Gottfried: We're Going There To Win It

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

Opening Statement:
I think this is a fun time of the year. We're anxious to go play in the ACC Tournament. It's one of the greatest basketball tournaments I think of all-time. It's a privilege. We're excited about it.

We've been able to win a couple of games down the stretch so we're in a much better place mentally, which I think helps your team going into a tournament. Whether it's Virginia Tech or Miami, we're going to play against a very high quality team, difficult team, so we'll be ready to play either way.

Coach, T.J. Warren is coming off an incredible week. Is there a danger of relying on him too much?
There would be a danger if his shooting percentages weren't very good. If he was scoring a lot of points but taking a high volume of shots, then I think you're in a danger zone.

But the one thing with T.J. is he's shooting a phenomenal percentage so our team's percentage is still pretty good, and that's what we like. Wehther it's one guy or four or five guys, it doesn't really mater.

Our team understand that we have capable scorers that can step up and score outside of him. Whether it's him or someone else, I think the most important thing is to make sure we're shooting a good percentage.

Can you talk about the other parts of his game?
His rebounding goes under-appreciated or noticed by a lot of people. He does a great job on both ends of rebounding the ball.

Last night in our game in a key defensive possession he gets a steal and controls the ball... he does a lot of different things. One thing about T.J. is he wants to win. He's trying to make the things happen to help his team win.

That's the most important thing about him.

How much of an opportunity is the tournament to polish up the NCAA resume. Can you help yourself?
I think so. We have to remember, my good friend, Joe Lunardi, who I respect greatly, he's not on the committee. I love him, but those committee members are going to decide. They will evaluate each team.

You have to remember about our team, we had two losses early in the season without our starting center, Jordan Vandenberg. We learned during the season that we are different when he plays.

We have nice road wins, at Tennessee is an impressive one. At Pittsburgh is an impressive one. We stumbled too, and had some near-misses, but what we have now is... we can play our way in. We can play our way into the greatest show on Earth. That's going to start Thursday at 7:00.

You can play your way in or you can play your way out. It's on us at this point.

What do you like about what's going for you now?
I like that we went on the road in a tough environment against Pittsburgh and won. We followed that up with a good win last night.

Our guys have a great desire and they know it's reachable. I like that about them. They are playing for something. We're young, inexperienced for a lot of these guys it will be the first ACC Tournament, but I like our approach and our spirit.

Are players aware of the history of State's success in the tournament?
What we've done in the past won't affect us a whole lot, but I share the same belief in that it's one of the greatest venues in all of sports. NC State's history in this tournament has been very impressive.

We're going to go over there to win it. That will be our approach. We'll talk to our players about our history, but we're going to go over there and play.

It's a new format. Is it possible to win it from the middle of the week?
The message I've had for my team is ask Connecticut, who won five days straight in the Garden and then turned around and won six more.

Absolutely it's doable. The fact that you play one night or two nights more, that doesn't guarantee any success if you're on either side of that. It's been done, and it can certainly be done again.

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