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BTP Group Chat aka Is it okay to be hopeful? Edition

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The one where we allow ourselves a moment of excitement

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at N.C. State Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

TheRealEssad: Welcome to the Pack, Josh Hall!

JEOHankins2: very good news to see

PirateWolf:

Keatts has put together a heck of a recruiting class

TheRealEssad: Given the number of recruits, this has to be the best class in a generation

We’ve had some great classes, not trying to rank them, but there’s 5 guys in this class

JEOHankins2: One of the weird narratives people had begun to develop about Keatts was if he could recruit (despite landing Jalen Lecque)...glad this shuts that down for just a bit

I think the only class that compares this century is Purvis, TJW and Lewis

TheRealEssad: Yeah that’s the only other one that comes close

PirateWolf: Wasn’t the Scooter Sherrill class the 2000 class? But, yeah. Point taken

TheRealEssad: Current ranking

TheRealEssad: Yeah, KK hasn’t yet gotten any McDonald’s All Americans

PirateWolf: Killin it

Back where we should be

(at least according to one point-in-time not-on-the-court ranking)

But still, top 5 class, wow. Then again, it shows just how well Duke and UNC have been recruiting that we need this to keep pace

JEOHankins2: What is beautiful is he did this with 4 in-state kids...that has been so much of a focus in football...but with basketball it’s so valuable to get in with the AAU programs that run through here

TheRealEssad: Yeah, I’m glad he’s putting a lot of focus locally

The rumors of the Hall/Shakeel Moore package deal ended up being true

I’m trying not to think about having 7 brand new players to integrate into the team next year. For now, just June

PirateWolf: Exactly. Worry about tomorrow’s problems tomorrow, just enjoy the possibilities for right now

JEOHankins2: Fortunately (barring something unexpected)...you’ll have 3 Sr leaders to guide in that...Bev, DD, DJF...Hellems will be a Jr, Bates will be in his 3rd year

Yeah, a good number of veteran leadership

Okay, turning back to the present

Since the football team has been disbanded for the remainder of 2019, nothing to discuss there

I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about the basketball team bouncing back from the GT loss

Primarily because of the rise of CJ Bryce, and actually not Markell Johnson

I know he’s still coming back from injury but I feel like we’ll have to live with him fading in and out of games

JEOHankins2: Bryce is playing at another level...as a veteran should...I now trust him with the ball in his hand at the end of the game

TheRealEssad: He’s taken over for Torin Dorn as the team’s leading scorer

He has a Demar Derozan midrange jumper

JEOHankins2: And he is much better offensively than Dorn

PirateWolf: But will he take over Steven’s title from Dorn as State’s “Cupcake King”

TheRealEssad: Yes

PirateWolf: Sorry. Gotta get after Steven about that one whenever possible, because it’s still funny to me how riled up that got people

JEOHankins2: HAHAHAHA

TheRealEssad: Haha, and I’m sure he enjoyed it

The one thing that has worried me consistently during the Keatts era so far remains: half court defense

When the game slows down, I do not yet have confidence the team can get consistent stops

That’s what I’ll be looking for them to improve during the fall

JEOHankins2: I am less worried about the half court defense than the transition D...they do a great job guarding the three...with healthy Bates and DJF, I think we will see better defense against 2s...

It was absolutely a problem in past years

TheRealEssad: As long as they can keep their hands to themselves

Need to avoid fouling

I was happy to see the Bates/DJ combo in the last game though

PirateWolf: I know we’re a few games in so far, but I just have such a hard time putting too much stock into early basketball games. So much can change from the early season by the time the calendar rolls over and things get serious

TheRealEssad: I agree with that, I’m not assuming the November team will be the March team

PirateWolf: Mainly because I end up getting way too excited this time of year every year and then have to be brought back down to earth

TheRealEssad: That being said, most of the team returns from last year

JEOHankins2: hahaha thats fair...as much as it sucks we lost to GT...that has allowed me to speculate much more

TheRealEssad: They aren’t rookies

Many of the habits we don’t like may have set in at this point

Daniels may just be that kind of high energy erratic player at this point

PirateWolf: Damn, dude. I’m trying to stay grounded, not get run over!

TheRealEssad: Haha, I’m not throwing poop on the team

I still think a good run through the ACC season is within reach

PirateWolf: haha. I agree

The injuries and the Seabron academic redshirt certainly haven’t helped, though

TheRealEssad: Just raising concerns for what I’m looking to see improvements on during the cupcake section of the schedule

With Memphis coming up

Speaking more positively, what are some good things you’ve liked so far?

PirateWolf: We’ve already touched on CJ’s emergence, and that’s one of the two big things for me with the other being Manny Bates

He’s been fantastic. Not sure he would have been the same player last year (redshirt years do help, even in basketball), but man this team could have used him last year

TheRealEssad: You mean Dikembe Jr?

PirateWolf: haha

TheRealEssad: That rim protection was the missing piece last year for sure

Having him back there helps backup the press

JEOHankins2: DJF has only played a couple of games...but he’s hitting that mid-range jumper, rebounding and staying out of foul trouble

PirateWolf: My chief concern right now, though, is that we’re running an 8-man squad. Really need at least a 9th guy to make it through ACC play where we want to be

TheRealEssad: Yes

JEOHankins2: Also, I think an announcer said Keatts noted that Manny’s defense as inspired DJF to play better d too...knowing he could very easily sit

Agreed on the rotation...my hope was Taylor would be healthy, but it looks bad...Dixon may be our 9th

TheRealEssad: Competition is a good motivator

PirateWolf: I know a lot of people were focusing on Taylor, but I was really hoping Dixon would produce a bit more to give us a solid 3rd big man

Man, when he first hit the floor in the GT game and hit that little hook I thought, “hot damn, we found him!”

JEOHankins2: HAHAHA me too

But to be fair man...he’s been hurt, we won’t know anything of what we’ll have

I don’t expect anything from him though

PirateWolf: Very true

TheRealEssad: The only other thing I wanted to talk about was how organic it feels like Keatts is recruiting. There doesn’t seem to be the need for some “June” to fall from the sky when we go into the summer with basically no class for the next year

He’s hitting the street, putting in a lot of work getting his name out there

JEOHankins2: And recruiting TO the system...not just grabbing guys by their ratings

PirateWolf: I think that goes with having a plan with regards to recruiting.

TheRealEssad: Exactly

PirateWolf: It’s good to see and points towards a more sustainable recruiting model

TheRealEssad: It seems like it’s taken some time to get here. All the transfers were tough to swallow, but this feels like a good vision for what a Keatts team will be

PirateWolf: Agreed

TheRealEssad: Just long, high energy athletes all over the court who can shoot

It’ll be fun to see

PirateWolf: That it will.

Have a good evening and - as always - GO PACK!

TheRealEssad: Go Pack!

Thanks for the time

JEOHankins2: Absolutely