Opening Statement From Coach Gottfried:
Well, I'm extremely proud of our team and these young guys. I think that they have grown up a lot this year. I think today, when you look at how we were down early. We came back, took the lead, and just how tough-minded they have become. It makes you feel very good as a coach, very proud of them.
It's a great win for our program. But, you know, really when you just look at this group of guys, to me what stands out is how they have gotten better and they're continuing to get better. And they're tough.
And so we played a very good team today. Georgetown was a difficult team to guard, the way they run their offense, they're very well-coached team.
But I'm just extremely proud of our guys.
Lorenzo, the shot you hit from the baseline in the last couple minutes there, the teardrop kinda from behind the back, was that the look you were looking for, or was that one of those let's throw it up and see what happens, and how did you feel when it went in?
LORENZO BROWN: My goal was to get to the rim. I felt I was pushed a little bit, so I just threw it up to see if they called the foul, but it went in, so I wasn't complaining.
Scott, if I told you in April when Mark was hired that you'd be going to the Sweet 16 and a Regional potentially with North Carolina and Kansas, what would your response be? SCOTT WOOD: I mean, me and Zo were talking about it back there, and even the last game of the year we knew we had the talent to be a good team.
I think one of the first things I said to Coach Gottfried when I met him I said: I don't want this to be a rebuilding year. I don't want to just play to get better. I think we've got the talent and the pieces that we could be a dominant team.
So, I mean, obviously you think that, A, you're going to get better. You never think you're going to be this far from where you were last year. But I think we did a good job of coming together. Coach did a good job of putting in the system and gaining the trust of his players, and we just continued to get better.
Scott, you're a pretty good free-throw shooter, right?
SCOTT WOOD: Yeah.
But you missed that second one, and what goes through your mind?
SCOTT WOOD: A lot of things. I mean, I was telling them I missed it for CBS's ratings. But it's one of those things where you just want to get back and get a stop and try redeem yourself.
So anytime you miss a crucial free throw, you've got to get back and get a stop for your team.
Lorenzo, how important was it for you guys to get their bigs, especially Sims, in foul trouble early?
LORENZO BROWN: We know Sims is a big part of their team, and he's kind of like their point guard, as well as their big man. And we wanted to pressure him the whole game and get him in foul trouble.
Our bigs did a great job at that.
For those of us who don't live down in Carolina, how difficult is it when you guys have to hear about Duke and North Carolina all the time, and is this sort of a challenge to them now that maybe you guys might be back on the national stage?
SCOTT WOOD: I think obviously it's no fun, but at the same time I feel like you gotta beat those type of teams to get talked about. And we've definitely came close, and we're definitely getting better, but at the same time we still haven't beat them yet.
So I think once we take them down a couple of times, I think the times will change.
I sort of agree with Scott on that. You're going to hear about them all the time. They have a great program. And, I mean, we are just rebuilding right now. All thanks to Coach Gottfried.
Scott, so several months ago, I think it was September, your Coach was going to do a parachute jump. Seemed like he was selling the program, selling the program. Can you reflect on-- I don't think I have to do anything like that again. So can you just talk about how far the program has come in a short time since he got there?
SCOTT WOOD: I mean, obviously there's been a lot of change, and I think everybody's been really excited. I mean, when he comes in, you kind of don't know what to think. But then you get to know him and he gains the trust of his players, and we start to realize what a good coach he is and how much knowledge he has and the background he has. He's been along a lot of other great coaches that have taught him a lot of things and now he's teaching us.
So just the fact that he could gain that trust and his players and incorporate that system that he wants and that's to absorb it, just made us that much better.
What did you think when he was going to do that. Weather cancelled it, right?
SCOTT WOOD: I was kind of disappointed for him because I kind of thought it would be a fun activity. But he was doing it for the soldiers and trying to make a point of how much he really appreciates what they do for us, and I think it was a real good gesture on his part.
I think you were 0-8 against top RPIs, 25 teams or something like that. This weekend you beat two of them. How do you explain that? Did that toughen you, those tests?
LORENZO BROWN: You never know what to expect in this tournament. A lot of great teams went down a couple of days ago. And we're just out here playing our best, and Coach is a believer in us and we believe in ourselves.
