The entrance was grand. The reception was pleasant. The message was on point.
Time will tell if Kevin Keatts is a great hire or not for NC State but only a few days into his tenure the impression he has left on his employers, players, fans and even the media gets top marks.
Both NC State chancellor Randy Woodson and director of athletics Debbie Yow lauded Keatts for his vision.
“He has what I call ‘the stuff’,” Yow said. “The right mindset, the ability, and the wisdom to maximize every opportunity for success.”
Whenever Keatts was asked a question he had a ready answer that did not come across as being rehearsed. His answers were specific to what was being asked and there was not much in the way of typical coaching clichés.
A fan base tired of being told it is irrational was embraced. Championships are not a pipe dream but an expectation.
Keatts even managed to reference two NC State basketball legends, David Thompson and Dereck Whittenburg, in one anecdote. The donors in attendance were duly impressed
Perhaps most important was the coaching philosophy and style that Keatts intends to implement. His final game at UNC-Wilmington was a 76-71 defeat to Virginia. The Cavaliers, not known for their offensive prowess, would score only 39 points two days later in a loss to Florida.
Virginia is the type of team that has given NC State all sorts of problems over the years but Keatts was quick to point out that it was his squad that imposed its will on the Wahoos despite the defeat. The style of play suited the Seahawks and in a conference like ACC it is the team that is forcing the opposition to make adjustments that is more likely to succeed.
The Wolfpack will be a team that moves up and down the court.
The real work begins over the next week when Keatts will start to pick his staff and identify his approach over the next few months and discerning how to mesh what he has into the type of team that he envisions at NC State. There will likely be a period of adjustment for the new coach.
The trick to being a success in the coaching business is winning the day.
Keatts won Friday by visiting with his former players first to inform them of his move before making the trip to NC State to speak with the Wolfpack players.
Keatts won Saturday when he spoke with his new team and began building the bridge to the players that will remain at NC State.
Keatts won Sunday in his dealing with donors and the media, with the former hanging around afterwards simply for a chance to speak with its new hero and the latter getting every possible sound bite and compliment it could possibly hope for.
Now comes the building of a program. The good news for NC State is Keatts has already laid a foundation and excited a fan base in only his first three days.