TELECONFERENCE: Mark Gottfried

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

Opening Statement:
Obviously when you win, especially a good opponent like we did against Duke, you feel good. The tough thing is in this conference you better not celebrate very long because everybody knows what a difficult challenge most of us have with our next game. That's just the nature of our conference.

We have to get refocused on North Carolina, which we will do. I have great respect for their team and obviously the job that coach Williams does.

It's going to be a big challenge for us, and we need to figure out how to be a little more consistent night in and night out.

What is it about playing Duke at home? Is there an advantage there for you or is it overstated?
Well, No. 1 we've obviously have a great atmosphere. You're talking about 19,700 fans and they are loud and enthusiastic... the energy where it was last night, it certainly helps. It's no different than if we have to go on the road, and we have to play in that type of environment somewhere else. It does make things a little bit more difficult.

I don't know if there's anything one way or another. We've just happened to play well a couple of nights. We have great respect for Duke, and we're happy that we were able to get a few wins over them the last few years here.

I don't know if there's any one thing necessary.

You had ten blocked shots against Duke. You're leading the league in blocks and it's not just one guy... it's multiple guys. What does that do for your defense?
It certainly helps. Sometimes you get beat off the dribble and sometimes there's a breakdown. We've got some guys around the rim that can make up for those mistakes and block a shot.

When you have multiple guys that have a knack for blocking shots and protecting the rim, it makes it a little bit harder to score. Sometimes, it makes some players a little more hesitant around the rim once their shot has been blocked a couple of times.

Hopefully that's something for us that we can have. It does help our team defensively when we're able to finish our defense with a blocked shot.

Congratulations on the big win. What does it mean for you to play UNC now... how are you not going to have a letdown?
It's a great question.

It sounds like there's an easy answer to that, but I think it's our job as a coaching staff to make sure our players understand that every game in this conference, win or lose, only counts for one out of 18 games that we have to play.

I talked to our team a lot about the fact that we have 18 opportunities... that's what sits in front of us at the beginning of league play and each one is significant.

We have to talk to our guys the next couple of days and get them focused in on North Carolina, which I think they are going to be. North Carolina is such a big game for NC State and our fans, it's an exciting game. I think that we'll find a way to get ourselves regrouped, refocused, and ready to go.

How difficult is it going over there and playing, facing North Carolina in the Dean Dome?
It's hard. We actually play them here, we play them in the PNC this time.

We'll go back there later this year and that place has been difficult for us, but we'll enjoy playing them again at home.

We know we have to go back there again.

You lost to them last year on a difficult shot. Do you talk to your players about that? A couple of them said after the win over Duke that they remembered it.
I think it was a heartbreaker but also a phenomenal college basketball game. That was as good a basketball game, back and forth, that I've been involved with in a long time.

Marcus made a great shot. He did it again against Louisville the other day... it was almost an identical shot.

We won't talk about that much to be honest. This is a different team, they have a different team.

We're going to treat it like every game. we're going to be as prepared as we possibly can and come up with an effective plan and not really worry so much about what's happened in the past or may happen in the future. I don't know if that helps as much.

In what ways are they different?
Well, I think the No. 1 thing is when you have players that are returning. I think Kennedy is better, Brice is better... they've just improved naturally.

Marcus is one of the best guards in America. I don't see very many guys that do for their teams what he does. He does it night in and night out.

They have some guys that have played a couple of years... now they are a little bit older.

As I watch tape and get ready, they've just improved. They are long and athletic and they've added in some good young pieces.

Theo is a really talented guy. We recruited him extremely hard. Justin is a great player on the wing for them.

They obviously are very talented. They always are, and I think they have more experience and the guys they are relying on have played more basketball.

You've started with three of four league games at home and you've won those three. Is it important to get those home wins for you team, do you talk to them about that?
We never talk about that... winning at home, how we're going to play on the road. That's not what we do.

We talk about 18 single opportunities that all stand alone. At the end of those 18, we're going to add them up and see where we sit... what we've done.

I've never been a guy that bought into that philosophy. It's not something we focus too much on.


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