ACC TELECONFERENCE: Mark Gottfried

NC State head coach Mark Gottfried fielded questions from the media on the ACC's Weekly Teleconference.

Opening Statement:
We obviously had a really tough week and it's unacceptable, the way that we got beat. We have to be a lot better and it starts today with our preparation for North Carolina.

They are really good, and the first time around that game was unacceptable from our side. They were terrific that day, and we didn't handle a lot of things very well so we have to turn that around.

That will be our objective right now.

With the talk of triple-doubles... how difficult is it? Dennis Smith has had a couple of triple-doubles... how difficult is that to accomplish?
It's an amazing accomplishment for anybody, but for a freshman I think it says a lot about how talented he is and how he can affect the game in so many ways. 

The one thing people always forget about Dennis that he's playing this year after sitting out with a torn ACL. You look at the level he's playing, I think he's probably not even 100% and in another year he'll be even better.

I've just been really proud of him for coming back the way he did. He never misses a practice. He's never, as far as with this injury, leaned on the fact that he could be having issues with his knee. I think he's been spectacular.

What kind of a player does it take to accomplish a triple-double?
It takes a guy who does a lot of different things.

Dennis can rebound the ball, he passes the ball, and at one time he was leading the league in steals.  His scoring for a freshman has been amazing. You have to be good at a lot of different things, and he is that.

Coach, you looked so good against the Hokies and got the big win against Duke. What do you say to your team to get back to that level of performance more consistently?
That's a great question.  

We lost our zip. We've got punched in the mouth once or twice and it's dazed us. It's led to some games that, in my opinion, the outcome shouldn't be the way they were, and that's on me as the head coach.

This team has to get some energy back and have fun playing.  You have to play the game right and be fundamentally sound, but the energy level in that Virginia Tech game... I actually watched that tape this morning. The energy level was at an all-time high... the enthusiasm for one another.

We got punched in the mouth and like in a boxing match you get dazed and it's affected us in a negative way. We need to get that energy back that we had.

Is it more the way you're losing than just the losses?
There's no question. We're at Wake Forest and it's a 12-point game with two minutes and fifteen seconds to go in the half. We need to figure out how to go from 12 to 10, eight, or six at halftime so it's a different game. 

On the flip side, we were down 12 and it becomes 20. Some of that is immaturity, some of that is when you get punched in the mouth, how hard do you fight back.  We've been inconsistent with that at times, but more than anything,  it's how we approach the opportunities we have this Wednesday night.  We'll play a great team in North Carolina, a team that beat us really bad earlier in the year.

I think it's about our approach more than anything.

The next five games, three are at home against tough opponents.  What do you have to do against North Carolina to not have that situation like in January?
It's our approach more than anything. Obviously we have to be ready to defend them, score the ball, rebound with them with their size, they are such a great rebounding team. 

On top of all those things, more than anything it's how we approach the game.  We have to play extremely hard, fight through adversity, and play with some passion. That to me is where our team has struggled. We lost some of that zip... even at Cameron we had it, at Duke. Sometimes when you have a young group of guys that becomes a factor. 

We need to figure out how to overcome that.

How tough is Joel Berry to defend? He's a very good player and may win some postseason awards.
He's really good and shooting the ball well. Justin Jackson is playing at a high level. 

They are very talented and very good. It won't be just one guy. We have to do a good job of defending all of them.

When you beat Duke in Durham, Ted Kapita played a really big role off the bench. He was very good. He hasn't made a major contribution since then. Did something happen that night... how do you get him back at that level?
He's a freshman. He's a young guy.  He played great over there in Cameron and had some other games where he's struggled some. I think with him he has to stay with it. 

I don't think there's anything magical that I can say or do, nor would I take credit for how he played over there. Sometimes as young players you're just up-and-down a little bit, and I think he's been up-and-down.  

Hopefully we can get him to play at a high level.

You've got some size to compete with North Carolina on the glass... can you play them even on the boards?
I think one way or another you have to rebound with them and keep them off the offensive glass. I think that's a big factor for them. Some of the games where we've beat North Carolina, that's been the biggest thing we've done well, we've limited their second-chance opportunities.

In the games we've struggled, that's been an issue too, they've had a number of second shots. Whether we play big or small, whoever in the game doesn't matter. We need the ability to outrebound them and go from there.


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