Q&A: North Carolina St. Players Talk Postgame

North Carolina State players talk postgame after an 83-80 loss to SLU.

MARK GOTTFRIED: Well, it's heartbreaking.  Our players are heartbroken, and I'm proud of our team.  I'm proud of the year we had.  Today obviously we're going to always feel like we let one slip away, and I think it was 17 foul shots after halftime we missed, and we had some defensive breakdowns and a couple turnovers here and there.
But you know, it's one of those things.  It's hard to explain.  We're a good foul shooting team.  We've been a good foul shooting team here recently, and it kind of steamrolled on us there from the foul line.  Got to give those guys credit.  Regardless of that they stepped up and made big shots.  They played like a veteran team, and they still had to make some tough shots, which they did.  You've got to give those guys credit, as well, but obviously it's a tough one for us right now.

Q.  Ralston, can you just describe the range of emotions in the second half?  You were up 16 with eight minutes left and up 10 with three minutes left and all the free throws going in and out and everything slipping away?
Ralston Turner:  It was definitely tough.  You know, at one point we had the lead, things were going our way, and it was about three minutes to go, we had a 10-point lead, and they started fouling.  They just extended the game.  It went from that to we just started missing a lot of free throws, a lot of uncharacteristic things started happening.
You know, I think that changed the game for us.  Once they caught up, it was tough for us to get back.

Q.  T.J., I know it's pretty tough for you to talk now, but can you just describe for us a little bit about how difficult it is to make free throws under pressure like that in a game this big?
T.J. Warren:  It's pretty tough.  A couple went in and out, got called for a lane violation.  It was just pretty tough overall.

Q.  T.J.  you had the steal late in overtime with the basket and the chance to tie the game.  Did you feel like that was a chance to kind of get the momentum back and maybe even send the thing back to another overtime?
T.J. WARREN:  Yeah, definitely.  I felt good, but it just didn't fall for me.  So there's that.

Q.  Ralston, I wanted to ask you the same question about a little more specifically just the difficulty of making free throws under pressure.  You'd figure that at this level you guys would make more, but can you describe for the layman fan how hard it would be?
RALSTON TURNER:  You know, pressure is what you make it.  I wouldn't say the pressure made us miss the free throws.  I don't really have an answer for you as to why we missed them, but sometimes uncharacteristic things, and I think that happened today.

Q.  You mentioned they're a veteran team, five seniors.  Was there ever a point that you felt comfortable with the 16-point lead or the double-digit lead late?
MARK GOTTFRIED:  Yeah, I did.  I did feel comfortable.  I liked how we were playing.  I liked how we played most of the game.  Defensively we were really pretty good.  Offensively we did a lot of things well against their pressure.  Even when you went to the foul line, you-- I still have great confidence that we're going to step up and make foul shots.  Like I said, it just seemed like it got to steamroll, that all of a sudden it just got contagious.  We work on it every day.  I think our guys do a nice job at the foul line, and sometimes the momentum there just shifts on you so hard.
Even in spite of the fact that we missed a lot of foul shots, they stepped up and made a couple big shots in the midst of all that, a couple big threes that -- that's one thing you say, hey, they looked like a veteran team down the stretch.  We got, I think, two defensive rebounds, they fouled Jordan right away and fouled Lennard right away before they could give the ball up.  Veteran team.  They knew right there what they were going to do.  But prior to that we had the ball in the hands of good foul shooters, guys that we wanted to have the ball in their hands.  That's what we wanted.  So they did a lot of great things, but they were fortunate, too.  On the other side of it when you have a team like ours that steps up there and can't put the game away, which we certainly could have easily.  Sometimes that happens.

Q.  You guys took Jett out of his game pretty much in the first half, even three quarters of the game, he didn't have that kind of penetration.  Can you talk about that?
MARK GOTTFRIED:  Well, we tried a couple different guys on him.  He's strong and physical.  We did a nice job of trying to corral him when he comes off that ball screen.  Where it cost us a couple times is when the big guy, Rob Loe, stepped out, and he kind of picked and popped and stretched out really far.  It cost a couple times there, so we took one thing away, but we gave up another some.  He's a really good player.  One thing that you've got to remember -- I told our guys, when you have a team that's got five seniors, which is unusual, there's a resiliency that that group kind of has knowing this is it, and you kind of saw it there in the last few minutes.  They played without putting their head down, and they really did a nice job of hanging in there.  Obviously we helped them at the foul line.

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