Call it Murphy’s Law.
Call it the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Week.
Call it the piano-falling-from-the-sky syndrome.
Call it what you want. Whichever label or framework you prefer, it all feels far too familiar and far too painful for North Carolina State men’s college basketball.
A team which shows considerable promise and makes its talents known can’t seem to get out of its own way. The successes N.C. State creates within a game don’t matter, because they are dwarfed by the Wolfpack’s failures.
Their last two games offer a perfect illustration of this anything-but-perfect dynamic.
Saturday against Virginia Tech, North Carolina State limited an opponent to 47 points, a tremendous defensive performance.
Two games, two spectacular performances at one of the two ends of the floor. 47 points allowed in one game and 96 points scored in the other. For most teams, those performances would have led to a 2-0 record.
For North Carolina State, it means an 0-2 record and an increasingly fragile existence on a very large NCAA Tournament bubble. State’s 113-96 loss to North Carolina, following a 47-24 loss to Virginia Tech, means that after these two remarkable games, the Wolfpack not only failed to win one of them; they lost the two games by a combined 40 points.
Only N.C. State, right?
Coach Kevin Keatts knows what his team needs to grasp before it is too late:
“I think everybody knows that my teams are going to compete and play hard,” Keatts said after the 17-point loss to North Carolina. “We’re not going to always do everything right. Now our biggest challenge is playing smarter. We have to start comprehending more things and taking away people’s strengths as opposed to letting guys get to their strengths.”
No team is going to be great in every game. Quality teams make sure that their weaknesses rarely crater and become complete disaster areas. A weakness is strong enough to support the other, better aspects of a team’s performance. This is precisely what North Carolina State has failed to do in its last two games.
Keatts has his work cut out for him.
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