Teleconference: Mark Gottfried

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried fielded questions from the media on his weekly teleconference.

Opening Statement:
Well, it's time for the tournament. I think our guys are going to be excited about playing. And we were hoping we'd end up in that fourth spot. Didn't happen. So we're going to approach it like we did last year.

We were in the same position. So we're going to go out and play well in Greensboro.

I want to ask first, the fact that you're playing the 12 seed but they played you tough at your place, does that maybe eliminate some of that worry about your team overlooking them?
Absolutely. They played us tough. And we have our hands full. And they made a lot of tough shots. And they played extremely well against us.

So I don't think there's any chance that our players will overlook Virginia Tech.

What was it that allowed them to be so effective against you guys that maybe wasn't there the rest of the year for them? Was it just the shot-making?
I think they've had a couple of games where they've gotten beat soundly. But they've also had a lot of games where they've been unbelievably competitive. I think, first of all, James has done a great job with that group, despite their record.

I thought in our game they made every tough shot and timely shot they needed to make. If we would make a run, they'd make a shot. A 3 or whatever it could be.

We had a chance to put the game away late. We missed foul shots. We didn't execute very well, and they did. They were terrific. So it's not just one thing. It's a lot of things, but they played very well.

Will you be preparing for a free throw missed tip and play or is that history now?
No, that's history now. So, no, they just played well. And it wasn't just Erick Green. In our game, Wood was terrific, and Eddie was terrific. And Johnston made a couple. Raines was good inside. They all played well.

To follow up on that, what kind of the message to your team this week in terms of what you want to do maybe improvement-wise defensively against Tech's 3-pointers on the boards or something, what do you want to do betters so it's not another overtime game?
I think we're better defensively now than we were then, period. Hopefully it carries over in this game. I watched the tape of that game and I do think that in the last seven, eight games we defended a lot better. So naturally I think we are, hopefully, playing better defense as a group.

And we'll make some adjustments. Do things a little differently than we did the first time. But at the end of the day you better figure out a way to contain Erick Green, which not very many teams in America have done.

Are you playing better defense for certain reasons, I guess, is it because Lorenzo's now 100 percent, why do you think--
I don't know that he's 100 percent. He's closer. He's back playing. But I just think our team has improved there. Overall, our team defense is better than it was maybe in the middle part of the conference season. We just need to make sure that as we go to Greensboro we keep that same mindset that we're really going to defend better.

Broad question for you. In terms of the way college basketball is being officiated these days, have you noticed any changes in recent years and have you noticed, for instance, maybe a difference between when you left Alabama and when you got back into coaching?
I think there's a lot more contact that's allowed now than it was even four, five years ago. I think the contact around the rim, the offensive player makes an offensive move, and there's a lot of contact that's allowed. I think that's changed a lot.

Is that something you'd like to see addressed or changed, and are there any other areas--
Sure you would. Sure. It's a slippery slope. The more contact that's allowed in a game, it's hard then to pull it back. I think that's where college basketball has gotten these days. It's hard to pull it back.

And go put a tape on from 1995 and watch it. You'll see it, it won't take you but ten seconds to see the difference and how much contact is allowed, especially around the basket.

Going into the tournament a year ago, you guys were widely perceived as on the bubble. And you had to win a couple of games at least. And you did. There are a couple of others -- you're not in that position but there's a couple of ACC teams that might be. Is there more a sense of urgency or anything when you're in that position, or is it just the same pre-game ritual?
There's probably a little bit more urgency, no question. But I think as a coach what you want is you want your team to play its best basketball.

I think at times you can add pressure to your team. I don't think that's something that I certainly don't ever want to do is make our players feel more weighted, with all the circumstances or those type of things. You just want your team-- I want our team to play its best basketball, regardless of all that stuff.

And the other thing is starting from fifth instead of fourth, is it possible to win this tournament by winning four games in four days?
I would guess. I'm sure it is. Certainly not impossible.

I just brought it up because no one's ever done it in the ACC since we've expanded.
Yep, no, I think it's possible. Yeah.

I guess the point is, fatigue factor by the time you get to Sunday, if you get to Sunday, having to play one more extra game, is that negligible?
I don't know. We'll find out if we get there. I mean, here's what I think on the tournament. I think the first day the teams that play Thursday, they've got-- they're maybe a little more leg worry for Friday because that team hasn't played yet. And maybe on Saturday there's maybe one team that's only played one game and other teams played two games.

But by Sunday, if one's played three and one's played four, who cares at that point, they're both probably tired. Everybody's probably tired by Sunday a little bit.

So I don't worry too much into all that.

Coach, obviously you're focused on your team, but it's kind of a cool week with your son competing for a state championship, and are you able to pay that much attention to it while you're juggling the demands and everything?
Absolutely I'm paying attention to it. I'm so proud of him and his team. And they play Saturday, and I hope I'm in a position where I can watch it, tied up with everything else. But no, very, very proud, very happy for him.

In terms of that last game, that last game was a close game, overtime game, even though the Hokies only took seven free throws. Is that a factor you take into account, ACC tournament, neutral court, more trips to the free-throw line for Hokies, so we've got to account for that in terms of the game plan?
No, not even going to think about it. The game's going to unfold just the way that it will. And some games you end up on the line more, some games you end up on the line less.

But that's not something that you go into the game trying to plan or prepare for.

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