How important was this win for C.J. Williams, your senior, and what did he say after the game?
LORENZO BROWN: I told C.J., like, we had three minutes left in the game. I told him this is not his last game. And he said he knows that. He's ready to make some big shots, get some rebounds. And he just played his heart out today.
SCOTT WOOD: It was just one of those things. You just don't want to send your seniors out on a bad note. I know, especially C.J., he's had a lot of up and downs since he's been here. But at the same time we really wanted to put him out on a good note, and I think this is a pretty good way to go.
Scott, you were very patient and prudent in the number of 3s you took, even though you're an important component. They have such long defenders. Tell us how you did that and how you picked and chose before you shot?
SCOTT WOOD: I mean, anytime you have someone that long and that are good defenders, it's extremely tough. But I think a lot of my shots just came off of really good screens that were set. Whether it was Richard, C.J., or DeShawn.
And they were doing a good job delivering it where I needed it. And a couple were off offensive rebounds, and anytime the defense gets scrambled there, it's easy for me to find an open crease.
But do you have to tell yourself to be patient and wait for those opportunities, because if you get going in the wrong direction, things can get away from you as a shooter?
SCOTT WOOD: It's tough, but at the same time I think the fact that we have so many offensive weapons that can kind of take over a game at any time, it makes it a lot easier on myself to kind of be a little more patient and wait for a good look.
Coach, we talked yesterday about Georgetown's defense. Did you think your guys' ability to match their defensive effort today, or even be better, was the difference in the game?
I thought we needed to be really good defensively because they're hard to score against. And when you're trying to play out in your mind how the game may unfold, you never know for sure.
But the way they defend, you know, I'm thinking to myself: Can we generate enough points? Most of the time we did that this year. But they're very good and they're long and they're athletic. So we had to really defend them well, which I thought we really did. They had a couple backdoor plays. They're going to get some of those. We talked about that; that's what they do.
But they didn't get very many. And I thought we disrupted a lot of what they wanted to do. Hollis Thompson took the game over for them for a little while, and he was hard to guard. But I thought defensively our team, they've grown up a lot. We've improved, and we're certainly getting better there on that end of the floor.
Could you just talk about, you guys were struggling a little bit offensively, C.J. Williams gets that follow shot off C.J.'s missed free throw. Could you talk about the impact of that? And also what did you say to him at the end of the game when you hugged him at the end?
To C.J. Williams? Well, first of all, the start of the game we were really struggling offensively. We could not get in any kind of rhythm at all. And I thought it was a couple key shots, key plays there in the first half that started to give us some confidence and seemed to loosen everything up, because it was hard for us to score.
As far as at the end of the game, all those guys, one by one, I just wanted to tell them I'm proud of them. And I'm just so proud of how they have improved, how our team has come together. There's an unselfish attitude with our team that sometimes is hard to get in college athletics. So I'm just very proud of all of them.
C.J. had the two big steals on the perimeter in the first half, one that kind of kick started your run?
Calvin, you mean.
Yes, Calvin. And the other one at the end of the half, four-point swing there going into the half. Were those things you saw in the scouting report; that they weren't protecting the ball out there in their offense, or was that Calvin being Calvin?
No, that's Calvin being Calvin. We wanted to pressure them as much as we could, especially their bigs. Anytime their bigs were away from the basket, we felt like we were quick enough to get after them a little bit on the perimeter and disrupt their passing-- they're such good passers. Almost like letting a quarterback sit in the pocket and you never rush him.
We wanted to get up after him a little bit. And I think Calvin just recognized on his own that he could get a deflection here or there.
So those were big plays. I thought the one right before the half was really big. The momentum for us again to go into halftime was really good for our team.
Could you just kind of address-- it's been seven years since you guys have been to the Sweet 16-- what this kind of a taste of being in the spotlight's like for your fans who have not been around for a while in this?
I'm sure they're excited, and should be. And we've talked about this a lot. This is such a tradition-rich basketball program. It's a proud program. Proud fans. Love their team.
And when you have fans like that, there's a part of you that wants to deliver for them. Because they deserve it. They want this. They love their team. So for that, we're excited for them for our fans.
