PRESS CONFERENCE Q&A: Kevin Keatts

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Kevin Keatts fielded several questions from the media at his press conference.

AUDIO: Kevin Keatts Press Conference Q&A

Coach, you touched on this a little bit, but what do you want the identity of the program to be as you go forward?
You know, Joe, I want our identity to ... We play extremely hard. You know, I'm not going to tell you that we're going to be a basketball team that don't make mistakes. I'm not going to tell you that we're a basketball team that we're going to win every game right away.

But, you know, I think this fanbase, I think they deserve a team that, if you're going to pay money to come watch us play, and you're going to support us like the support that be have here, they want to see a great product.

Our guys are going to dive on the floor. They're going to take charges. They're going to play so hard, and that's what our identity should be here. When you look around NC State, it's great facilities. You've got everything. It's a tremendous academic university. You've got great leadership. It's nothing. There's no negatives about this place. So be should be able to put a product on the floor that plays so hard, and be proud to represent this university.

We start a little behind in recruiting, being that you're a new coach. How do you plan to approach the recruiting going forward as a new coach?
I think you said, "Starting behind in recruiting, a little bit." Well, I think the most important thing is, I want to recruit my team. I mean, these guys are the most important guys. I will concentrate on these right now, obviously making sure that they finish strong academically.

Secondly, when we get the opportunity to get to the basketball court, be want to start getting those guys in shape. I want to make sure that everybody's prepared for what we have to offer as a basketball program. Obviously, I don't ... I've take a different approach than a lot of coaches. When you go off recruiting late, a lot of times, it's like shopping on December 24th. You got to take whatever's left out of there. For me, I want to make sure that be get the right people to fit into the mission statement of the university.

Welcome, and how do you make sure, when you do recruit the players, and they come here, that you squeeze every ounce of potential and talent from those players? Player development was something that Debbie talked about was a strength of yours.
Yeah, you know, I've always ... I've got a couple things that's made me the coach that I am. I've always been able to develop guys, and when I was at Hargrave Military Academy, a lot of people think Hargrave is a high school, but it's an elite prep school where we were averaging 10 or 11 Division 1 guys per year. A lot of those guys been onto become pros. The way we were able to help those guys achieve their goals were skill development. I told these guys in a meeting yesterday, what I do different than most head coaches is that I'm the one that's involved with the individual workouts. I don't pass it along to the assistant coaches.

Now, understanding that I have some obligations as a head coach, where I may have to be speaking or recruiting at times, but I'm going to develop these guys, and you're going to see a difference in those guys after the summer, because that's the way you have to improve. You got ... When you become, when you're a freshman, you've got to become a better Sophomore. As a Sophomore, you've got to become a better Junior, and I don't like guys that don't get better.

You mentioned the fanbase. Obviously, you kind of brought that out, saying that's something that you love, something that you enjoyed. What aspect of the fan base would you say kind of drew you to it and made you want to mention it?
Everybody ... When you read the media, everybody's so tough on our fan base, and I actually question why. Don't you want a fan base that want to win? Don't you want a fan base that want to have some bragging rights? I love the opportunity. I would rather have a fan base that's behind you and maybe a little critical of what things go on, instead of nobody coming to the games at all.

For me, I love our fans, and it's up to me as a coach to make sure that we put a great product on the floor for those fans.

Coach, what type of timetable do you have in terms of settling in Raleigh, hiring assistants, and such, and getting going?
Well, man, that's the best question I've head so far. I'm in Raleigh now, but the great thing about me taking this job is, my home in Wilmington's only an hour 45 minutes, but I'm here now, and I will start recruiting. I'm going to start putting together a very unique staff, number one, probably next week. And when I'm looking for a staff, I'm looking for a staff that, number one, that could get along with those guys.

Every step of the way, and everywhere that I've been, it's all about family. My wife Georgette will tell you, our guys at Hargrave and UNCW, they spend more time at our house than we do sometimes. That's important to me because finding a staff that gets along, that has no egos, everybody's on one accord. And that's the good thing for me, and that's what we're going to do.

We'll put together a really great staff that can recruit. Obviously, recruiting is college basketball, and it's the lifeline of your program, and certainly, that's what we want to do, but I'm looking forward to starting that next week.

Obviously, this is program here, a lot of talk about the other two local schools in the area, Duke and North Carolina, and kind of going head to head with them, competing with them. How do you approach that subject?
Well man, I tell you what. Now golly, it took five questions to get that one out. I knew that what coming. You know, we have ... Let me say this about me as a person. I have tremendous respect for every coach in college basketball. I have tremendous respect for our Director of Athletics. She's a coach. So if she comes to me and she tells me something about coaching, I respect that. I can listen to her, because she's actually called a timeout. She's actually drawn up a play. She understands what's going on on the court.

