NC State 96 vs Duke 85 post-basketball game quotes

Raleigh, NC – Here are the post-game quotes from the NC State Wolfpack vs Duke Blue Devils basketball game on Saturday, January 6.

NC State basketball coach Kevin Keatts and Duke basketball Mike Krzyzewski shake hands before the start of their game.< br>photo by Gene Galin

Head Coach Kevin Keatts

(Opening Statement)

“First of all, I would like to thank the students and fans. When this place is packed like that, this is one of the toughest places, if not the toughest place, to play in the country, and I thought our fans were huge. They did a good job of lifting us up, especially in the first half. We got behind a little bit. All week, we have been talking about the guys needing to play together, and one of the things I said about this team is that in order for us to be very successful, we have to play together. We had seven guys in double figures. We shared the basketball. We had 17 assists and only 10 turnovers. I challenged those guys the last couple days that if we had a chance to win the game, we had to win the rebound battle, and I thought we did that getting 14 offensive rebounds and only giving up 12. Also, we wanted to do a great job in getting out in transition. Give Duke a lot of credit. It’s a very good basketball team. Bagley is as good as advertised, and I’m proud of my guys. I thought they did a tremendous job. Starting ACC play on the road at two tough venues for us to bounce back and get a great win, you have to be proud of these guys.”

Head Coach Kevin Keatts

(On Lavar Batts Jr. providing a spark off the bench)

“I thought he was great. I thought Lavar grew up today. He came in at a moment where we were really struggling to score the basketball and just the energy he brought to the team. He got to the rim. He found guys, made some great passes. When you look at him and Braxton (Beverly), they are both babies in the ACC, and they both have been forced to grow up quick, and they both are doing a good job in it.”

Head Coach Kevin Keatts

(On what changed in the team’s offensive rebounding)

“Well, we talked about it. I think coming in, their (Duke’s) percentage was unbelievable, the shots they miss and get back right at 44% of their misses. I wasn’t happy at our first timeout because I felt like they beat us to a lot of 50/50 balls. I told them it wasn’t just going to come from the post position. Everybody has to come into rebound and do a good job of rebounding the ball and blocking out.”

Head Coach Kevin Keatts

(On the team’s confidence)

“It (the win) certainly helps. I will say this: I don’t think this team ever lost confidence. I’ve said this all along. We had a tough start, starting on the road the first two games of the ACC. We just needed to get home and sleep in our bed and get some home cooking, and certainly it worked out.”

Head Coach Kevin Keatts

(On who made the biggest difference sharing the basketball)

“I think it was everybody. I think it started with Al Freeman. I sat down with Al, and I sat down with every guard, and I told them, ‘If we’re going to be successful with this group of guys that we have, we’re going to have to play off each other.’ I thought everyone made the right passes, and I thought everyone played unselfish. If you look back at our games that we won and we played well, we really shared the basketball.”

Head Coach Kevin Keatts

(On what he said to the team right before the half)
“You know, we talked about staying the course. We wanted them to, all night long, have to play against our half-court defense. If you look at Duke, they are so talented, but they score so much in transition. They score so many points off of offensive rebounds, we felt like if we could keep them off of the glass and we did a great job of sprinting back and not giving them easy baskets, then we would have the opportunity to win the game.”

Head Coach Kevin Keatts
(On how the team played with poise)

“We talked about experience. When you look at Duke, Bagley (is) unbelievable. They all are. One thing I told our guys is, ‘You’re going to play against Grayson Allen, who is a tremendous basketball player, and four freshmen, who all in high school as talented as they are, they played high school last year.’ So, we told our guys to use their experience and play like veterans, and I thought they all did.”

Head Coach Kevin Keatts
(On Omer going up against Bagley)

“I thought he (Omer) played well. He scored around the basket, I thought he did a tremendous job. The scouting report, checking Bagley, when you’re checking the numbers, you’re going to say Bagley had 31, but what did he have, 10?  I thought he did a great job of forcing him to his right. The kid made some tough shots. We played against a really great freshman this year with Bagley.”

Head Coach Kevin Keatts
(On whether this is his biggest win so far at NC State)

“Since it’s my (first) ACC win, I think it’s the best one that I’ve got so far. No, it’s a great win, but what I told our guys, I said, ‘Every win that we have, I want you to celebrate and be excited about, but don’t be satisfied.’ Just because we beat the number two team in the country, that’s not what we’re trying to build. We want to build a program where we are consistent every night.”

