Gottfried: "It's A Big Game"

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

Opening Statement:
Well I think it's a big game. We treat it as such. I think that the players are excited to play against North Carolina. Our fans are always excited about it. I'm excited about it. I am every time. I'm sure they'll be ready to play, and I'm sure we'll be ready to play.

Coming off a game like last night, do you think you've maybe got their attention a little bit more now?
Got whose attention?

Their attention, national attention.
I don't worry about any of that stuff. We don't care if we've got their attention or not. We've got to make sure that we're ready to play. My job is to make sure my players are approaching the game the right way, that we're doing things the right way. When you're trying to defend or execute offense, whatever it is, we're trying to do it the right way, and I don't worry about much else after that.

Coaches always say it's the next game, but every body knows this is a little bit more, isn't it? Like a rivalry?
Well like I just said, I think it's a big game. Playing North Carolina is a big game for us. It's a big game for everybody around our program. I know our players are excited about playing against North Carolina. It's going to be a fun, fun game.

Has there been any change in the day-to-day for tomorrow night? Saturday?
Not yet. Not yet. I think we're going to watch the weather like everybody, but we're going to do our best to be there. I don't think we'll have any kind of a situation where we can't get there. We'll be there at 8:00 Saturday night, ready to play.

Coach, what are some things that they do well.
I just think they're offensively very gifted. Obviously, Meeks and Hicks inside. I think Justin's playing as good as he's played in my time watching him play. Shooting the ball and shooting it well. I think Joel Berry is playing at a high level as well. They rebound the ball extremely well. This is a legitimate top 10-15 team in the country, if not higher. It's a great opportunity for our players to play against a really good basketball team.

What are you all going to do to try to win this?
We've got to play really well. It's not one thing. I'd like to just say, "Hey, if we do this one thing we win," but it's just not that simple. We've got to be at the top of our game. We've got to execute our offense. We've got to defend them really well. They're great off the backboard, we've got to rebound it really well. Again, we'll have our hands full, but our guys will be exciting about playing.

Given your depth now, and the players that you've got coming in and that you've got now, do you feel better about your chances of winning games like this against ...
Well, we're a team that's still trying to figure things out. We've got three players in Omer, in Maverick, and Ted Kapita that didn't play a lot in the non-conferences, so those three guys are in late November, early December kind of form, the rest of our team is in January form. Most teams we play against are January form, so we've just got to do the best we can at integrating everybody in there, and making sure that we give ourselves the best chance.

Last time you won there, you won that game defensively. Do you feel like you can do that with this group?
We'll see. I'd love to see that. Trevor and Ralston and those guys went over there and those guys played phenomenally. Cam was great in that game. Beejay was really big in that game as well. A lot of those guys aren't here now, so this is a new challenge for these guys. Again, we're going in there. This is a big game. This is a big game for us and we'll be excited about playing it.

Thoughts on the Smith-Berry matchup...
I think Dennis is going really hard. I think Joel Berry is one of the best point guards in the country. I've watched him since high school. Great respect for Joel and his game. He's one of the best there is and he's playing at a high level, shooting the ball at a high level. He's the glue that hold everything together, I think, for them. It'll be a big opportunity for Dennis, great opportunity for our team.

Dennis' triple-double last night, how cool was that just for him to get that triple-double?
I thought was just spectacular in every phase of the game. Not only the things offensively. Defensively he was great. He brought our team together and our team played really well. He was the catalyst, no question about it last night. He's looking better every week. He's a freshman that's improving all the time.

Would you try a different motivation than you normally have? Seems like the guys really responded to what you talked about after the Miami game.
I think our players, they're honest with themselves. They were honest in the fact that they didn't play very well. That didn't sit well with our guys. I thought they did a great job of getting the cool jacket off. We came out with urgency, they came over here to play. We were paying attention to detail better than we had.

That's part of a young team learning how you've got to play to win at this level. You can't take a play off here and there. You take a couple plays off here and there, you've got yourself in a hole. That's the things we talked about on practices. We're really competitive, carry it over in to the game.

I don't think it's a situation of them trying to do it their way. I think young people have to learn. A lot of guys that haven't played in the ACC, it's a process of learning what it takes. I said it clearly. It wasn't a like of desire. It's a lack, sometimes, of knowing how. When you've got this many young guys together, they'll learn how, and they'll learn how fast. We've got to be able to continue to do that now as we move past the Virginia Tech game.

Coach, what is this cool jacket?
Yours is kinda pretty cool. The jacket you're wearing is kinda cool. You just can't have a nonchalant, I've arrived, kind of attitude because that will get you beat really quick. We didn't have that against Virginia Tech.

When you look at the box score and you see all those points scored... thoughts on your offense.
I think offensively we can, at times, be pretty good. We were against Virginia Tech. Hopefully we can find that somewhere else this year, but it's hard to do that every night in this league.

It's difficult. It's like Virginia Tech's game against Duke. You watch that tape and those guys are making every shot. They looked like a legitimate top 20 team in America. Didn't so much in the next game. In this league it's part of the fact that each game is different. That's why I always say there's 18 opportunities and each on stands alone.

You've got to figure out how to get as many wins as you can throughout 18 games.


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