Gottfried: "Our Guys Will Be Excited"

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

Opening Statement:
In this league, even if you win one or lose one you better get ready for the next one real quick. We have to do that with Virgina.

I think we feel good about how we played against Pittsburgh, but we also understand that we have a phenomenal challenge and opportunity on Wednesday night.

Our guys will be excited to play against one of the best two or three teams in the country.

It's early in the season but Cat Barber's shooting percentage is up from last season. Is that a function of maturity and shot selection or something else?
I think Cat has played a lot better than a year ago for a lot of reasons.

I do think there is some maturity, and I think he's physically matured... he's a little bigger and stronger. He also understands the game a little better.

He came into college, and he was a productive of an environment where they opened it up, and he went 100 miles per hour. I think he's learning a lot about the game and how to play the position. I think all of those things have helped him, and I do think he spent a lot of time this offseason working on his shooting.

His percentages are better because of a lot of reasons.

The way Virginia plays defense, you only played them one time last year. Is that one-time exposure enough, to give you guys an idea of how they will guard?
Yeah, and I also think, this is my fourth year here and we played Virginia in the ACC Tournament a few times. We went up there and played a couple of years ago. I think our staff is pretty familiar with how they play.

Our players, we're collectively young, so not a lot of guys have had a lot of experience playing against them, but that's true with just about everybody we play.

We'll see, but I think we have a pretty good idea.

You've been consistent with your perimeter game, but the frontcourt, you're using a lot of players in that rotation. Can you talk about that rotation and who has been impressive?
The collective group, we've challenged them. They have to step up and do more.

They have to give this team, on both ends of the floor, a little more than they have. They are all different. Each guy brings some different things to our team, and I think they are getting better.

They came out of the gates a little slower than the perimeter guys, but I think game-by-game each guy is stepping forward a little bit more.

Is there a guy close to a breakthrough?
I don't... I'd like to have a crystal ball sometimes and try to figure it out, but really for us it's been game-by-game. Who is playing well... sometimes it's matchups.

We've told them, we need all four of them. They all are going to play and it's their job to play well. That's what they have to worry about.

What do you think about Cincinnati after going through the coaching situation?
I'm very sad for Mick, we've communicated and I also think Larry has done a phenomenal job.

It's good in one sense that Larry's not trying to bring a different way to play and a different style to that team. It's kind of been a transition that is... non-disruptive, that's maybe the right word to describe it. They've been able to keep going and doing the things they were doing already, which is obviously a lot different if you fire a coach.

Their players have kind of played inspired to be honest, with Mick's situation. I think Larry is doing a great job, and it's been pretty seamless.

What is it about Virginia's defense that makes them especially good at it?
No. 1, they are well-coached, well-taught. When I watch them, I see guys that are in very good position. Rarely are guys out of position and everything starts with that.

They obviously limit the number of possessions in a game because they play fairly slow offensively too. So, it's not a game where there... if they are going to play in the 80s some loose defensive possessions where maybe some teams that score more points have opportunities for error.

They limit the number of possessions, they play great position defense, and they are obviously very, very well-taught.

The league is getting to the two-month mark, just starting conference games. What have been your impressions... any surprises?
I don't think there's been any surprises. Our league is like we thought, it's very deep, it has great potential. I do think we lost some games, collectively as a group, in November and December that has probably hurt our league some. You try to avoid that... we've had some stumbles.

I think it's going to be a great league that is going to get a lot of teams in the NCAA Tournament. A lot of teams are positioned right now after the non-conference has ended to where if they can do well in the league, hopefully we'll have seven, eight, nine teams find their way into the tournament.

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