Coach Kevin Keats
(On difference in practice this week)

“No, and that’s been tough on me. We have practiced well. I think I told you guys before the Jacksonville game that we shot the ball well, but we haven’t shot it well in the game. Then in Jacksonville, obviously we made shots. Then finally our hard work and practice, if you ever saw a practice…well I shouldn’t say that because everyone’s going to try and go to practice now. But we practice extremely hard and our guys play extremely well, and we just hadn’t had that same energy and effort once we got in the games, and I thought we did tonight.”

Head Coach Kevin Keatts
(On learning from big wins)

“I don’t know what my team learned, but I know what I learned. Every team that we play, I’m going to tell them that they’re ranked number two in the country. Listen, we have a good season going on, and when you look at it, obviously this league is tough. If you look around a league, and I’m guessing on this, but I would say 75 to 80 percent of the home teams have won in the first three or four games, and so having the opportunity to come back home after just starting on the road two games, I think it made our guys feel a little more comfortable, and our students and fans were tremendous.”

Head Coach Kevin Keatts
(On players stepping up with Markell Johnson out)

“It’s two guys that have stepped up in that situation. Braxton (Beverly) obviously has to play a lot of minutes, but Lavar Batts is starting to come, so now I have the ability to play him and mix Sam (Hunt) in there and then give Al (Freeman) and also Braxton a little breather and they can play off the ball. So by those two, Sam and Lavar, playing a little better, it’s actually helped our team.”

Head Coach Kevin Keatts
(On depth in the front court)

“It’s great. One thing that we do have is we’ve got three guys that play in our front court that I feel real comfortable with. I see it as three starters. I rotate those guys in and out, and I thought all three guys played great for us.

Head Coach Kevin Keatts
(On the team not losing confidence after losses)

“Looking back at the Notre Dame game I thought it was more Notre Dame playing well than us playing bad. When you look at it, they made 11 threes, and that same Notre Dame team went on the road and won at a tough Syracuse place today without two of their starters, so I thought that they played well. I didn’t think we scored the ball at Notre Dame, and that’s the reason why we lost the game because we weren’t able to score (and) because we didn’t share the basketball.”

Abdul-Malik Abu, Forward

(On the second win against a top team)

“It definitely sweet, and it felt good. When we lock in and do everything right, that’s the outcome we are going to get. I’m just super proud of all these guys. It just took a little bit from everyone, some really big shots, and it turns out to be a happy outcome.”

Abdul-Malik Abu, Forward

(On winning this kind of game at home)

“It’s very big. We had the crowd behind us, and we had a lot of support. We just wanted to go out there and win it for the fans. The outcome of the game is the outcome we wanted. For right now, we just want to keep moving forward and racking up these wins.”

Lennard Freeman, Forward

(On the team staying focused)

“We just got to stay focused. We are still learning and getting better. We just got to have the same focus and bring the same intensity every game. If we can do that, we can beat anybody.”

Torin Dorn, Guard

(On taking momentum into the rest of conference play)

“It definitely helps, and we can use this as momentum, like you said, to string some wins together and get this thing turned around. I was just saying to the guys that’s the kind of focus we need to have every game, not just when it’s at home or against Duke. If we have that same focus every game, we will be fine.”

Omer Yurtseven, Center

(On matching up against Marvin Bagley III)

“He is really talented, and I just focused on playing my game and showing everybody that I can play on the same level as him.”

Omer Yurtseven, Center

(On his assertiveness in the game)

“I would say it was one of my best games. I just rose and responded to the challenge.”

Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

(Opening Statement)

“Congratulations to Kevin, his staff, and his team, and NC State fans. They played great right from the start, and to come back after I know they had two disappointing performances and really played with an incredible nerve and experience. I thought it started with their big guys. Their big guys were very strong and physical in a really good way, and their veterans Dorn and (Lennard) Freeman played like men, which they are. And we played young, which we are. I thought they played with a lot of poise. We started out well, I think we had an 11-point lead. Then we just started taking jump shots and just made some really foolish mistakes and all the sudden lost the lead. We did the same thing against Florida State, but we were able to come back from it. We did not play with much poise. We were frantic, and I thought they made us that way. Obviously, they deserve to win. My hat’s off to them for turning that around. Kevin and his staff, when a squad does, that even though they beat you. We are a very young team, and we’re not deep, and we haven’t played much in this last month. So that a Boston College loss, and they were very good, All of the sudden, there is an exam break, and then there is one game against Evansville, and then there’s a Christmas break, and then we played well against Florida State. Basically, we played three games in a month, and the reality of the continuity of what you have to bring every day is not there yet. It’s not there, and I hope I’m making sense to you, but we’ve had one job a week, three jobs in a month, and you have to come to work every day. If you’re an injury-riddled team, then that’s a good thing, but if you’re trying to develop toughness and togetherness that’s not a good formula, and it showed tonight. I am disappointed in all of us, me, my staff, and the team, in not being able to figure that out yet, but we have to figure that out.”


Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

(On NC State’s rebounding improvement during the game)

“I just think they were persistent. We may have won the first couple rounds or

whatever, but they were still fighting. Look, they’ve gone through a lot, those big guys, so if they see us getting a little bit tired or not approaching it for a certain amount of time, they’re going to take advantage of that, and they did. That’s what our guys have to

understand, when they’re 18 and 19 years old, but they’re playing against

guys who have played, have lost, have won, have been hurt, and we’re their

opportunity. They’ve never experienced anything like that where a team that you see on

tape is not the team that shows up against you. We have to be able to handle that, but

again, State was really good. They were really good, and we weren’t able to handle that.”


Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

(On what has to happen for Duke to get more production from the bench)
“Older players. Guys who get older real quick. We don’t have a deep bench. With Marques (Bolden) out, and that’s not an excuse for tonight. I’m not saying that. It’d be good to have him, but our top seven players, four of them are big guys. That creates a different dynamic. Alex (O’Connell) has got to play better. He came in, and I though he was real nervous tonight. That happens when you’re trying to grow.”


Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

(On what needs to change with the defense)

“To keep working. What answer would you want me to say? To keep working at it. It’s pretty simple.”


Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

(On NC State having bigs come off the bench and provide valuable minutes)

“He’s developed a good rotation there. We’re trying to do that with Marques (Bolden). All three of his guys played well tonight. I mean really well tonight. They outplayed us. Some of this stuff isn’t hard. We got beat. It’s not like some altruistic thing here or the world is going to change. We played crappy defense. We were frantic. They played their butts off. We’ve got to get better. To me, it’s that simple. Now, the process of getting there, that’s what we have to figure out. For the most part, we’ve been able to do that, and hopefully we’ll be able to do that again. If we don’t, then you’re going to see us lose again, and then you’ll ask if we’re working on our defense, and I’ll tell you that we are working on our defense but it’s not working. This isn’t really that complicated.”


Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

(On if the press contributed to the turnovers)

“I don’t think their press…I thought when we broke the press, we didn’t have poise and finishing. The turnovers hardly ever occurred at the initial point of their press. Normally, we would want someone to speed us up because we can score. Our decision making after we broke it was not good. That’s what produced the turnovers: poise at that time. We turned it over a lot.”


Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

(On Marques Bolden’s status)

“The reason that we didn’t put anything out today, he had a number one MCL sprain, which is the lowest. Jack (White) fell into his leg early in the week, and he’s actually making good progress. We weren’t sure until today if he was going to be able to play. We didn’t feel comfortable enough for it. Hopefully, he’ll be back next week. Now that it’s out there, we’re not trying to hide anything. We just thought he’d be ready. Why put something out and then say, “Oh, he’s okay.’ At the shoot around today, we told the TV people that he wasn’t going to play. Hopefully he’ll get well here in the next week.”


Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

(On Grayson Allen’s struggle to get involved)

“Grayson didn’t play well. Bottom line. He’s played real well, but in our two losses, he didn’t play well. We need him to play well all the time or be strong all the time. Again, I’m not blaming it on him. I’m just saying when it’s not there, you know it’s not there, and it hurts you in every way. This group only has one veteran like that. Again, that’s why the youth can show more if that one veteran is having a human night where it’s not good. His impact on our team is huge on this group, to be steady, to be him. Again, they’re doing stuff to not make him him. When I say that, it all starts with them (NC State) playing well and really hard. They played really hard. Again, congratulations to them.”