That being said, I'm the coach at North Carolina State, and my job is to put the best product on t floor. My job is to beat everybody. Doesn't have anything to do with the schools down the street. My job is to compete for an ACC championship, and also compete for a national championship, and that's all my focus is.

Even though NC State is the next big step, I just want to know, how does it feel leaving UNCW, and do you have anything to say to the players from that team?
Oh, absolutely. You know, it was ... Friday night was the toughest thing the I could ever go through, and it's always that way. The very unfortunate thing was that there was some reports about me taking the job earlier, but every I had the opportunity to tell my kids, and that really bothered me, because of the fact that when you recruit guys, and you sit in their living room, and you recruit their parent, and you recruit everybody around them, it's a really tough thing to walk in that room and tell those guys that you're leaving.

That being said, I think every kid in that room understood that this was a great opportunity for my family and I. I think they all understand what type of program this is, and I think they all accepted it. Toughest thing that I've every had to do, because of the fact that the relationship that you have build.

And then t other thing is, obviously, you've got to come and talk to some new guys, and you've got to lay out your expectations for those guys, and so you go from the emotion of being so down, to happy to meet some new guys, because you know you've got great opportunity.

One of the things I've always told these guys, I told them yesterday, was, everybody's got a clean slate. I'm not going to come in, and, you know, I don't ... I'm not thinking about what happened to you the last couple years. All I'm thinking about is what can be do to get better?

Coach, obviously, a lot of, a lot's been made about recruiting at this level. Obviously, you have the experience at Louisville, but how different as a head coach is recruiting going to be here as opposed to it was at UNCW, where you built your team based around some of the best transfers in the country, as well?
Well, I agree with you, and I disagree with you. If you look at the best players at UNCW, our leading scorer's a Sophomore that came in as a Freshman, C.J. Bryce, who's out of Charlotte, North Carolina.

If you go back to my track record at Hargrave Military Academy, you go back and you look at David west, and you look at Marreese Speights, and you look at Jordan Crwaford and Joe Alexander, and you look at P.J. Hairston, and Dez Wells, and you look at all of those guys that we all know the have played in the state, and then you go to Louisville, and you look at the fact that I was able to recruit Terry Rozier, and Chinanu Onuaku.

I've recruited a lot of really good basketball players. With that being said, recruiting is all about who your head coach is, which is me, and it's all about your resources, obviously, which you have great resources. It's about your ability to get a great education, which we know that that's going to happen, because it's an unbelievable institution for that. And it's about the people the you have around, and the passionate fan base.

When you add all of those together, we've got something special, and we're not going to just settle for recruits. We're going to try to go after the best recruits in the country, and as I told you, I want to recruit, and I want to challenge for a national championship.

There are some coaches, like Tony Bennett at Virginia, that kind of hang their hat on defense. Others try to get as many offensive possessions in a game as possible. That's there kind of MO. What do you hang your hat on?
Oh, that's a great question. We have a unique style, and I don't know if you guys have had the opportunity to watch us, but if you had the opportunity to watch us last year when we played Duke in the NCAA, we're playing Duke, and then you take Virginia this year in the NCAA. We don't get many opportunities at UNCW to play against the bigger schools, obviously because we're so successful, we could get none of those schools to come to our place to play.

But when you look at the way we play, we're an up-tempo, running ... We take a lot of 3's. We pressure a lot. You look at it. A lot of people say, "What are they doing on the defensive end?" Well, if you really dig deep into our defensive numbers, you'll realize that we're one of the top teams in the country as far as turning you over. I think the other day, we were 69th in the country. We force tempo. We're the only team that I see, that I watched all 30 something games, to be able to make Virginia play fast. When you look at Virginia, and how unique Tony Bennett is, because you've said that, they're a team that prides itself on defense and low possessions. 20 team played those guys this year, and 20 teams didn't make it to 60 points.

When you play, when you see how we play, we play up tempo. We run. We press. It's going to be an unbelievable system that I think everybody's going to love. When you talk about the media, I think the media's going to love to cover it. When you talk about the fans, you guys are going to be on your feet, and you're going to be cheering. We take a lot of 3's. A lot of dunks. I think the guy that's going to benefit more than anybody is Malik. He's going to probably lead the country in dunks next year.

It's also a great system that recruits love to play in. When you talk about a system, it's been very successful, and everybody ... you know, one of the question is will always be, can this system be good at this level? Well, I want you to think about this. At Hargrave, we were great. When you talk about UNCW, we were great. We played a very similar system when I was at Louisville in the Big East, and two final fours and a national championship.

So it'll be fun. I think you'll love it. If you don't, come see me after about a month of us playing, and I'll take you to dinner.


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