Gottfried: "Our Guys Are Excited"

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

Opening Statement:
We're excited about our opportunity tomorrow.

Obviously North Carolina is, I'm sure heavily favored, and most people will probably think we have very little chance. But, our guys are excited about the chance to go play in Chapel Hill.

We know that it's going to be a great challenge.

With Ralston Turner, what can you say about his evolution and what you can see from him leadership-wise and overall this season?
I think the most important thing that Ralston does is his steadiness. He's been up-and-down somewhat, but I also think he's a guy that our players have great confidence in. He's one of those guys that practices extremely hard every day. He never takes a day off as far as how hard he goes. That's what true leadership is all about.

A lot of times people think it's all verbal, but his is more by example. He's been very steady in that regard for us. I think that's been very important for our team.

What can you take away from the first game against North Carolina?
There are a lot of things.

We've studied that film, and we gave up way too many offensive rebounds to them. We had some good looks, and we didn't make them. We could have defended them better at times.

Obviously our execution at times was good and other times it wasn't very good.

They are very talented and everything starts with Paige. We have to do a great job on him. Then what probably flies under the radar is how effective both Bryce [Johnson] and Kennedy [Meeks] have been for them. That's been as important as anything, and I thought in the first game those two guys, and also Isaiah Hicks... he played phenomenal in the first game, maybe the best game of his career.

We have to do a much better job against those guys around the basket.

What are your thoughts on freshman ineligibility?
I think it's about 20 years too late, and the train has left the station on that one.

I think it's a great concept if it's for all sports and all student-athletes. I would not be a fan of it just being applied to college basketball because if we want student-athletes to get acclimated to school we should want all our student-athletes to get acclimated to school, regardless of sport.

I don't know that solves anything really regarding the one-and-done issue. Those two things don't co-exist together... they don't have anything to do with one another.

When you say the train has left the station what do you mean?
I just don't think it can happen these days. I really don't.

If the concept is related to the one-and-done rule, I think that's not wise. I just don't think those things have anything to do with each other.

If the commissioners collectively, if their goal is to correct the one-and-done rule, then they need to get on a plane and meet with the NBA, meet with the commissioner, meet with the player's association, and figure out how to solve their rule, not ours. That's a NBA rule.

If the commissioners truly are interested in student-athletes getting acclimated to college life, then they need to do it for every student-athlete of all sports.

I'm all over the board on it.

When I said the train has left the station I meant I just don't think it can get done these days without a lot of obstacles and a lot of hurdles. Potential lawsuits, if it's the only sport... there's so many things. It's a lot more complicated now than it would have been 15 or 20 years ago. That's what I meant by that.

Kyle didn't play the other day, was that a decision based on the style of play of Virginia Tech? I'm interested overall in your frontcourt rotation... what determination goes into who you use most?
My desire to win the game, period.

I'm going to use... I need all four of those guys. Our team needs all four guys to be effective players, but at the same time, we went through a stretch where we won and we lost, we won and we lost.

Sometimes it's like trying to solve the Rubik's Cube. I'm trying to figure out the best thing for our team. If in fact that means one guy plays and another guy doesn't play, then that's the decision that I make.

Sometimes it has to do with personnel and matchups, and sometimes it has to do with how I think we're going to play the best basketball. I want my team to play at its best, the highest level, and part of doing that is trying to figure out the best combinations of players and how we're playing the best.

We've won two straight games with Lennard Freeman back in the lineup. I like that. So, we'll see.

What does Lennard do better than Kyle and Kyle does better than Lennard? The same thing with Abu and Anya? What strengths do each of them have?
First of all, I don't want to get into how I feel about each of them. I like all of our players.

Defensively, rebounding, offensive efficiency... not just scoring a basket but how well we run our offense with certain guys in the game. If in fact we have a combination on the floor that's playing really well, I'm going to play them longer.

I tell players that if you play better you'll play more. It's kind of a simple thing to say, but it's truthful.

If our team plays better with a certain guy on the floor then it's my job to get that guy in the game so our team can play better. Right now we're playing better with Lennard and Malik starting and Beejay coming in first. That doesn't mean it stays that way forever, but right now, that's what is best for our team.

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