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NC State is ahead of schedule in Kevin Keatts’ first year

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Keatts is not a miracle worker, and I’ve noticed some teeth gnashing on this front, which isn’t fair; it’s also easy to devolve into that mode after the last couple of seasons. You don’t have to like everything that Keatts does—lord knows I don’t—but you do at least have to give him the benefit of perspective.

NC State won 16 games in 2016 and 15 in 2017, never managing to become a factor in the ACC. NC State finished last season ranked 109th in the Pomeroy Ratings with a lottery pick at point guard. Don’t forget how depressing those years were.

Keatts’ first State team is obviously incomplete, and we’ve already seen it suffer for this, but he also has the Wolfpack 2-2 despite the faults. Any given five minutes might remind you of those faults. We’re going to have to live with the ups and downs of it.

But understand also that Keatts is starting to make some sense of this mess—NC State is 2-2 in league play, which says enough given the path here. State’s disjointed amalgam of basketball-types could and probably would be worse off under different leadership, and mind you, the margins are slim.

State is also a lot better than it was last season; the Wolfpack currently ranks 68th in the Pomeroy Ratings, up 41 spots from where it finished 2017. Maybe this is a high point for Keatts’ first year, maybe this is a sign of a team making fast progress. League play tells few lies, and we’ll know one way or the other pretty soon.

I’m certain that this is a much happier place to be, though.