Gottfried: "Defensively We Have To Get Better"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Mark Gottfried met with the media after the 79-77 win over Loyola-Chicago.

Opening Statement:
We finished well, got the win, that was good.  The first thing that crosses my mind is that Loyola is pretty good.  Not a bad team. We watched three games down in the Virgin Islands and we have a great respect for how they play,  how well they shoot it.

They have some veterans, they are older, all those things. We knew that coming into the game.

I think they did a great job of scouting us down there for three games. They were well-prepared, they had every call, everything we tried to do, they were prepared for it.  They did a good job. You have to give those guys credit.

I thought Dennis was just sensational.  He made some amazing plays, passes, and had a big steal down there at the end of the game.  Markell came up with a couple of big steals... Terry and Torin hit some big shots.

We're trying to figure out who we are. We play four guards, then two bigs, then four guards.  We've got to figure that out. Ted is now eligible, hopefully Maverick is coming back soon, and two or three more games down the road we'll get Omer in here.

We're trying to solve the Rubik's Cube a little bit with our team, but we have to be better defensively for longer periods. We can be really good defensively in spurts, but... we have to get better there.

I'm glad we won and some good things happened today, but defensively we have to get better.

Thoughts on how confident Dennis Smith is...
I think Dennis is always confident, but he was in a great place mentally all day and came out and played with great energy. He got everybody else involved... he played terrific.  He's one of those guys that has supreme confidence in himself.  He'll get more comfortable everyday and how he can be himself within our structure and system... I think he'll get better as the year goes on.

More on the defensive issues...
We got wearing a blue sock and one wearing a green sock... we have to get on the same page. I'm trying to guard it one way, you're guarding another way. We gave up penetration and lost some shooters.

We got beat off a baseline drive and left a shooter... more than anything we have to get everyone on the same page and guard the ball better. Straight up contain the ball... at some point in the third grade we teach them that I have to keep my body between you and the basket.  It's real simple.  This isn't brain surgery here. We have to figure out how to do that better. Still take away the three and things like that, but we're over-analyzing every defensive situation. At the end of the day, if I make you score over my chest all night long, I have a pretty good chance at beating you.

We can do that for stretches and then we don't do it and we're getting too cute in my opinion.  We need to be fundamentally better and I think we have a good chance.

More on Dennis Smith...
You have an elite-level player, and he's learning a new system as he will in the future. Everytime you learn, you have to learn that system but still be yourself within the system. He's learning that.  He's a great competitor. He has to do the things within what we're trying to do, but at the same time that doesn't mean to be a robot... today I thought he was terrific.  I think he'll get better the more he plays in college basketball.

Thoughts on Abdul-Malik Abu's play...
He made a couple of really good plays late in the game, but I think if he were to be honest he'd tell you he didn't play great either.  I didn't think he played well, and he has to play better for us, to be honest.  I think sometimes he gets in a hurry.  He'll get the ball down there and he's in such a hurry to make a play.  He needs to take his time... he's such a physical force, he doesn't need to rush.  We'll get him there, but today probably wasn't one of his great days.

He'll pick it up and we'll find that good groove together with everybody in there.  He just needs to slow down in my opinion a little bit.

An update on Maverick Rowan?
No update.  Hopefully... we'll check him out again, it's one of those things everyday. He gets checked out everyday and now there is a protocol that's a little more complicated than 15 or 20 years ago. 15 years ago they just handed me two Tylenol and said to suck it up and play.  That's all we did. 

Now it's different and we want to protect him.  We'll check him again tomorrow and go from there.  No new news from our end on that. 

An update on BeeJay Anya?
BeeJay got hit right before the half there in the eye... he could have played in the second half, but I just thought the matchups with their small lineup was really tough with him in the game with the way they spread the floor out.

Is the nonconference schedule tougher than you anticipated?
I don't know if it's tougher. When we scheduled Loyola, part of the Paradise Jam was we'd get another game... we knew ahead of time that this was going to be a really good, well-coached team. I like playing teams like that, but I hope everybody we play ends up a great, 20-win team and helps our RPI.

At the same time, I hope we keep getting better so we don't struggle at times... both things need to happen.

Thoughts on Ted Kapita...
When you're a freshman and playing at this level, there is a period where you have to get comfortable, you're learning how to play at this level... you take a freshman and they miss games early on it's hard. Because they need those games, even Omer Yurtseven, it's unfortunate that he has to miss nine games. That's a lot because freshmen need time.

Ted was able to come in a couple of weeks ago, most of what he did... a lot of that, the game was already decided. It's a little different when the game was in balance. He just needs minutes, time to play and get better.

Freshmen need time to develop and come along a little bit.

Thoughts on Markell Johnson...
I thought it was big... a key part of the game. He created some havoc and had a couple of steals late in the game... he missed the front-end of the 1-and-1, we need to make those, but he played well.

He's a pesky guy in there that bothers you all the times. You have to be aware of where that ball is when he defends you.

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