Gottfried: We Are Taking Good Steps"

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

What do you have to do to improve to get ready for ACC action?
Great question. I think we can improve on a lot of things. I do think we're getting better defensively, but we could get a lot better. I would say offensive rebounding is probably a thing that I'm harping on more than anything every day. We've had a couple games where we've moved the ball really well, and passed the ball so, I've been pretty pleased with that.

I think rebounding and obviously with us, defense, we've got to become a better defensive team, but I do think we are taking good steps.

You have a couple guys that have gone through the ACC wars, but it's just a different animal.
We don't have a lot of guys playing significant minutes that have been through the ACC so when that time comes we'll make sure that we're ready. For us, more than anything, we have to concentrate on this next game and the two games before we play in the league.

I think this is a good opportunity, for us right now, to practice. Obviously, Omer has only played a couple of games. We're getting Maverick back to where he looks like he's starting to get his legs back underneath him. I like that too. We got a lot of room for growth, even between now and the first of the year.

Do you ever remember a time, head coach, assistant coach, where you've gone into a season saying, "I'm going to play nine guys?"
No, but, you know, I've never really said to myself, "I'm only gonna play seven, or eight, or nine". Usually, what happens is, just because the way the game evolves or our team evolves, I do like this teams get-up a lot. We've had two games where we have shot good percentages. We shot good percentages from the two, three, and from the line.

Our defense has been good and one of the reasons why, obviously we haven't played the Spurs and Lakers or anybody but we are getting better, but one of the reasons why is we're fresher. We're over on the floor. I think our depth is obviously helping us have fresh bodies and we're able to maintain defensive principles longer. It's helped our shooting percentages. So hopefully it's something we can build on. I like the fact that we've got some guts right now and it's going to be a plus for us.

Are you going into any of these with a set rotation. In terms of at the under-16 I'm gonna take out Terry or Torin or I'm gonna put in my third big or ...
You know, I don't really have it set in my mind now. I do know that, obviously, Markell has played great. I want to get him in there. Maverick needs to play and I like having Maverick in the games so we can get him going. We got Omer and Ted. You still have Shaun and Darius that are capable as well, but I think those first nine, right now, those guys are all capable.

The good news is we've got good scorers coming off the bench right now. I don't know if it will stay that way forever. We'll really evaluate our lineup, but we've got bench scoring, because we got the first one off the bench that can score the ball. I want to try to play everybody that I think deserves to play and get them in there as quick as we can.

Again, like the other day, Terry is playing well. He hit four straight threes, he's got the hot hand. I'm going to stay with him. You know, I'm not going to sub just to sub at a certain time on the clock. Every game will unfold a little bit differently, depending on who is playing well and foul trouble, those types of things, those things will come into play too as far as how we substitute.

How much of what you have learned do you have to apply, not that you haven't done it previously, but if you have guys who want to play and think they're going to play, you gotta be real honest with them like now, not afterwards, right? So you gotta explain to them, "Look, Terry just hit four threes, I'm not going to be a slave to a certain thing," but given some of the things that you've been through, in terms of guys leaving and transferring and stuff like that, sometimes you can't control it, but some of them you can in terms of just telling them straight up.
Oh yeah. I think one thing with me is, I feel like I'm always very honest with all of them. Sometimes players don't like the truth though, but I am honest so I'm going to tell them.

The strength of our team right now is our team as a whole and the depth of our team. If our guys can be excited about that and not get so caught up in minutes, plays, all that and the fact how well our team plays, then this team has a chance to be really good. We could become good one day.

So, we'll see. It's interesting because our team, you know, we went through period early without Omer. We went through a lot of games without Maverick. Sometimes, well, their minutes get inflated or higher, and then now they may come down a little bit, only because you have more bodies, more guys that are going to be in the rotation. I've talked to everybody about it individually. I talked to our team about it and I talked to our upperclassman about it.

The strength of our team is the team. It's all of us together, and I think our guys understand that and hopefully they'll buy into that. That's something that we got to keep talking about everyday.

Was there a point last night where a Tennessee State text came to your phone?
Well I was watching them. I had a few texts. It didn't surprise me when it was about 41-39. I thought that was kind of what I thought would happen, but interesting game. Tennessee State is a good team, they had a great night.

Anything about McNeese?
I just started watching them. I know they won last night at Tulane, and I'll probably study tonight and get a little bit better tomorrow.

Do you think you're staff has done a good job of leaning the kids in as they come in. Maverick had to go out then come back in.
I think so. I think they've all done a good job of that. Guys have been practicing hard everyday. They had a great practice today, guys competed hard today. I think we're all good there.

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