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Chris Mack and Kevin Keatts postgame video/quotes

North Carolina State v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images



Chris Mack

(Opening Statement) “Start off by saying I think we beat a really good team. Told Kevin (Keatts) after the game, ‘He’s got some dogs. He’s got some junkyard dogs that play hard from the very beginning of the game to the end.’ When you can beat a team like that, you know you stepped up to the challenge because he’s got some dogs. Those guys play extremely hard. They play very confidently. They offensive rebound despite their size—this is the first time we’ve been hit like that on the offensive glass maybe since Michigan State, and it’s not like we didn’t address it. So, you tip your hat. I’m just glad that it wasn’t our demise, didn’t lead to us losing the game. We have to be better on the glass. Their style of play really tries to turn you over. For them to have more turnovers than we did, that was based on our positioning. I thought we kept the floor crowed as much as we could. They’re a big-time one-on-one team. Just guard your yard, guard that dude in front of you. Sometimes, they make tough shots, that’s why they’ve got a very good team. We feel very fortunate, us getting to the line 29 times, I know a few of those were down the stretch when they were fouling at the end. We thought with their aggressiveness and how often they foul, if we strong with the ball, we would have some opportunities to get to the line.”

(On forcing turnovers) “Positioning, I think, for the most part. NC State’s used to playing quick. We talked about that a lot with our team. They play quick in the shot clock. They don’t necessarily reverse the ball side-to-side. So, if we can have some position off the ball and present a crowded floor and be tight in our gaps and do what we do, we felt like there could be some turnovers that, quite honestly, are unforced or simply because of our positioning. It’s not how we’re built. We’re not built to turn teams over. We try to keep the ball in front of us, which is a huge challenge when you play a team with the guys that they have. They’re down a man, he’s probably the best on their team at getting to the lane, so we’re fortunate to play an undermanned team tonight. And then, (redshirt senior guard) Torin Dorn is a tornado getting to the rim, so it’s a big challenge.”

(On team’s performance) “I’ve got a couple of answers. I’ll start with (sophomore forward) Jordan (Nwora). Without watching the film, especially in the second half, I was really pleased that he didn’t let his offensive, maybe a down night for him, affect his intensity and being locked in on the defensive end, it didn’t affect him, which was huge for our team. I don’t know if he had the maturity two months ago, but that’s what it takes to win sometimes. You see a lot of articles, not saying that you people were writing them, that talks about us being a one-man show at times. He goes over 0-for-7, 3-for-12, which is for him, more the exception than the rule, and for us to do that and still win the game against a top-25 team says a lot about the other guys on our team that stepped up tonight. (Redshirt junior) Dwayne (Sutton) was tough because I felt like he never really got going. He did have a huge steal from behind. He did a great job playing with three fouls. We opted to sit him out early in the second half, not start him. We were going to go another four minutes, but by then, what are you saving him for? He’s probably going to feel like he’s never a part of the game, so he got around 16 minutes in the second half, but I don’t think he had a great night. He won’t be down in the mouth in the locker room, I can tell you that.”

(On what made it difficult to stop NC State from hitting three-pointers): “We have to cover their pick-and-roll and they run it every time down the floor. They put two guys in the far corners – you saw the game – they put what I call a paired side opposite the ball, five-man sets the ball screen and roll right down the middle. Whoever you help in on, they have more size than we do, outside of (Braxton) Beverly. So they’re looking over our guards and whoever you pinch in, help on the roll, they’re going to hit. And if you level hedge it or don’t extend your five-man too often, then they play downhill and they get in the lane and they draw fouls and they play drive-kick basketball. So we opt to push the ball as far as we can away from the basket so our three zoned-up defenders have more air time to cover whatever look happens. But when you spread the floor with four players that are terrific offensive players, it’s hard. It’s hard. But we did it well enough. And at the end we actually put our five-man on their three or four and they kept setting it with their five and we just switched it and we never felt like we had a speed mismatch.”

(On the team forcing more turnovers): “I don’t think it’s a pack line (defense). I never should have said we were a pack line team. It’s taken a life of its own. It’s man-to-man defense. I think our guys are playing aggressive on the ball. We’re doing a better job of chesting the ballhandler when he’s driving down the lane. We’re not perfect. It’s not like we have 6-7, elite, athletic defenders. I mean Khwan (Fore), CC (Christen Cunningham), Ryan (McMahon), Darius (Perry) are small guys, but they’re doing a good job. Our threes and fours are doing a good job. Our fives are athletic enough to hedge on screens. I do think individually we’ve stepped on guarding the ball better. Sometimes when teams are over aggressive, they make more mistakes, quite honestly, than we force.”

