Gottfried: "I'm Proud Of Our Team"

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

Opening Statement:
Well, we are excited about Atlanta. And, you know, I'm proud of our team. I think tying for fourth place is a nice accomplishment for our group, and now we have got to shift gears and go to Atlanta and with the mind-set that we need to win the tournament. Our guys will be excited about going.

When I guess you had a chance to get the first-round bye, can you talk about the pros and cons of being able to play that first game, that extra game on Thursday, if that has any impact on your big picture goals, impacting that path to get there?
Well, I don't know. You know, I guess whichever situation you're in, you've got to make the most of it.

If you're in the four-seed, you're excited about not having to play on Thursday. If you're the five, then you've got to look at it from a different perspective and say, it gives us an opportunity to play. And if you're fortunate enough to win, do you have a game under your belt, it's a chance to advance at that point.

But you know, however that shakes out, how far it sits when you get on the plane to go over there, you've got to be ready to tackle it, and that's what we are doing.

You have been pretty adamant that you were not worried about having pretty much a seven-man rotation; does that change at all, given the way the tournament shakes out with so many games and such a quick turnaround?
Not necessarily. I think we have some guys that are ready to play if we need them; that maybe have not played as much. But also like the fact that that group of seven gets into a really nice groove, too. So we'll adjust if we need to, but I think that we are who we are at the same time.

As one of the eight teams facing the -- well, you've got to win four games in four days to win the tournament. When you were in the SEC, that actually happened once when you were there maybe and that happened in the BIG EAST last year. It's never happened in this tournament. What are the kinds of things that have to go right for you to be able to pull that off?
Well, obviously when it's tournament time at the end of the year, different teams begin to play at different levels sometimes, and no one can figure out why. You look at UCONN, you mentioned them, a team that was 9-9 in the BIG EAST and struggling and next thing you know they win five in a row in that league.

So sometimes you don't all know why a team may play at a high level. I've always felt that especially in this tournament, four-day tournament, if you can make it to Sunday, I think by then, everything is equal, because one team is on their fourth day but the other team is on their third day. I don't think much difference is then.

I've always thought it was the Saturday where one team is playing two -- they are only for their second day, and then the teams that had to play Thursday are now playing on their third. I've always felt like Saturday was more of a make-or-break day than Sunday.

Is it weird as a coach, or even when you were an analyst on television to, see teams that were struggling and then get hot for three days and all of a sudden they are the NCAA Tournament darling and people are more focused on them? How tough is that to look at? Several other coaches have talked about regular season body of work and sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle.
I've always felt like the committee looks at your body of work up to this date far more than they view the tournament.

You know, I think the tournament is viewed from the committee's eyes just what it's supposed to be. It's an opportunity for everybody to play and for everybody to win a tournament and get in.

I always listen to analysts, and I never wanted to do it when I was on TV, I didn't like it, but people would say, oh, they have to win one. If they go to Atlanta and win two, then they are in. I've never felt that to be true.

I think that the homework is being done now. You can certainly help yourself some. But I'm not sure you can hurt yourself a lot in the tournament.

As someone whose resumé has been up for question, have you guys been able to watch or even pay attention to the scores of some of these smaller tournaments?
Oh, yeah, we do. Oh, I'm living and dying with all of them. I'm pulling for the favorites in all of the mid-major leagues.

You know, I hope that in our case, we have an opportunity to go to Atlanta and win a conference tournament, like everybody in America, but I hope that we sit here at 9-7, having chosen to play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. I hope there's a reward for that. Because that's what the committee has asked all of us in the country to do.

And there are teams that are 9-7 or 8-8 in their particular conference that have played very poor RPI strength of schedules. So I hope there's a reward for our team for that.

Did you get a chance to watch the Murray State game? Were you able to pay attention and kind of follow how that one played out?
Absolutely. One, just as a fan, I'm pulling hard for the Racers. I would love to see those guys do well. And so I was excited when we were able to win it right there at the end.

How do you think your team has responded after Clemson to get those wins?
As I've said, our backs were against the wall and we responded. And you know, the only stretch of the season where we had a stretch like we did was when we played Duke on the road, had to come back and play Florida State 38 hours later, then play North Carolina.

We regrouped, went on the road to Clemson, I thought played well enough to win; we were in a position to win and didn't. And then came back and played very well in the next two.

And I think our backs are still against the wall. I told our team that. We are not out of the woods yet, and so, you know, we need to keep the same level of intentness that we've had.

C.J. is a guy that was great sometimes, and in and out, last five games he has averaged over 20 points and over ten rebounds and has been a consistent force. Have you seen him make a jump or get to the consistency that you wanted from him earlier?
Yeah, he is I think playing extremely well. I always tell players, great players play their best when their best is needed.

What I've been impressed with Calvin is that he's played some of his best basketball against our toughest competition. So I like that.

I think his practice habits are improving. His play in the games has been spectacular. So we just need him to continue that.

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