Last year I went to my niece’s 7th grade town rec league game, her team scored around 20 and won the game. This is an acceptable score for that age group. NC State score 24 in a Division 1 collegiate game. It’s reached the point of just being so laughable, I almost can’t have any takeaways from it. It (hopefully) can’t really get much worse than that, can it?
In the least shocking news of the week, the AP voters agreed with the prevailing opinion and NC State has dropped out of the top 25 rankings for week 14, not even receiving a single vote. Real talk, the Wolfpack did not play like a top 25 team against Virginia Tech. We knew we were still in the midst of growing pains as Keatts continued to rebuild the program. I just thought the majority of the pain was over. Losing in such ridiculous fashion is almost like getting shot with a clean through and through. I mean, the downside is you still got shot and there is now a hole in your body that should not be there. The upside is it can be patched up and you’ll likely be okay in the long run. But the scar will always be there.
You can almost wipe that game from your memory. Yes they held a top 15 team under 50 points, but that offensive point total is unavoidable. Hopefully we can just laugh it off as this weird blip on an otherwise climbing chart. Not that dumb UNC fans won’t try and needle us at every opportunity, but we have to own that. I got this text last night:
“I’m getting texts from UNC fans saying this first half [of the Super Bowl] was more exciting than the State-VT game.”
Yeah, it happened, can’t get past that. But to have a team built around shooting, you’re bound to have games where you literally forget how to shoot the basketball. I would not be surprised at all if the Pack went into Chapel Hill and either won or kept the game close. The primary improvement I am hoping from Keatts to instill is bounce-back. The great teams/coaches don’t allow themselves to have losing streaks, or play multiple bad games. The effort needs to be there even if the shots aren’t falling. And if the shots aren’t falling, then the coaches need to own some responsibility to change the gameplan to getting some easier shots. Even then, inside shots were had that need to be made but weren’t. I think VT’s defense was very stifling, but the Pack players were not consistent in trying to penetrate the wall. That being said, open shots were had, and missed. I was tempted to DM Scott Wood and have him put on a jersey. As good as Beverly has been, sometimes this team needs a reliable spot up shooter who isn’t being asked to run point.
This has not been a great last 8 games for NC State. They have now gone 3-5, including the “moral victory” against UVA, which now seems like a thousand years ago. Classic State behavior is to play close the bigger games then return to earth for the others. Kevin Keatts wants to instill more consistency. What we saw two days ago was the opposite of that. But what’s the answer? Just, like, make shots? Sounds easy, let’s try that, see what happens.
This could be a crossroads moment for Keatts’ early tenure. During the game the players were clearly mentally shaken, losing confidence with every additional brick. Successfully having these guys understand that at the end of the day it was just one game and they can come back tomorrow and get the next one would be a huge feat. That VT game made me laugh, think and cry. It was a day, a full day. But ultimately it was just one day, and tomorrow’s another one.