Gottfried: "We Are Going To Compete"

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

Opening Statement:
It's a big week for us. Our players are excited about the opportunity that's ahead of us, and I'm sure they are anxious to play this week.

When you say opportunity, I'm assuming you're talking about these next three games, Duke, Florida State and North Carolina, just a chance really to cement yourself as an NCAA Tournament team?
I'm not talking about three games. I'm talking about one game. That's all we're worried about. And you know, I think what's -- I think a mistake that people make is that grouping these three together. We have got six very, very difficult conference teams left, not three, six. And we have one very difficult game Thursday and that's where our attention is. It's not anywhere past one game.

You do feel like you still have to do some work to get into the tournament, right? That's what I mean by the opportunity.
Without question, we are not. We have a long way to go. And so, like I said, at minimum, seven games left. So we have a lot of work to do, a lot of games to be played. But our attention is not on anything other than Thursday's game.

When a player who like Miles Plumlee has been a role player for Duke comes up with something like 22 rebounds in a game, does that gather extra attention from you, or does that make you say, hey, we need to account for this guy, maybe more than you did? How does that affect the way you prepare for them?
Well, I think that he's been a very good rebounder. He had a great rebounding day, and we will definitely -- you know, he's a focus about, as we prepare in regard to how they rebound the ball, but we have to be a better rebounding team no matter who we are playing against. That has not been a strength of ours recently. So we have to be much better. But his performance was spectacular.

Last week the McDonald's All-American team was announced and you guys had three guys on it. Over the last few decades, it's been North Carolina and Duke getting all these guys, I know they don't all pan out, but ratings are fairly accurate. Wondering what it says to your program that you did make that mark. I know you are still recruiting at least one more guy that might make it. How do you read that?
Well, you know, we have got great opportunity here for young players. It's a new coaching staff. There's so much to sell here at NC State. The fact that they came tells me they want to be a part of something really unique, and that's trying to build a basketball program back up. I don't know if it says anything bigger than that.

We could have had one of those or two of those guys maybe not make that game and we would still be extremely proud of the guys we got, and excited about them coming, whether they are in that game or not. I think the fact that they are in that game brings more attention obviously to the group. We are excited about them.

I just wonder, your game Thursday night is your first meeting with Duke. But you clashed with them on the recruiting trail a couple of times, and I know you won at least one battle with them and I think you're still battling for a guy. In terms of recruiting -- obviously recruiting in long term affects long court...
I don't know, are you saying that the winner, the outcome of the game determines recruiting? Not necessarily.

I mean, we have a long way to go here. When I took the job back in April, I was told repeatedly, quite frankly, how mediocre we have been. So that was drilled into me, and at the same time, we have big dreams and we have big goals.

And so we are going to compete hard on the floor. We are going to compete hard in recruiting. We are going to compete. And hopefully we can keep improving.

I guess the idea I'm trying to get across is that idea of, oh, State can't compete with the Dukes and North Carolinas. Obviously with the recruiting rankings and everything, suddenly we are not used to anybody other than North Carolina and Duke getting three McDonald's All-Americans in the class. I was trying to get around the idea that this was a statement that, A, you are going to compete for those guys.
I don't know that it's a statement. I don't want to make it more or less than it is. You know, we are going to recruit really hard and we are going to try to recruit great players. I think that there's enough to sell at NC State to attract very good players.

Now, whether every year you have McDonald's All-Americans or not, I don't know. There's a lot of great players that never played in the McDonald's All-American game. We are going to recruit the guys we think fit in here, and if North Carolina and Duke or Georgetown, doesn't matter, UConn happen to be recruiting those players, that doesn't mean we are going to stop recruiting them and not try.

We are going to continue to aggressively go after the guys that we would like to have here.

Wondering if you could talk about the challenges and the benefits of the rotation and how that's worked for you.
Well, first of all, every team is different. We have a couple more guys I think that could very easily be playing in our rotation. We just felt like, you know, the seven that are playing have really got into a good groove. And you know, some of the advantages might be that those seven, they are getting into great basketball shape. There's really a good rhythm. In other words, guys know when they are going in and who they are coming in for.

It's pretty simple. Obviously the disadvantage is if you are in foul trouble, or if somebody is not playing well, we have pretty much hung in there with that seven. At the same time, I'm very confident, if we need to go deeper into our bench with the guys that we have. You know, for the last, I think since our Syracuse game, quite honestly, that's when we made our decision and that's been pretty good for us up to this point.

You were able to balance foul trouble when Richard was getting into foul issues there; did that make you confident that you could continue to do that that way?
Yeah, the foul trouble hurts us, it hurts anybody, but it hurts us more because we are not playing that many guys.

Jordan Vandenberg was hurt for a lot of the year; still is, and so we are going to red-shirt him. That took an interior guy that was in the rotation out; that became a tough thing to overcome.

So just three post players were all that we are going with now and they have done a nice job.

Did you see that your old ESPN colleague, Joe Lunardi, had you as one of the last in?
As a former member of the media, one thing I do know, is Joey Brackets, who I love, his lists will change at least a hundred times between now and Selection Sunday.

So all those things are fun, and there's a lot of chatter about who is in, who is out, and the way that you get into the tournament is to win games. You have to earn your way in. And outside of that being a fun thing to look at, there's not a lot of -- I understand, there's going to be a lot of movement in any of those kinds of lists.

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