Gottfried: "We're Moving Forward"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried met with the media to discuss the season opener.

I'm guessing the goal on Friday is to play like you did against Barton, with your defense creating for you and getting out and using your athleticism.
I hope that we could continue to build our defense. I think, like any team, we're doing things a little differently. We've got some new things we're doing and I think what our objective is make sure every day, whether it's a practice or a game, that we're moving forward and getting better.

I did think from the first exhibition to the second we actually did. Now hopefully we just keep moving forward with that defensively and getting pretty good at it.

Georgia Southern does fit your formula, I think. 10 and 1, 8 of the last 14 games as freshmen and sophomores. I assume you think they'll do well.
Well, we did. We scheduled them, obviously we need to win the game. We're going to try our best to win, but we also looked at them as a team that we think is going to do really well in their conference. 4 starters back, their point guard is really good... so he gets your attention pretty fast.

For us, we've got a lot of young players, we need to learn how to be ready to play every guy we play.

Does the point guard match up present a pretty good test for Smith?
We'll see. We'll learn. I think everybody that faces him has their hands full, but he's got to make sure he's ready to go as well, which I think he will be. It's on now. Whoever we play, I don't think for us we're the type of team that can overlook anybody. That's not going to be who we are and we just need to make sure we're playing our best every night.

Will you bring up last year's loss in the opener?
Already have.

You have.
Our guys were numbered, and I think the biggest thing for our team is we hope to be sitting here in the middle of March with an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament, and 1 thing that we understand is everything counts. Your going to build a resume 1 way or another, good and bad, and it all starts Friday night, so we've got to make sure we're ready to play every night.

Sometimes when you have a young team of a lot of younger guys like we do, they have to learn that you have to be ready at this level, Division 1 basketball, to play every night or you could be surprised, which we have been in the past. Everything counts and we are marching forward starting on Friday night.

Are you allowed to talk about Thomas Allen?
Yeah, we're excited about Thomas. I watched him last year at Garner High School. He comes from a very, very well-coached program there. Now he's getting good opportunity at Brewster Academy, and we think he's a guard that could play both positions.

I love how he shoots the ball. I think he's going to have a really good career, so we're excited about him joining our team.

You've talked about having do-overs with Terry Henderson. This 1 you made sure you didn't have to worry about a do-over.
I watched him last year a couple 2 or 3 times and 1, he plays to win and that's what I like, and he's used to winning. His high school here in the Raleigh area, Garner, they won. He's going to play for a program at Brewster Academy which wins a lot. We like guys who understand winning and understand how important it is to play to win every night, so Thomas fits that.

Between Markell and Thomas, does it feel good that you're set next year?
I think for us... I don't know that we're set. We're always trying to fill our roster and get great players, but those 2 guys are going to be nice players for us in the future.

How do you think Dennis has managed all the hype that goes into his debut?
I think Dennis has handled everything well. He's a guy that gets a lot thrown at him. I don't think he minds it. I think he also understands when to say no, and it's not easy sometimes because you can't do everything for everybody or be at every meeting with the press or every time somebody wants you to do something, so you have to find a way, and a very mature way sometimes, to say no. I think he does a good job with that too.

He wants to concentrate on having a great year, so far he's done a great job with that.

What you said on media day, you considered him the best guard in the country. How many freshmen would you have felt comfortable saying that with as far as handling that type of comment from a coach?
I think Dennis can handle it, but I also believe in it and he knows I believe that and he and I have talked about that many times. I think with Dennis, he's the kind of player that likes the challenge, and he likes the... he wants to live up to that, whether I've said it or not.

He wants to be that guy. I've coached a lot of good players in my career. I've been around a lot of good basketball and I feel strongly in that opinion that he's the best guard in the country.

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