Gottfried: "We Have To Defend Them"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried met with the media Wednesday ahead of NC State's Thursday matchup with the Duke Blue Devils.

Mark Gottfried

"I really like their team, they are certainly one of the best two or three teams in the country in my opinion."

"Their ability to shoot the three compliments their effectiveness inside. They make a lot of them and it puts a lot of pressure on your ability to help around the basket because they stretch your team out defensively on the perimeter."

"They are a terrific team and obviously they have had a great year."

"Defending [Austin Rivers] will be a collective effort between all of our perimeter guys. There will be times throughout the game that each one of our perimeter guys will defend him. That's not going to fall on one guy. That's the way we've been most of the year. At times, C.J. Williams has done a great job. There have been times when Lorenzo Brown has stepped up defensively and guarded some really good players. It's going to be a collective effort for us."

"How can you be on the cold side of Duke? What are they ranked, fourth? They've had 21 wins, it's the middle of February. They are very good. They've lost key players from a year ago, think of who they lost, think of where they are. This is a good basketball team."

"We have to be who we are and run our offense and execute our offense well. We have to defend them really well. There are certain things we'd like to do defensively, but more than anything we've got to be good offensively. When you get to February, possessions versus empty possession becomes one of the major factors in what separates teams. Turnovers, those will be keys for us. Handling the basketball, getting great shots each trip, not having empty possessions more than any certain matchup on one player."

"It was a game, obviously [Georgia Tech] had beaten us, we went back over there and I liked how we executed in late game situations. We defended well and really executed offensively and we've done that now for a number of games. That was probably the biggest takeaway. We've won different ways, we've won when we've scored a lot of points, we've won some close games that were lower scoring."

"We didn't rebound very well against Georgia Tech, that was probably the concern and that has been a lot of our emphasis in practice the last couple of days. That will be a huge factor Thursday."

"That's not a point of emphasis for us, what happened at North Carolina. We have to improve each day. You can get caught up looking at these things that you have no control over, a lot of talk about the tournament. What we've got to do is just concentrate on 'how are we going to get better?' There's a margin in three or four weeks when a team can improve a great deal."

"That's where we need to be zeroed in on. How are we going to get better and do we realize we can get a lot better, in my opinion? That's the key for us, regardless of who are opponent is."

"I can't control [NC State not beating a Mike Krzyzewski coach Duke team in Durham since 1988]. Again, I don't worry a lot about things like that. There are a lot of streaks that we've inherited that need to change. Some of them already have and some of them haven't. That's not where our focus is at all."

"How about 1981 when I took an official visit to Duke? I ate breakfast at Coach K's house on a Sunday morning. When I was at UCLA, we competed a lot in recruiting with Duke. I've always had great respect for him. I took an official visit there in the year they were 11 and something or other. When you see where that program started and where they are, how can you not have respect. Since back in the early 1980s, it's been an unbelievable run."

"I was in the class with Dawkins, Bilas and those guys. I had a great time on my visit. They chose to go with another guard named Johnny Dawkins, I don't know if you ever heard of him. He was alright."

"I think it's a great advantage for us [having two assistants who have been head coaches]. So many things that a head coach sees differently than someone who has never been a head coach. As you plan your practice, those guys have been in that situation before. You just see it differently once you've been a head coach. There are so many things each day where Bobby or Orlando might have a suggestion. I've enjoyed it, I think our staff has done a great job this year."

"I want guys around me who are better than me. You look at great staffs, and you see the head coaches and former head coaches that are a part of those staffs. You bring in some great expertise in a lot of different areas. Our objective is to have the best staff in the country, period. That was my goal and Debbie shared that same goal. I never have thought about it in any other terms."

"Every coach is different, that was one of the great things when I went around for television. I got to watch coaches do things differently. I was a product of Jim Harrick where each assistant coach scouted different teams and they presented that to the team as we went over scouting reports."

"Probably the guy that I stole from the most was Calipari. As I watched, I liked the fact that there was one voice each time with the team. That doesn't mean the other guys aren't contributing, because they are. I have liked the way we're doing with our assistant coaches this year. When you don't get to see anybody else, and you are in your own program, that's all you get to know."

"You learn a lot about coaches in the summer time during recruiting because we're all out in the same gyms together. I've always paid attention to people, I've watch assistant coaches that never watch the game, they sit up in the top and goof around and glad-hand everybody and then you watch some guys who are paying attention, they are studying players, they are really evaluating.

"I always felt like that was Rob Moxley, Orlando Early and even Bobby. More than anything, I always had respect for guys who work hard at what they do. I always wanted to be that way. I hated it when my guys would go out and jack around in the summer time and not do their job."

"Duke reads how you defend them and then they adjust. Especially with the ball screen action. It's a little bit like a game of chess, you counter and then he counters back. Their players are good at that. They do a great job of teaching that. We have to be good enough to make counters as well. They shoot the ball so well, it's like the end of the North Carolina game. Their ability to make those shots changes everything. Some teams can't do that, they don't have the guys who can do it or the mindset to do it. That's what makes them a really special team."

"We haven't talked about it, but that's been the discussion by a lot of people that we only have three tough games left. We have six monster games left on our schedule. We need to pay attention to the last 10. We have the opportunity with teams ahead of us in the standings. Those next three, there isn't a walk in the park left on the schedule, and we know it. What we can't do is try to group three together, we truly have to be mature enough to say 'Ok, we have to zero in on this Duke game, then it's 24 hours and we better get ourselves ready to play Florida State.' I don't think you can get ahead of yourself."

"I'm at the grocery store last night and a guy says 'Coach, you gotta win one of these three.' Is that guy on the committee? I just don't put a lot of faith in all that. We could win them all, we could lose them all. There are so many variables out there that you can't control them all. We can try to be the best we can be one game at a time."

"I used to have fun with Joey Brackets and Doug Gottlieb, they would say at 3 p.m. one team was in, and at 8 p.m. that team was out. Well, how'd that happen in five hours? They went from in to out. You have to be careful with all that, it's fun, it's good chatter, bottom line is winning games. That's the answer."

Pack Pride Top Stories