more rim protection, check

JEOHankins2: Yes 100% and if anything I hope we can appreciate that about him

TheRealEssad: I sure do

No looks of Gott on the sideline just letting the loss happen around him

I hope he watched that 24 point game over and over to figure out a way to never make that happen again

I’ve unfortunately thought about that game a lot

I think that loss is on him. He needed to switch things up to get easy buckets but tried to have the guys shoot their way out

But I’m hoping he learns

JEOHankins2: SBNation did a video calling it the Worst College Basketball game of all time...yeah there was a palpable sense of helplessness in that game that I hope Keatts remembers (who am I kidding, he’ll never forget)

TheRealEssad: How can he? We have to deal with it from other fanbases forever

Okay, you asked to wrap up a while ago

Those are my final thoughts, don’t ever have a game that resembles that VT game and we’ll be fine

JEOHankins2: hahahaha

Just hope to see a spirited effort all year on the defensive end and Markell force the NBA to draft him through his play this year...

Oh and that Newclass doesn’t get too mad he wasn’t in on this discussion

This time round

TheRealEssad: Hahaha

Sorrrrrry (Edit: we might be able to make that happen)

Agree it would be nice to see MJ get drafted

And that’s all I’ve got

I’m sure I’ll have plenty more next week

JEOHankins2: absolutely hope next week we are discussing how our new high scoring offense can compete against Clemson under the lights in C-F

TheRealEssad: Oh boy.

Wasn’t too jazzed about that news. But you never know. I’m unrealistically optimistic right now

JEOHankins2: all we can be...have a great evening man

TheRealEssad: It’s all we got