Gottfried: "We're Very Excited"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried met with the media today to discuss the Pack's upcoming trip to Spain.

Mark Gottfried

Opening Statement:
"It's good to see everybody. It's been a different summer in the fact that this is the first summer we've had what we're referring to as summer access to our current players. Having two hours a week on the floor, those two hours have been really good. Coaches around the country like it, I certainly like it. I like the fact that I've been able to get on the court and work with my guys. That has made the summer different for everybody."

"Coaches have been on the road recruiting, and that's winding down in the next five days. Then our team has the opportunity to go to Spain, which we're very excited about. We hope it helps our team throughout the year and gives us a head start and the opportunity to put some things in this summer."

What is Lorenzo Brown's status for the trip to Spain?
"Yesterday he did a little bit more in practice. He's doing dummy drills, cutting, moving. He's not anywhere near 100 percent, but he's shooting a lot. We've not put him in any live drills yet, and I'm not sure we will throughout this trip. We'll just wait and see. My initial thought is to be really conservative with him, take our time, and if that means he doesn't play in Spain that's fine with me. We'll just see how he feels."

Is it more important for Lorenzo to play and get chemistry going or more important to let Tyler Lewis get some reps and court time?
"Truthfully, the only objective I have is to have him healthy in October. If he ends up not playing it helps Tyler, it helps the other players. If we had to play without Lorenzo, how do we play? It gives you a chance to do that. We've had days in practice where we've played Scott Wood some."

When did Brown get cleared?
"I don't know the day. He's been shooting a lot, he's been jogging a lot, and then yesterday was the first time we really got him into our practice a little bit. He's just slowly getting involved here and there."

What is your message to your team about expectations being high?
"I haven't said a lot about any expectations because it's something we can't control. I know exactly where we are, and the expectations are probably ahead of the reality of where we truly are. We had a great run at the end of the year and our guys should feel good about that, but we also lost 13 games, we finned 9-7 in the league. We've got to take that next step. I'm excited about our team's potential but I'm not too caught up in where others think our team might be. That, to me, is dangerous."

"We're going to be a different team. Last year we added Alex Johnson and his experience to our team, CJ Williams had a lot of experience, even DeShawn Painter had a lot of experience. Those guys are gone. We still have the four guys that played a lot, but then around those four guys the dynamic of our team changed dramatically."

As you head to Spain and into the preseason, how do you see the front court shaping up?
"The two givens are Calvin and Richard, those two guys have played, they understand what we expect. Then, after that, there are some real question marks. Jordan Vandenberg needs to take a major step forward, Thomas de Thaey needs to take advantage of an opportunity. Does TJ Warren end up playing some inside? The first part of that is Jordan, he's a key for us. He's worked hard for us this summer."

Will you do anything to shield your freshmen from expectations and pressure?
"I think when you're a good player, it comes with the turf. We think we recruited some good players, and part of the responsibility is understanding what comes with being a good player. What we have to make sure though, for our group as a whole and then those young guys, is not to get caught up in what everybody else is talking about. That's a slippery slope."

What does CJ Leslie need to do take another step forward after last season?
"For Calvin, the sign will be how good of a leader he can become, which goes along with his maturity level. Understanding that this team responds to him, he has to accept that. Where he's made great strides, in my opinion, are his practice habits. I thought early last year his practice habits were very poor, he just didn't understand how to work hard. When he finally last year really understood that there were results when he was practicing hard, that's when he took a step and really got better."

What have you seen from Ralston Turner and can he make the trip to Spain?
"No, he can't go to Spain, part of the transfer rules. He's done a good job this summer. He's a good sized perimeter player, about 6-foot-6, he's strong, he shoots it well. He's a great young guy, he's coachable and eager. Our staff has been impressed with him."

We've seen how good Richard Howell can be. What does he need to do to stay out of foul trouble and stay on the court?
"As a senior, the improvement for him is going to be how to play intelligently without the unnecessary fouling. He's at good as there is in the country at showing or hedging on ball screens, but then he gets anxious and he wants to steal it and fouls at the top of the key. There is a level of discipline for him that he's got to develop as a senior that stops him from eliminating himself sometimes. His conditioning is great, he's been very good in our workouts."

A lot of us have compared your roster to other schools in the league. Have you taken time to do that, take inventory of the other teams?
"I really don't, I really never have. There is really nothing you're going to do about it right now, so I don't go through everyone else's roster. You know who loses which player, those type of things, but I don' t get caught up in all that too much. The biggest thing that I've always tried to do is focus on our group and figure out each day."

Would being picked to win the league for the first time since 1974 be nice, or would you not pay attention to it?
"My answers are going to be boring today, but it really doesn't matter. Last year, I don't know where we were picked. I think it's fun for everybody, it's fun for the fans, to guess where teams may end up, but things happen. It's fun for this time of the year, but the reality is it's insignificant."

What does Rodney Purvis to best and what does he need to work on?
"One word to describe Rodney is the attack word. He is great in transition. If I was guarding him myself, I'm worried he's going to run me over and dunk it right on my head because he's coming 100 mph. I remember watching Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson run right over guys, just so powerful. Rodney is like that, he's just so quick and strong. He needs to work on everything, right now his shooting needs to improve, his understanding of what we're doing. Sometimes it looks like he has snakes in his head, and at some point he'll begin to learn it all."

You mentioned Jordan's conditioning, has he been this year's Alejo project?
"Yes, he has been. I told him that Bob Alejo needs to be his best friend. He's done a good job, he's lived in the weight room and he's gotten his little pot belly shaved down just a hair. I told him if it's ever is big as mine he's in trouble."

What do you see about Tyler Lewis that impresses you?
"He's as good of an open-floor passer, really a passer in any aspect, that I've had. I had Mo Williams, who has done a nice job in the NBA. Tyler's ability to pass the ball is good as anyone I've ever had. He finds people in transition, but he makes the right pass to the right guy at the right time. He really passes it well and I think he has a really good understanding of the game. He's one of those guys that, late in the game, you'll feel real comfortable with him on the floor."

Do you see his role being similar to what Alex Johnson did last year?
"Yeah, to start off, no question. We'll see where that role could develop from there. He has actually shot the ball pretty well too in our workouts. We're not in the heat of the season, but he's done a great job with that as well."

Did it take some time for you to see those skills in Tyler?
"Not long. When I got the job Bobby Lutz and Rob Moxley were the two who just kept saying 'Coach, we have to get him. Don't be fooled with how he looks.' The first day I watched him he had just come back from a long AAU trip and he was tired and they weren't playing full court. I'm kind of looking at him like 'Wow, OK, this is our guy, huh?' I really wasn't ready to make a judgment right then, but then I watched him play, and when you watch him play the game, it doesn't take long at all. You really start to see how he commands the position. I've watched him play against the best there is and he's played pretty good against them."

At this point in Scott Wood's career, what improvements can he make?
"We wanted him this summer to work on putting the ball on the floor one or two times and create shots. He's such a phenomenal foul shooter, those ways for him to get to the foul line are important. Can you get fouled more? His free throws attempts improved, we'd like him to shoot 140-150 this year."

Does T.J. Warren have the potential to be a big-time scorer?
"He has phenomenal potential as a scorer. He can score the ball in a lot of different ways. We have to make sure he's improving as a defender, a rebounder, a passer. When it comes to putting it in the basket, he's advance for most guys his age."

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