Wolfpack rolling through another basketball season

Published 3:37 pm Friday, January 24, 2020

We’re three years into Kevin Keatts’ tenure as the head coach for NC State men’s basketball team. As a fan of the team, I’ve been pretty pleased so far with how that’s played out. They’re not the greatest team in the world, but they’re not the most awful either. And most importantly, they’re just fun to watch (…most of the time, at least).

As of the writing of this column, the team currently sports a 14-5 winning record (5-3 in conference play). That’s not too bad so far, especially considering how the team keeps losing a player or two to injury for a couple of games. The most notable one was CJ Bryce who accidentally got smacked in the face during warmups before a game, and then had to sit out the next few for “concussion protocol.”

The team has done well, however, at adjusting to missing a regular player on the court. When NC State captured the win on the University of Virginia’s court this past Monday, they did it without Manny Bates (the leading freshman shot-blocker) and Pat Andree (a decent long-range shooter). They were also down another player, DJ Funderburk, after he fouled out during the second half of the game.

I thought it was going to be a stressful game to watch (and for the ten minutes in the second half where they scored absolutely no points… it was), but for the most part, the team played just as well as they have been all season. They worked to get rebounds, they played in the paint, and they managed to play defense without racking up a huge number of fouls (somehow).

There are still plenty of difficult games to play this season. The team has yet to play Louisville, Duke, or Florida State this season, and all of those teams are currently ranked in the top 10 of the top 25 this week. UNC isn’t having their best season so far, but I would never get lulled into a false sense of security when those two teams match up.

The Wolfpack have played a lot of close games so far this season, and some have been heartbreaking losses while others have been unexpectedly fun gems. I always say I enjoy a good blowout game where the basketball team can secure the win by 20 or more points. But I can’t deny a close game is much more exhilarating to watch. And we’ve had a lot of close games this season!

In the end, that’s all I really care about when I watch a basketball game. The final score doesn’t matter as much to me as how much fun it was to watch the 40 minutes of action. How can I not enjoy watching Markell Johnson in his senior year make some of the weirdest off-balance lay-ups I’ve ever seen? How can not enjoy watching Devon Daniels run up and down the court with an abundance of enthusiastic energy that reminds me of a puppy?

I’ve only had the chance to see one game in person so far (the rematch against Clemson on Jan. 18), and perhaps the best part was when the scoreboard glitched and suddenly NC State was winning the game 66 to literally nothing. You never know what will happen between the first and last whistle of the game.

I’m excited to see how the rest of the season goes. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to make it to the NCAA tournament this time. But even if we don’t, I’ll just enjoy as many games as we get.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.