Gottfried: "It's A Great Opportunity"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried met with the media to discuss the upcoming game against Duke.

What did you guys find in Chapel Hill and Pittsburgh that's helped this team?
I think probably we're just growing up a little bit. I think some guys are getting a little more experienced and learning how to play and how you have to play. I don't think that guarantees us anything going forward.

Our guys understand when you defend the right way or execute your offense the right way and are committed to it, the game becomes a little easier. Certainly I thought we did that at Pittsburgh for most of the game... I think our guys have grown up a little bit.

What have you seen from Abu that was maybe missing early on??
I think he's gained great confidence right now.  Every player I've had is different.  They mature and grow at a different speed.  It's a lot like children... you can speed them up sometimes, but they are going to mature at their own rate.

He's one of those guys that's midway through his sophomore year, and he's starting to feel like he's hard to defend...  he has confidence in how he's playing.  He's gaining so much belief in the fact that he can score and rebound well.

Are conditions right to beat Duke on Saturday?
I don't know about that, I just know for us it's a great opportunity.  We're playing against the defending national champs... a team that's very talented.  Our guys are going to be excited about playing.

We have to take the things we did well from the last game and improve on those and take the things we didn't do so well, which is still a lot of even though we played well, and see if we can sure those things up... then have a great plan.

You and Duke are playing tigher rotations. Is that the way you like it?
I think we're a lot different.  They've obviously got some great players sitting on the bench they are choosing not to play.  I think ours is a lot different, where we don't have as many guys... scholarship players.  Every team morphs differently into how they play, and each coach has to figure out how his team neds to play.

We are who we are.  I can't worry about anyone else.  We have to make sure we're as good as we can be with the way we're trying to play.

Talk about Cody's bigger role...
With Cody, there's a lot of really good things happening.  At Pittsburgh, in the first six minutes of the game he had two baskets, two assists, and two steals right off the bat.  He can affect the game in a lot of different ways.  I think the ball is around the basket a little bit more, and he's defending really, really well.

What has happened too is I think it's helped Caleb.  Caleb has settled down a little bit. There was a point he was maybe hunting his shot too much. He needed to relax a little bit and let the game come to him.  I think in that regard it's actually helped Caleb to come off the bench, and Cody has given us some really good minutes.

Will he be a prime candidate to play on Ingram?
I think he will.  It just depends on matchups and who is in the game... the personnel in the game. I could see him guarding Ingram, and at times he's going to have to guard Grayson Allen, who is very talented and a very good player.  We'll see how the game unfolds.

We have some tough matchup issues with them. They play four guards. They really kind of have a point guard and a post player and a bunch of players between them.

We hope that we're a tough matchup for them too, especially with Malik's play inside and if BeeJay can play a little better that gives us another inside force as well.

Do you believe in reacting to other people's lineups?
Like I always say, they've got to guard us too. We'll have a hard time guarding them, they are tough... their matchups are hard because they aren't traditional. They are playing some quick players who can take the ball off the dribble and go places.

But, we feel like we're hard to guard too. If the ball goes inside for us, good things happen. We'll see how the game eventually unfolds.

How would you like to see Abu use his 50-pound advantage on Ingram?
With Malik right now, especially around the basket, he's playing at a high level.  He's becoming a player, regardless of who is guarding him, he's attacking the basket.  He's a tough player to guard. He's been getting to the foul line a lot.  Guys have fouled him as well.

Regardless of who guards him, he's really confident and playing at a high level.

What's it been like the last couple of days after the win?
It's interesting.  It wasn't a locker room where guys were jumping up and down and cheering. It was almost that's how we're supposed to play.

We have to build on that.  We've played a tough schedule in the league, and we have a lot of tough games left. I say all the time, each game counts as one.  If you lose one it's one, not three.

We have another great opportunity on Saturday.

Can you talk about Cody's defense?
I think he's played great defense.  He's helped us a lot defensively. I thought the other night at Pittsburgh, especially on Artis, he was really good.  Hopefully he can continue to do that.

What's the toughest part of investing so much recruting time in one kid like Ingram... that he's not here or you have to play him?
For me, we recruit guys really hard and we get emotionally invested into it, but if someone chooses to go somewhere else you have to move on. You have to turn the page and move on to the next player.

I've always said, it's not the player you lose or miss on that hurts your program, it's the players you take that aren't good enough that hurts your program.

When you miss on a guy you've got to move on. Go find another guy. That's part of recruiting and part of the way we evalute things.

What was it like to spend two years on Dennis Smith and get him?
Exciting, but he hasn't scored a basket for us. We have to wait on next year for that.

What is it like for him to get in early?
It's a great advantage.  I'm really excited that he was able to do it because, No. 1 it puts him in a position where he gets to do his rehabilitation every single day.

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