AUDIO: Gottfried Talks Virginia

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried met with the media after practice to discuss the upcoming game against Virginia.

Mark Gottfried

On what type of effect Justin Anderson's absence will have on Virginia:
I think sometimes when as guy is out it is easy to rally the troops. We obviously did it at Florida State when we played without Cat. You have a sense that everybody has to step up and do more, so I am anticipating getting their best shot.

They are a terrific team. I think their success is more predicated on their system and their style maybe than it is one person. I think that we are going to see a really good Virginia team on Wednesday night.

Anderson is a good player, he has become a great player, but this is an older team. They have become a veteran team. I say this all the time. I went back and watched our games [NC State vs. Virginia] in the ACC Tournament from three years ago and two years ago. We were the older team and won the games and they were kind of the younger team.

Now the tables have turned, now they are the veteran, kind of seasoned team and we are kind of the team that is coming. But their system is solid. I think they are a team that can compete for the national championship. They have proven it all year long. We have got our hands full, but we are excited about the opportunity.

On whether performance in Charlottesville earlier in the season will give NC State confidence:
I think it helps us feel well that you can play well against Virginia. I think our group is a confident group, no matter who we play. We did play well for about 30 minutes, 33 minutes, didn't finish well. Hopefully, we can do better Wednesday night.

After loss at Wake Forest, what did team do with its week off?
It is nice to have some time off this time of year. We were able to get some great practices in, yet at the same time take some days off. We gave them Saturday and Sunday off. Fresh legs and fresh minds, I think, are important this time of year.

But at the same time, the practices that we have had, I thought, went pretty good. Like today, we had a great practice. Hopefully, we took advantage of the seven or eight days off in a good way.

Does NC State need a win in its next two games [Virginia, at Louisville] to reach NCAA Tournament?
You have got to win your way into the tournament. Every team that plays in the NCAA [Tournament] has earned the right to play there, every single one of them, which we have done for the last three years. We have earned our way in.

We need to get going. We need to get going here. We have stubbed our toe a few times. In this league, there is not a lot of forgiveness. They are all tough. The time is now to step up and get going.

At the end of the day, you want to play your best basketball and, hopefully, that means winning. I think you also have to understand in the league this year, and the depth of the league, we may see eight, nine, ten teams in the NCAA Tournament. That could potentially happen. If you look at everybody's RPIs, their strength of schedules, there is a lot of teams that could find themselves in the NCAA Tournament. The league is so good, it is so deep, that you kind of have to see how it settles out at the end.

At the end of the day, you still have to win your way in. That is something we need to be able to do.

In last two games, is Cat Barber resembling the player he was in high school?
Yeah, and what I like about Cat is he is getting better. You want all your players to improve, and he is playing at a high level. And it is not just scoring, it is not just his shooting... it is his assists-to-turnover ratio, defensively he has been good.

He is just a sophomore. This is only midway through his second year of college. It is good to see how he has played the last few games.

On Ralston Turner's recent shooting woes:
With Ralston, he has had some issues with his knee a little bit, it has been swollen a lot.

I have actually held him out of practice for about five or six days. I think, No. 1, we have got to get him healthy. He has got to be able to be healthy and have some bounce, jump and quickness.

It is also hard to be an effective player when you don't practice much, so there is a fine line. We definitely need Ralston to have fresh legs and, hopefully, no issues with his knee, and we will see how he plays.

On using a small lineup [Will Anderson's absence affect that]?
I don't think Anderson's absence has anything to do with it. I think, for us, it is a way that we might be able to play at times and be pretty good.

We will see. We will see how the game unfolds. I am not ready to commit to that all the way, but it is something that we are certainly looking at.

On passing of Dean Smith [Gottfried was informed by reporter that John Wooden said Smith was the best teacher of basketball that he ever saw]:
Wow. For me, and I have spent all those years that I did around coach Wooden, for him to say that about Dean Smith, it says a lot.

I didn't have the privilege of getting to know coach Smith very well. All I know is I met him one time, and I was excited because he knew my name. He complimented me on my teams at Alabama. That means a lot.

If coach Wooden made that comment then that is pretty special because coach Wooden knows something about teaching.

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