While NC State basketball resumes, another Triangle team hits pause

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020
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NC State coach Kevin Keatts says his team is pressing on through the COVID-19 challenges.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- NC State men's basketball is hitting the play button once again. The Wolfpack will take a partial team to St. Louis to face the Billikens on Thursday night. NC State has had more games canceled than it has played to this point and the stops and starts are a new norm.

Meanwhile, Duke announced Wednesday afternoon that the women's basketball team has stopped team-related activities after two positive COVID-19 tests.

Twelve days ago, NC State was forced to shutter the program because of COVID-19 issues, the details of which have not been disclosed.

"This past Saturday was the first time that I actually got back in the gym," head coach Kevin Keatts said. "And what I mean by that is at that point we had six dudes. Then Sunday we had eight guys."

Nine unnamed Wolfpack players will travel to St. Louis off a roster that includes 12 scholarship guys. The debate continues about whether this is all worth it.

Keatts thinks it is.

"I think we should be playing," he said. "I think with our guys in particular and with most of the schools in Division I, we have a pretty good setup. We're getting tested frequently."

On the other side of Tobacco Road, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski made headlines by canceling the remainder of the schools non-conference games and saying it didn't feel right to be playing.

Those comments came after a couple of Blue Devil losses and opened the door to criticism that Keatts said is unwarranted.

"And I think that's ridiculous," Keatts said. "I've been on calls with him the entire summer, and he's always talked about possibly starting the season in January or February and playing in-conference, conference only."

Despite the uncertainty and a last-minute pivot of opponents, Keatts said he believes the players want to keep pressing forward.

"At any moment you could have a game canceled. At any moment, you can have your season canceled," Keatts said. "And so, I think they are understanding and they want to have the opportunity to play as much as they can because they don't know how many games is going to be guaranteed to us."

The unbeaten Pack (3-0) has played just one game in December and Keatts said he still has no idea what kind of team he has with mostly ACC games looming.