NC State head coach Mark Gottfried recently spoke with the media, and among the topics discussed were the Wolfpack’s loss Sunday at Wake Forest, the upcoming game against Florida State, Terry Henderson’s prognosis, BeeJay Anya and freshman Shaun Kirk.
About last time….
The Wolfpack lost Sunday evening to Wake Forest, 77-74, at Joel Coliseum. It dropped NC State to 0-3 in the ACC, and it is the fourth straight season that the Pack has suffered a close loss to the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem.
“We obviously had a tough game [Sunday] but we understand that in this league each game only counts as one game and we have got to get ready to play a talented team in Florida State on Wednesday night,” Gottfried said. “We have got to turn the page.”
While both NC State and Florida State are winless in conference play, Gottfried cautions against overemphasizing the importance of the contest on Wednesday.
“I just think that every game stands by itself,” Gottfried said. “I don’t think that if you are 0-3 or 3-0 that is going to force you to play harder. To say that would mean if we were 3-0 we wouldn’t be playing as hard. I just don’t know that that is the case at all.”
Each season the ACC has teams among the favorites for national titles and schools that are ranked consistently. That is also of little relevance to Gottfried and he has games he can cite as proof.
“There are great teams in this league,” the fifth-year head coach said. “Whether they are ranked or unranked, it doesn’t matter.
“I watched Georgia Tech beat Virginia the other day, and it shows you the quality of our league. Each game, our team has to play with the greatest intensity that they can, regardless of what the record is. That is how we are going to approach it.”
Breaking down the Seminoles
The ACC is full of players that will progress to the NBA and many will not need four years of college ball to get there.
According to Gottfried, that type of talent is not exclusive to just one or two schools in the conference.
“I have had some guys at the next level comment to me about their freshmen potentially being one-and-dones or two-and-dones so you are talking about some high level talent that Leonard [Hamilton] has,” Gottfried noted. “They are just a good team. They defend really well. They are quick and athletic.”
Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes averages 12.2 points and 5.5 assists per contest. Gottfried singled the guard for special praise. He also has respect for the players that surround him.
“Rathan-Mayes has shown how good he can be,” Gottfried said. “I think he had -- in the tournament last year -- some stretch where he scored 20-some points in four minutes. So they are very talented. Their wings are young but they are gifted. They have got size inside.”
Gottfried is no closer to determining when Terry Henderson might return to the court. The only thing that is clear is time is now becoming a factor
“I don’t know the answer to that and nor do our doctors,” Gottfried said when asked of a potential return. “Terry is nowhere near being ready to practice. That is the only thing I know each day so I do believe at some point work against the clock with how much time is left in the season.
“We are mid-January now. I think it is safe to say that whenever he does start to practice there is going to be a period after of a few weeks -- I am sure -- where he gets comfortable, in game-shape and all of those type of things. I don’t know the answer to that question but I don’t think it will be anytime in the next couple of weeks where we will see him in uniform.”
Gottfried wants more from Anya
With Abdul-Malik Abu getting into foul trouble against Wake Forest, the Wolfpack needed more from its remaining frontcourt players.
While BeeJay Anya was able to block two shots and close in on his pursuit of Thurl Bailey’s school record of 207 rejections (Anya has 183), he was unable to muster anything offensively or on the boards.
Anya did not score and had only three rebounds in 20 minutes of action before fouling out with 3:01 remaining. Gottfried wants more from the junior.
“We have been looking for him to step up for a good while,” Gottfried said. “He needs to be a little more consistent, to be a force for us inside with his size and he needs to do a lot more for this team for us to have a chance to be successful.”
Kirk gets playing time
Gottfried was asked about freshman Shaun Kirk on Monday. Kirk played a season-best five minutes in the loss to Wake Forest. While he did commit a turnover early, he then started to find his way and finished with three points in his brief stint.
It was only Kirk’s sixth game of the season and his first action since the Wolfpack’s win at South Florida on Dec. 13.
"He played [Sunday],” Gottfried said. “He did okay. He just needs to get his feet wet and keep learning what we are doing. He is definitely making good progress.”
After the game on Sunday, Gottfried explained that playing Kirk more has been on his radar.
“We will see if we can find some minutes for him in the future,” Gottfried said. “I was happy with how he played. I have been saying to myself I want to get him in there. We played him a little bit more as a forward and I thought he did fine. He is still learning and coming along. He gave us good minutes [Sunday].”