Gottfried: "They Get It"

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried met with the television media at ACC Media Day.

Do you need name tags for your team this year?
Yes. Lots of them. We have a new team, different team. It's going to be a fun team I think to watch, watch them grow and develop.

Yeah, we don't have a lot of the veteran guys like a lot of teams do.

It's somewhat symptomatic of what college basketball is right now. There's a lot of change year after year.
I think there's a lot of change. We obviously see more guys leave for the NBA. We see more young guys in our sport transfer. Sometimes we benefit from that because kids do transfer.

We're also in a situation, when I got the job two years ago, we had a nucleus of players that returned. We had them for two years. They won 48 games. They did a lot of great things. Went to back-to-back tournaments. Now that group is gone.

It's somewhat for us like you're turning the page. Now it's a new time to build, a new group of guys. I think from that perspective it's going to be real interesting.

Is this going to be an easier or tougher coaching job than last year for you?
That's a good question. I think in one respect it's going to be tougher because this is a group that has to learn a lot and you want to get competitive. We want to become an NCAA tournament basketball team. How are we going to do that? I don't know that's an easy thing for this group because we have so many questions, unknowns with our team.

At times last year you took a veteran team. It's nice to know that Scott Wood is going to score and make threes every night, Richard Howell is going to get 12 rebounds, Lorenzo, you could go on and on and on.

Practice is different with a group of young players. When we start playing games, there's going to be a great learning curve for this group because they're just not going to know yet how to win or how to execute things they need to execute to win a game.

It's going to be interesting with our group.

Talk about a lot of newness on your side with your squad. Talk about the new teams coming in.
We've kind of got the double whammy a little bit. We've lost some great players. We may take a step back so we can eventually take a step forward.

At the same time the league got better, tougher, deeper. We've added in three high-quality teams this year that have great expectations, that expect to be in the NCAA tournament, that expect to potentially be in a Final Four like Syracuse was this year.

It's going to make it more difficult than it normally would. I think it's also going to make it more fun. You want to play against the best, beat the best. I think this league is becoming clearly the best basketball conference in the country.

For us, we have to get good quick. These young guys we have, they understand it. They get it. That's why they chose to play at NC State.

With the expectations being set where they are because your group is so new, is there a thought that the promise of big wins could be even bigger and sweeter this season should they occur home or away?
I think there's probably a little truth to that. I think if our team finds a way to become good enough to compete with the best teams in this league, I think they are going to be really special. Although I will tell you, beating North Carolina and Duke last year, Duke was No.1 in the country, that was pretty special, too, at that time, even with a veteran group.

We're a program that's trying to take steps, to build ourselves up to where we can be one of the best teams in this league. We got a young group that's going to be somewhat the foundation that we've laid here as we move forward from the last two years.

Break down the new pieces you have, Rolston Turner.
Rolston Turner is a player, the good news is he's played in the SEC, played at this level. He's been a good player for LSU. He sat out last year. He understands everything we're doing. He took advantage of a redshirt year.

Outside of that, all these other guys are brand-new to this level. Cat Barber is a point guard that we're excited about. Got a chance to become a great player. He's as good of an on-ball defender as I've ever had.

Desmond Lee is a junior college player we've been impressed with every day. About 6'3". A guy I think that can help our team this year.

Then we have three interior young freshmen guys, Lennard Freeman, Kyle Washington, [BeeJay Anya].

Each day it's different. Each day one of them will be good, the next day somebody else will be good. The good news is they're all trying, have phenomenal attitudes. They want to become good.

We've got some new pieces, guys that haven't done anything at our level, they have to step forward and become good.

You were talking about the players leaving early. Would you like to see the rule changed where they have to stay longer than the one-and-done?
I think there's a lot of ways to look at that. I think if you're going to have a situation where players have to come to college, like we do now, one year is not enough, in my opinion. I would like to see three years, like baseball, or even the NFL. I would like for players that are good enough to go out of high school to have the opportunity to go out of high school.

When you look back at LeBron, Kobe, Kevin Garnett, some of those guys, I don't know we can say it was a bad thing for them. For some of those guys it worked out pretty well.

I'd like to see guys have an opportunity to work towards their degree. If they were in school for three years, if the NBA doesn't work out, professional basketball ends at some point, now they have a chance where they're in striking distance to get a college education, their degree. The one-year rule in place now I think might be the worst part about it. It's the worst way we could do it.

I'm not the commissioner of the NBA or the president of the NCAA. If I was for a day, I'd try to find a way to get that done.

Coach, thank you.

Pack Pride Top Stories