You talked about the offensive struggles early. What did you see from your team in that they were able to put that aside and go on the run they did to end the half?
We always talk about our slogan is play through, just play through. And what happened early was, in a few timeouts, we just had to keep playing, play through, we're not playing really well. It's a slow tempo. We're not scoring. Seems like it's a struggle. Just play through. Keep playing through.
And then I thought it began-- the tempo started to pick up. We got some fastbreaks, got some easy baskets. And then the game started to loosen up for us a little bit better.
But we just needed to stay the course, just keep doing what we're doing, keep executing, and that was good for our team the first half.
It sounds like you had to do quite a sales job to some guys when you came in. C.J. Williams said he thought about transferring. Scott said, I don't want to rebuild. What was the key to what you said to them and did you ever talk about the tournament and Sweet 16 or did you envision anything like this?
We didn't talk about those things back in April. But we just needed more than anything with our staff, and me as the head coach, to get to know our guys individually. We encouraged them to come upstairs in our basketball facility, doors are open, get to know our coaches.
Anytime you walk into a new situation, there's always uncertainty, because if I'm a player, I'm thinking: How does my game fit into your style, do I fit, do you still want me, or how is this going to work out for me here?
And so more than anything it was just first getting to know our guys and them getting to know us and building a relationship there, where there's some trust.
And then I think with our system, I'm a believer in our system. I was at UCLA. We won a national championship with our system. The same system we're running right now. I believe in it. And I think when you have some conviction like that, it's easy then for your players to say, hey, this guy believes in his system, what they're doing. And so I think our players began to see that it's a system that works.
So much time has passed since NC State's glory days. Your players, I think, based on what I heard from them yesterday, weren't really that familiar when they were recruited to NC State about that type of tradition that maybe your fans remember and kind of want to bring back. Do you ever remind them of that, of the glory days? Because you're very familiar with it. Do you ever find yourself explaining that to them?
Well, what we like to do, all our former players, we tried to get them all back at certain times. We've had them around our players. We've introduced them to some of our great players that have played.
And they need to get to know that history some. And I think they have. But most kids today, not just our program, anywhere, they don't remember back real far. And they can remember recent history.
And we always talk about we have such great history at NC State, but it's also time to build some new history. It's time to build some things in the present rather than going all the way back to'83 or'74 or different years that they've had great teams.
So it's nice to have that tradition, but we also need to build some for ourselves. And our players know that.
In all honesty are you a little bit surprised at this? This is your first year doing this with new guys.
When I went to Alabama I was the head coach and I was much younger, I turned 33. John Wooden told me one time, he said, Coach, don't give them too much too fast. They might start expecting that every year.
Well, we failed in that category already. That's something we've done a poor job with. But our team-- I don't know what to really-- if you said do you expect this, do you expect-- who knows. All you try to do is get your team to be the best they can be. That's all we've been trying to do. And it's been a nice ride. And the good thing about our team is I think they're a hungry bunch. They are hungry right now. I don't see a satisfied group at all in our locker room.
Mark, I read a quote from you couple weeks back where you were looking at results around the country, who is in and who is out, and you were following that very closely. At the point where you lose to Clemson, is there maybe a deflation of pressure on your guys because then you're focused on you just gotta stop the four-game losing streak, instead of where exactly you sit, did that help at all getting on the right track?
For us, when we went to Clemson, what I liked is we played well enough to win the game. We just didn't.
But what happened, I think, after that game, one, we tried to always focus on the positives. We're not a bad team. We just haven't won one here in this little stretch. But at the same time, you know, you just want to make sure you're getting better. And at that point it was our backs are now completely against the wall. There is no more room for error. The window is closing on us, and we need to respond
And to their credit, they did.
You outscored them in the paint, you had the offensive rebounds, you played against Sims really well. What can you say about your interior play today?
Defensively it was good. We were able to get Sims into some foul trouble. Offensively we had a hard time scoring. I think our three bigs went 8 for 25 from the field. And their length bothered us. The way they defended it bothered us inside.
So defensively I think we were okay inside. Offensively we struggled today, and that's to their credit.