NC State faces Louisville on Thursday in a huge ACC game for both teams. Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried recently discussed the matchup and other topics with the media.
After holding a 16-point advantage in the first half along with a 14-point lead after intermission, NC State watched Virginia Tech methodically work its way back into the ballgame. The Wolfpack could have iced the game but missed free throws late paved the way for Seth Allen’s game-tying jumper from behind the arc in the game’s closing seconds.
“We are coming off of a tough loss,” Gottfried said. “Virginia Tech played really well down the stretch. We’ve got to get ourselves ready to play. We are going to play against a really talented and very good Louisville team who has won a lot of games this year. For us, it is a matter of turning the page after a hard loss and making sure we are ready to play in the next game.”
No Set Date for Henderson’s return
Terry Henderson’s season went awry as it was just beginning. As ACC play kicks in, both the coaching staff and NC State fans anxiously await the Raleigh-native’s return. According to Gottfried, it will not be soon.
“I don’t know exactly what ‘soon’ would be,” he said. “He is not practicing with us yet. He is not at a point where he can fully sprint or jump so I don’t know that there is a date. I don’t know that anybody would even know but if I was guessing I would guess he is two to three weeks away, minimum.”
When considering the plight of Henderson and his potential return, his head coach reminds all to there are other factors besides his injury to consider.
“The other thing you have to remember with Terry that is difficult is to get yourself in basketball shape,” Gottfried said. “You have got to remember he sat out last year as well. He is in a difficult place as far as trying to get himself ready to where he can be a real contributor this year. Wwe will have to wait and see in the next two to three to four weeks and see what happens.”
Let Cat Play
Cat Barber continues to lead the conference in minutes played but Gottfried is unconcerned. In fact, the difference between a few minutes each game seems irrelevant to him, particularly as it pertains to Barber.
“I am not concerned at all,” Gottfried said when asked about Barber’s playing time. ‘There are guys that have played 36 minutes a game. If someone wants to convince me that three minutes a game makes a difference, I wouldn’t buy that one. Some players can do it, some can’t. He is a guy that can do it unaffected.”
Barber Improved In All Aspects
With the loss of Trevor Lacey after last season and Henderson’s immediate injury, the bulk of the scoring responsibilities have fell to Barber. Gottfried feels his point guard has progressed since his arrival in Raleigh in the fall of 2013 and is equipped to handle what has come his way.
“I just think he has matured a lot,” Gottfried said. “I think that he has obviously played at a really high level. He knows that his team needs him to as well. A lot of times as athletes when we are in that role where we know what is expected guys step up and he has. He has just matured a lot.”
According to Gottfried, the added maturity is not limited to the basketball court.
“He has grown in every possible way you can imagine,” he said. “He has grown as a player, you can break down all of the parts of his game. He has grown as a person. He is just much farther along in life than he was so it has helped him.”
The Cards Deal In Pressure
In conference play, there are not many secrets. It is not a matter of wondering what you will get but just simply stopping what will come.
Gottfried is under no illusions when it comes to Louisville. The Cardinals will likely press NC State as that has been Rick Pitino’s calling card during his coaching career.
While, barring foul trouble, Barber is not going to spend extended minutes on the bench, Gottfried feels his teammates have to help with the ball handling responsibilities if the Wolfpack is to be successful Thursday.
“I think they are going to key on [Barber],” Gottfried said. “Last year we had two point guards with Cat and Trevor [Lacey]. We were a harder team to press last year. This year, whether it is Cody, Caleb or Maverick, those guys have to share in the responsibility of handling the basketball. It cannot all be on Cat’s shoulders.”
“We will see how the game plays out,” Gottfried added. “We have to have some second and third ball handlers in this particular game, a little more than other games.”