Gottfried: This Is A Proud Basketball Fanbase

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried fielded questions from the media on his weekly teleconference.

Opening Statement:
We're coming off a nice win, but I think for us what is good about our team is we are well aware that we have a lot of room to improve... we can get a lot better.

We feel good that we were able to get a road win this weekend, but I think at the same time we are realistic to know that we have a long way to go.

You still have five averaging in double figures, but the guy who seems to have taken the lead in that respect is Scott Wood. What are the things that have gone into his improvement?
I think that Scott, obviously he's a terrific shooter, but he is running the floor better, he is defending better.

I think with our team it is not that we try so much to get the ball to one guy. In the games we've had it has just gone to him a little more lately. With our team, all those guys are very capable, all starters.

Scott has improved and can get a lot better, but he has played very well lately.

Is he as deadly from the free throw line in practice as he is in games?
He is. He is like that every day. In our shooting drills, even the live drills in practice, he shoots it extremely well.

When he gets to the foul line he is very confident. We spend a lot of time shooting free throws. When I was with ESPN and traveled around, a lot of teams didn't spend as much time shooting foul shots as I anticipated, and I think we do.

He is a natural shooter, a confident shooter.

Have you ever been around a free throw shooter like him?
Well I had Mo Williams. Mo Williams was similar, but I think Scott is clearly the best.

What type of problems will UNC's height cause for you? You obviously can't match up with it very well, not many people can. What are the problems you are worried about trying to defend them inside?
We are not very big, we know that. We have to compensate for a lack of height with quickness and toughness and see if we can overcome that.

They are really good with their length and where it helps is obviously around the basket scoring the ball, and they are a terrific offensive rebounding team. Even if they don't secure the ball, they can keep it alive, tap it, and eventually come up with the ball.

We have to do a good job of securing defensive rebounds and that will be a challenge for our team.

How long on the job did you realize how important this game, rivalry, is to your fanbase?
About five minutes. This is a proud basketball fanbase at NC State. North Carolina has been terrific [lately in the series], so our people want to and have hope that will change at some point.

By Thursday there should be a lot of hype around this game. Is that something you embrace?
I think our players will be excited. They've been excited to play every game, but this game is different. There is no question. It feels different to players, fans, students on campus.

Our players are well aware of that. For us, it is a great opportunity. I think our players view it like that.

On the way back from Miami was there more talk about UNC than Miami?
I would say yes. I think our guys, as soon as the Miami game was over, their minds shifted to North Carolina. I think they will be excited, there is no question.

Do you own any red blazers?
No, I don't have a red blazer [Laughing].

This is a young team, that hasn't had a lot of success, what is the key to making sure they stay composed?
I think for our team what is important to realize is that although we've had a couple of nice wins we are a long, long way from where we want to be. Our guys know that.

We talk about that. We talk about where we want to go, and where we want to take our program... where it has been and what we have to do to get there. It is a process.

At the same time, winning is what breeds confidence so we have to win big games. That is what changes your program. That is the opportunity that we have.

Coach, a couple of times you've had two games in three days, can you talk about having to play Carolina on Thursday night and then having to play Virginia on Saturday?
It's tough, but it is a part of life. There is no sense in complaining about it. I don't allow those kinds of things be an issue. They are not something we talk about with our players. It is not something we will ever use as an excuse. It is harder, but I think everybody in the league goes through it.

I think later in the year when we play at Duke that one is a 9:00 Thursday game and a 1:00 Saturday game with Florida State at home.

They are there, they are a part of the schedule, and you roll with it... don't let it bother you.

Is there something different you do to prepare when you have those quick turnarounds coming?
You can. You may put a few things in your practice Tuesday or Wednesday without your players even realizing it... maybe one or two things that you can work on that you may not be able to get to on Friday.

Outside of that, very little. Obviously, the concentration needs to be on the next game, that Thursday game. I think Virginia plays on Thursday too, they may not, but I think they do. Like I said, they all balance out.

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