Gottfried: "We Are Improving"

NC State head coach Mark Gottfried fielded questions from the media on his weekly teleconference.

Opening Statement:
Our team has improved some since the beginning of the year. We're getting a little bit better.

We have to keep our minds right now on Wednesday's game rather than jumping ahead to Sunday and thinking about Maryland.

For us, like with every team right now, our players are anxious to get the league started, but you still have to take care of business on Wednesday. For us, that's where our attention is right now, on Wednesday's game.

What area do you believe you need to improve on to have a successful season?
I don't know if there is one thing. As a coach, I think you want to see your team getting better, whether that is your team defense or execution offensively... each individual player playing to their strengths and improving as well.

You want to be playing your best basketball in February. I do think we have improved in some areas. We seem to be guarding better right now, a little bit better offensively, and we're sharing the ball really well. I still think there are a lot of things we can do better.

Do you think you'll have a top four team on your hands if you do those things better?
I really never look at it... I get asked a question like that a lot, and I think when you're coaching a team the objective is to be careful with looking down the road too far... trying to look at a big picture question like that.

I've coached a long time. I've coached some teams that have lost some we all thought we would have won and then we've won some that probably very few people thought we'd win. Once you've been through the wars enough you realize you've got to play just one game at a time. I know that's an old cliche, but it's accurate. If you don't, I think you can stumble, easily.

We are going to stay away from trying to look at a broad picture right now.

In the last three games Richard Howell has had three double-doubles. Can you talk about his improved play?
I think Richard is playing, for him and his game, really well right now. He's really aggressive rebounding the basketball. He's getting traffic rebounds and getting them with some authority.

His conditioning is better than it has been. His stamina is improving. I think his game conditioning is better now than it was in mid-November. He's in much better shape.

He's continuing to improve. I like that about him right now.

Scott Wood is shooting the ball really well right now. How hard do you work to get him shots and what do you do to get him shots?
That's a good question but a two-edged answer. We can create more opportunities, bring him off more screens, but our emphasis for Scott is for him to work harder without the basketball... knowing people will basically guard him chest-to-chest.

He has to do a great job of moving without the basketball, that's in the break, running the floor harder. Using those screens, hunting opportunities to get open. I think that's an area Scott really can improve.

What do you want to improve on as a team?
Defensive consistency. I think at times we've been really good defensively and other times we haven't. Listening to detail and how we want to defend. You look at the scouting report and sometimes you scratch your head wondering if anyone was listening to you. I think we're better there. We are improving.

Offensively, we're a very unselfish team, but we're still learning in our offense where the ball needs to go. Our offense is a read offense and our guys are still in an infant stage for us, learning how we want to play. We can get better there as well.

You have five guys averaging between 12.2 and 12.9 points per game. Is that what you want to see continue or a guy separate himself? Would that be something you'd be fine with for the rest of the season?
I think for our team it's a good thing that we have balanced scoring. I don't think there is one player that is good enough to carry the load. I'm not saying that in a negative way. All five of the guys scoring for us are doing it within the framework of our offense.

They are very unselfish. Different nights it has been different guys. I don't know that is something as a coach you can orchestrate, having five guys average 12 points. It happens on it's own.

I think it shows that we are a very unselfish team, and I do think we have a number of players that can step up and get 20 points on a given night. I like that.

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