Gottfried: "I'm Really, Really Proud Of Them"

SYRACUSE, NY -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried met with the media after the loss to Louisville.

Opening Statement:
I'm disappointed. Late in the game they made some plays there that were the difference specifically. I thought Anton Gill, I think when we took the lead, if I have it right, I think he scored seven straight. Our zone helped us, help us get back in the game, helped us take the lead, and he made a couple of tough shots there. I thought it was that little stretch that gave them the cushion, and it was the difference in the game. I'm extremely proud of my team. I'm extremely grateful. We just came up a little bit short today.

Why weren't you able to get those stops this time? Was there something that was just couldn't get them?
I just think they made a couple of really nice plays. Blackshear was out of the game. Our zone was helping us. He had a drive, we were up one. Gill had a drive to put them up one. We didn't score. Then he hit a three. Didn't score and then came back and hit a two, and I called a time-out and got out of it. That's just part of the game. They stepped up and made some plays. They did a nice job there during that stretch. I think that one little stretch of the game was pretty much the difference in the game. That was it, right there.

Mark, you mentioned after the Villanova game, you beat the top of the league. Do you look at it that way? There wasn't a No. 1 seed here, and there wasn't a Kentucky here. The path was kind of clear for you.
No, I don't look at it like that. Here's what I told our guys in there: Number one, I'm extremely proud. Let's get the right perspective here. We're picked tenth. We're getting ready to go to Louisville. We're 5-7 in the ACC. We're 14-11 overall, and we're in 11th place by ourselves. We're in 11th.

We've still got to go to Louisville, to Carolina, to Clemson, to Boston College and look at where we are now. We played toe to toe with Louisville to have a chance to play in the Elite Eight. We're down 14 in the second half against Louisville -- I mean, against LSU. We win that game. We come back and beat a No. 1 seed, get to the Sweet 16.

So this group completely, completely did some amazing things. I'm extremely proud. Last night -- it's unfortunate, these things happen, for whatever reason. Cat Barber gets a virus. He spends all last night throwing up, got diarrhea, can't sleep, can't eat. He had no energy today. Sometimes you wonder. You sit and say, of all the times, why now? I thought it affected him today. I really did. He just had no zip. So we're disappointed. It's a tough way to end it, but, man, I'm proud. Really, really proud of our guys. Extremely pleased with what they were able to accomplish. They had a heck of a run. A heck of a run.

This is obviously not Rick's best team, his most talented team. What does it say about what he's able to do as a coach? And how far can this team go? Also, did you guys recruit Anton Gill? How heavily did you recruit him?
Yes, we did. We had some other guys at the same time. Trevor was coming in, Trevor Lacey. It just didn't work out for us to recruit him like that. He's a good player. I always felt that way. Can't take everybody. We know that. Obviously, Rick does a great job with his team.

You think of their team as not a deep team. He plays five guys and a couple others here and there. They completely understand their roles. They play the way they need to. Today Rozier had a big game. Harrell made jump shots. I think Montrezl makes that 10, 12-footer. He's hard to contain.

They did a nice job. They got better, too, after Chris Jones left, which is a sign of the job he did with his team because they improved. And here they are sitting in the Elite Eight. Tremendous, tremendous job by those guys.

Mark, was Gill even on the scouting report? He played two minutes against Northern Iowa.
Obviously, we know Anton. I think he's averaging two points a game maybe, and he jumps up and gets seven at the most critical time of the game. You've got to give him credit. That was really the difference, in my opinion. That stretch right there, they had some separation right at that point of the game. That's what the game's about. Players step up and make some plays, and he certainly did for this game.

I know you're not thinking about it yet, but in terms of next year, you lose Ralston, you bring in Terry. Do you feel like this is a group you're bringing back?
We're excited about it. Let me say this, too, for our seniors, you've got a guy like Staats Battle that's a walk-on that could not be a better human being. Desmond Lee had great class this year. He had a tough stretch because he didn't play as much as he would have liked to and handled it well.

And Ralston, he was dying on the vine down there at LSU. Team's struggling, nowhere near going to the Tournament. He's been back-to-back NCAA Tournaments and got to a Sweet 16.

I'm proud of those guys. I'm happy for them.

The guys coming back for our team, this should be something that motivates them to work extremely hard in springtime and summer. We tasted it. We tasted what it's like to be in this situation, and now it's got to be one of those where they should want it more. They should make him work extremely hard this spring and summer. A lot of good things on the horizon for us. I'm really, really proud of them. Extremely happy for these guys.

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