Gottfried: "I'm Glad They Keep Fighting"

LOUISVILLE, KY -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried met with the media following the win over Louisville.

Mark Gottfried

Opening statement: Obviously it's a big win for us, and we're very excited. I'm really proud of our team.

I think it's easy sometimes when you lose a few games to drop your head. People are very critical at times, and our players hear it, and they responded.

I'm glad for them. I'm glad they keep fighting. I'm proud of them.

Great defensive effort. I thought we were sharp, rotating... did a good job collectively on Harrell. We tried to keep a fresh guy on him all game.

We handled their pressure. I thought Cat was the key to that. He beat the press, had great poise.

We only turned the ball over eight times. It ended up being a great win for us against a really, really good basketball team.

The difference in finishing this game...
I think it's a little of everything.

It's somewhat mental, the confidence of just being better down the stretch and believing you're going to win the game. We talked a lot about that.

Then we stepped up and made shots. Trevor made a big shot, Cat had a couple of drives, Ralston had a big one, Caleb had a big one... we go down the line. We just kept scoring, and I thought in some other games that hurt us.

We got key rebounds late in the game.

I think against their pressure, Cat was sensational... Trevor as well and our whole team, but Cat was the difference maker beating the pressure... backing it out when it's not there. I thought he was just terrific today.

We have to believe we can win. I think in some games we had that look in our eye where we're just not sure if we're good enough to win. Today we had that look in our eye where we're going to win that game, the confidence. It's something we need to continue to have obviously.

The progress you made against the press...
The one turnover Cat had he was just tired.

We handled their pressure... contact before bothered us, it seems like we fought through that. We didn't get in as much of hurry. We have got better.

I think a lot of that has to do with Cat. He stepped up and gave our team confidence. It's like the great quarterback in football... everybody kind of goes we're good because that one player handles it. I thought Cat did that for our team and it gave us confidence.

Not starting Washington...
We talked about defending Harrell, and I thought our best defender in there with a guy like him was Lennard. So I decided to start Lennard.

I told Kyle he was going to play and then when the game started unfolding I thought between Lennard and Malik they did such a great job on him, and BeeJay gave us a great lift.

Kyle's minutes wasn't about him. It was more the other guys, better matchups to guard a guy like Harrell.

You mentioned rebounding... Caleb Martin had 10.
Huge, unbelievable. He went way up there a couple of times and got some defensive rebounds for us that I thought was big.

I thought he gave us great minutes off the bench and hit a big shot for us. His rebounding helped us a lot.

Lacey was calm after the win. Is that how you want them to handle it?
We just need to keep getting better.

I want these young guys to have confidence that they can win against anybody we play. They have to learn to believe that and make the plays down the stretch, whether it's offensively or defensively that takes you over the hump.

Today they did that and it's got to help their confidence. We have to take this next week, get better, and see if we can finish strong.

Did you have a plan to get into the teeth of their defense?
We thought the ball screen at the top could really help us. I thought Cat figured it out as the game went on where he used his burst of speed. He got it blocked once or twice but after that he figured it out how to get in there and get a layup or create one.

Trevor was able to use the ball screen and get some shots for himself or find someone else.

It wasn't by design. We felt like with how they defend it would be our best chance to score. It worked pretty good for us.

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