Gottfried: "They're A Really Good Team"

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

Have you changed your group's mind on the bus the other day passing the bell tower? You didn't stop because you stopped after the Carolina game a couple years ago.
Well, we felt it was appropriate to go by but we did a drive-by, and came back. I thought it was important for our guys to enjoy that for a minute; there's no question about that. But I think quickly you have to get your team and your mindset on to the next game.

I know a lot of people are excited, and our players were. But, our focus has got to shift on to Louisville pretty quick.

That's kind of human nature isn't it? To hold onto a victory like that, and I imagine it is hard to let it go, isn't it?
Well, I think it's hard. I got on the bus after the game and had 163 text messages... I think it was. And that kept growing, the number was growing.

I know our players, same thing happened with those guys. And they go to class and all that's great. Our guys earned a good win on the road. But, it's my job and our staff's job, and our player's job... we gotta make sure we're now focused on Louisville and we gotta be able to build on it. We gotta be able to win two in a row, just like that. We can't just win one, you gotta find a way to get another one.

We dug ourselves in a hole this year, and we've got to climb out of it somehow. That has to start with us on Sunday.

As a coach, how do you do that? Is there a magical formula to get those great wins?
Well, I don't think there's any magic dust I can put on the guys but I thought today's practice was good. Our guys started off a little bit slow to be honest today. We tried to get their attention, and I thought they responded pretty good and you gotta move on and live in the future, you can't live in the past, and I think that was important for today's practice. It will be that way tomorrow and as we get on the plane on Saturday, it's gotta be the same way.

Hopefully our guys are listening.

Do you see any similarities to winning at Louisville a couple years ago? And then winning at Duke and how momentum can be created from that?
Well, we'll see.

You hope because I thought the win at Louisville a couple years ago really catapulted us down the stretch. But, you gotta play one at a time. You guys heard me say it a million times, every game counts as one. We got one win this past Monday night, and now we have to figure out how to get one more win on Sunday. And one after that and it's gonna keep going down the line.

Any changes you noticed without Quentin Snider in the lineup? Or are they pretty much doing the same thing?
Well, I think they're doing the same things, but their personnel is a little bit different.

We'll see, they're gonna be good at home, they're a terrific defensive team, they get a lot of deflections, they turn deflections into fast breaks, they're a great offensive rebounding team, so I feel like we know what we've got to do. Now we've got to be able to go in and accomplish it.

You have a lot of big men, they have a lot of big men. Would you say this is a big man's game?
Well, they do have great length and we'll see. Foul trouble sometimes plays a part in that. Two years ago we would we went up there, Cat and Trevor were just terrific against their defense. Now they came back last year, it was a little different story so we gotta figure it out, we gotta have a good plan going up to Louisville.

They're a really good team, very talented team, long team, and well-coached team with coach Pitino. We've gotta make sure we're ready.

Working under the premise that Dennis has been good all year, did you have to talk to him before the Duke game to let him know really good things happen when you go to the basket? Because he took the ball to the basket a lot.
I don't think there was anything specific I've ever said to Dennis.

I do believe he's hard to guard when he uses his athleticism and gets to the rim. He's improved his shooting all year long and he's made some shots. I like it when he shoots on-balance, straight up and down shots. You know, sometimes he'll lean back and step back-those type things. I'm not a big fan of those right now. But he makes some of them.

But when he's on-balance, he made one to give us a lead at Duke. He came in a break right in front of me at the bench and went straight up and down. His body was in great balance, fundamentals were right, and I think he's a really good shooter there. He's such a hard player to guard going to the basket. And that's his strength. And we'll see if he gets any of those for him on Sunday afternoon.

How much of his ... I don't want to say progression because again, he's been good, but this is just him naturally getting back into the rhythm of basketball, right? Because we sometimes forget that he didn't play basketball last year.
Yeah, and I think we all forget he didn't play.

The other thing I think you have to remember-it's like a quarterback in football, you know. He hasn't had his full roster with him as a point guard. In other words, Omer, Ted missed games, Maverick missed a lot of games.

Not only is Dennis young, and there's great expectations, but he's learning his team too, like I'm still learning our team. I'm learning who should do what and when and we haven't had all that from day one.

So I think Dennis has handled that great. I think that's been kind of a disadvantage for him, it's been hard for him, but I think he's handled it really well. Now that we've got everybody playing, it seems like we're playing a little bit better. I think he's gonna keep moving on forward.

How's your team handled practice and the win this week? Do you like the way they've handled?
Well, I thought we came out a little sluggish today to start off with to be honest. Hopefully we got their attention. For the first three minutes of practice we were heading towards not playing very good in my opinion this weekend. And then it changed, our guys responded pretty well, and I thought after that we had a really good day today.

Was that the first practice since Monday night?
Yep. And this is our last break, you know, midweek, no game. Our only other bye that our team has is actually the last Saturday of the season. So this was a good opportunity for us to kinda academically do some things and get away and then come back today and we still had... Thursday, Friday, Saturday before we play Sunday.

So that was a good break for us.

I know it's hard every year to win on the road, but do you think in this year in particular in the ACC, has it been any more difficult?
Well, I think the most difficult thing this year... You know, winning on the road is hard. Now this year I think our league is so balanced. I watched Florida State and Georgia Tech last night, and Florida State didn't look like the sixth-best team in the country; which they are and they've proven to be that so far this year.

I just think what it says about our league this year. I think our league is that good. I think it's that deep, I think there's that much parity. And even Boston College; they went on the road down to Miami and played Miami right to the buzzer. It's a one-point game.  

So everybody in our league this year is pretty good. Everybody is capable of beating anybody on a given night, and I think that makes road wins hard to get.

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