(On NC State defense in the paint against Louisville big men) “We tried to get it into the paint. We kept throwing it in there. We made that run at the end of the first half. We kept trying to feed it into Enoch. They had Helms at the four because their two fives were in foul trouble; and we want to beat that thing in there. You must understand they were extending so hard. They’re pressuring; it’s like when that quarterback drops back, you know the receiver is open down the field. Problem is you have three defensive tackles in your nose and that is how we felt a little bit. When we got it down there for the most part Steven (Enoch) was converting. We tried to In the second half, Steven has to catch it a little deeper, that’s not Malik’s strength right now. We had enough balance and we did what we could to work the ball down there. Give NC State credit for their pressure.”

(About having a goal for points off turnovers) “Forty-two (laughs) No, I don’t have a goal. We missed it by five. There are enough statistics to worry about and that is not one of them we worry about.”

(On Khwan Fore’s night) “Khwan is that guy, he is a jack of all trades who does whatever the team asks. He makes big time plays. He guards the other team’s best player on the perimeter a lot of times. For a while there in the second half, State just went to full-court man-to-man pressure. Just because CC (Christen Cunningham) is our point guard, doesn’t mean all the other guys get to be let off the hook, sorry buddy you must dribble the ball up against pressure the entire second half. We have two options when a team is pressuring us like that in terms of our one and two getting open. We can throw the ball into them if they’re not in the zone press, or run and jump and whoever catches the ball clears everyone out. That was our way to get CC from really getting worn out from their full court pressure and it didn’t effect what we were doing on the other end.”

(On Ryan McMahon defense) “The charge at the end was awesome. We’ve been working really hard on to be there for our buddy. You can’t always keep the ball in front of you, they have good players on the other side they give out scholarships. We’ve run a lot of charge drills in practice. It was great to see Ryan had the presence of mind and the ability and the toughness to step over to take a charge. In what really was a critical moment a game-ending type play. We still had free throws to make and do what we needed to do but he made a big time play on the defensive end. He’s grown immensely.”

(About NCSU missing Johnson and Mack saying he wouldn’t get another technical foul) ”I didn’t, that’s fake news (laughs). I would tell you that we felt like State plays very, very quickly into the shot clock in the half court. I don’t know if it led to their turnovers but our whole thing was, come down that initial ball screen happens – they’re trying to strike off of it. And it may not be because you squeezed in and they got a shot off it, just a simple throwback to the man sort of replacing behind that ball screen, he goes one-on-one. We talked a lot about going one versus three, whoever has the ball it’s a big challenge keeping it in front of you and whoever was to your left and your right, just try to get as tight as you can without giving up a drive-kick to your own man. Sometimes when a floor is crowded and sticky, it hurts the other team, and NC State doesn’t practice that way. You have to understand, we all practice against ourselves everyday, so we see nothing but pack line we don’t see a lot of pressure defense. NC State conversely pressures all the time in practice, I’m sure they’re denying everywhere. So when a ball screen happens the floor is a lot more open for them in their practice and it just sort of builds habits. You can put non-scholarship, scout guys, walk-ons in there but it’s not going to simulate the athleticism and the size that they present when they’re pressuring or when were in our path.”

(About offensive rebounding and second chance points) “I would tell you, the reason they didn’t convert a lot of them I thought a lot of them were 50/50 balls that weren’t right next to the basket. I think Walker got one, but our guards have to join the party they have to block out. Most teams don’t send but two guards to the offensive glass, NC State sends four guys, which first if we can get the rebound we can get up the floor and find ourselves in great advantages in transition, which we did. But, we had to do a better job of getting those 50/50 balls and longer rebounds and that’s probably why they didn’t convert necessarily to points.”

Kevin Keatts

(Opening statement) “As I told my team after the game, another tough ACC battle. When you look at this game, what a great game it was. I thought both teams played extremely hard. Chris [Mack] has done a really good job with his team and the program where it’s at right now. The story of the game, for us, the big telltale for us was we turned the ball over 23 times, which is really not characteristic of us. And also Louisville was able to score 37 points off those turnovers. A big difference, I didn’t think we did a great job getting to the line, and we only had five points from the free throw line. So when you add all of that stuff into it, then surely you end up losing the game by seven points. But, great game. I like where my team is at. We’re playing hard and we certainly have done a great job at cleaning up some stuff. We’ve got a short turnaround before we play Clemson on Saturday.”

[It was your first game back in the Yum Center since you left a few years ago. How did you feel, what were your nerves being on the other sideline for a change?) I told everybody that this is my third time back. I brought my Wilmington team back here when we played Louisville a couple of years ago. And then we came back and played a tournament and played UMKC and also Utah Valley. This is a special place to play. When they made their run, I thought that they got loud. I thought that their guys fed off it. We turned the ball over a couple times and the crowd got involved in it. Certainly we wanted to try to keep the crowd off. But it’s a great arena with a great fan base.”

(Louisville has been a good rebounding team this year, but you guys outrebounded them by 12. Is that a point of emphasis for you guys right now?) We’ve a great rebounding team the entire year. We’ve done a great job especially on the offensive end and I thought my guys did a great job tonight getting 15 offensive rebounds. We do a good job going to the glass. It was a great game and I told you, when I look at it, my disappointment comes because we turned the ball over too much.”

(How was Louisville so successful getting to the foul line?) “I thought they drove it. I thought they were aggressive. Even when you look at it, I thought they started off early taking threes. In the first half, I want to say they made four three-pointers. They made four in the second, but I thought they were aggressive. And certainly, I have to go back and look at the film, because one of the things we’ve got to do is we’ve got to clean it up. We can’t put a team on the free throw line 29 times on their home floor.”

(What was the game-plan against Jordan Nwora?) “I thought we did a good job against Jordan. We wanted to be there on the catch. What a year he’s having. He’s playing as good as anybody in the conference. As a matter of fact, he’s probably playing at an all-conference level. But we wanted to force him into tough shots, and beat him on the catch, and I told our guys did a great job with that.”

(From watching film and then seeing him in action tonight, with Khwan Fore, what do you see him doing for them at the off-guard spot?) “When you look around college basketball, and we had a couple last year, and we’ve got a couple on our team this year. Those guys are changing the game. When you talk about graduates, guys who are a little bit older, who’ve been through it a little bit. For us last year, it was Al Freeman and it was Sam Hunt. Also, we’ve got a couple guys in Eric Lockett and Wyatt Walker and even Torin Dorn’s a fifth-year. He’s just playing his role. He understands he’s in a program where he wants to win. He understands that if he plays as a team and does a great job, then he will have the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. He’s big for them. I think he’s one of those guys who’s a great defender, makes shots and he’s playing great basketball.”

(How close was Markell Johnson going?) “We put him through shoot around today, and I thought he was about 65 percent. Didn’t feel good about it. And I’ve said this to my folks all along: Until I feel that he’s 95 to 100 percent, he probably won’t play.”

(On whether Markell Johnson will play Saturday) “I don’t know. My main objective is to make sure of these student-athletes’ safety. If he doesn’t feel good about it and the doctors don’t feel good about it, he won’t play. Hard for me to make that determination right now. Certainly, we’re going to look at him again tomorrow, and we’ll try to throw him into limited action tomorrow for when we start preparing.”

(On the team doing too much by rushing shots and committing offensive fouls) “I wouldn’t say too much. I didn’t think we shared the basketball. Coming in, we talked about, because they do a good job of pack line defense, making the extra pass. I thought we dribbled, dribbled. I told them, ‘You’ll get yourself in trouble when you dribble the basketball and you don’t make the extra pass.’”

(On defending the high hedge) “Obviously, they do a great job and Chris (Mack) mixes defense up. He’s done a great job of switching one through five, and at times he splits it all with his five-man. We had some early success, and late in the second half, we didn’t get around the corner enough to find those guys.”

(On the large amount of turnovers with Markell Johnson out) “When you look down at our turnovers, I thought guys weren’t willing passers. We had the opportunity to make some plays, we had the opportunity to hit some open guys, and when we did we were successful. I thought when we dribbled and went one-on-one, that’s where our turnovers came from.”

(On the scouting report on Dwayne Sutton) “Dwayne’s been playing well. When you look at him, he’s changed his game a lot, he’s making threes now. We wanted to do a great job of keeping him in front. I thought our guys in the first half were more aggressive as far as attacking off the dribble and making the right play. Consequently, I thought he got some quick fouls.”